Last week, I met my auntie, I call mama, as in my culture it is rude to call her auntie, as your aunties and uncles are another mothers and fathers…. I was very pleased to see her for the first time in 13 years and she started by lifting my spirits. She said it is good to see me in person for a change, and not just my pictures - complimented me on how fit I look for my age, indicating I looked much older in a picture she had seen.
As we were talking, the conversation got round to my daughter, and she reminded me that I was crying when I spoke to her about her in January 2021. To cut the story short, my daughter was diagnosed with AVM two years ago, and until then I had never heard of it and I still refuse learn or pretend not to know how to pronounce words and phrases like Arteriovenous Malformation, Embolization and so on.
I used to drive or walk around frequently near Great Ormond Street in London and each time I passed by my lips were usually dry, with a sense of appreciation – thinking about the children and parents in that place. Now that it’s been part of my family’s life to visit there two or more times a year, it is a different feeling but still awful, nevertheless.
It is soul-wrenching to hear certain health diagnoses from the doctors. In order of degree of awfulness, it is bad for it to be about your parents, it is worse to about you but many times worse to hear those things about your child.
Anyway, back to happiness territory, we are fortunate we have the NHS, as most people in the world do not have access to a well-functioning health system. Yes, there are issues with the NHS, and it is far from being brilliant, as things like doctors failing to diagnose a stroke in our 11-year-old and telling us it is a bad headache are not very reassuring. Thank heavens we are largely out of the worse part of it now.
I always go on about academic achievement and all that but things like the health of your child are even more important and put things in perspective really. One of my favourite analogies is to describe we parents as a catalyst. In Chemistry, a simplistic way to describe a catalyst is that it is has to be present for a chemical reaction to happen, but unlike the reactants, it does not get used up. I think we parents are a little more than a catalyst in the lives of our children, as part of us gets used up in bringing up our children…
I try to write a list of three things that I am grateful for at the end of each day, and it is usually very basic and revolves around health. Some days it could be as simple as the ability to walk around and breath fresh air.
Today is a gift. That's why we call it 'The Present' – Eleanor Roosevelt: