A toddler wearing a Superman cape pinned to his T-shirt walks ahead of me beside his mother down the lake road. The mother stoops to hear his running commentary. He marches proudly like Winnie the Pooh’s Christopher Robin, master of a universe provided by that mother. I wonder; is he healthy? Will he be happy? For how long will that mother’s heart be unbroken? An unseen observer, I feel an unspoken prayer that they can hold this moment for eternity.
I’m reminded of another mother whose son donned Superman’s protective cape as a toddler before anyone consciously realized he’d need all the protection heaven and earth could offer.
Author Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares the experience of raising a child with Type I diabetes in a nakedly honest, deeply personal account titled The Superman Years. It begins with a dream.
“I have studied dreams – my own and others – in my work in psychology for many years now, so it was not unusual for me to write down and reflect on the dream I had early in April 2000. In it, I took my diaper-clad son to a clinic, where a doctor told us “we” had diabetes. That was the end of the dream.”
In an equally concise and comprehensive one hundred and thirty- four double spaced pages Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares her ordeal of dealing with a child stricken with Type I diabetes. This is the extended hand of a woman who was sanctified by fear to find faith, unfamiliar strength and renewed purpose.
I began the book in the wee hours of dawn expecting it to put me back to sleep but I did not close it once until the last word was read. As I reluctantly turned the last page I realized that the author had somehow written a sweeping history though it involved just a few pivotal years in a family’s life whose drama centered round its youngest member. The book is a revelation of the terror and impossible exhaustion of raising a dangerously vulnerable child and the effect that has on the family. It is also a beacon of hope to any of us who are responsible for someone we love.
Here is a story of love; of the fragility of the family web, the challenges and victory of marital commitment under stress. She introduces the politics of medicine and educates the reader on the nature and specifics of diabetes. She describes instances of “the places that science cannot explain”; of communication in coma, of physical renewal through imagination and the potential of both waking and sleeping visions in a world apart from modern medicine. She introduces the perception of animals to loved ones. She describes how she found self- compassion and equanimity in crisis through yoga.
Isolation, fear, loss of power can become a prison that separates the inmate from light and love and faith. For a parent with an at risk child these are the elements of a living nightmare. In The Superman Years, Buzogany navigates her nightmare with selfless insight and unruffled compassion.
The book is divided into six chapters titled: Dreams, Coma, Powerlessness, Sleep Deprivation, Imagination, Seizure and Vision. Within these Buzogany relays intimate accounts of a life as it is unraveling in real time. Buzogany who is a psycho-therapist herself does not leave the reader depressed by a story of sorrow but buoyed up as by her example it is clear; we can help ourselves and we can help our loved ones despite sleep deprivation, spiritual exhaustion and insurmountable odds. Her account is a cool comforting hand on a furrowed brow.
Whether you are looking for support and information as a caregiver or parent or you simply wish to read an engrossing autobiography, I cannot recommend this book enough. The covers are worn from reading and rereading and it has an honored place on the shelf where I keep my favorite books.