What does love look like?

Minor surgery is a part of my job that I really enjoy. Unlike standard consultations where you have to allow for time to improve or manage a condition, minor surgery gives you the immediate satisfaction of fixing something right then and there.

Recently I did minor surgery on a person who suffers from a developmental disorder that affects their nervous system and their ability to communicate.

Minor surgery on these patients can be a lot more challenging because they have a heightened sensory awareness. Therefore the potential for unpleasant sensations like pain, or the prospect of seeing blood and needles can be incredibly anxiety-inducing for them. As a result, most of our time is spent trying to create a safe space for them, describing and showing them what equipment we’ll be using, and convincing them that it will all be okay and that they will feel better because of this.

Sometimes it just isn’t possible to do minor surgery in a clinic setting for these patients if their symptoms and their resulting anxiety is so severe. They end up needing to have a general anaesthetic and have the procedure done in an operating room in a hospital.

But when we are able to do it in a clinic setting, it is incredibly rewarding. And it is always because of the patient’s parents.

Now I’m not going to make any assumptions about what it’s like to suffer from a developmental disorder or to be a parent of someone who does. I don’t know what that’s like and it’s not my narrative to write about.

But what I will write about is my observations. It is always of a parent who is calm and patient; a parent who offers themselves as a punching bag for their child who is in distress- even if their child may be physically larger than them; a parent who is creative in their endeavour to alleviate their child’s suffering; a parent who advocates for their child earnestly; a parent who puts their child’s needs above their own; a parent who loves their child unconditionally.

These parents are the unsung heroes of our society.

So if you want to see what true love really looks like, don’t look at romantic movies or novels… Look at the hard-working, selfless parents who instinctively put their child’s needs above themselves. The parents who aren’t perfect, and who might be going through struggles of their own; but despite this are always creating a safe environment for their child by being present, being gentle, being warm, patient and kind.

This is pure, unconditional love.


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