A Very Strange Love Story
I have more than a little fire in my belly.
I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by our local paper about our journey with Erik, and I accepted. The article will be featured in the health section next Thursday. The topic is about people who came up with their own diagnoses using the Internet. A woman was apparently interviewed who diagnosed herself with a horrible ailment, but it turns out she didn't have it at all. And then there's me, an experienced medical transcriptionist who considers herself the "Google Queen."
In the end, after we were finally told something was officially wrong with Erik by a medical professional and that we needed genetic testing, it took me less than 30 minutes to diagnose my son correctly with the help of the clunky electronic box humming away on my desk. In my career, you only need to know what key words to type in to discover exotic diagnoses and laboratory tests that physicians mumble but expect you to type into medical records perfectly. I very quickly narrowed down a list of genetic abnormalities to determine our worst case scenario, and WS was number one on my list. I remember telling my friends the week before we received our official diagnosis that I was most afraid of Something Called Williams Syndrome. The local reporter interviewed me on the phone yesterday, and I explained how I came across a cartoon caricature that illustrated some very exaggerated facial features of Williams syndrome. He asked if I could find that drawing again, and I asked him to hold for a minute, not knowing if I could after almost three years.
My fingers automatically typed: "facial features Williams syndrome"
There it was. That awful, clown-like drawing that rocked my world and broke my heart forever. I hadn't seen it since that horrible day I realized what we were dealing with. I told him that I held up Erik's photo to the ones on that web page, and the mysterious puzzle pieces of the last 17 months of our kid's life crashed together all at once. Everything suddenly made sense. I remember trying to talk myself out of my suspicions but that I finally had to move the portrait of Erik off the wall above my desk while I worked because I just wasn't ready to believe it was true.
I consider telling our story a giant step in my healing/grieving process. I can now semi-objectively explain things to others who know nothing about me or what we have gone through and feel proud of what we have overcome and accomplished. Hell, I am proud of what we have SURVIVED.
Today I got Erik up from his nap, and he joined me on the couch with his favorite fleece blanket and the infamous, progressively flaccid Stinky Dog. I pressed my lips tightly against Erik's forehead, savoring the wonderful heat and scent of him, and I concluded that he is the subject of the greatest love story of my life. Just like any mother would say. Except our story started out with an incessantly screaming infant, doctors' visits, doubting my skills as a parent, genetic testing, medication, and sleepless nights wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into, all culminating in the sickening realization the universe had randomly chosen to strip away some of the precious parts of ourselves written on the genes we attempted to give our son. All to the soundtrack of some of the people around me telling me that God hand selected me to be the mother of a child with special needs because I was strong. That Erik's condition was a wonderful gift. That I had essentially been singled out for this while I was forced to watch other mothers have babies with all of the parts they were intended to have.
I suppose that's what lit the pilot light in my belly to begin with.
In the end, the pain has dulled to an almost tolerable, familiar level. The struggles are different, and I am more effectively equipped to overcome them. And, most amazing of all, the love Erik has returned to me has inspired me to shout our story from the rooftops. It is turning out to be a beautiful thing, indeed.
A photographer from the paper arrives tomorrow to take our photo together.