For over nine years, I have craved normal so much I could almost taste it, but in the elasticity of that term I now fear I may have wished beyond the stretch. Normal takes some adjustment and I don't know if I can get enough pliability back into the elastic band holding my life to allow me dangle slowly into a soft landing on normal soil.
My days were measured in 60ml syringe-fills of fluid, our mealtimes a liquid formula of complete nutrition and although stressful, we had become accustomed to its rhythm. The fasting pre and post anti-rejection medication was followed by the feasting of night feed pump. Hunger never stalked our house, it never got a chance, locked out as it was by the security sentinel of naso-gastric tube feeding.
It's not like we haven't prepared for this day, it's not like we haven't worked hard, throwing every form of sensory oral-motor therapy at it. It's not like we haven't seen 'ologists from here to kingdom come. For years we chipped at the intractable monolith of oral aversion with bite blocks, chewy tubes and oral face massagers. We pleaded, we begged, we threatened and we bribed and still he said no.
I don't know what turned it round but somewhere around the end of last year, I sensed he was ready, don't ask me how but I just knew. At this stage in my combat training at extreme parenting when I see a chink in the anti-eating wall - I become like a heat-seeking missile and trow enough artillery to sink a North Korean despot at the problem! And Like any North Korean despot, my Boy Wonder played the brinkmanship card all the way to seconds before the deadline then acquiesced with his customary charm.
The tube came out a week ago, he is eating like a horse I'm working on this new normal life of ours but some how I feel bereft. I don't know what to do with my time, I'm not very good at normal and I wonder if maybe there is a Fás course for this kind of thing. Could I be taught the skills of normal life? I also need a maternal NCT - my last one was post transplant. I'm sure it happens to many maternal front liners - those who have been on red alert for so long with their sick children that they can't turn down the thermostat on their flight-or-fight radar. My call to arms is all too ever present and like some now defunct post-peace-treaty freedom fighter, I'm finding decommissioning a challenge.
As always Boy Wonder has adapted with ease, asking for food albeit puréed, complaining of hunger and I am so shocked by the instinctual nature of his demands that I have to ask him to repeat his request.
This will be a beautiful adjustment once I allow myself to lay down my weapons and embrace yet another, glorious transplant dividend: normal eating by a hungry nine-year-old boy.
What does one do when la lucha no continua?