Friday, June 10, 2011

Safety Monitor

In elementary school, I often took the bus to and from school. Each bus had one person appointed the "safety monitor" (by whom, I'm not sure). It was the job of the safety monitor to make sure that people were behaving on the bus (although I don't remember that actually happening), and to make sure at the end of the day that everyone from their bus line got onto the bus. AND, you got to wear a totallysupercool orange belt draped in beauty pageant fashion if you were a safety monitor. I remember wanting to be one so badly, but because I was so early in the drop-off on our route, I never got picked.

Well, now I'm a real-life safety monitor and I think the job description is overwhelming. Any mom, whether she knows it or not, is constantly looking out or thinking about the safety of her children. We basically sleep with one eye open.

But Dean's situation requires a heightened level of safety-monitoring that can be downright exhausting. And I don't get to wear a totallysupercool orange belt.

Dean's low tone means that he might look totally stable one moment, but it's sheer strength overcoming his body's poor signaling to his muscles - so the second he wobbles a bit or lets go, he crashes in any given direction. His body doesn't often adjust to putting out an arm to break his fall or to make a quick movement with his abs to prevent himself from crashing backwards like a tree. He's obviously able to hold up his head, but it's still a weak link for him and so throwing it around in one direction to keep his balance results in some awful falls. Yesterday he had a tantrum and in attempt to be dramatic about it, he flung his head around. I dove to the ground seeing what was about to happen and as I grabbed him to stabilize his body, it was too late. He swung his head forward and smashed his nose straight forward on the hardwood floor. :( I was terrified that he'd broken his nose, but it instead is "just" a little swollen. Sigh. I was RIGHT THERE and couldn't even save him from hurting himself.

I'm not exactly sure how to explain the ways in which this is a daily issue, because it goes beyond tripping or being clumsy. The concern is there whether we're at home, at the park, in a supermarket, you name it. This is a big part, at this point, of why I'm eager for Dean to walk on his own - because it will mean that he is strong enough that this will happen less and less. I'm feeling desperate about it, although there's not much we can do. His walker is great, but it - because of sheer size, weight, and me needing to carry it everywhere while taking care of 3 kids - is just not always a help.

My heart is begging for a miracle, that Dean would soon enough become stronger so that he is safer in any environment. Because this safety monitor gig isn't cutting it. I can catch him sometimes, but it's impossible to be right there every single time. A little more complicated than just getting kids to line up for the right bus....


Dorette said...


I've never commented before - but I've followed your story from before Dean was born.

I grew up with a disabled brother (though more mentally than physically) so I've got SO much empathy with your situation.

Having a household member with special needs is tough (especially on the mama!) I'm only the sibling, and I loved my brother to bits but I do "get" how hard some days can be.

You are such an awesome witness of God's grace, compassion and love - hang in there!

Hope your miracle happens, and Dean starts walking soon

Love from South Africa

Ali Foley Shenk said...

Dorette, thank you so much for reading and for commenting! Always good to know you're not alone. Thank you. :)