This week my son who has leukemia had a seizure. The incident made me realize all the ways that his diagnosis has changed me. All the things I do differently now, the ways I think. Some of them I wished I had known before hand because it would have made this ordeal easier in some ways. So I am going to share them with you, and maybe if something ever happens you will be a bit more prepared than I was.
1. Always have an emergency box in the car(s). Tooth brush, tooth paste, some cash, tissues, change of underwear, hair brush, granola bars, note pad, pads, pen and paper, phone charger that plugs in to a wall or a disposable phone that is fully charged. (I will post pics of the one I made some time)
2. Always own a pair of slip on shoes and have them near the front door.
3. Land lines are not outdated. If you can afford one, even the $20 a year ones, keep it. And/or have multiple cell phones on hand. If you are on the phone with 911 someone else can be calling another adult, a next door neighbor, doctors.
4. CPR - an afternoon class can save a life. And don't give me any bull about how it hardly saves lives, blah blah blah. Because the second your child stops breathing you will try to resuscitate. Its a natural instinct, you will want to know CPR. Take it from someone who has had to do it. Get trained, take a refresher course.
5. Practice calling 911 with your children. Have them also practice calling their emergency contacts. "There has been a medical emergency..." "There is an intruder in our home..." Just the facts, remain calm. Confusion causes delay. Even small children can know how to handle emergencies, and in my experiences are more calm then the older children.
6. Post those emergency numbers in big bold font near the front door.
7. Stop thinking it will never happen to you and start thinking if it does you will be prepared the best you can. Life changes in an instant, don't have regrets.
8. Those frozen meals you keep meaning to make - do it. Frozen meals are easy to make for those coming to your house to help out.
9. Have an overnight bag ready in your closet: Baby shampoo, lotion, some sweats and a t-shirt, wash cloth, basics for an emergency overnight.
10. Get rid of the clutter. If someone needs to get in your house would they be able to? If you need to send someone to your house to grab your overnight bag, can they find it?
11. Shower and dress everyday like you are going to go out. Because even if you don't plan to, you might have to. You don't have to look nice, but make sure your butt ain't hanging out or your clothes aren't see through. Bras would be good. Basically if you wouldn't answer the door like that, go change.
12. There is a fine line between protecting your children and empowering them. Don't be scared to teach your children about disease and suffering, pain and death. Don't be scared to let them watch those you tube slide shows about families with special needs children, or music videos by cancer ward patients.
I know there are people who have gone through the things we are, and have acted and done things differently. That's fine. What works for one family may not for another. But until it happens you just don't know how you will respond. So don't scoff at someone offering you advice (like me) because that's what I did, I thought I knew. And when it came down to it, I didn't. I thought I would be more calm when I was calling 911. I always think "I will do it tomorrow, I am too tired today." but tomorrow I am just as tired and it still doesn't get done. I always procrastinate and I always think: "What are the chances?" Don't be like me. Think ahead and be prepared. Some of these things are so easy, so simple. 98 cents at Walmart for flip flops, an overnight bag is free, cleaning and purging are free, getting showered and dressed every day might be hard but less hard then trying to throw on clothes when faced with an emergency. Even if nothing ever happens to you, something might happen to someone else when you are around. It might be you or your children that make the difference in their outcome.
Lastly, Leukemia taught me to find the happiness, the positives even when faced with hardship. There is always hope and beauty and love if you look hard enough. And most times its staring you right in the face, you just need to realize its there.