About a year ago I bought this bracelet at the Autism One conference.
A friend had a similar bracelet that had caught my eye. I know there are some people that really don’t like the autism puzzle piece symbol, but I really do – for me it’s a subtle reminder of the unique makeup of our little guy and how much the whole process of figuring him out has been – and will be – a puzzle.
So, I found this bracelet and I made a deal with myself. As long as Sam carries his autism diagnosis, I will wear the bracelet. It doesn’t come off. When (I’m going for when – not if …) Sam loses the diagnosis, I’ll put the bracelet in my jewelry box, just as a reminder of where we came from and how the pieces fit together for his recovery.
And it hasn’t. Until my own bout with medical mysteries came into play.
Several weeks back, I started having some weird pains in my arm. Thinking I had a pinched nerve, I went to see the doctor, who ultimately ordered an MRI to make sure there was nothing more nefarious going on beyond a pinched nerve. Never having had one, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Admittedly, the nurse who called me for pre-procedure details, as well as the intake person at the hospital, had me a little nervous in asking questions about what metal I might have IN my body (having treated myself to braces for my 40th birthday, I was a little apprehensive about how my teeth would fare in the tube). I never thought about the metal I had ON my body.
I got to the hospital, was adequately assured that my teeth would not be affected by the magnets, and was given some comfy scrubs to change into before the complementary massage before and movie viewing I’d have in the machine. (Talk about perks to keep you inclined to go to one hospital over another!) And it was only when the nurse told me I had to remove all my jewelry – and pointed to my bracelet – that it dawned on me that I was going to have to
take it off.
For a few moments, I was more than a little distraught. I had made a deal – even if just with myself (perhaps it was because it was with myself) – that I wasn’t going to remove that symbol of this fight until we’d reached the end goal.
It was like I was giving up that fight by taking it off.
It was only a few moments because it didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t actually have much of a choice in the matter. There was big old magnetic tube with my name on it that didn’t really care who I made a deal with or promise to. It was a silly little bracelet that needed to come off for this test I had to have. (And which, by the way, was the first thing back on when I came out of the tube.)
But it isn’t just a silly little bracelet. Not to me.
It is a reminder to me of what it is we’re working for every day, even when he’s not around. When Sam’s at school, it’s with me. When I’m away on a business trip, it’s with me. When Sam’s sleeping and I’m lying awake not able to shut off the thoughts in my head, it’s with me. It’s not him. But I can look down at my wrist anywhere I am and know that he’s with me and I’m not giving up his fight.
Taking it off, however, was necessary because I refuse to give up that fight. It’s so easy for any parent to fall into the trap of failing to take care of yourself so that you don’t have the ability to care for – and fight for – your child. I think that’s even more true when that parent has a special needs child. You sacrifice your health, safety, and even sanity to fight for your kid. And you don’t think twice about it.
Until it catches up to you.
Now I was fortunate that my issue ended up being nothing more than arthritis in my neck – which likely comes from too much work on laptops and iPads. But it was a real reminder that I have to make sure I’m taking care of myself in order to be able to take care of Sam.
So, I will be trying to do just that. Taking steps to make sure I’m maintaining my physical, mental, emotional well-being so that I can continue on this fight for Sam.
With my bracelet on…