Friday, December 23, 2011

Fictional Friday: Teddy

Theodore sat in his wheelchair, watching the family cat swat at a toy ball on the floor. There is a glint of amusement in his hazel colored eyes as watches the tabby cat chase the bright red toy across the room. Theodore, or "Teddy" as he is called by his parents, is twenty-eight years old. Teddy has cerebral palsy, is intellectually disabled, has significant speech deficits, and numerous health problems. Teddy is a pleasant young man, friendly to all who meet him. Teddy has a boyish, round face, a medium build, short-cropped dark hair, and it's obvious his parents are fastidious about his appearance and hygiene. Teddy is particularly fond of the Indianapolis Colts and Pacers, and today is wearing a Colt's sweatshirt and new sneakers. Teddy has a wonderful sense of humor, and a great laugh.

Teddy's family is quintessentially blue-collar. His parents both work full-time, and are struggling to keep their heads above water. Teddy's father is a truck-driver, on the road several days each week, and his mother waitresses at a local restaurant. Teddy's father had a good paying job at a local factory, but his job was one of thousands eliminated when manufacturing closings struck the area about ten years ago. His company moved operations across the border. After unemployment ran out, the family found themselves walking a financial tightrope and filed for bankruptcy. Teddy's care and health needs became increasingly challenging, and Teddy's father struggled to find steady employment with affordable health insurance. He finally landed a job driving a semi-truck after several stints at minimum-wage jobs with no benefits.

Teddy needs assistance in almost every aspect of daily-living, from the time he gets up of a morning until he goes to bed at night. Throughout the night, his parent's get up to turn him (to prevent bed sores) and assist him with toileting. Teddy requires assistance with bathing, getting dressed, meals, and almost everything else that most of us take for granted without thinking twice. Teddy's mother provides the majority of Teddy's care by herself when the father is on the road, and relies on extended family members to help when she is at work. They also recently started receiving some home health care assistance a few hours per week.  Teddy's parents do not easily ask for outside help. The family just recently learned about the Medicaid Waiver, and were encouraged that they may someday receive some much-needed in-home supports for Teddy. Unfortunately, he will be almost forty-years old and his parents will be in their sixties before his name comes off of the incredibly long wait list.

His family is protective, and ask lots of questions about the kinds of staff that might come into their home someday. Teddy's parents are hard-working, and pride themselves on their self-reliance. It's awkward for them to seek out help, but know in the long-run they won't always be able to provide for Teddy's needs. They acknowledge difficult scenarios down the road. They feel they have already relied too much on their extended family's generosity, and worry about what happens to Teddy if something happens to them.

Difficult questions, for a difficult situation. There are no quick and easy solutions. I do my best to give them helpful answers, but honestly, none really will help them anytime soon. What I do know is that Teddy is genuinely loved by his family, and they just want the best for him.

Note: Teddy is a fictional character, based on a composite of real individuals I regularly encounter. Characters who appear in my "Fictional Friday" posts are based on real stories with particular details, names, and certain specific circumstances changed so as to protect privacy.  

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About Me

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I work for a Community-Based, Not-for-Profit agency. I have worked in the disability field for over twenty-five years. I am the father of two boys, and have been married to my teenage sweet-heart for 23 years. I live and work in the same town where I was born & raised.
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