LIONS & TIGERS (Sleater Kinney)
November 4, 2019

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!  I haven’t written anything for ages. I don’t really know why because it’s truly therapeutic for me and I could really use the release of fret and fear that I have been carrying around for most of this year. Lions, tigers and bears seem minor in terms of the hurdles and challenges we’ve faced and are facing in 2019.  I plan to make time to write more so will use this first post as a bit of a matter of fact catch up.

Cole turned 18 in September so we spent several months getting things in order to set up a conservatorship so that we can manage his medical, financial and educational needs moving forward once he’s legally an adult.  All of the stress led up to a fairly innocuous court hearing whereby we granted the conservatorship rights.  It doesn’t feel great to know that we’ve essentially taken away most his legal rights, however he’s not capable of making a lot of major decisions on his own so it’s the best option.  We’ve always and will always consult with him and no one has his best interest ahead of all else than we do.  Though we received the official documents, there remains a lot of loops to close and loose ends to finalize, like closing the guardianship that was in place for most of his life.  It feels never-ending.

While all of the conservatorship stuff is going on, we also learned that Cole’s scoliosis has worsened to the point that he is having surgery in December to try to correct it as much as possible. His spine has curved to such a degree that the right side of his pelvis is nearly touching his lower right rib cage.  The distortion has caused his organs to squish together which can ultimately cause a lot of problems, including breathing and heart issues. It’s a fairly major surgery, with his back being cut open from top to bottom so that the surgeon can straighten his spinal cord and insert titanium rods to support the new position on either side.  It’s not without risks due to it being a lengthy surgery (about 10 hours), potential nerve damage, infection due to the size of the incision, but the outcome promises a lot of benefits and improved quality of life for him.  He’ll even end up appearing taller once his spine is straight, a benefit he favors most. I plan to document all of this as much as I can as I’ve not found a lot of parent information about the whole process and particularly the recovery and healing.

In the midst of these big events, we are also trying to prepare for Cole’s transition from high school to the next phase of his education and life skills training.  There are a handful of career transitional campuses (CTC’s) in our area that offer various programs for young adults with special needs where, dependent upon their abilities, they are exposed to different career tracks, in addition to life skills (basic computer skills, creating resumes, managing living spaces, finances, and the like), and continued education.  Cole’s next IEP, scheduled right when he’s due to return following the six weeks of recovery from the surgery, will start creating the foundation of the transitional IEP that will follow so we have felt pressure to make sure we are prepared in terms of knowing what we want for him moving forward.  Part of this has meant touring each CTC to get an understanding of what each offers.  There are two that are impressive, but only one that felt like it would be somewhat appropriate for Cole.  The next step will be to work with them to try to create the path for him that will feel wholly appropriate.  Never a dull moment!

If I stop to think about it and take everything going on at once, it’s overwhelming.  If I allow myself to think too much about the implications or potential outcomes of any one of these, there’s a darkness and sadness that creeps in.  At times it takes all I have to embrace the rites of passage that exist in my life, in Cole’s life.

More on that another time…There’s an amazing boy, young man, who needs me to be strong, smiling and his.  And I will be…I’ll be everything he needs.


June 15, 2015

My mind takes me to dark places when I think of Cole going under the knife. His surgery is just three days away and we’re all feeling the stress. Cole’s anxiety is palatable and my husband and I are both on edge.

The pre-op and admissions are done and all that’s left is arriving day ready to stay for a couple of nights. The surgery itself could take about ten hours. Those are the hours I most dread. I have this unreasonable, unfounded fear of anesthesia. I don’t worry that the actual surgical procedure will go badly. I worry that he won’t wake up from the anesthesia or that he’ll have a seizure and it will go badly. My brain just goes to that place when it comes to anesthesia.

I know, in my heart and head, that it’s all going to be fine and I know that the anesthesia is not the high-risk part of the surgery. It’s just my darkness. Maybe it’s just how I cope with my own fears and anxiety about Cole having surgery.

My fear leads me to do things. I spin my wheels. I spend a lot of time researching and planning and organizing. It’s one of my coping mechanisms. It helps me to feel like I’m contributing to the overall success of his care and healing. I’ve got him on doses of Emergen-C (to help boost his immune system for hospital and vitamin C and zinc are both helpful in healing) and bone collagen (helps to heal tissue and bone). I can’t say for certain that they’ll help but his doctors agree it won’t harm.

I’ve got aromatherapy spray to keep the hospital room smelling comfortable for him. I’ve been dosing the room every night before he sleeps so it will calm him in the hospital room. I’ve created a soothing playlist with lots of his favorite songs so if he’s feeling woozy and in and out on pain meds, he can listen to quiet music to help him relax.

At the end of the day, all of the preparing and accouterments aren’t going to make as much of an impact on him as having his parents there when he wakes up and by his side in the hospital room. All that will matter to him is that we’re near and that we’re doing every thing possible to get him through this surgery and the long healing process as comfortably as we can.

All that matters to me is that he wakes up and eventually cracks that sweet smile of his at me. My brain will quiet and the fear will sit still.