Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Diagnosis

My daughter had those seizures that hospitalized her for a few days last April. Try as they might, her doctors could not find a cause for them. Many tests were given and some took longer than her hospital stay to get results back. Such was the case with the DNA tests.

One day in June of last year, a team of genetics doctors from the local university hospital asked my wife and I to join them for a meeting. I assumed this was an appointment they'd requested to be able to run additional tests. I was totally wrong. When we sat down with them the doctors explained that they had seen an anomaly in the DNA that was collected back in April.

They began to explain to my wife and I about our daughter's syndrome in much the same way that I've described it here in previous posts. They told us of her mental and physical handicaps. It was almost too much to handle, especially going into the meeting without any emotional preparation for what we were going to hear.

I had planned to go into work after the appointment was complete, but was so overcome, I took the day off to be with my little one and my wife as we came to grips with what we had learned and went through the process of informing our close family members.

I'm not sure if all parent's do this, but I had already envisioned what my daughter would be like before she was born. I had seen so many monumental accomplishments in her life before I'd actually seen her at all. I had convinced myself that she'd be intelligent, athletic, attractive, and so on. Obviously after the meeting with the geneticists, this vision of mine had been completely thrown into chaos. I felt like I had lost my daughter because all of the plans I had made in my mind had been shattered.

But there was something I overlooked. Despite the passing of whatever plans I had made, I still had my daughter. My little one was going to be the person that she was meant to be, not the person that I had envisioned. It was a difficult lesson to have pushed on my so early and so abruptly, but I believe it's one that all parents must learn at some point. We as parents may have some grand design for our child's life, but it's not up to us. Our children turn out as God intends. We can choose to be an instrument in shaping that child, but we absolutely cannot mold that child into something they're not supposed to be.

It took me a while to work through that. It's been over a year since "The Diagnosis". Today I'm able to appreciate my little angel for who she is, not what I had envisioned she'd be. Even though she's got challenges, she's a happy little individual who's making great progress every day. And best of all, it's the progress she needs to make and not the progress I'm trying to force her to make. Thanks mostly to my daughter's disabilities I believe I've overcome the parental tendency to try to live life through my child. I don't think I'll fall into the trap of pushing her to be more than I was in some crazy quest to prove myself. I'm grateful for that. Just another profound lesson I've been taught by this little person in my life who doesn't even speak yet.

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