So many times I am asked the question: "How do you do it?" Followed up by the ever popular: "I could never do what you do, it would be too difficult for me." So, what do I do? I am an Occupational Therapist working for the Cerebral Palsy Association (Eastern Cape). And yes, that involves working with children with disabilities and their families.
So how do I do it? I just do! The thing I have come to realise is this - these children would have had cerebral palsy even if I never knew them. But now that I have met them, I can try my best to make a difference in their lives.
I am not saying it is easy. Definitely not! On days when I feel overwhelmed, I remember the advice I was given by my mother many years ago when I was still a student. My mother was an amazing woman and doctor, with a heart for children and the less fortunate. She told me that there is a fine line between caring too much and caring too little. That if you care too much in our line of work you would burn out, but if you cared too little, you would become indifferent. So the trick is to find that line and walk it. Some days you will fall off, and others you will even wrestle with it. But some days you will find the perfect balance.
Having become a mother myself two years ago, I now laugh at some of the advice I gave to mothers in earlier treatment sessions. I also feel their pain in much more depth than before, as I now know what it feels like to love a child with your whole being. I imagine what they are going through, sitting in NICU with a sedated baby on oxygen. And it is heartbreaking! But if I can mean something to that child and that mother, even if it is just to help her smile through her tears - that is when it starts becoming worthwhile.