And the more I witnessed May attempting new skills, the more desperately I wanted to help her achieve them. There are no books written about how to assist in the cognitive development of a brain-damaged baby, and yet I was constantly told that the first year of her life was vital to her development. How is a parent meant to exercise a baby's brain? Rather than my maternity leave dripping by at an interminable rate, I spent 12 months chasing time. Every day was a day lost in the battle to progress May's development.
Where to begin?
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What would help her more? Sensory stimulation? Physical movement? Classical music? A diet of brain food?
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With no medical knowledge whatsoever, I felt that May's future was dependent on a total novice: me. I also felt my inexperience strongly when negotiating the endless bureaucracy involved with May's care. Every piece of equipment she needed, or financial assistance she was entitled to, was accompanied by forms, such as the page Disability Living Allowance form.
I struggled to get May appointments with specialists. Sometimes my request for a referral was questioned, but more frequently it was the administrative side of things that let us down: referral forms lost, hospital appointments were never made. Every day, I spent hours chasing up appointments on the telephone. I still do. May is a delightful baby. Aside from the emotional trauma we felt, or the tediousness of an endless string of medical appointments, she is an absolute pleasure. She remains unaware of the dire predictions for her future. Rather than lie in her cot, totally unresponsive, she took up Olympic-level bouncing and gorgeous squeals of pleasure at the sound of bird song or the touch of her father's tickles.
She learned to recognise the sounds she loved, her door creaking open in the morning, the bath running or the swish of milk in her bottle. A week ago, May turned one year old. In her honour, a banquet was laid on and champagne popped. We stuffed over 20 friends and family into our tiny flat and all cheered for May, while she soaked up the attention.
Poor May had woken up, bleary-eyed and drippy, with a cold. A year ago, I couldn't have imagined that the worst physical ailment she would have on her birthday would be the sniffles. All those months ago — when I thought May and I would be forever trapped in her injuries — a celebration like this never crossed my mind. I felt an amazing mixture of triumph and love as my husband and I wrapped our arms around our daughter in front of everyone. Together, we blew out the candles that topped a homemade cake, adorned with a wonky, frosted monkey. And we made a wish for May.
My aspirations for May have changed. Maybe ridiculously, I still hope she will achieve some of the things I imagined for her a year ago. I'd love her to go to school, have a job, get married. I suppose the big change is that I don't expect her to do anything any more; I hope she does. And, I treasure each new accomplishment of hers. However small, for us they are stupendous. I don't know what the future holds for her. The baby of my imagination, along with the life I had envisioned, disappeared a year ago.
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- A community healed, one person, one family at a time.
In its place I have something completely different and which I adore. A challenge, yes. A misery, no. Stacie Lewis's blog is at mamalewis. She is the author of the autobiographical novel 'Taking the Plunge' Snowbooks. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?
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BE HEALED!: Challenges and Triumphs of Health and Healing
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Clearly healing is a complex issue, and I hope this article raises questions and possibilities as to how healing might occur, and helps to explore the frameworks within which it can occur.
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The fundamental aim of healing is to provide a better future for our children and to create a world in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture thrive. As a profession working towards this end, we can truly show leadership in guiding change and generating a sustainable vision of health for all Australians into the future. Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia 's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted. Basic Search Advanced search search.
Use the Advanced search for more specific terms. Title contains. Body contains. Date range from. Date range to. Article type. Author's surname. First page. Short reports. Guidelines and statements. Narrative reviews. Ethics and law. Medical education. Volume Issue A healed and healthy country: understanding healing for Indigenous Australians.
A healed and healthy country: understanding healing for Indigenous Australians
Med J Aust ; 10 : Topics Indigenous health. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians need to work together to restore balance Healing is part of life and continues through death and into life again. View this article on Wiley Online Library. Rudd K, Prime Minister of Australia. Healing Foundation for Stolen Generations [media release].
A national Aboriginal health strategy. Social Health Reference Group. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, Social determinants of Indigenous health. Wilkinson R, Marmot M, editors. Social determinants of health: the solid facts. First Name. Middle Name. Last Name. Do you have any competing interests to declare? Yes Competing interests.