when it falls apart…

So it finally happened, Meghan and I had our first major issue.  A few months ago, I wrote an entry in this blog entitled A.D.D. this, which detailed my girlfriend’s struggles with her A.D.D. diagnosis, her experiences on a merry-go-round of medication, and subsequent entrance in to a Vision Therapy program.  Yesterday at lunch, we were discussing her progress so far, the work still to be done, and her dreams of one day becoming an Occupational Therapist. I am so proud of her and enjoy hearing about her goals and dreams, knowing that one day she will get there.  She lights up when discussing Occupational Therapy because clearly, it is her calling. Such a happy place for her! Not far into the conversation, Meghan began to cry, almost uncontrollably.

Wait a minute – I’m a guy and apparently I’ve missed something – what just happened?

After composing herself, Meghan explained that her tears came from a place of fear.  Fear that I was starting to completely understand her true level of challenges, and would soon decide she was no longer worth the effort.  She was very afraid that I was going to give up on her. Perhaps you have sinking feeling in your stomach after reading those last two sentences.  I certainly felt one listening to the spoken version. She went on to explain that she has tried so hard to maintain a certain level of “normal”, and hide her inadequacies, that she had created this incredible pressure for herself.  Basically, she is very aware of her challenges, and was hoping she could keep them hidden.  Since she couldn’t, she was afraid things between us would fall apart.

The subsequent conversation was difficult, and very humbling, but very necessary.  Meghan is very well spoken, and was able to articulate her concerns quite well.  While she was explaining, I thought of some of my patients who may be feeling the same way.  How scary it must be for a child to feel pressured to succeed, both academically and socially.  Kids who learn a little differently, kids who learn slower, kids who feel they have to maintain a facade rather than face failure. Perhaps this is where the “class clown” originated.  Better to look silly that stupid?  How scary to think that you are not meeting expectations, and you are about to be given up on.  Not a good place to be at school, at home, or in a relationship. Definitely was a strong reminder of the baggage some patients carry on a daily basis. Lesson learned.

For those interested, my relationship is still intact, and probably stronger than ever 🙂

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Posted on April 8, 2013, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Very interesting, Robert, and so important. Most of our patients have huge psychological issues that they are dealing with as a result of their visual problems. Open lines of communication and appropriate reassurance are necessary for good vision therapy. You pointed out that we need to deal with the WHOLE person, not just their eyeballs. An excellent dr/patient and therapist/pt relationship can REALLY help here.

    Kudos to you on a very insightful piece. 🙂

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    • Robert Nurisio COVT

      Thank you, Dr. Abbondanza. Often overlooked is the rapport we create and maintain. Giving our patients that “safe place to fall” is so important to their success. Thanks again 🙂

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  2. Dear Robert,
    in 1985 after working as a Vision Therapist for 11 years I contracted Bell’s Palsy. My case was not “typical” (does that surprise you?), and I did not spontaneously recover as most people do. VT was one of the many therapies that played a part in my recovery. It was very challenging for me to admit that some of the things I was asked to do were REALLY HARD, and some of them impossible at the stage of recovery I was in. At first I put out a lot of bravado – it was too embarrassing to admit that I could not do things I was asking patients to do. And until I let down my wall neither I nor my vision therapist made any real breakthroughs. The insights I gained helped me be more humble and also more alert to things like body language, affect, hearing comments like “this is stupid” “this is boring” etc. The year and a half of my recovery was one of the most difficult, yet one that gave me many gifts as well. It sounds like Meghan has given you a gift also – you are a very lucky man!

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    • Robert Nurisio COVT

      Linda – one of my greatest opportunities both in VT and in life was having the opportunity to work with and learn from you, one on one, for five years. Everyday in the VT room I am reminded, in one way or another, how much you taught me perhaps without even trying. To better understand where your passion comes from and the path you traveled only serves to solidify the immense respect I have for you, and the unquestionable compassion you have for your patients. You truly are, my VT hero!

      P.S. PLEASE don’t tell Meghan how lucky I am!!! 🙂

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