Monday, December 2, 2013

Do No Harm

Just when you think you've settled into the turkey leftovers and coasting to Monday, one of the kids gets hurt or sick and sends things into a tailspin.  Our oldest sent us running to ER on Saturday night.  He just hadn't been himself all day, and had been limping a lot.  

Usually he wants to be around the family whatever we're doing, but this time he just laid around.  

When I had to carry him out to potty at bedtime, I knew he was in need of help.  

Yep, that's our oldest.  He's an Australian Shepherd or a sheltie, or more likely a mix of the two.  For ten years he's been our pound puppy.  

He's just as cute as our human kids, no? 

This guy, our Jedi, was named after the coolest and smoothest guys I could think of.  He was the only dog in the puppy part of the pound that wasn't barking when we visited.  From the first time he sat in my lap on that cold tile floor of the pound, he's been my buddy.  My Jedi, j-dog, J to the D-O-G, Poochatronic, or fuzzy britches (as Nanny called him) is older than our kids.  

He was and is THE BEST kid dog anyone could want.  He loves his babies.  When Ryan came home from the hospital, he wasn't sure about not getting to see me much, but he loved his new baby.  He even tried to pick up Ryan's binky for me one time!  

As you can see, wherever Ryan was is where Jedi wanted to be.  

Ryan hasn't shown much interest in Jedi since the tongue-yanking baby days, other than to hold his toy Woody on Jedi's back and chase him through the house yelling, "Yard Sale!"  But there they are.  Aren't they sweet? 

That furry guy scared the daylights out of me this weekend.  A trip to the doggie ER revealed a displaced hip due to compensating for a torn ACL.  Poor guy.  

After the agony of the drive, the wait, and hearing him whine... he NEVER whines... I stood behind his doctor, who pointed out on x-rays exactly what was going on.  He mentioned surgery, the types of surgery, then he said the words "geriatric patient".  My dog is not old!  

Oh wait... 

This great guy who licked the kids' heads then sat proudly in front of the carrier when then were born... this guy who has listened to me laugh, cry, and all emotions between... who has seen me at my worst and my best... is getting old.  And the worst part is that he's hurting.  

So we wait.  We'll know what to do soon.  The words that hung in the air as they left the vet's lips aren't the diagnosis, or even the "geriatric patient" part.  He said something so profound yet simple that I've heard before, but never thought about it.  

"Do no harm." 

The whole idea, as the doc said, is to do no harm.  Do the best we can, but do no harm.  Don't let ambitious goals and ideas get in the way of empathy and healthy limits.  We want the best for this dog.  Not the worst.  

Yes, we could force him through surgery no matter.  But there might not be a "through" surgery.  It could quickly be the end of his life or make him suffer more.  

We agonize over every decision with Jedi's first little brother, too.  Every therapy, every technique, every everything is scrutinized through books, websites, other people, and our hearts.  No decision is ever really final.  The door is always open to change.  One of the hardest decisions to swallow as right is our decision to go to a self-contained classroom.  

Fight.  So many of the veterans of the autism/special needs battle tell you to get ready to fight.  Question.  Needle.  Nag.  They warn that you'll have to slug your way through this.  And so many people do have to do these things.  But every time I'm tempted to mama-bear over a decision, if I'm given time to think, I almost always either back down and change my mind or at the very least find a polite way to get my thoughts across on Ryan's behalf.  Not to his detriment.  Not to the detriment of the people who care for him.  Truly for his best and not my way... or being hailed as a mom who beat the system.  

Do no harm.  I have to do my best for him, making the best decisions possible with the information and resources I have, and remember that Ryan and his feelings and well-being are number one on that list.  

Ryan is the best resource for what I decide for him.  

That is why you won't see me hailed for fighting when "they" wanted to put him in a self-contained class.  "They" were right.  He is more comfortable.  He is happy.  With the pressure off, he is learning.  Working.  Playing.  And he is enjoying himself.  

His life is good.  

Do no harm.  

This is best.  Some kids don't need a class of four to thrive.  Ryan does.  And no advocacy group will guilt me into thinking otherwise.  It's simple. Shoving him into a classroom in the name of advocacy, awareness, normalcy, or any other reason other than his clear desire to be there would do harm. 

With sensory issues, communication issues, and a host of other frustrations, his life is hard enough.  To him, I will do my best, and by the grace of God, I will do no harm. 

I'll become a student of Ryan, not just therapies. 

I'll take the extra time it takes to really be Ryan's Mom, not to be a hero. 

And I'll not let my decisions be made by what he and she did that worked.  Colored maybe... but not decided. 

I will definitely work on realizing that our best is our best and it's all we have... even where he's concerned.  

I realize none of this will be the kind of post that compels folks to hit share as they reach for the kleenex... there are no amazing stories, no seemingly magical fixes or cures.  Just a mom learning to realize who I need to be for my boy. 

Because it's one thing to do no harm to an animal... completely another when considering the implications of decision making for our son.

Now pardon me while I read this post to myself about every hour as a reminder. 

Thanks be to God for Ryan... and for keeping our Jedi dog around a little longer. 

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