Re-learning life

(© Private)

Olivia, our daughter, was born with a severe heart defect (DORV = Double Outlet Right Ventricle). Numerous complications, such as pneumonia and multi-organ failure during heart surgery followed by tube feeding, meant that she had to stay in hospital for a number of weeks. Thomas, my husband, and Oliver, our son (in first grade), had to tackle all the adversities of daily life while I was in the Heart Centre with Olivia. I would go home at the weekend just to do my laundry and make sure everything was all right. But I always just wanted to get back to the hospital, to my daughter.

Weeks later, and in an extremely pitiful state, we arrived at the FOR clinic – and found each other. We were safe! No more battles with bureaucracy, no more forms to fill in, no more hostility! We could just relax and get to know each other again, and re-discover our relationships. Rehab was Oliver’s lifeline; trained therapists could observe his behavioural disorders and discuss them with us. As parents we were able to learn how to be partners, and a family, again, and to laugh again, despite having a sick child. We desperately needed to communicate and swap experiences; we needed psychological support and the freedom to restructure or lives. It was a lot of hard work, and success was only possible within the structures of this protected space.

Author: Astrid L. (mother of Olivia)