We are living it up down here at Bear Cottage.
Ashlea has a new best friend:
There is craft on tap:
We have been out to Ocean World at Manly (so not wheelchair accessible for anyone thinking of visiting - but Bear Cottage residents get free admission):
We've been to the beach:
And have made sure we've had at least one spa a day:
It has been great to have a break from our everyday routine. As Ashlea is sleeping upstairs with the nurses they have taken full responsibility for her care. She gets bathed, dressed and fed by them - and they even make up her formula and give medications. Did I mention there is also a chef so we are being well fed too!
It's a pretty full on place to come for respite though. There is a family here at the moment for end of life care with their child. There are a number of children who aren't here for end of life care right now, but you know they will be in the future. When you check in you have to sign consent forms regarding your wishes if your child deteriorates - full resuscitation or palliative care with no heroic measures. That is full on. There was no option on the form to write HELL YES SHE IS FOR FULL RESUSCITATION, so I just ticked the appropriate box and signed.
Seriously, Ashlea's issues are small potatoes in this alternate universe. She is the child that the nursing assistants are given to look after as she is so well - relatively speaking. So many people with 'normal lives' look at us and think they could never cope with what we have to cope with - but there are so many people in much worse situations than us. I have the luxury of being able to distance myself a little bit as I know that once Ashlea has her transplant and - God willing - a healthy working kidney, she will no longer be eligible to come to Bear Cottage. Most of the other families who are here this week don't have that luxury. We are very fortunate.
It's a weird situation. Yes we are having a good break and enjoying not having to worry about cooking and cleaning, but at the same time there is the reminder of illness and disability all around.
Our plans for the rest of the week involve getting out and about as much as possible to make the most of the opportunity to have a family holiday. We hope to get to the zoo and the movies (all compliments of Bear Cottage which is very nice) and definitely back to the beach.