I have to admit something.
I don't really know very much about shunts.
This contraption is IN MY CHILD'S BRAIN, and I don't really know much about it at all.
I know that we have the very best pediatric neurosurgeon, and I know that he puts me at ease every time we see him. I know that the shunt is a valve, opening and closing depending on the amount of fluid in Asher's brain. And I know the shunt can malfunction for a number of reasons, but I don't really know what all of them are.
I've never googled "shunt malfunction."
I was too scared.
I've been pretending that ever since Asher had surgery, he's...well... fixed. Or at least a part of me is pretending that. Of course, when he vomits or seems exceptionally tired I think about a malfunction, but that doesn't happen very often.
For the most part, I try not to think about any of it at all.
I only know the basics, which I shared here. So when I sat across the table from a friend last week (one who knows full well what it's like to have a baby with medical issues) and she asked the very best questions, I couldn't answer most of them. I sat there feeling a bit silly for not knowing the answers. Of course, that wasn't her intention, it just happened and it got me thinking some ugly thoughts at first...
...What kind of mother doesn't know the answer to these questions? Why wouldn't I have educated myself as entirely as humanly possible? What's wrong with me?...
But on the way home and over dinner with another friend the next night (yes, I was very social last week), I realized that I've been going through my own personal "stages" this past year.
I figure every mother handles this sort of thing a different way. I've simply passed through some stages of denial and fear, and that's kept me from needing or wanting to know more. Whatever the reason for it, I know all of this not knowing has served a purpose for me. Maybe it has something to do with my sanity because if you don't know, I'm quite easily overwhelmed. I'm a strange dichotomy, all of this angst and peace at exactly the same time, all the time.
The thing is, I don't want to know that some malfunctions are life-threatening. I don't want to know that sometimes the malfunction won't even show up on a cat scan and that means it could get worse with no one knowing. I don't want to hear that having hydrocephalus is painful every day. I don't want to think about what's taken from Asher's quality of life because of this condition.
This is my boy. I want him to wake up in the morning without a headache. I want him to play sports without being scared that something will go terribly wrong. I want him to sit in class one day, thinking about what his teacher is saying and not about the pressure in his head.
I want him to have a brain that works the way that it's supposed to work, without help from a device.
But maybe that's not what I need. Wanting something that doesn't exist is definitely part of denial. I don't think I need that part of denial anymore.
Because part of sitting with this without thinking about it much, just letting it be, has allowed me to fall in love with Asher just exactly as he is without muddying the waters. He is not medical jargon to me. He's simply my Asher.
So I didn't want to know and maybe I still don't. Yeah, maybe there's a part of me that will always hold hands with denial, and I think that's okay. But now, since I'm ready, my other hand is starting to reach out toward acceptance, and it's good.