Unexpected flash backs & long term coping

I find myself sitting in the same surgical waiting room at The Royal Children’s Hospital where we sat waiting to take our son into his second Open Heart Surgery. Today it’s just a meeting with an anaesthetist for some dental work, but walking in did make me take a short breath and catch myself. I wasn’t expecting today to be a day of flash backs 😕😆

The chronic illness journey is one that continues to take me by surprise and stretch me in so many unexpected ways. No panic attacks today though so that’s a bonus 😅

The appointment made me realise a couple of things:

  1. I am coping with having a HeartKid a lot better than I was before. I think I’ve probably always looked fine on the outside, but the mental battle of the unknowns, unpredictability, life being flipped upside down, ongoing medical appointments and waiting for his next surgery has been quite draining. Before, an appointment like this would have taken a lot out of me. But today, it was just like any other doctor’s appointment to be honest. Yep, we talked about potential complications, his surgical history, fasting before the general anaesthetic for his dental work etc. but it was just like any other conversation - primarily helped by the fact that the RCH is a brilliant hospital which keeps great records so we don’t need to keep repeating his history over and over.

  2. I didn’t have a panic attack. Panic attacks were new to me before I had a HeartKid. They didn’t even start straight away after he was born, but a couple of years later when his heart decline hit a little plateau. I might write more about this another time, but for today, I’m just happy I didn’t have one. My long term coping potential looks like it’s on the up!

  3. My son is coping with his condition and the complications it brings better than ever. He was relaxed, did some colouring, asked the anaesthetist how he would go to sleep, how long he would be asleep, how many people would be in the room, and took the whole thing in his stride. When he was lying in bed tonight I said, ‘I’m so proud of the way you cope with your health and heart condition. You just get on with it and keep going.’ And I meant it. He might only be 5, but I truly admire his coping abilities and resilience.