Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Educational Fears

This morning was Asher's transition meeting for moving into Kindergarten. I was able to meet his general ed teacher, his special ed teacher, the special ed coordinator for his new school, his new speech therapist and his new occupational therapist. His current teacher and his current speech therapist were there as well.

I was terrified going in. Scared I would have to get firm and tell these professional educators that their plan was not going to work for my child, that they need to go back to the drawing board, that they didn't know my child and they needed to listen to me.

I shouldn't have feared.

In fact, I didn't even need to show up to the meeting.

Asher's current teacher, Alli, was the one to go on and on about how wonderful Asher is, what a great addition he is to any classroom, what a helper he is. 'In 13 years of teaching,' she said, 'I have never seen such a caring, sweet, loving boy. I don't know what I'm going to do without him!'

The team listened closely to my concerns that Asher be included as much as possible in the general classroom and be given as much interaction as possible with his typically developing peers. They took notes. They gave me their email addresses in case any questions came up during the summer break. They gave me a book to read to Asher with pictures of the school and descriptions of everything so it wouldn't be so scary and foreign to either of us next September. They gave me examples of how they foster a community environment where Asher will be part of the class, friends with his classmates, rather than just a body off to the side. They told me that they are always tweaking plans and are happy to try new things to see if Asher is able to step up to the challenge.

In other words, they were a prayer answered. Exactly the team I would want working for and with my boy. I am so excited to see how he develops as a person in the coming year. I am in awe of how God has put us right where we need to be for Asher to get this help.

I read and hear so many horror stories of parents going in to meetings at their schools and having to convince educators that their child is worthy of getting an education along with their peers. It always makes me nervous about going in for any meeting with a new school, a transition, as my kids get older. And yet, every time I have been pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the educators are, how easy to talk to, how apparent it is that we are on the same page. I'm not sure how I have gotten so lucky when I know so many others have not. I am just grateful for the positivity and determined to support any action that will make all schools be such welcoming places to all children.

One thing I have learned on this journey is how different every state, even every county is in medical care, educational supports, and assistance for people with disabilities. How can this be possible in a country as wealthy and successful as ours?! This should not be! This is why I support federal oversight. Leaving the growth and development of our children up to individual states is a horrible gamble at a time when our children need advocates to become incredible adults. I cannot sit on my comfortable chair and enjoy Asher's growth, knowing that so many in my own country are struggling because of poorly funded schools and ill-equipped teachers. Think about it next time you vote on a referendum or to place a person in political office. It truly matters!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

To Surgery Or Not To Surgery

Every year Caedmon goes in to check all his functions. They check to see if he has lost anything from the previous year. They check to see if everything is healthy. They check for reflux. They check to see if things are working as they should. They check to see if he is happy with his current state of things.

Everything looks great! Everything is healthy and looking as it should.

This year we had to bring up the fact that Caedmon has experienced more issues between catheterizing. He takes medicine to try to tighten up the sphincter muscles. We wondered if his dosage needed to be increased. 'No,' the doctor assured us.

Our only option right now would be an irreversible surgery that would involve taking gristle off a muscle and wrapping it around the sphincter, making the sphincter more difficult to get through to cath, which would make it probable that he would want/need another surgery that would put a port through his belly button into his bladder, which could increase the likelihood of infections and also could affect the health of his bladder and kidneys.

So, choose your kid's adventure: possible occasional embarrassment/maintain health/no surgery or surgery/possibly decline in health/more chance of not standing out in a crowd in the wrong way.

I hate the irreversible decisions. I hate that there aren't any better options for him right now.

I love that he is so healthy. I love that he hasn't seemed phased by it all yet.

I want him to be able to accept what he has. I want all my kids to be able to accept what they have. I want me to be able to accept what I have. It's not really different. It's just different issues we are all trying to work through.

You are an amazing work of art, son. So you tinkle a little when you laugh or when you run or when you're nervous. You know what? A lot of people do that who have average, normally functioning bodies. You are not alone.

We think we are going to hold off on this decision and let Caedmon make it when he is older. We are so grateful for the option to wait. We are grateful that he is healthy and strong. We are grateful that in this one area we do not need to make a spur of the moment decision.

We are slowly walking in the path of 'being thankful in all circumstances' 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Some circumstances are easier to be thankful for than others.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oh! SINUSES!

Caedmon and I got sick.

A head cold.

Normally not a big deal, always thankful for a cold over a stomach flu. This one seemed to hold on for days and days and days. Stuffy noses, tired eyes, achy bodies, interrupted sleep. I rarely take medicine but actually broke down and begged Adam to bring some Sudafed home.

Glory! Hallelujah! I could sleep!

Caedmon seemed to be getting better too. There were less dirty tissues to search for around his bed in the mornings. He seemed to be sleeping better. He had more energy. We sent him back to school.

Then he started complaining about headaches. Oh dear Lord! As every parent of a child with hydrocephalus and a shunt understands, as soon as you hear the words, 'Mommy, my head hurts!' your stomach tightens and you start going through the mental list of shunt malfunction. Usually Caedmon gets headaches when he's coming down with a virus, not finishing up one, so it couldn't be that.

Oh no!

We've had this shunt since he was two months old, he just turned 8. He's due. I know some people who have had 10 or 20 shunt revisions in short life spans. The luck is turning!

We sent him to school. It seemed like the headaches were going away. I stopped by his school to take care of his needs, he looked miserable. He couldn't focus, couldn't sit still. 'My head hurts, Mom!'

I popped him in the car, called work to tell them I wouldn't be in, called Adam for the neuro's number he has saved in his phone (yeah, I need to change that), brought Caedmon home to rest while we waited to hear from neuro. As I was trying to make him comfortable, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and asked, 'Mom, am I dying?'

Sucker punch to the gut.

I assured him that we would figure out what was going on and take care of it and he would be better soon.

I then had a brilliant thought that you probably already had in reading this: I needed Sudafed every day of the last 6 days, I never gave Caedmon any kind of decongestant. Ah ha!

It's been two solid days of giving him regular decongestant and this afternoon he finally said, 'Hey! My head doesn't hurt anymore!'

Okay. We can breathe again. Breathe into that knot in our stomachs. Let all the tension out of our necks. Allow God to give us that peace we've been pushing away.

Every time we go through this circus we learn a few more things, find more solid footing for the next time, learn a little more about Caedmon's body and how it operates and what it needs. By the time he's 40, we should be really, really good at this.