Healthcare Provider Separation Anxiety, It’s a Thing

1 Dec

Separation anxiety is secretly kinda sweet.

Each of my kids has gone through this phase. It usually starts with a side eye to formerly favorite people or family members…and then follows with a lunge back to my arms. It’s a tough phase if you actually have to leave them, but it does wonders to boost your self-confidence. Everyone wants to be wanted, right?

Right now, half of the time I can’t put Henry down without him pulling up on my leg and fussing to be held again. It’s made cooking and showering and putting on pants difficult.

Today I attended physical therapy with Abby and towards the end of the session, her therapist shared that there were only two visits left on the books. Obviously, she meant for the year. But nope, because Abby’s met the majority of her therapeutic goals, it was time to be done with therapy indefinitely. Transition back to Mommy PT at home.

This whole revelation took me by surprise.

And so the natural thing to do was burst into tears.


And what if…

Are you sure…

I thought…

How would I…

Can she…

Shouldn’t she be…

And then I paused and tried to pull it together, but the therapist said it was okay for me to cry and so…permission granted…I kept crying.

But this is what we do on Thursdays. At 4. We come here. For physical therapy. This is WHAT WE DO.

What I really meant to say was we can be discharged from a 4:00 p.m. time slot, but we can’t be discharged from this life of deficits and handrails and slower pace and falls. Coming to therapy means I get to watch someone else work with Abby. It means someone who knows more about how to stretch and strengthen and communicate and improve is partnering with me to get Abby to where she needs to be.

When that changes and we get thrust into the unknown, it feels like abandonment.

Maybe that’s a “boundary issue” for me…I’m a work in progress…or maybe it’s always hard to lose a village member when you need every member for the love of God, please to keep things operational.

This happens to me, this healthcare provider separation anxiety. It cannot be helped.

It happened during the last hospital stay Jackson had for immunotherapy. When we were discharged, they packed everything up in a red wagon, and there we sat on the curb outside the hospital waiting for the car to pull up.

Good luck! They said. Come back and visit!

I remember furiously blinking back tears and thinking…I’m not ready yet. Can we come back upstairs with you? I was ready to break up with cancer, but not the people we did cancer with.

When we came back for cancer clinic visits, we weren’t allowed back to play with the toys or visit with our cancer buddies. We were held in the front waiting room until seen by the doctor. Like outsiders! So if we weren’t like the world outside of the hospital and we weren’t allowed back into the life we knew as an active cancer patient, who were we? Where did we belong? It was post-cancer limbo.

It’s a very real identity crisis. Probably why so many of us special needs parents struggle with anxiety or PTSD.

Dear healthcare provider…doctors, nurses, therapists, etc.:

When someone we love is sick and you walk this path with us, there is no going back. You’re stuck with us. You’re in the village now.

As a mom, I rely on you more than you’ll ever understand. You went through it, too! Those bad days, those good days; when I replay them in my mind, you are part of my memories. Your words, your hands, your actions. You play one of the most substantial roles someone outside of my family will EVER play in my child’s life. When I bring my child, my heart outside of my body, to you to fix and you do it, there is no greater thing you could ever do for me. Ever. No money or success will hold more value.

Don’t gloss over that. Realize the magnitude of your ticket on this journey. And when our time together comes to a close and I’m a grown woman but I want to hang onto your legs on the way out, maybe slow your pace and let me hold on a little longer than you usually would.







One thought on “Healthcare Provider Separation Anxiety, It’s a Thing

  1. Wow! This one brought back a lot of memories and tears. It is a real thing. I felt the same way the day Matthew’s speech therapist said he had met all of his goals, and it was his last day. I didn’t know what to say, but I didn’t want to leave. I had major anxiety about leaving our pediatrician for a whole year before we moved. Dr. Dail walked us through everything from the very beginning while we were still in the hospital and loved on my boys…I mean loved on them. She visited me in the hospital when Andrew was born. She held him and talked to him like a family member would. She double and tripled appointment times for me because there was always so much to talk about with Matthew’s health. She let Matthew sit in her lap while she entered things in the computer…consequently he was her only patient who pulled her ID card out of the computer causing it to crash and reboot….twice. She didn’t judge when I asked for help in needing more tools with how to handle defiant Matthew. She hugged…me. She remembered personal things. She shared things too. She gave me her direct office number and then her cell phone this past summer when I called and asked for her email address to send her a picture. She wanted me to text it. I shared pictures of Sophie with her. It’s been tough not having her in my village the past year. Our new pediatrician is quite different.

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