A change that I had been avoiding thinking about for weeks now is finally upon us. And I am still a little bit in denial, to tell you the truth.
Wednesday was Esmé’s last session with her speech therapist, Diana.
Oh, crap. Now I am crying.
You see, Diana has been one of the most trusted members of Esmé’s team for years. She has been with us since Esmé’s evaluation for Early Intervention therapy when Ez was a tiny, struggling, limp, and exhausted 2 1/2 month-old baby. She was put on Esmé’s therapy team to help advise us about feeding Esmé. Feeding therapy is a skill that some specialized speech therapists have since, as I discussed in the post Banana Sauce, many of the muscles and coordination associated with eating also contribute to speech.
At that time of Esmé’s intial therapy evaluation, we were calling her pediatrician practically daily with concerns about Esmé’s poor growth, reflux, breathing issues. Diana was really the first medical professional to confirm that what we were seeing was something that wasn’t ok…the first person to confirm my fears that Esmé was at risk because of the way she ate and refluxed. I can still see the look on her face as she watched Ezzy start violently retching and spitting up about a tablespoon of mucus.
She asked, “Does she do this often?”
“Um, well, yeah…”
She told me that Esmé needed to see a pediatric gastroenterologist as soon as possible and that she should have a swallow study done to see if Esmé was aspirating her milk.
While I was relieved to have something actionable to work on, having those fears confirmed wasn’t easy. I can remember feeling very defensive during those first few visits while she watched me feed Esmé…I knew she was right, but it was so hard to accept the truth and the help.
Despite passing that first swallow study, about a month after that first meeting Esmé experienced cardiac and respiratory arrest due to her poor feeding coordination…
Diana’s ability to recognize this problem from our first meeting–while our then-doctors hadn’t done so–cemented our relationship. I trusted her completely from that point on. I knew she really saw Esmé…that she understood how to read Esmé and that she would be a partner in helping keep Esmé safe.
We would see her (and her therapy partner our beloved physical therapist) twice per week every week–minus Ezzy’s bad days, hospital stays, and school vacations–for 3 1/2 years. During this time she became more that just a therapist, but also a dear friend, a confidant, a sounding board.
She has played a huge role so many of Esmé’s advances in communication, in oral eating. She has also provided much needed external confirmation of what we see in Esmé–a cleverness and awareness that doesn’t fit in the lines of the standardized tests. These tests are a requirement for Esmé continuing to receive services–and Esmé’s scores are so far off from her age group that there have been times that I wonder whether, as her mother, I see things in Esmé that aren’t actually there. But like the other devoted members of Esmé’s care team, Diana sees so many of them too…and she has helped me remember that I know these things about Ez, even if we cannot prove them in a test.
While I understand why she will no longer be our therapist–and I know we will remain friends, the idea that we will no longer be seeing her every week just breaks my heart.
We miss her terribly already.
We will meet our new therapist next week, who I know will be great.
But she will have very big shoes to fill.