A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I saw the original 1967 version of the Dr. Dolittle movie!
Just about the only things I can really remember about that movie are Rex Harrison singing, “If I Could Talk to the Animals” and that crazy PushmePullyou!
The PushmePullyou was an animal that looked kind of like a llama with two heads.
It had two sets of front feet, one set on each end.
This poor animal couldn’t go anywhere because both ends of it wanted to move forward!
As the mom of an autistic daughter who is also a brain tumor survivor, I often feel just like that PushmePullyou, especially when I am faced with making decisions about her and for her!
Just when I think I’ve come to a firm decision and move forward, I have second thoughts and step back.
I feel like I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.
My husband and I can come up with plan after plan and make decision after decision about Bethany’s medical treatment, her behavior treatment, her education, her therapies and her future.
Then just when I think we’ve really made our final decisions, BAM!!! all the doubts, fears, worries, and what ifs come flooding in and I begin to think about all the bad things that can happen if we carry through with those plans.
We could have sent her to school on the bus in which by law only a nurse could administer the life saving medication she needs to stop seizures.
However, we would have had to fight the school district to provide said nurse.
And besides… I was not at all comfortable with a stranger exposing my daughter’s teen age derriere on a school bus to administer this RECTAL medication anyway.
Nor was I at all confidant that I would actually be able to make Bethany get on the school bus in the first place if she decided that she didn’t want to do so.
Should we we pull up roots after 32 years of living out in the beautiful countryside, sell our house and move closer to a city?
In the city it might be more convenient to find staff to work with Bethany and be easier for her to participate in community activities so she can have a more fulfilling life.
Should my husband and I send Bethany to live away from us in a group home in preparation for our eventual deaths?
Should we give her certain medications and hope for the best?
Or should we decide against them because they might damage her liver, make her aggressive, or suicidal or even kill her with a fatal rash?
If she were to suffer any of these side effects we would never forgive ourselves.
On the other hand, if we don’t try these medications we will always wonder if our decision has prevented her from having an improved life free of seizures and behavior issues.
So you see…I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.
Because, no matter what decisions we make concerning Bethany’s health, well being, and future, there will always be pros and cons, there will always be regrets, doubts, and what ifs.
I will always wonder if the other decisions… the ones that we abandoned, would have been the better choices for her.
I will always wonder if because of decisions that we did or didn’t make whether we have prevented Bethany from having the happiest and best life possible.
I will also always wonder if because of the decisions that we did or didn’t make whether we have prevented our other children from having the happiest and best lives possible.
So, you see, I will forever be a PushmePullyou.
*(A version of this post was first published in June 2013.)