What I’ve Learned Since My Son’s LAMA2 MD Diagnosis
On Oct. 21, 2019, I sat in a doctor’s office with my 11-month-old son, Alfie, and was handed a piece of paper. Nothing was said, nothing was explained — I was just given the paper.
This piece of paper included words such as “severe,” “deformities,” “insufficient,” “seizures,” “inability to walk,” and “life-limiting,” to name a few. I sat there, crying, while the geneticist and genetic counselor continued to talk about my son as a diagnosis, not a person. For every question I asked, I only received “We don’t have a crystal ball” in response.
I left, still crying. I went home and sat on the lounge, cuddling my little boy. I felt numb and hopeless. And when my partner came home, when my parents visited, I did the same thing. I said nothing and just handed them the piece of paper. What could I say? Even I had no idea what was going on.
The next few months, we just went through the motions. There was so much to be done. Finding therapists, attending appointments, tube-feeding, doing swallow studies, sleep studies, and an echocardiogram — all atop regular, day-to-day life. I was pretty numb and very sad.
I was very lucky to have good friends and family around me because Alfie’s diagnosis consumed me. They listened as I went on and on about Alfie, how I felt, the very few other affected children I’d found online, and insensitive things that doctors or even strangers in the supermarket would say to me. I cried — a lot. I cried during appointments, after appointments, after play groups, and just about everywhere!
In the last few months, I’m glad to say that something has changed. Alfie still has a diagnosis of LAMA2-related muscular dystrophy. We still don’t have that lucrative crystal ball, which can be incredibly scary. I still have days when I’m teary.
But I’ve learned that Alfie is so much more than that stupid piece of paper. What the doctors didn’t tell me was that Alfie would light up the room everywhere he goes. That he would make me smile and laugh every day. That he would have the most beautiful manners and say, “Thank you” and “Bless you.” That he would sit up in the trolley with the biggest smile on his face, saying hi to every person in every aisle we walk down. That he would love music and singing and dancing. That he would chase me in his Wizzybug and laugh his head off at his stinky feet.
I thank my lucky stars every day for Alfie.
While those of you reading may not be in the same exact position as me, as a mother and caregiver navigating the world of muscular dystrophy, I hope to share parts of my life that may still resonate — perhaps similar experiences or feelings. I hope to increase knowledge, change perceptions, and ensure that we all learn to have a little more grace and understanding.
If your child is facing a diagnosis, I know the journey may seem scary and daunting, and it may not be the life that you had envisioned or hoped for, but it is still a beautiful life. Perhaps it is even more special.
I chose to name my column “Bloom,” because …
“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but you’
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