The last post I did was Kristen’s prom…and that was in June 2011!
We need to do a speedy catch up on the rest of 2011 so I can review 2012…let’s go:
Kristen and Mathew both graduated in June 2011. Kristen relaxed that summer while Mathew started at Key Industries. Although he technically was not allowed to be there until he turned 19, Social Services and Key Industries allowed him right after graduation when he was still 18, so he wouldn’t sit at home by himself for several months. The caveat was that we paid rather than the disability funding the Province gives to persons who are deemed long-term and severely disabled. It costs $33/day to send an adult to Key Industries and that does not include transportation.
Key Industries is a non-profit organization that trains and teaches intellectually disabled adults how to work “in the real world”. There is a silk-screening business to generate income for the organization but Mathew opted for the adult day programme instead. Similar to a school he has a homegroup he stays with unless they separate for different classes.
Once Mathew turned 19 we filled out the forms to have the Province’s Social Services review his case. He is deemed to have a prolonged and severe disability that prevents him from functioning in society at a normal ability. He was eligible to attend Key Industries and for the Government to fund him. He is also in receipt of a monthly disability income that pays for room, board, utilities, food, clothing, etc. A certain amount is taken off the grand total because he resides at home (with family) so his monthly income is $528 after the deduction. The whole amount is under $700… can you imagine a disabled person trying to live on that a month? There is no way someone could live on their own, to pay for rent, food and utilities let alone anything else. It is heart-breaking and the terror of all us parents as to what will become of our beloved disabled children when we are gone. That is for another post at a later time. Right now we’re just summarizing the last part of 2011.
Although Mathew attended Key Industries daily for the first 6 months it was too difficult and stressful for him. Last January his attendance was amended to Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays. This works much better for him and he enjoys his days off as much as going to Key Industries. Fortunately for us, as Key Industries doe not provide any transportation, the building is located 2 little blocks from my workplace and our hours are similar. I drop Mathew off on my way to work in the morning and John picks him up after his workday ends. For days that John can’t get him then Mathew walks to my workplace and then we go home together.
If you are interested this is a link to Key Industries: http://www.keyindustries.ca/
Mathew made good friends at Key Industries and him and a couple of buddies hang together outside of work occasionally. He has another high school friend who chills with Mathew once or twice weekly, usually on one of his “off” days. Mathew rejoined the Special Olympics bowling on Sunday nights and it gives him a weekend activity to look forward to. He will be starting Special Olympics Basketball after the New Year. His social calendar is getting busier much to his delight – and ours.
There was a major hiccup after Mathew started at Key Industries and a problem that I believe originated there although they insist it didn’t. Mathew got scabies. Never having seen it before we thought it was a heat rash as it was summer and the place isn’t (or wasn’t then) air-conditioned. He went to the family doctor who deemed the rash to be a viral heat infection. So it went untreated for over a month and poor Mathew grew more and more miserable. Once I developed similar symptoms I knew it wasn’t a simple rash so back Mathew went to the doctor. This time the diagnosis was scabies. Mathew’s spots didn’t show the common way by first appearing between the fingers and toes. It just showed as red, dotted skin along his inner legs, arms and stomache.
The treatment is wretched. It involves covering almost your whole body in cream, not sleeping in your bed for 48 hours, washing and rewashing; sealing mattresses, blah, blah, blah. For some people the medication causes an extreme reaction of insane itchiness and guess who suffered the most? Mathew then I. That was the weekend I took Kristen to Bangor, Maine to shop for University. I cannot describe the agony of shopping in a store when it feels like there are fire ants in your undergrarments. Scratching brings a few seconds’ relief before it becomes worse. I repeatedly ran to the bathroom desperately scratching myself like an flea-infested animal then would suffer worse when the burning started. We dosed Mathew with any available remedy to try to help with his extreme itchiness as he suffered for so long.
In September Kristen moved to Fredericton, NB to start her first year of Psychology at Saint Thomas University. Her first residence was off-campus and didn’t work out well so she soon relocated to one on school grounds. She lives in Holy Cross House whose irony is not lost on us, being the agnostics we are. Kristen has a single room due to her sleeping troubles. She is up all hours of the night and there isn’t a roommate that could put up with that.
The university is about 1-1/2 hours from our home so at her request we go up and spend a bit of time with her. We fill the fridge, stock up on other necessities and eat out and maybe take in a movie.Fredericton is close enough if Kristen needs us but still far enough away to be independent.
Oh and that empty-nest syndrome thing you hear about? It’s like a punch to the stomach…it took about a month for it to go away and sending her back to University gets progressively easier after that. By the time she graduates we’ll be ready to help her move on! (ha ha, kidding dear. We’re here as long as you need us)
BUT WAIT! The fall of 2011 wasn’t done with us yet! Another nasty little thing passed through our home…again, to Mathew (of course ~ who else would it be?). He developed something called “Trucker’s Butt”. It’s a cute name for an ingrown hair in the buttocks region. One or more little hairs grow inwards and festers. That forms an internal “cave” that grows and gets infected eventually. The only symptoms Mathew had was a pin-sized hole and blood thank goodness. Although it wasn’t infected the area still had to be cut out to prevent it from coming back. A surgeon made a nice hole that almost made me pass out the first time I saw it. Even worse – it had to be cleaned and packed daily. The homecare nurse came daily at first to tend to the wound and teach me how to do it. It took 1 to 1-1/2 hours daily for the first month or so and it caused Mathew a lot of pain particularily when it was raw and the special packing material had to be tucked into the incision. The nurses’ visits decreased to weekly while I cleaned the rest of the time. This lasted for 5 months after which time it still hadn’t completely healed. The surgeon looked at it again and decided to just leave it to nature. I had come to the same conclusion myself so we agreed on something. This can return and often does until the age of 30 or so…when…when… hair softens and thins. Until then it can be shaved….It was in late April or early May before it was completely finished.
Moving right along to Christmas. We got a couple of decorations for the front yard. One for Mathew and one for Kristen.
Guess whose this one is? Snoopy and his little buddy hang out and light up the front yard
If you haven’t figured out who Snoopy belongs to then look at the pink cat below:
If you still can’t get it then Kristen loves cats and the colour pink…does that help you out? Here is Snoopy and the kitty in our front yard.
In December of last year Kristen started dating her first boyfriend. Meet Alex.
The relationship lasted until this December. Goodbye Alex.
(It was a mutual decision)
Finally a few random photos from the summer and fall year:
A bit of snow falling in early November. The next three photos show our new back deck and the view of the lake from our home. The new deck was built this year mostly by John and with help from his father and brothers. It is double the width of our old deck and it has the glass panels instead of the wooden slats. We installed a canopy (summer only) in the corner for some shade and John also built stairs so we can get down into the backyard from our deck. It is beautiful and was our place to sit during good weather in 2011 and 2012
Our Christmas Tree in 2011. Last year our only decorated tree was this one outside on the front lawn. Mathew has a hard time with bright lights, glitter and anything that disrupts our regular schedule. Christmas is particularily difficult but in the last couple of years he is better at expressing what bothers him. Rather than no xmas tree at all I decided to try one outside. I know the kids across the street loved it and it was pretty during the day and at night the lights glowed when the dark hid the ornaments. We did the tree again this year.
Next is our dining room. If you look at the 2 black blobs on the floor, one is Jasmine and the other one (basking in the sun) is Bosco. Off to the right – off the picture, is the sliding door leading to the gorgeous deck shown in the photos above.
Here are a couple of summer photos of our deck during the little grad celebration we had for Mathew and Kristen:
John’s older brother Alistair and his wife
John relaxing with some of his family (he has 5 brothers and sisters and 12 nieces and nephews!)
While the older family members enjoyed the deck two of our nieces preferred dipping their toes in the lake. These two gorgeous girls are growing up so fast! They are already so much older than these photos taken 18 months ago…*sigh*…
Traditionally at the Prom dance, the first dance is the graduate with his/her parent. In our case it was Kristen dancing with her father. I know John was thrilled….I’m not so sure about Kristen but she was a good sport.
Kristen thought the dance went on waaaaay to long….
Ha ha ha ~ Happy New Year!