When dreams derail

Stunned, worried, hopeful
I've occasionally mentioned my twin sons; Etienne lives in Montreal. Jules was set to leave this week for Royal Canadian Navy basic training, a dream he had pursued for well over a year, waiting to be offered the right position, one with scope and a future.

His dream ended several days ago, when a detailed physical revealed a rare heart disease, hypertropic cardiomyopathy, or HCM.

It is often the cause of the sudden collapse of seemingly healthy young men, typically during athletic activity. He had no symptoms and was always a healthy kid.
Resilient, determined, mournful

Despite the setback, there are bright spots: Jules has retained his job, can continue to board in a friend's  beautiful, peaceful house and is already pondering "Plan B". He's resilient and focused, and a normal (civilian) life is definitely possible.

We are grateful that HCM was found; it is not usually investigated in routine physicals. It is genetically inherited, but no one knew of any familial history. His brother will be tested.

Jules will learn how to live with his wonky heart; we hold our breaths and do what we can as he regains his equanimity and spirit.

I can't wait to see him this weekend, to hug him and applaud his determination. His heart may not be healthy enough for the military, but it is more than perfect to me.


You do such a beautiful job showing us how to take a difficult situation and look at it through hopeful eyes. I wish the best for your son!
Anonymous said…
Oh what serendipity that it was picked up, you must all be feeling very anxious but knowledge is power, best wishes to all of you.
coffeeaddict said…
Your post is about one of those moments in life where all you can do is sit down, inhale and exhale.
I wish your son all the joy on his slighty altered path of life.
déjà pseu said…
How both terrified and relieved you must have been! As Tabitha said, at least knowledge is power, and he'll be able to monitor and manage the condition now. He must be so disappointed, and this must have come as quite a shock. Best wishes to him in re-navigating his aspirations, and I'm glad to hear that he can fall back on his "status quo" for the time being.
Toby Wollin said…
As deja says - now he knows and soon his brother will know also, which is a very very good thing. Knowing what is there and knowing what you must do gives you choices and a certain empowerment - which is very important. So glad they picked this up now!
materfamilias said…
I'm so sorry that you and Jules have to deal with this new reality, but this news really hits home with me as a good thing. My brother died of this, almost instantly, when he was 19. Apparently, he'd been told of the condition (when trying to join the military, coincidentally), but because he was over 18, the doctor hadn't shared that information with my parents, and my brother chose not to. Perhaps he would have gone 'round to it eventually. I miss him regularly and fiercely, wish he'd got to know my kids (I was pregnant with my eldest when he died), and wonder what might have been had we shared the knowledge that was too much for a very young man to handle.
Sorry to turn this into a story about me and mine, but I offer it as some kind of consolation for the disappointments Jules (and you on his behalf) are suffering right now. Big hugs to you.
ilona said…
A blow such as this, touching our children, is always hard. It sounds as though you have all responded with grace and equanimity. The other commenters are right - this blessing of discovery gives you knowledge and time. Best wishes to your family as you sort through this.
You never know what is around the next corner...

at least your son has knowledge of his condition and can take appropriate steps to keep healthy.
He will likely need some hugs and support as his dream career has been sidetracked. You must feel good that you will get to see him soon.
HB said…
I am very sorry to hear this - your poise and reflection is completely inspiring. We should all have such grace. Wishing the best of health and "normalcy" to Jules.
Tish Jett said…
Yes, terrified and relieved, beautiful post. Sometimes it's also terrifying being a mother. I'm sure he cannot wait to come home for you to hold him and support him in whatever new life may be before him.
Mardel said…
How fortunate that it was found early. As ye mourns the loss of his dream and that youthful innocent faith in immortality, he will hopefully find his equanimity soon with his family and friends to support him.

May you rejoice in having your son close to hung, potential tragedy averted, and may he learn to live and work with his condition, a part of who he is but not defining him.
My thoughts are with you and Jules. Hang in there.
LPC said…
I am so sorry that Jules can't pursue his plans. I am sure it will take a while to regroup, and focus on another path, but I am sure he will find something and probably look back eventually saying it was the best thing that could have happened. But I am so glad they found this! What a gift his plans and the accompanying physical gave you!

Still, finding out anything of concern about our kids is so hard, and I hope you are OK.
laurieann said…
Duchesse; my heart goes out to you and your family. I too have had to learn to live with the deep uncertainty of life; not just theoretically. And when the lesson comes in the form of our children...Ok enough. I'll be thinking about you. Please keep us all posted.
spacegeek33 said…
My goodness. What a wonderful person your son is that he can already contemplate "Plan B". And clearly you did a good job, mama, because he's coping. Being a mother is terrifying no matter the age it seems... my twins are 5, and we're just dealing with swimming and putting one's face in the water. Love and hugs.
Marsha said…
I applaud him, and I applaud you. You have written beautifully and movingly and encouragingly.
Jean S said…
truly stunning news! I agree with coffeeaddict--inhale, exhale.

Best to you and your family.
Susan Tiner said…
I am awfully sorry your son is facing this health reality and huge disappointment all at once. I am glad you will be with him soon as I imagine he'll be needing lots of hugs and someone close to talk about Plan B ideas. You'll be in my thoughts.
Anonymous said…
Duchesse: My best friend also married a guy who turned out to be gay - she found him in bed with their lawyer - you couldn't make it up.
Anonymous said…
Oh Duchesse, this touches a very tender spot for me. We lost my 15 year-old nephew to the same malady several years ago. After his death, his brother and father were tested, and both were found to have less severe versions of the condition. Since then, they have had defibrillators implanted, and my sister can sleep a little better. It is SO fortunate that Jules was thoroughly examined. Although it can be very difficult for an intrepid young man to feel that his strong body is not perfectly dependable, I have no doubt that your son will develop a glorious Plan B; I wish you all a healthy, happy future.

Duchesse said…
All: We are touched and deeply appreciate everyone's comments; I have received strength from them.

materfamilias: I am so sorry for your loss which of course is timeless. Your story may encourage others to be open about any health problem, if they can.

C.: This is so sad. Yes, he may have a defib installed. J. has a moderate case but we learned today, no clots, so that's good news.
I'm sorry to hear this, but what a relief to find out this way!

Hope he has some other career plan to fall back on, and that he will get wise advice on how to keep fit (and have fun) despite this rare condition.

Materfamilias and anonymous, I'm very sorry.
Rubi said…
It is difficult to have news like this -- I'm sending you all my love and good wishes.
Tiffany said…
Thank goodness it was picked up before he went on basic training. What a shock - but your resilience is incredibly admirable. I am sure that Jules will find a Plan B that is fulfilling and wonderful.
Anonymous said…
Not only should family members be tested for this condition, but also for celiac. This paper outlines the non-causative link between gluten and 2 types of cardiomyopathy.


Best wishes to you all
william said…
Oh, Duchesse, I'm so sorry,

Good thoughts to all of you,

Mary Ellen said…
Dear Duchesse,
A big warm hug to you and to Jules. I'm heart broken for all of you. But you've warmed my heart with the resilience and determination you share with Jules. And your motherly support and love shines through.
With love and affection,
Mary Ellen said…
Dear Duchesse,
A warm hug to you and Jules. My heart breaks for Jules and your family. The resilience and sense of hope and love that you share with Jules is heart warming.
Your motherly love and belief in your son shines through.
All my love
linda said…
Oh no! At least it was discovered! Prayers to all of you!
Chicatanyage said…
Our children are so precious to us it is aways deeply moving to discover that things are not as we might have wished. However I am always amazed at how resilient young people can be certainly mine have been under challenging circumstances and I learn more from their example than anything else.
Duchesse said…
chicatanyage: Yes, he says he feels "10 1/2 times better" this week than last. I too have told him how inspired I am by his determination.

The posts with the most