On Getting a Diagnosis (or, Another Diagnosis)

Last week James had oral surgery: one tooth pulled, two baby root canals, and six teeth capped. He did great, but it wasn’t fun.

This week we took him to a new doctor and he had to put on a hospital gown again. He was automatically suspicious and repeated, “It’s time to go please” before the doctor even got in the door. But, the exam went well. Then he was off for x-rays, and another hospital gown (“Time to go please!”). The next day we took him for blood tests. No hospital gown this time, but lots of “red” as he called it.

Next week he’s going back to the medical center for a scope to see what may be causing his stomach to hurt so often. The doctor believes it could be an issue with his large intestine. If it is what he thinks it is, James will have to have surgery to have part of the large intestine removed.

I spent a couple days this week in a heavy fog of sadness/anger. I don’t want James to have another diagnosis. All three of our boys have some label, some issue, and it just didn’t seem fair. I grew resentful of the families who don’t even have one, and here were are with six: dyslexia, autism, sensory processing disorder, possible Hirschsprung disease, partial blindness, and cognitive delays.

But here’s the truth about diagnoses–they open doors.

At first you think they close them. You only see the limits and restrictions. But, we’ve been on this road long enough to know labels can be good.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in high school, and the school was able to make accommodations to help me. Now that we see signs of dyslexia in David, I’m able to adjust my teaching methods to fit him. With James’s autism diagnosis, we’re able to get him the therapy and support he needs. And even  if this new diagnosis fits him, it will lead to good. Surgery is good. Less pain is very good.

When I was younger, I heard my grandma on the phone with my aunt. My aunt was struggling to accept a diagnosis for one of her boys. My grandma said, “Ah, don’t worry about it. There’s something wrong with all of your sister’s kids.” As one of those kids, I  wasn’t offended. I knew that by “wrong” she didn’t mean broken beyond repair. She meant we were all getting the help we needed because we accepted the labels we were given (for us, that mean Down syndrome, dyslexia, and at that time we thought lupus for my younger sister).

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. -Psalm 139:14

This verse doesn’t only apply to when God is knitting us together (v. 13), but for our entire existence, no matter what diagnosis, label, or disability we may have or get along the way.

If you are hearing a diagnosis for your child for the first time today, I know it’s hard. It took me a year to work through James’s autism diagnosis. But trust that having a diagnosis can be a good thing. Remember Joseph’s story? He got lots of labels in his life, but in Genesis 50:20 we read what some people saw as evil, Joseph realized God was using for good. And God will use all things for your good as well (Romans 8:28).


2 thoughts on “On Getting a Diagnosis (or, Another Diagnosis)

  1. Sandra, this is so good. I loved talking with you yesterday … and I appreciate your candor about the way you feel sometimes. I think we all need to be reminded our feelings are valid AND God is faithful. I am thankful you are my friend!
    Love you,

  2. Sandra, I’m just getting to read some of your blog posts. You have been such a blessing in my life. My husband and I have no one close enough who truly understands what we go through on a day to day basis. We have read both of your books this year and we keep saying ‘we’re not alone in this! We’re not the only ones!’ We only wish you and your husband were close enough so we could meet in person. Our sons are so much alike. I see my Garett in so many of your posts on James. It isn’t often that I have a dry eye when I read your post for the day. Not always sad tears but more like tears of true understanding that we aren’t alone in this walk. Thank you for helping me see that God didn’t give my son these diagnoses to punish me for something. He has a wonderful plan for my little man!

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