While I hate to see summer come to a close every year, I’m not one of those moms that you see all over Facebook dancing a jig that her kids are going back to school. I suffer from school year trepidation and I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only parent with a chronically ill child that feels this way. While I’m incredibly optimistic that we’ll get off to a strong start this year and be back full-time, there’s a part of me that remembers all the years past. The attempts to go with migraines or feeling like she’d pass out from POTS. And, then there was last year with sky-high blood pressure, a major head injury and a botched lumbar puncture.
I’m not going to be the first (or the last) parent of a sick kid to tell you that their luck sucks. Often, you think you’re getting a handle on one thing and something new crops up. Take us this week. My daughter returned from a swim party with a red patch on her arm. Within a day we were in urgent care diagnosed with Cellulitis (what teen gets that?), the next day the emergency room and then a two-day hospital stay. Boo.
Despite all of that, I feel pretty lucky. Lucky that it wasn’t some kind of flesh-eating bacteria that would affect the rest of her life. Fortunate that we were able to get it under control and get her home. But, I feel the most blessed that this happened the week BEFORE school instead of next week because that would’ve been devastating.
My teenager will be walking into high school next week as a sophomore. She told a nurse at the hospital today that she’s not nervous, despite the fact that she only made it a few days last year. She’s confident and yes, I’m sure she knows that she will miss days when she’s sick, she’s just been longing to go back. She makes me incredibly proud but she’s not the problem. I am.
I have school year trepidation.
I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I have my fingers and toes crossed that she’ll be able to walk into school and attend the first full week. She’s worked hard to get strong and healthy but the fact remains, once you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness (or multiple ones), healthy is a relative term. It’s not the healthy of the other kids. Neither is normal. So, I go into the year optimistic that if we hit three days a week, we’ve made progress. The first week she’s able to attend all five days, I may throw a kegger.
I’m also not really looking forward to all the bullshit that goes into back to school time. The past three years, I’ve had to fight hard to get both schools to understand my daughter’s health concerns and build a 504 plan that addresses them. Still, I’ve run across both teachers and administrators that just don’t get it. I pray that this year we are blessed to be surrounded with compassionate educators. It would make life so much easier.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the kids. Teenagers are not known for having the most tact or empathy. Many are under the assumption that my child is “lucky that she doesn’t have to go to school all the time.” Some tell her she’s faking it. I’d love to see her reconnect with old friends but I am really hoping that she makes some new friends in her classes this year. There’s so many opportunities to meet new kids. I hope she takes advantage of it.
It’s interesting how much your perspective changes with a sick child. Parents of healthy kids don’t give a second thought to the start of the year other than worrying about the right teacher or whether their kid is in the class with the bully. As a parent of a chronically ill child, I have to worry about almost everything and it’s exhausting. Here’s hoping that my school year trepidation is unwarranted this year.