When being brave is your only option

Where do we go now? 

As I sat in yet another hospital consulting room on Thursday, I had no idea which way things were going to go but hey, I am all about telling you to be brave, so that’s what I had to be.

No stranger to the long corridors, even longer waits in stuffy waiting rooms, and endless appointments, this meeting was as hard as the first when my son was just three months old and we were, finally, told he had hip dysplasia. 

Over the past 12 years, my dear son has had more operations than most people have in a lifetime and he’s suffered trauma and pain that no parent ever wants their child to endure. 

No, it wasn’t cancer, a comment made by a friend as I tried to wrestle with the diagnosis that led our lives into freefall, and nothing could have prepared me, him, my other son, or my husband for the horrors that lay ahead. 

And they were horrors, this wasn’t just a blip and some sticking plaster – far from it. 

Broken legs. 

Bolts and screws (like the one in the cover image which was in his pelvis for a year).

A broken and bolted pelvis. 

So many x-rays. 

Epidurals. 

His tiny body and mind in constant fight or flight, with ours not close behind. 

So, as we sat with a Lego comic and packet of Maltesers waiting to be seen by a new surgeon on Thursday, I had my toes crossed inside my trainers and was manifesting like a mofo that he didn’t need yet more surgery, more time in a wheelchair and more time in recovery and rehab. 

He didn’t. 

He doesn’t. 

I can’t quite believe it. 

I still can’t believe it today. 

Now more surgery? 

The new surgeon was amazing, as have all the NHS staff been, and told us that all the treatment to date has meant his hip is stable, it’s in the socket and there is good coverage. 

In hip language, this is the BEST news! 

I had glimpsed at the X-rays and had a feeling they looked good, but to be told, no more surgery was on the cards, was something else. 
Two days on and I am still trying to compute this, trying to work out how to deal with the aftermath of 12 years of stress, worry, anguish, caring, carrying, overcompensating, loving, campaigning, being angry, being sad, being oversensitive, overprotective and everything in between. 

DDH become a huge part of our lives, I was on a mission to ensure my son got the healthy hips he needed, that my other son didn’t suffer as a consequence of treatment and hospital stays, that my marriage survived and my sanity remained in tact – something I am not sure I was quite so successful with. 

What I know is that I would not wish our experiences on anyone, and I am so thankful that Lucas can live an active life, alongside his brother and peers, and apparently, even rugby is now on the cards….I am not sure I will watch those games. 

On reflection, it might take me time to come to terms with the stress and trauma, the disappointment of not having that perfect baby we all long for, and the sadness of all the things he missed out on. 

However, it has shown me how brave and resilient we can be. 

How, even when I reached rock bottom, more than once, somewhere inside me I found the strength to pick myself up, fight for the care my son needed, ensure my other child felt loved and secured and that my husband didn’t feel disconnected as he carried on working and battling on. 

This wasn’t easy, and it has been one hell of a ride and one we wanted to get off of, many, many times. 

The long nights in hot hospital wards. 

The endless walks to operating theatres and then leaving him with strangers for hours and hours as they tried to fix his body.

Collecting him from recovery, and seeing him in pain, confused and in casts, he didn’t understand. 

The list goes on, the memories feel hard, the tears still want to spill out, but as Glennon Doyle said, we can do hard things, and we have done hard things. 

Being brave isn’t easy, but sometimes, being brave is the only option we have and it is, I know from this experience and many others, that it is when the magic happens. Magic that is added to with the kindness of family, friends as well as internet strangers who let me bring them together to form a hippy community I’ll be forever grateful.

What comes next I don’t know, but I do know that both my sons will forever be my inspiration and I’m looking forward to life not being not quite so complicated and that dear Lucas can go onto senior school and shine, just like his brother, and enjoy all that life brings him. 

Be brave my friends, because that is where the magic happens, and I am pretty sure that if we can be brave, so can you.

Natalie 

May be an image of 14 people, child and people standing
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