Sarah Brisdion is a regular columnist in UNITE, she is a mother of eight-year-old twins, Hadley and Erica. Hadley has cerebral palsy and is a full time wheelchair user. Sarah’s latest instalment discusses her infuriation at having her concerns dismissed by healthcare professionals.

When we’re pregnant, we are told if we suspect anything is wrong at all, even with no symptoms, to trust our instincts and tell somebody – because when it comes to her children, a mother’s gut is usually right. Yet once we’ve given birth, somehow this doesn’t seem to apply. For some reason, our instinct is no longer as relevant and we are branded as overprotective or anxious should we feel there is something up with our child’s physical or mental health. Or at least that’s how it feels we are perceived.

We can’t explain it, and we don’t always trust it ourselves, but that instinct doesn’t disappear. And it’s still almost always right!

From where I sit, ignoring these ‘gut feelings’ is causing a heart-breaking epidemic. Children all over the country are desperately in need of support, medically, therapeutically and educationally, but they are falling through the cracks and, in some cases, getting ‘worse’ because their conditions are preventable or simple to manage. Surely every child, no matter the severity of condition or need, deserves the best chance to overcome challenges that could negatively impact on their lives and those of their families?

Are doctors, teachers, psychologists, therapists etc pulled to one side and told, ‘if the parent doesn’t kick off (and I mean really go for it) just tell them their kids are fine, we can’t afford to help them all’? Is this some kind of test to see just how far we are prepared to go? Because if you’ve not worked out it’s to the bitter end by now…

We witnessed the general dismissal of our worries first hand when Hadley was a baby. If I had a pound for every time we were told his discomfort and distress was just reflux! Cerebral palsy and a bit of heartburn are pretty bloody different. We didn’t give up and we are lucky that the delay in diagnosis was not too long and it hasn’t affected his long-term care or prognosis. But I have several friends who have come close to breaking point trying to find somebody to take them seriously, and several who are currently still fighting for a diagnosis for their child to get them the help they desperately need.

And it really is a battle. One that is all-consuming and forces you to do things you didn’t think you were capable of. It’s also one that can have you questioning your own sanity. When you’re constantly told you’re imagining something or not to worry, you begin to doubt yourself. This struggle is destroying parents and leaving precious children without the early interventions that could be life changing. 

So dear professionals. Please don’t stop listening to mums (and dads). We are shouting because we care and want the best for our children. You’d do the same for yours.

Follow @SazBrisdion

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