So how did I get here?

Ships Compass by Mike Baird

Heading where?

I’ve commented a few times that I would tell the back story to why I am here and doing this blog…….so here goes.

The journey to being here on this blog start on 9th April 2006. Until then, life was not perfect (is it ever) but it was certainly heading in all the right directions. I was enjoying an excellent career as a professional firefighter, had been promoted through to the rank of Inspector, and was enjoying periods doing relief duties in country locations. I had a beautiful family, with my wife, two daughters and a son, all of whom I love immensely, and I was involved in a few other projects and had a good life map in my head.

Then while working on one of those country reliefs I received the phone call that every parent dreads. My son had been in an accident at home, he was at the hospital and details were sketchy, but it was serious.

Arrangements were made for me to be on the next available flight home, and thankfully I was surrounded by great work colleagues and a great organisation that swung into action to support me and my family. The flight and drive to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Childrens Hospital was the longest three and half hours of my life.

Most of this time was spent ringing back and forth to people who were at the hospital with my wife, and occasionally speaking to hospital staff who were doing their best to reassure me, but were painting a terrible picture. My wife was too shocked to talk to me (another indicator that things were not good). Samuel had experienced a near drowning accident in our backyard pool, it had taken 45 minutes for him to start breathing on his own and a bit longer than that for his heart to begin beating on it’s own, and things did not look good.

I arrived at the intensive care unit to find my son connected to so many machines all beeping and squaking, lines into what looked like every available vein, a team of Doctors and nurses around him along with my wife, family friends and my work chaplain. Getting the round up from everyone there it was apparent that things were very grim and there was a very good chance that Samuel was not going to make it through the night.

On the fourth day, it was time to switch machines off and see what was going to happen with him. When the breathing tubes were removed he continued to breath on his own. Five days  later it was time to move him to a ward and begin intensive rehabilitation. Samuel spent a total of four months in hospital, but despite the best efforts of every member of the pre-hospital, hospital and rehab care teams Samuel was left with a severe hypoxic brain injury and severe disabilities.

Our family was then faced with a whole new experience of dealing with a severely disabled child, worrying about learning a whole range of medical techniques to care for him, and worrying about where the money was going to come from for purchasing the equipment we were going to need to be able to support his daily care and quality of life.

Thankfully, we were well supported, and a great deal of that story is to be found at the Samuel Morris Foundation website. The Foundation was set up because of the support we received and the knowledge that it was not available to many other families in similar circumstances.

Over time I have found that there are things I would like to share and or comment on, but it is not appropriate to do it at the Foundation site. I also wanted to be able to begin discussing the role of resilience in getting through events like those that have impacted my family. So this blog seemed like an appropriate channel.

I’m new at it, I’m on a steep learning curve about blogging, and building a readership etc etc. So your participation in reading this blog is greatly appreciated. I would also appreciate your comments, and any input you would like to have to this type of discussion, whether that is through guest posting, a partnership… just let me know.

Next post I am going to finish off the series on CHOICE, and then I am going to share a few stories about my journey beyond that day that changed life forever.

This posts image by Mike Baird at Flickr

A Merry Xmas?

Merry Christmas by Blacklord

Merry Christmas by Blacklord

The Christmas holiday season is traditionally full of people wishing each other a merry xmas, sprouting bon homie, and being full of the festive spirit. This is NOT a traditional xmas message!

Some of you will know that I am full of the festive spirit and regularly spout bon homie a bit of a Bah Humbug sort of person when it comes to Christmas. There are a few reasons for this, but I won’t go into detail. I do really like Christmas day and the immense joy that it brings to my children (even though it is heavily tinged by the fact that one of my children no longer experiences that joy), but I really hate the fakeness of the lead up and the forced sense of camaraderie that everyone displays.

For many this time of year is a bigger struggle than normal, as they struggle to provide for their families and see their children go without, or as they spend Christmas alone, or as they continue their battle with illness, or they remain homeless.

For some this is the first xmas without a special loved one, for some it is the first xmas dealing with a family member with severe disability, for some it is the first xmas tinged with immense sadness for many different individual reasons.

Not everyones view of Christmas is a positive one.

If you are one of the lucky ones for whom this time of year is full of joy, and you get to spend it surrounded by loving family, congratulations, please consider this request……….

in the last days before xmas is there something that you and your family can do to lighten the burden of those less fortunate ?

How would you talk to a disabled child – with Passion?

Photo by Adam Hollingworth

Photo by Adam Hollingworth

Thanks to Rachel Browne for her article in the SunHerald newspaper “a life time of caring for kids saved from water”, highlighting the plight of children disabled by near drowning, and highlighting the tragic statistics associated with drowning in Australia.

During this process we had the good fortune to have Adam Hollingworth do the photo shoot. It was clear that Adam was passionate about what he does. But what I really appreciated was Adam’s interaction with Samuel.

Too often people when talking to children like Samuel direct their questions/comments etc at the parents and talk about the child like they don’t exist. They assume that just because the child is severely disabled, and is unable to communicate in words, that they are unable to grasp anything.

Not Adam, he hit the nail on the head! He spoke directly to Samuel, interacting with him on the assumption that Samuel knows what is going on and would respond in his own way. Which he does! So thanks Adam, an example of a professional and personal approach to your work that was truly appreciated.

The Sun Herald issue focused on a number of safety issues, and it was interesting to read the editorial, which talked about our failure as a society to address some of the risks that we face when dealing with water.

The preparation for the Rachel Browne article came on the top of this story about a missing autistic child. Sadly the toddler was subsequently found in the river after he had drowned, continuing the sad story of child drownings.

It was also interesting to contrast some of the other articles in the paper such as this article on the syndrome of cotton wool treatment of children.

It is an interesting debate about how far we take safety for our children. I am passionate about caring for our kids, but somethings featured in the cotton wool article above are just taking it too far.

How far would you go to protect your child? How far is too far? Let me know…