Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
One of the biggest things they don’t tell you when you are a parent of a child with special needs is that a good friend can save your sanity.
My sanity saver was Kathy. Working with her for years, Kathy was not only a fellow parent of a child with special needs, but an outstanding role model and one of my closest friends. And she saved my life one day.
My daughter Addie was only 4 months old when she was diagnosed with RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) and both of her lungs collapsed. I never left her side, until around the seventh day in the ICU, when my husband forced me to take a break. I was emotionally spent, overwhelmed, and so, so scared. I left the Children’s Hospital and immediately went to work at my job (to keep my mind occupied). Kathy and I had a meeting to attend, so we hopped in her car and left. I began sobbing as I told her the latest report from the doctor. “They are going to wean her off of this medication. Then, if she does good, they will wean her off this other one. They will eventually wean her off of the oxygen, and then wean her from this other med.” As I poured my heart out, Kathy busted out laughing hysterically. She turns to me and yells, “STOP SAYING WEINER!!!” I froze momentarily and then began a good, long belly-aching laugh/cry. Kathy’s perfectly timed words saved me from my deep, dark emotions that day, and I will forever be grateful to her.
Kathy never questioned me during those dark times when Addie was sick, or later when the doctors couldn’t determine a diagnosis. She stood with me, holding my hand, while telling me that I would get through it. She allowed me to grieve, to feel it, and to go through the journey without pushing me or telling me what to do or how to act. She even bought me my first pair of “big girl panties” as a not-so-gag-gift, and told me that when I was ready – I could put them on and be Addie’s voice. Although Kathy didn’t see it, she was the role model that I needed to get me on the path towards acceptance and eventually, advocacy. She was (and is) my rock. She taught me so much about being a good role model, and I want to share some lessons I learned:
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