A Diagnosis :: Grieving a New Normal

A new medical diagnosis is something that I know I am not alone in. It might be your child, your self, or your family member. Many of us have crossed this bridge or will at some point.

It’s a grief process. Depression, denial, bargaining, anger, and acceptance. I can easily get stuck in the bargaining stage. If I just do everything right, perhaps this will go away. I’ve been down this road before when my son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, so I know that it doesn’t work that way. When I found myself facing yet another diagnosis, I was riding the fence between anger and acceptance.

A New First

I drove to Walgreens at 10:00 at night to pick up my son’s medication. Medication that I hoped and prayed that he would never need. My 5-year-old had his first seizure. His second seizure followed two weeks later. A first seizure is typically treated as a fluke. Somehow I knew that we weren’t going to fall into this fluke category. We were referred for an EEG. So there I was bringing my little 5-year-old to the hospital yet again for a new kind of test. A test that would look at his brain activity. My child never acts up for tests. He is used to them. He has had more CAT scans, surgeries and MRI’s than most of us will have in a lifetime. Interestingly enough, he hated the EEG. He is an intuitive child. A part of me wondered if he knew we were headed for yet another diagnosis.

Next, we waited for the results

Waiting for results has to be one of the hardest things for any of us to do. This is not my first rodeo. I just go into survival mode and coast through my daily activities as I am waiting. When the results were read to me, I found out that my child was officially diagnosed with epilepsy.

Fear, Frustration, and Gratitude

So here we are. We have added another diagnosis to the list. I wish I had one million positive things to say right now.

  • I could say that I am grateful for medical interventions that work.
  • I could say that I’m grateful for the other moms who have walked down this path and comforted me.
  • I could say that I’m grateful for the pharmacist who handed me the medication at 10 PM.
  • I could say that I’m grateful for the neurologist who told me to give the medication and proceed with our beach vacation.
  • I could say that I’m grateful for the friends who offered hugs through the phone.
  • My heart is full for every person, doctor, nurse and therapist who conveys to my son that he is limitless.

We will not be defined by a diagnosis.

I can also say that epilepsy hasn’t stopped our life. My son is walking around in the community. He is learning to play baseball. He is hitting golf balls. He is swimming with his brother and cousins. He is riding and learning to steer a horse. He is being a little boy and my gratitude is immense.

Grief and gratitude at the same time

I have a list of positive things that I can say. I feel them strongly. I see them. It helps to focus on all of the things that are going well. They are there in the wise part of my brain and I can access them.

Still, sometimes I just have to give myself permission to say:

Damn you diagnosis!

You will not define us. We will rise above you and we will adjust to our new normal.

Kelley Lockhart-Delaune
Kelley Lockhart Delaune was born and raised In Metairie, Lousiana. She is married to her husband and has two boys, Roman (6) and Remy (4). Kelley received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from LSU and her Masters in Social Work from Tulane in 2002. Kelley is a psychotherapist in private practice in Mid-City where she focuses on helping others to heal themselves and their relationships. In her spare time, she enjoys writing about mental health and wellness. She loves the beach, transparency, the color blue, a good coffee, and CrossFit. She shares her family's journey on Instagram @RomanandRemy.

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