I took a vacation day today in order to attend a forum co-sponsored by Massachusetts Parents Advocating for Change and the Merrimack Valley Dept of Disability Services -- DDS (formerly DMR, Dept of Mental Retardation). The forum ran from 9:00 am to noon with a continental breakfast and beautiful view of the golf course ... on our first sunny day in a month of gray.
The forum was put together in answer to parents requests for information on programs and services available to their children with special needs who upon turning 22, are out of the local school district and into the adult world of services. And service providers.
It was a worthwhile attendance for me. I had no idea just how many choices are available to Emily (and her family) for programs and services from day rehabilitation services to vocational training and support. While I think I have a clear view of what I'd like her future to look like, I'm certain Emily's is somewhat different; it was good to have the feeling that others can accept my clear view and are willing to work with both Emily and her family to make her dreams and goals come to fruition.
As one presenter said, "Sometimes we meet them way down at the bottom of skills ... and then we simply take them along with us to where they want to be." I have no doubt that these speakers, advocates and worker bees have the best interests of all the young adults they provide services to ... in their hearts and daily lives.
There was a young man there. Okay, he's in his 30's ... and he spoke about how parents need to let go of their dreams for their child and let the child dream and grow. And let them make mistakes. And let them learn from their mistakes. He has made many, but he has learned from them too.
Amazing young man. He is an intern at the State House -- my oldest had mentioned him to me just two weeks ago. John was at one the Legislative Aid Seminars that she attended. And she wondered did I know him? I did not.
He gave those of us in attendance a few tips: "Listen! Listen! Listen!" He went on to explain that without the support of his family, friends and workers he would not be where he is today.
He told us to remember that we should think outside the box, take the time to really get to know our kids and who they want to become and most importantly we should believe in the person we are supporting.
How wise and smart he is. He ended his speech by telling us that "Right now I am living my dream! I couldn't ask for more."
I left the forum and in very heavy stop and go traffic I mulled much of what I had heard, read and seen today. I was flipping between discouragement and encouragement ... the budget has been slashed and slashed and it looks like the Governor will be passing a budget that will have many young and older adults losing placements or having less services due to huge deficits and no way to meet them.
I was driving along next to a Burger King set at the front of a strip mall ... with a large parking lot behind it and at the back of the lot there is a Panera Bread and an Ace Hardware store. Completely stopped, I opted to let a woman pull out of the parking lot at the end near the Ace store and wham!!! My car was rear ended. It was quite a jolt, but I didn't think there could be too much damage.
Looking into the rear view mirror I saw a smallish car with an older woman driving it. I promptly pulled into the parking lot and she followed me in. There were no easy parking spaces, so with my mind telling me 'this should only take a minute' I pulled into an easy out handicap parking space with the intention of her pulling in behind me ... I'd hop out, get her info, check the damage, if there was any and be on my way.
It was not to be. As I was pulling into the space ... CRASH!!! and this was a big one, the woman hit my car again, but this time, she hit the driver's side passenger door stoving it in and tore the running board nearly off the van. She managed to wedge her car between mine and another car that was parked in a handicap space ... and neither one of us could get out of our cars.
Within two minutes of each other, I was involved in two accidents.
The 'OH!!!' from the diners at the outside tables at Panera Bread was audible! I sat in my car, stunned ... for a minute or two and then started to collect my thoughts. I should call the police. Shouldn't I? I should call my husband, shouldn't I? I should get out of the dammed car ... but first I called David and then the police. Knowing they police were on the way and after three different people stopped to be sure that first I was okay, and then she was okay I managed to crawl across the front seat of the car and get out. Pen and paper and reg and license in hand I walked to the back of my car where there was barely a scratch to the bumper! But the driver's side ... oooohhhh. Ouch!
The police arrived and asked, "were you the one hit?" Yes. "well, how'd this happen" I told him first, she rear ended me, out there (pointing) at the street, while I was stopped in traffic. His eyes open a bit wider and the grin just hits the corners of his mouth ... and then when we pulled in here, I don't know what she was doing, but suddenly she hit me again! "You mean the same lady hit you twice?" Yes. He nearly Buwuwuwuaahhhahaaaaa'd in my face but managed to contain his emotions.
I said, "Is she all right?" He said, " Everything but her driving is all right." Oh my gosh ... and then the Fire Department arrived, two on the rescue, four on the engine, and although my back was hurting I refused transport. Emergency Departments are for emergencies and an achy back can be treated at a primary care docs easily enough. But while I am waiting for the notebook computer to come up so that I can sign a treatment refusal and HEPPA sheet ... they ask how'd this happen.
Have you ever seen six firefighters all trying not to laugh at the same time? Well, I have and it was killing me ... so I gave them permission to guffaw away. And oh, they did!
Eventually the FD left, the wrecker arrived and the lady who owned the convertible Mercedes in the parking space that had been it as well was able to move her car out ... The officer let me drive my car home but told me not to drive it 'around'. Like I felt like driving home, even.
I arrived home somewhat the worse for wear and although the officer had told me I would have to file two accident reports and open two claims, I was kind of hoping I wouldn't. The good news is the lady and I have the same insurance company, the bad news is there are four separate claim numbers. Two for me. Two for her.
As the afternoon progressed so did the ache in my back ... moving up into my shoulder blade with the numbness and tingling and down into my left arm, over the elbow, down the forearm and out the ring finger. I called the doc's, headed over and was given a couple of prescriptions and an x-ray requistion. Off to the hospital for a c-spine series, back to the pharmacy for the scrips and finally, at long last, home to rest.
At some point, this very nice, older woman, all made up and in lovely clothing came over to talk to me. She explained to me that she drives in and out of Boston for treatment of her esophogeal cancer and that she's had a problem with her car before. She told me where and when she bought it and how it acts up and she can't control it. Honestly? I think her foot slipped off the brake and onto the gas ... and she can say what she wants.
So I ask you? Who's having the bad day? Me? or Her?
Just call me Crash.