Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eight Years


Eight years ago Jim and I got married. It was a beautiful fall day, unseasonably warm. Unlike some girls, I had never thought much about my wedding growing up. Mainly, I thought I would never get married – I would be much too busy having a crazy, busy life full of adventure. That was until I met Jim. And you know what? I still have had a crazy, busy life full of adventure.

We have certainly been through a lot in our time together. Some highlights (and lowlights):

*Jim was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic
*Jim crushed his hand in a snowmobile accident and had it rebuilt
*We traveled extensively (France, Germany, Austria, England, Scotland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cuba)
*6 years of infertility
* The car accident and my ongoing recovery
*Bennett and his subsequent Cerebral Palsy diagnosis

Through it all, we have pretty much always been on the same page in regards to everything and have always managed to find laughter in even the darkest situations. I can honestly say that we’ve never had a big fight – a few small disagreements, but nothing major.

When I woke up in that van after the accident, the only thing I could think of was how much I wanted Jim there. I was going crazy waiting for him at the hospital. Once he got there he never left my side. In our relationship, I was always the aggressive one – the one who took care of pretty much everything. Suddenly, Jim was thrust into the role of being my caregiver and my advocate. He performed admirably.

When I came home from the hospital, Jim returned to the work. When he returned at 6pm, he took over as my main caregiver. He fed me, helped me into my wheelchair, gave me sponge baths, emptied my bed pan, helped me roll over, etc. The hospital bed was set up in the living room and Jim slept beside me on the couch every night – for 4 months - despite my pleas to have him sleep in our bed. Being pregnant, I had to pee every hour. This involved the following routine:

1. I would wake him up.
2. He would remove all 6 of my supportive pillows and strap on my leg brace over my cast.
3. He would then help me sit up – quite a procedure considering my broken leg, my broken wrist and being very pregnant.
4. We would sit and wait for about 5 minutes while my dizziness went away and my leg stopped throbbing.
5. He would then help me onto my platform walker and position the commode.
6. Once I was done, we reversed the entire process to get me back into bed where once again, each pillow had to be positioned perfectly.
7. He would then go back to sleep on the couch, only to get up again an hour later to repeat the entire thing again.
8. At 6am, he would leave for work.

During all this, he NEVER once complained. He was kind, gentle and encouraging. After Bennett was born, it became obvious that he couldn’t return to work so he took 3 months off to take care of both of us. I still laugh when I remember how on one of his very few days “off” he went snowmobiling with a couple friends who asked “You must be anxious to get back to work because you must be bored at home?” Jim’s reply was “Are you crazy, I’ve never been so exhausted in my life!” How na├»ve of them to think that being at home with a newborn and a wife in a wheelchair, could be boring.

While in the hospital, I remember a nurse telling me that I was “lucky” that Jim stuck around as most men would leave in his situation. I was shocked – first of all, it was sad that this woman had such a negative view of men and secondly, that thought had never occurred to me. Many people also said that they were “impressed” with Jim and how he handled everything. I must say though, that I wasn’t. The truth is, I’ve always been impressed with Jim and would have expected nothing less from the man I married. He is wonderful and amazing in every way – that is something, I have always known. Did the accident reinforce my belief – of course! And needless to say, the man has earned enough Brownie points to last a lifetime!

I am a very lucky woman to have Jim as my husband and I try to let him know everyday that I appreciate everything he does. He is an extraordinary husband, a wonderful father and my best friend.

Happy Anniversary Jim!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Two Years

Warning: This post is pretty much about me. I promise to return to my regularly scheduled programming soon.

It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since the accident that has forever changed my life, Bennett’s life and the lives of my family. In some ways it seems like it happened a long time ago and in others it feels like yesterday. In a heartbeat I can go back there – hanging inside a dark, smoky van. I admit that I go back there often – almost every day. But I usually don’t stay long. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of it, but I can honestly say it doesn’t dominate my life – a little boy with big blue eyes does though.

I can no longer really remember what it’s like to walk normally and without pain – to get up in the middle of the night and walk to the washroom rather than stretch and reach for my crutches. Sometimes it’s hard to remember the girl (yeah I still think of myself that way) with the wicked backhand that played tennis for hours or the girl that traveled to Egypt and Greece by herself without a fear or care in the world. The girl that crawled into one of the amazing pyramids on the Giza plateau, or climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, who climbed Mount Skiddaw in England, who walked all day along the canals and streets of Venice, who danced a silly one legged dance in Barcelona. It’s even harder to think that I’ll never do any of those things again. When I get too down about this I remind myself that I’ll do other things and some things I’ll do more slowly or differently. And at least I got to do many of these things once. The next time I’m in Paris, rather than climb some monument, perhaps I’ll be forced to drink a couple extra glasses of excellent red wine while chewing on a baguette with fresh cheese while sitting outside soaking in the Parisian atmosphere. The next time I’m in Venice, maybe I’ll travel by gondola rather than on foot. When in Egypt, I’ll spend even more time speaking with the warm, wonderful people that call that country home.

In the meantime, I continue to remind myself that I still have my sense of adventure. I’m the same girl that played glow in the dark mini-putt on my crutches and went snorkeling while kicking with one leg and swam with the dolphins while in Cuba.

I often think of the other people who were there that day – people who stopped to help. It must have been an awful day that haunts them too. They were ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation. Everyone there responded courageously and I will be forever grateful. They restored my faith in the strength of the human spirit and reminded me in that in a world that can often seem scary, most people are good.

I know things could have been so much worse that day. You may call it luck, divine intervention or whatever – it doesn’t matter to me, but I know that I am very fortunate. I still have my leg, I can walk (it’s not pretty) and most importantly, I have Bennett and although he has cerebral palsy, he is healthy, happy and the light of our lives.

I saw my orthopedic surgeon yesterday. He’s a great doctor and even better, he’s a good man. He has taken good care of me since day one, shared information as he thought I could handle it and treated me with respect and compassion. Our visits are always emotional for me as we talk about how well we both remember that day. It’s good that we get along because we’ll be seeing each other for quite a while. My knee is looking ok but the ankle – not so much. More tests and perhaps more surgeries await me. But, as my doctor reminded me, we’ll take it one thing at time and try not to worry too much.

What did I do to “celebrate” my anniversary? Well, I went camping with Jim, Bennett and Bowser. I enjoyed a morning snuggle with my favourite guys, went out for breakfast and laughed as Bennett flirted and waved at everyone. Later we went for a walk with the dog in the park. That night we sat by the campfire and made s’mores – something I’ve never done believe it or not. After two s’mores, I’d had s’enough – those things are awfully sweet! All in all a pretty good way to spend the day. I’ll admit that I spent a lot of time thinking about the past, present and future and not all of it was good. But overall, I ended the day with one thought: I’m a different girl but I’m also a lucky girl and I’m oh so grateful for all that I have in my life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Daycare

Right now I’m a stay-at-home mom and as I’ve said many times on this blog, we don’t get out much. As a result Bennett doesn’t get many opportunities to be around other kids. I think he’s missing out, especially considering that he’s a social butterfly who loves people – especially little people. So, I’ve talked about putting him into daycare for a couple mornings a week with most of his caregivers and we all agree it would be a great idea for many reasons:

#1. Socialization - an opportunity to be with his peers and learn how to play with others and make friends.

#2. Motivation - watching other kids run around and communicate will probably be the best motivator to get him moving.

#3. Time - for me to do my own therapy, to relax, etc.

So, I’ve selected a daycare that I think I’ll like but I guess I won’t know until he starts. I went yesterday to talk to them and get a tour. They seemed excited to have him there and didn’t seem concerned about the “special needs” aspect - unlike the other two places that never called me back. I had my tour of the toddler room during lunch time. They were all sitting in their little chairs eating. The chair thing seems to be one of their biggest concerns as they don’t use high chairs. I was prepared for this thanks to Kiera’s blog. I think it will be ok – his balance is pretty good. He just might need a bit of practice and some extra help. However, I have to be honest and tell you that the kids freaked me out a little. They were all sitting quietly, munching away on their pasta and just stared at me – like a bunch of little robots. It’s quite different during meal time around here. Bennett spends a lot of time laughing, saying “mmmmmmmm”, poking his food, dropping it for the dog, etc. Will this will be a problem or maybe he’ll turn into a quiet little eater too?

I went back today with Bennett so the caregivers could get a better idea of what his needs are. Well, he just loved it – he was all over the room exploring and checking out the toys. He liked it even better outside where he got to play in the sand box and ride on a little car. I don’t even think he noticed when I left to fill out paperwork. The kids didn’t seem as “robot-like” when they were playing. However, Bennett seemed to have more fun than anyone else. During story-time, he was excited and attentive and was all smiles when one of the caregivers was singing. The other kids didn’t seem nearly as excited – maybe because it’s all old hat to them? It’s hard to get the “big picture” when you’re only there for an hour.

Anyway, he probably won’t start until mid October. It will take a while to get all the paperwork done. I expect that there will be tears – mostly mine. Today was just a brief glimpse of what it will be like to let him go into the big world all by himself. The picture looks a bit scary to me, but apparently Bennett is much braver than I am.

Life's A Parade


At least it is if you’re Bennett. We spent the last couple weeks of August camping and have been returning every weekend because we’ve enjoyed it so much. One of the funniest things is taking Bennett for a walk around the park in his stroller. For some reason he likes to wave at everybody – and I mean EVERYBODY! People sitting at their campsite, people walking by, people driving by – I’m surprised he hasn’t started to include squirrels and chipmunks.

And like a parade, there are smiles everywhere. At first some people kind of just look and/or wave back awkwardly but by our second time around people are expecting it. On one morning walk we could hear banging so we turned to look and sure enough there was an older couple banging on the front window of their motor home to get their wave. It’s not uncommon to hear “Oh, look, here he comes!” – And suddenly people are turning around in or getting up off their chairs to look and wave.

At first I was kind of embarrassed by my waving guy – but now I look forward to his antics. Last weekend we kicked up our park tours a bit as you can see in the picture above. Rather than ride in his stroller, Bennett drove around the park. And even though he is in love with his new toy, he still takes the time to stop and wave.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Grandmothers Are Funny


Who would have thought that one of the funniest things about having a child would be the grandmothers. As I’ve said in this blog before, Jim and I are both lucky to have wonderful mothers who are very involved in our lives. They also have a sense of humour, so I’m sure they won’t mind my telling a couple funny stories.

Grandma (my mother)

Not too long ago Jim and Bennett were having a bath (together) while I was preparing dinner for us and my parents who were coming over. They arrived just after the bath started and of course the first words out of my mother’s mouth were, “Where’s Bennett?” Briefly, here is the rest of the conversation:

Me: Jim and Bennett are having a bath.

Mikey: (this is what I call my mother – it’s a long story) Well, would Jim mind if I went in and had a little peek?

Me: Yes, he would mind so stay out of there.

Two minutes later

Mikey: Please, can’t I go in there and have a little peek?

Me: NO! I told you, they’re having a bath.

Mikey: Come on, surely he won’t be mad if I just go in for a second to have a little peek.

Me: I said NO Mikey! Jim’s in the tub naked with Bennett. Do you think he wants his mother-in-law in there! Leave them alone!

Mikey: Oh…I didn’t realize they were in there together. Sorry – I’ll stay out.

So, I bet you’re wondering where the funny part is. Well, Jim’s response when he heard the story was disappointment that Mikey kept asking to take just a “little” peek!

Mummu (Jim’s mother)

We are very lucky in that this is one woman who never shies away from a poopy diaper. Tonight after dinner she kindly offered to change one. When she brought Bennett out in his clean pajamas she quickly handed him over to Poppa who immediately commented that something still smelled. So, Mummu, Poppa and Jim started an inspection to determine the source of the offensive odour. Meanwhile, while sitting on Poppa’s lap, Bennett suddenly took an interest in his Magna Doodle. How wonderful – maybe he would finally start to scribble we all thought. Well, sure enough he did start to scribble – however, he didn’t use the stylus – he used his fingers – which quickly revealed the source of the lingering smell!

Ha – do you think our occupational therapist will include that on her chart?

Thank You


Thank you very much to another Barbara for the blog award!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hmmmmmmm

Things that make you go...hmmmmmm. Since we had so much fun camping we decided to go again this weekend. We returned to the park where I worked - this meant we had to drive by the scene of the car accident. We usually listen to CBC radio, but because I didn't care for the program that was on, I was switching between music stations. I stopped on a country station and at the exact spot where the accident happened, this is the song that came on:



The song left both Jim and I in tears. Weird timing huh?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Your Baby is 20 Months Old!


Yeah, Yeah I know.

Can anyone guess what this post will be about? I’ll make it easy and tell you right away – it’s about development charts. I don’t know what possessed me, oh so many months ago, but I went ahead and signed up for those stupid email things. My main intention was for the coupons. Now, months later, I still get these email notices every month telling me about all the wonderful things Bennett is (or should be) doing. Why do these things drive me crazy? Well, let me tell you.

I don’t want to speak for anyone other than myself, however, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that as a mom of a child with special needs, I have a strong dislike of those development charts. From my point of view I see little to like about them. Why do I want to read about all the things Bennett should be doing when he’s not doing so many of them? I’m not in denial – I know he’s delayed. I know he may never do some things or when he does, he may do them differently. I see no reason to remind myself of this every month. As I’ve said in a previous post, I want to get to the point where I enjoy Bennett more than I worry about him. I want to enjoy and celebrate his every accomplishment without the reminder that it is something he should have done months ago.

Although I dislike these charts, I do recognize that they are a tool used to determine child development and provide us with targets to work towards. Having said this however, I think it is also important to not get too caught up in the specifics of these things either. This is the conversation I tried to have with our Occupational Therapist back in June. I don’t think it went well and I don’t think she understood my point. I’m willing to take full responsibility for this as perhaps I didn’t explain myself clearly enough. So, I’m going to try again here.

My point was that I didn’t think it was fair or totally accurate to always rely on these charts to determine how Bennett is doing. Unfortunately our kids are in a position where they are ALWAYS being assessed, measured, and evaluated against their peers. Typical kids aren’t. For example, our OT has been very focused on shape sorters and having Bennett scribble since he was about 15 months. Apparently, children at this age should be able to and like to scribble and complete those shape sorter activities. Well, Bennett gets bored quickly with the shape sorters – he’ll put the shape in but will often not take the time or make the effort to search out the proper opening. If you give him crayons, he likes to put them in his mouth first and then move on to something else. He’s just not that interested in either right now. Does this freak me out? No, it doesn’t because at this point I believe that there are other kids out there who just aren’t interested either. I also believe that there are “typical” adults who didn’t care for these activities and turned out alright. I also think that there are many ways to develop a skill.

Our occupational therapist is a wonderful, kind, young woman who has been helpful. We haven’t had any therapy sessions since last June and we will be starting again tomorrow. And I’m dreading it. I don’t want to see the shape sorter or crayons or markers. I don’t want her to ask me what my “goals” are for Bennett. I know she wants me to answer in accordance with the “charts”. But I don’t want to look at the charts – I want her to set the goals – unless there is something specific I want to do. And I think I’ll tell her this – whether she’ll understand or not, I don’t know.

So, do you understand what I’m trying to say? Am I alone in this love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with the development charts?

And why don’t I simply unsubscribe to those annoying emails? Well, because, every once in a while – when I’m brave enough and strong enough, I check them out. And sometimes, I’m pleasantly surprised because Bennett is not behind in every area – in some, he’s right where he should be.

And finally, this is the last question – I promise. Why are kids expected to scribble and colour when it says quite clearly on the box, that crayons are for kids 18 months and over? :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Our Vacation Part Two














































































Our Vacation Part One

After two weeks of camping, we're home. We had a great holiday - like most, it went way too quickly. Here are some photos with the highlights.

Little Current - Manitoulin Island






Eating an apple - one of Bennett's new favourite treats.

Playing with a new friend. The little girl is Paige. She's the daughter of Pam, a c0-worker of mine. We were pregnant at the same time. They had a great time together - pulling out toys and sharing hugs and kisses.


Daddy & Bennett in front of a small part of the LaCloche Mountain Range.


Bennett dipping his toes into the North Channel of Lake Huron.