Yesterday we took Sam for a full speech-language and swallowing evaluation at Columbia University's speech and language clinic. The evaluation was partially conducted by student clinicians and partially conducted and supervised by Dr. Justine Joan Sheppard (the Sigmund Freud of pediatric feeding and swallowing). When I go back to school for my PhD it has to be at Columbia. What an amazing program.
During this evaluation, as with any evaluation for my son, certain realities set in about all the challenges and limitations Sam has to face and that we will have to face for the rest of our lives. Will he eat, will he talk, can he learn, will he get stronger, am I going to have to change his pamper until the day I die etc... Of course I will always remain hopeful that Sam will exceed every expectation imaginable but there is of course the possibility that he may not. In the past I've always left these evaluations feeling empty, sad, anxious, defeated, pretty much sick to my stomach and unable to get through the day without telling someone, anyone to fuck off. But yesterday... yesterday was different.
Yesterday I left the evaluation feeling calm, happy, peaceful, hungry ;), and like I really learned something... I felt smarter. Not only about more strategies and things we can do to help Sam, but things about myself and our "situation". I was able to stay in the moment and not project. I was really able to enjoy sharing our experience with the students and Dr. Sheppard and at the same time enjoy what I was learning about my son regardless of strength or weakness. It was an empowering experience which I have found that I am having more often these days. You see, when you've spent years in constant anguish about the fate of your child it starts to poison your soul. But once you choose to be in a better place you start appreciating and really loving every experience whether good or bad. Of course this is not easy and I am no more special than anyone else. We can all do this you know you just have to choose to.
Something about humility that we can all learn from... I think, no I know... that the positive feelings I felt when leaving the clinic had a lot to do with the energy that surrounded Sam and myself. There was a definitive air of humility from our SLP, Genie, that accompanied us to the eval, from the students and most of all from Dr. Sheppard. In my travels as an SLP I've noticed way too much pretension and arrogance on the part of colleagues, doctors, therapists, nurses, etc... All through my own judgement had NOTHING to be snotty about. But now here I am with THE pediatric feeding and swallowing guru and she was so grateful as were the students of our presence with them for the two hours we were there. Not only did they thank us numerous times for being there but you truly felt the sincerity behind their words. I think it is safe to say that we all learned an enormous amount from Sam. Which leads me back to the peace part...
In my coming peace there is acceptance. Its the acceptance of feeling and believing that I was chosen or maybe I chose to care for Sam who is this being of greatness with great challenges. I have come to accept and be grateful for all that I have learned and will continue to learn from Sam so that we can selflessly help others with only the best intentions. Although this thought process comes with great struggle I have felt it and hope that even in the darkest of times I am able to believe, truly believe that there is a purpose for all of the challenges we face and that there is a happy ending in sight.