Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thinking About the Unthinkable

As parents, it is something we really don’t want to think about. But, we should. What would happen to our child if something happens to us?

My wife and I went to get a heart scan the other day. We went to a place that was having a “couples promotion” where they give you and your spouse a free heart scan just for coming in together. The catch is that you have to sit and listen to their pitch about the other services they offer which include a variety of preventative medicine techniques including a bone density scan, lung scan, virtual colonoscopy, and full body scan.

In our area, this company is well known among those who listen to AM radio as their commercials run quite frequently. The ads always feature a man in seemingly good health who gets a heart scan at his wife’s behest. Sure enough, the scan reveals a condition that could have led to a heart attack if not treated right away.

In their pitch to us, they said that we could have a full body scan that day if we signed up for their 10-year membership for an extra low fee. With this preventative health package, we could get the scans we need that may reveal cancer and other potential problems that often are not detected until it is too late.

I’m not usually one to respond well to these types of pitches. But, since I became a family man, I’ve accepted that taking care of my health is an important part of my responsibility to my wife and son. Knowing that my son has autism has only strengthened that commitment to maintaining good health.

Over the past few months, my wife and I have been thinking about our wills, and discussing what would happen to Kai in the event that both of us passed away. Who would we entrust with the responsibility to take care of our son in our absence? This is an extremely difficult question for any parent; it is a particularly important one for parents of a child with special needs who may need support long after most other kids become independent.

Unfortunately, we have yet to come up with a great answer.

Kai has wonderful grandparents, but it wouldn’t be fair to think that they could take on daily care of a child that we barely have enough energy to keep us with ourselves.

Many folks think of siblings for these situations. Unfortunately, that is not ideal for us. My wife has no brothers or sisters. And, my only sister is pondering retirement with her kids finishing college soon; it would be asking a lot for them to take on a young child with autism who would take their lives in a totally different direction.

We have other relatives who are younger and live closer, but they seem very busy with their own lives and haven’t gotten to know Kai very well.

We have even considered non-relatives. For a child like Kai, perhaps a great therapist or teacher would be the best guardian. Or, similarly, another family that has experience raising an autistic child might be suitable. But, it is hard to think about asking someone outside your own family to possibly take on what may be a huge burden for them.

Sometimes families that have older kids often have some expectation, stated or not, that these older kids would take care of their younger or special needs siblings if need be. But, as Kai is an only child, that is not an option for us.

And so, we continue to think about our options. Perhaps we just need to trust that someone will step up and do right by our son if the occasion arises.

But, in the meantime, my wife and I are thinking that we need to keep ourselves as healthy as we can for as long as we can.

We had the body scans done right away, and already received the results for our heart checks – great scores for both of us. Now we are awaiting the other results.

There are no guarantees when it comes to health. But, you do what you can. Especially when your son is depending on you.

1 comment:

  1. It is the right idea to prepare for the worst case scenario...however, research (not through the company) the quantity of radiation you absorb per dose...know the long term safety...etc...before going through too many cycles of full body scans.

    Just some info on units of exposure once you get your stats:

    On to financial protection...I have a Roth IRA that my son will be inheriting (not for another 50 years hopefully). I have some stocks...I shall have mostly dividend bearing stocks to let compounding interest work its magic over 50-60 yrs. as a retirement bonus for my son...along with everything we will have accumulated by then.

    Don't forget Trusts for hassle free transfer of property and other assets...
    as well as updating (witnessed and notarized) your wills and power of attorneys with every change.

    It is good to see parents looking ahead to protect their you are. Bravo.


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