Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Oxygen Masks As Metaphors

If you've ever been on an airplane, you know the speech the flight attendants give includes the statement that you should put on your own oxygen mask before assisting other passengers.

That same sentiment goes around special needs communities fairly frequently too, as an admonition to parents to take care of themselves. And honestly, that's been bothering me off and on for a while now. 

Maybe for some people it makes sense. Not to dismiss the wide variety of special needs and medical issues and disabilities out there, but I'm sure that for some families, it really won't kill anyone if parents take a night off, hire a sitter, and go to dinner, even if it takes a lot to find a sitter that will keep their kids.

At our house, however....sitters are just not going to cut it. We need someone trained to care for Leaf - trach trained and reasonably good at assessing her respiratory status. We really need someone familiar with sign language for Acorn. And to find someone who can do both kids at the same time is clearly just not going to happen (even our primary nurse, who has cared for both of them individually over the years, has said they're too much for one person, which makes me wonder a bit about the days my husband or I have both of them by ourselves)., oxygen masks are real, not just a metaphor. If we don't put a real oxygen mask on a child when they need it because we're trying to put on our metaphoric mask, bad things happen. And that's not happening if I have any control over it.

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