You might have seen from my profile, or the shop, that 10% of all profits made by In The Round are being donated to the Stroke Clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. I’d said for a while that I’d expand on that later, so here goes.
On 13 September last year, our little girl, Harriet, had a stroke. She was one month shy of her 3rd birthday. I can’t possibly put down on paper the event itself, or even how I felt about it, suffice to say we ended up at RCH for a month being cared for by a miraculous team of neurologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, psychologists and nurses -in no particular order. I’m nearly 38 and it goes without saying that this is the worst thing I have ever experienced, and probably always will be. But the team at RCH got us through it and we have been home properly since November (with a few trips back and forth) and haven’t had a scare since February.
This week, however, has been particularly hard. We had a few follow up appointments on Thursday afternoon – physio and rehab. Now, this might just be my perception, but since things began to settle down, there has been never ending advice about how anything Harriet now does is simply Harriet being a normal 3 year old, and that it really is time to move on from the stroke. “She’s 3, none of them sleep well.” (Ok, how many wake up screaming about going back to hospital?) “She’s 3, she’s playing you.” (Ok, how many “pretend” they can’t walk or talk in moments of hysteria, caused by trauma?) “She’s 3, they all fall down alot at 3.” (Um, every time they run?) That sort of feedback has made me feel pretty guilty about dwelling on the stroke, and I’ve felt like I was the one with the problem and just needed to get on with things.
That all changed on Thursday, and that change has prompted this long awaited post.
The physio who saw Harriet on Thursday hadn’t seen her before, but has worked at RCH for 15 years. She said unequivocally that she really wasn’t expecting Harriet to appear so “normal”, because, in her words, “In all my time here, this sort of outcome doesn’t really happen.” So should I feel lucky, or unlucky because it really was such a bad event? Well, down the hall at the rehab doctor, I reverted to the “Yes, everything is going so well, we are very lucky.” His response? “Sophie, you aren’t lucky. It was so unlucky that this happened to you.” The rehab coordinator? “Sophie, this happens to less than 0.05% of the population, you aren’t lucky. You don’t have to feel lucky, and you are allowed to feel (almost) worse nearly 10 months later.”
I have a friend whose daughter has also been unwell, and she said one of the hardest things is people trivialising the event, in the hope that everyone can move on. I understand that, but it’s not that simple. We have trouble with Harriet because she’s 3, but also because she had a stroke last year which left her temporarily unable to move her entire left side, speak or eat. Her recovery has been miraculous, and I really am so grateful for that. But the journey isn’t over, at least for her family (and I include the marvellous grandparents in that). I still cry about it often. Like her first ballet class a few months ago, when she got up and skipped around the room with the other fairy ballerinas, something I thought she may never do. Like 5 minutes ago, when she hugged me for no reason.
So what’s my point? Well, please support In The Round because we support RCH, and they did something for us that we can never repay. And understand that those of us who’ve had traumas like this may seem to respond quite irrationally to the littlest things sometimes. In fact part of this post was triggered by a little update on facebook last night by a friend who was annoyed after a long, long wait in the emergency room with their sick (but not urgently so) child. That update is completely reasonable, and the friend is quite lovely, so please bear that in mind before reading on (because this is my issue and mine alone, and I’m glad many or most of you can’t share the feeling). That post killed me, because when we went to hospital on 13 September, we didn’t wait. There was no time to wait. I would have given anything to wait with a cup of tea instead of sipping lemonade to temper the dry wretching. If you are waiting, it may be because there’s a little Harriet who can’t afford to.
Ok, well now that I’ve gotten that off my emotional chest, more cheery posts soon – perhaps one about the jeans I made for Harriet today based on a boy’s pattern, which, not surprisingly, didn’t see the best outcome.