When Optimism is Not Enough

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So if you ask me what Good Friday means, I could wax eloquent on the Easter story but the Easter story is what defines my whole life not just one weekend. There is actually something else that stirs my heart with gratitude along side the Easter story on Good Friday and it is the Good Friday appeal. Each year in Victoria, Channel 7 runs the Good Friday appeal. I know it’s not a very spiritual way of looking at Easter but for us Mazeys, it has a way of reminding us of a time in our lives when the Royal Children’s Hospital had a part to play in our journey of faith.

As a brand new parent I was about to be thrown into a place that wasn’t written about in any text book or talked about in a pre- parenting class and even if facebook had been available I doubt any of my friends would have known how to help me. I would like to think that I was the hero in this story but not so.

God really does want the glory.

(For part 1 of this blog, check out my last blog here http://daretoflourish.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/strong-faith-vs-pretend-faith/)

At my first appointment with the physio I was pretty optimistic. I tend to be pretty optimistic about most things in life and it has helped me deal with many things throughout my life. The weight of optimism is a light and easy weight that I now find easy to lift. Optimism is not an easy choice but a necessary choice that I have learnt to intentionally use, develop and build throughout my life. I am intentional about pushing away the weight of pessimism, negativity, doubt, unbelief, cynicism or anything else that robs me of confidence. Hebrews 10 clearly challenges us with this instruction…. ‘ do not throw away your confidence for it will be rewarded’. Anything that is going to rob me of confidence must be pushed away and anything that will help me hold my confidence must be pulled in and held onto. So optimism is like a weight bearing exercise. I must choose it. It helps me bring muscle definition to my confidence ‘muscles’. Optimism is not faith but it is a weight that helps activate my faith and make it stronger. But optimism wasn’t going to be enough to get me through this.

So back to my story……
After going through a series of tests and exercises, the physio grabbed a letter off her desk and sat me down to explain her findings. As I have mentioned in my previous blog, I was expecting her to say everything was going to be fine and at worst give me some tips to help Ethan develop as he should. She started by telling me there was nothing wrong with his neck and that he didn’t have a torticolis. (There it it was …just what I thought she would say) ……but …she went on and showed me the letter she had in her hand. This letter outlined a rising incidence of positional plagiocephaly which had reached a crisis and all paediatric medical practitioners across Victoria were being asked to keep an eye out for it and should they have any concerns to get them to make contact with the Royal Children’s Hospital. She pointed out that she thought Ethan’s condition had some similarities to this condition and that we would need to see a specialist in Melbourne. What were the chances of me walking into the physio the very same week she is gets this letter. I don’t believe in coincidence but I do believe in providence.

Just for information sake.. The rising incidence of positional plagiocephaly is due to the push to have babies sleep on their back rather than their tummies and sides to avoid the possibility of SIDS. A side issue of this change in sleep position has lead to a rise in the incidence of ‘flat head syndrome’ due to the head being moulded against the flatness of the bed. The letter the physio held in her hand described this issue and symptoms to look for. Although, Ethan’s head was not flat as shown in the letter it had raised our physio’s awareness and she was more conscious of these cranial issues than she should have been. She gave us a number of the top cranial surgeon in Melbourne. This was Dr Anthony Holmes.Dr Holmes . Tony Holmes is a Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon. At the time Dr Holmes was the head of Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital, the same surgeon who was to work on the documented surgery to separated co-joined twins Krishna and Trishna. What were the chances of us getting to see the best of the best in cranio surgeons? We are not the hero in this story. I believe in providence.

Maybe Ethan’s condition was serious after all.

As Steve and I sat and waited to see Dr Holmes, I took in the details of the surgery. The high-end expensive furniture, the classy brand of clothes the receptionist was wearing…this was no ordinary medical practitioner. This Doctor could charge what he wanted because people who came to see him valued his opinion. Our consultation lasted about 6 minutes. If you do the maths, it cost us $100 a minute so we were keen to find out the positive outcome.

Those 6 minutes in 2003 changed something and although I would still choose optimism, it was going to be tough to push the other weights away.

20130329-161253.jpgDr Holmes told us that he had not seen a case of ‘in utero plagiocephaly’ as bad as Ethan’s. He was surprised he was seeing Ethan at such a young age as most children he sees with this condition are at least 10 months old up to three years and although they have some hope of helping there is little they can do once the fontanelles have hardened and there is a very small gap of time before this happens. The early diagnosis meant the potential for Ethan coming out the end of 12 months treatment was pretty positive. What were the chances of Ethan being diagnosed so early. The clincher was that he would have to wear a helmet for the first year of his life. If it didn’t work then he would probably need cranial surgery. There were several comments and the dangers he would face as he grew and developed as an active boy.

It took just 6 minutes of hearing a negative report for me to realise that no amount of optimism was going to change this…but this could not rob me of my core belief in God who can choose to show me himself in it, get me through it or turn it around. Did I believe Dr Holmes? Absolutely. But I also have a text book I do turn to, in situations like this. That text book (The word of God) has been my greatest strength but bearing the weight if this text book and the weight if a bad report was going to require something supernatural. A bad report does not make me weak. A bad report is just that. Thank goodness the Bible gives us lots of examples of people who navigated the gamet of challenges. This wasn’t a bear or a den of lions. I still had my own strength and Steve’s strength but was about to bear a weight that required supernatural strength to carry me. We were directed to head straight to the Royal Children’s Hospital to meet Nicole.

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5 thoughts on “When Optimism is Not Enough

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing story Jenny. So lovely now to see your boy growing up with such a cheeky smile and full of energy and intelligence. Thank you for explaining that optimism takes you so far but then it is over to Faith . love it.

  2. I love this Jen, thanks for sharing and giving us yet another tool to keep our faith strong and moving forward. Praise God for your young man growing so healthy now! I too, am thankful for the faithfulness and love of our God through very challenging times – He is worthy to be praised!

  3. So good, Jen. I copied big bts of it by hand in my journal because God is speaking through your story to us. This is his voice. Praise God. He is beautiful. Look at Ethan, he is so beautiful. He is a reflection of God. I’m with Julie, I can’t wait for the next part!

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