Personal Views

Cerebral palsy: our moment of truth

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 13 May 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1273
  1. Susan Macdonald

    It's the biggest gamble of your life. Pregnancy. Although it is usually a nine month period of happy anticipation, few parents would deny the presence of an accompanying undercurrent of anxiety. Handicap, disability, developmental problems; however hard we try to couch the term in pretty language, the possibility of a cruel accident of nature is always there.

    Yet the discovery that our son, Dominic, had cerebral palsy was not the momentous crisis that we might have expected. It was more a gradual, aching realisation that something was amiss as events unfolded over the first difficult months of his life. When the diagnosis was made after 16 months of hospital visits and investigations we knew that it was at last time to accept the inevitable and put aside our irrational hopes that Dominic's problems would miraculously disappear. We had to go through the questioning, “Why Dominic?” and the mourning for the normality that had disappeared from our lives. Equally though, it was time to give positive thought to providing the best possible quality of life for our precious son and to consider the impact on our marriage, our older son, Edward, and our everyday routines. It was also time to break the news to others.

    To my astonishment, my husband Alex, normally the sociable, rugby playing general practitioner, who had spent so many professional hours breaking bad news and picking up the pieces, …

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