Defining Bravery as a Teenager and Parent
Differentiating between bravery and logic — 30 years ago, and today
As a teenager, hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, paralyzed from the neck down, I waited for the myelin sheaths around my nerves to regrow. I spent four months in the hospital, and a lot of time explaining to people, I wasn’t brave. I had no choice. Sure, instead of going through daily physical therapy, I guess I could have stopped eating. I could have done a lot of yelling, screaming, and crying. There are always choices. However, choosing to eat, choosing to do what my doctors advised, and choosing not to yell or curse at my family, friends, or nurses, I didn’t consider brave. Just logical.
In the hospital, I saw many people worse off than me. I knew if I listened to my doctors, I would get most if not all of my movement back, given time. Many I saw in the hospital were not that fortunate.
One temporary side effect was a heightened reaction to heat. In my initial days in the hospital, as an occupational therapist was molding plaster splints for my arms, I kept telling her the plaster was too hot —it was going to burn me. However, she explained, if she decreased the temperature enough for me not to be in pain, it would be too cold to mold the splints. She ultimately had to tell me to ignore the messages my arms were sending to my brain. It was not too hot. Here too, gritting my teeth was the logical reaction. My therapist told me it had to be done, so I did it.
Today I am a member of several online parental support groups. I have two children classified in Category 1 of the Autism Spectrum, and diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. Among other things. They are over-sensitive to sound, heat, and I suspect taste.
Getting bathwater to the right temperature was quite a challenge for several years until they could adjust it themselves. We do have to exhibit some patience and not worry about the amount of water used as it can take them a little longer to get it to the right temperature. We occasionally will need to leave noisy restaurants. I usually dislike the sound too, though I am certain it is worse for them. My wife and I struggle with their reactions to food with even moderate spiciness. Many kids have sensitive palates, but…