By Gyneth Turner, Respite and Respitality Coordinator
My overnight bag is packed; I hope I remembered to pack at least a spare pair of undies and my book. I can always grab a toothbrush from hotel housekeeping, right? I send a quick text to the babysitter to check her ETA. I am counting the minutes now…
I wanted to check-in early, but my son’s inhalers are suddenly MIA – missing in action. There is no way I can leave him with a babysitter overnight and not have at least two on hand. So maybe the hotel will offer a late check-out? I make the required trip to the pharmacy.
The list of necessary reminders is on the fridge, I have also texted the list to Amanda, but the handwritten one on the fridge is the back-up in case her phone battery dies. I’m all about the back-up, I have Plan B’s for everything. The list is next to the list of primary phone numbers for her to call if she needs help, but mine is the one at the top, and to be honest, I want her to call me first. I must be there if my son has a problem. There is a good chance that I will get called and need to come home.
John’s dinner is in the fridge, along with snacks, breakfast, and tomorrow’s lunch. I know that Amanda could prepare it for him, but I just have not had the time to show her how, so I did it last night at around midnight. John has so many life-threatening allergies and food aversions that crafting the meals he needs is time-consuming and challenging. He has a gruelling surgery in three weeks, and it is important that he does not lose any more weight.
I am so pleased that John is crazy about Amanda! For the first time since his 6 month stint at Vancouver Children’s Hospital 2 years ago, he is ok with being away from me overnight. Being a single parent means that I am always “on duty.” Being John’s single parent means I am responsible for keeping him alive. It sounds dramatic, and of course, all parents are responsible for keeping their kids alive. For John and I the difference is that his allergies could kill him, an asthma attack could kill him, a seizure could kill him. He needs constant vigilance, medications & interventions to prevent his death – 24/7.
A soft knock at the door and Yay! Amanda has arrived! John looks at me, and we communicate without words, I kiss his forehead, “love you,” I say. Ten minutes of chat with Amanda later and I am in my car.
My Night Out
No phone call comes from Amanda.
I sip red wine in a bubble bath, I watch a movie, I remembered my toothbrush, I read my book. Best of all, I sleep all night with no interruptions in a king size bed with fresh sheets. I open my gift basket and play solitaire with a deck of cards, I eat one of the Rogers’ Chocolates – maple nut. I sleep in and order room service breakfast; they even put a rose on the little service table. I read some more, I call home, everything is fine they tell me, they are having fun, don’t rush home. I check-out early in the afternoon and drive home, stopping for gas and groceries. I plan to make a favourite of John’s for dinner, it’s one of my favourites too.
It was only one night, but I feel refreshed and ready to face another day… week … month of caregiving for my precious son.
To learn more about the Cridge Respitality program and ways to help visit http://cridge.org/rr/respitality/