When we were pregnant with our first baby, I was rather perplexed to find that there was no manual. I found a lot of books and a lot of people willing to give me their advice but everything and everyone seemed to say something different. In fact, they often gave the complete opposite advice. Bed-sharing was a classic example. Everyone had a well-formed, backed-up opinion on whether it was right or wrong to share your bed with your baby. It became obvious that there was no right way, and to my clear-cut, black and white logical way of thinking, that did not make sense. Surely there is a right way. Lots of different ways, yes, but what was the right way?
Thus began our journey into the great big perplexing world of parenting.
Thank goodness this was before the days of Google. I had enough to sift and filter without the opinions of the entire world-wide-web. It was already too much and we had to find a way that suited us. Perhaps it was not the right way, but it was the best way. I had to be satisfied with that, and looking back I can see that it was definitely the best way to parent our first baby. By the time babies number three and four came along (at the same time), all manuals would have been thrown out the window regardless of what they advised. Right or wrong, bed sharing became our default. We were so tired we had no other option.
Forgetting that feeling of "too much," when we received our son's diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a month or so ago we went straight to Google.
CFS on Google: it's a minefield. Worse than parenting methods. Trust me. More than once I slammed my laptop shut with exclamations of "rubbish!" (or worse).
I didn't want the opinions of everyone on the world-wide-web; I wanted the right way to treat our son.
Once again, I've had to accept there may not be a right way to treat his symptoms. But I do believe there is a best way and it was a matter of discerning, filtering and judging what is the best way.
Ultimately, it has become a matter of trust.
I know better than anyone what it is to be so desperate for something that you leave your brain at the door. My excuse is that I did not realise at the time what I was missing and consequently searching for. I'd like to think that if I had been self-aware then, I would have been more discerning about the people who were so ready to jump in and fill that need. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Out of that experience, trust has become very precious to me. I used to trust naively and unthinkingly. I always saw good in others; therefore, I trusted them. Now it doesn't come easily, but it comes appropriately and when I have it, I value it. Trust and I have learnt to understand one another in a carefully considered and reasoned way. I do not trust blindly. But I still trust. And when I say "I trust you," or "I trust this," it means an awful lot.
So I have chosen to trust a team of medical professionals in the care and treatment of our son. Whatever they say goes and whatever "manual" they offer me, I will embrace and pursue with all the commitment I can muster.
In trusting our team, I have not left my brain at the door. I have reasoned this choosing to trust logically and very carefully. First, they are medical professionals. They are educated, highly trained, experienced and are doing their job to the best (and beyond) of their ability. Well-meaning people have (unhelpfully) regaled us with stories of medical misadventure and I understand this risk but I am putting those fears to the side. Second, our team has no vested interest in us trusting them other than medically and ethically, to see our son get well. No financial gain, which is important because not all people who offer us a solution can say that. Third, they are all individually saying the same thing. They all have embraced the best method for treatment. Consistency is a very good sign.
Finally, I discern that our team is made up of honest, good-hearted and caring people. To some of them at least, we are more than just another case. I am aware that I have been a poor judge of character in the past, so I won't rely on this alone but it is almost enough. Actually, in this case, it is very nearly enough.
Do they have all the answers and the right way forward? Possibly not. Will they let me down? Possibly. Should knowing this affect my trusting them now? No. Because it is my reasoned choice to trust.
If you have stumbled across this blog because you too are facing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or some other chronic illness with your child or loved one, I encourage you to find the best way forward for you and your family, to trust that way and to commit to it. It's not a manual and it won't always be easy but the distractions and other paths can be overwhelming causing you to lose your way. In this, we do not want to lose our way.