Very soon after Bethany came out of the surgery to remove her brain tumor and was assigned a room of her own to recover in, the hospital social worker stopped by for a visit!
He asked me questions like how did my husband and I cope with stressful situations, then offered suggestions on how we might get through the terrible tragedy of having a child with a life threatening illness.
At the time, I was suspicious of that and was worried he might decide my husband and I were incapable of caring for such a sick child and recommend she be placed in a foster home!
I now know that that was a ridiculous notion, but at the time I wasn’t really thinking clearly!
I wish that ongoing, long term counseling had been suggested for us, because my husband and I had absolutely no clue how intensely having a child with a brain tumor would affect our entire family!
We naively thought that once the tumor was removed and we were able to go back home to that life would go right back to normal!
Little did we know just how significantly Bethany’s brain tumor and the disabilities that is caused were going to impact the lives of every single person in our family.
But it certainly didn’t take long for us to discover just how much a brain tumor would seriously turn our world upside down and profoundly change our lives forever.
I mean just think about it…One day, my husband and I took Bethany to the doctor and were not allowed to bring her back home.
There was no running back home real quick to pack our bags or say goodbye to our other kids, because by the time Bethany was finally correctly diagnosed she was literally in danger of passing away at any moment.
We count ourselves lucky that a friend was able to bring our other children to the doctor’s office to say good bye to Bethany before she was whisked away by ambulance to a hospital, two hours away from home.
Malcolm was able to stay at the hospital with Bethany and I for one week and then he went home to try to hold the rest of our family together.
He also had go back to work, too.
I stayed with Bethany in the hospital for the whole two months she was there!
So through no fault of my own, but because of a brain tumor, I was forced to abandon my other children, the youngest of whom was only four at the time.
My husband essentially became a single dad for the duration of Bethany’s hospital stay.
Trying to focus on his work and continuing to provide for his family while being distracted by fear and worry was nearly impossible for my husband.
If he was having a hard time, just Imagine how our other children must have felt…
…abandoned, alone, angry, worried their sister might die, scared that they might get a brain tumor too, being secretly glad it didn’t happen to them and then feeling guilty for being glad…the list of emotions and feelings can go on and on, I’m sure.
Having a child with a serious illness affects the mother’s and father’s relationship in a major way, also.
For some it may bring them closer together, but for others it often drives them apart.
My husband and I were lucky.
Having a daughter with a life threatening illness and disabilities forced us to suddenly stop focusing on our petty, little differences and start focusing on doing everything we could to make not only Bethany’s life as healthy and happy as possible, but to do the same for all our other children as well.
Unfortunately, not all couples are as lucky as we are.
The divorce rate for parents of children with special needs, including life threatening illnesses, is much higher than for other parents.
Exhaustion, stress, differences of opinions concerning treatments, fault finding, blaming each other, and a myriad of other issues experienced by both parents can all add up to break the camel’s back and destroy relationships.
If your family has been affected by a child’s illness or disability, I truly believe that professional counseling could be very beneficial.
I highly recommend that every family member be given the opportunity to discuss, talk about, and communicate their fears, worries, spiritual questions, and any other issues concerning them, together as a family and/or in private sessions with a professional counselor.
Don’t wait for the straw to breaks the camel’s back!
Talk to a professional counselor and join a support group now!