Right now I'm sitting at our table, a sleeping Will on a blanket nearby, while Dave & Maya play with neighbors in our building. No one has school, as Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the area---wind is howling past the windows as I type. Like many in the Northeast, we've taken some precautions to prepare over the past few days . . .
In case of damage to water lines, we've got plenty of water. The bathtub is full, pots are full, and we've got a case of water. We've got flashlights and candles. We have ice ready in case we lose power and need to put stuff in a cooler. We have shelf-stable food. We have matches to light the gas stove with in case the power is out. The cars have gas---handy in case power is out and we need to charge up the cell phones. Electronics are charged. We have a landline and a battery powered radio. We've got medicines, diapers, wipes, etc.
We're definitely all set----odds are, we are way over-prepared. Even if stores weren't able to open for a while, we'd be ok. But that's fine by me . . . that means that we can relax, drink coffee, watch tv, and rest assured that we're fine, no matter what happens here. (Fortunately, we're not in a flood zone, so no need to evacuate or anything.)
As we prepared for the storm, I thought about how lucky we were to fall into the group of people who would be inconvienced by the storm, rather than the group that would be in serious need or even endangered.
My family is all together under one roof, safe and secure.
We have plenty of tap water, and don't need bottled water for formula because Will is nursing.
We don't have any dietary concerns that require special foods or formulas, so refrigeration is nice, but not necessary.
We don't have special needs that require equipment that might need to be powered or charged.
While perhaps not medically necessary (like, say, an apnea monitor), Maya's talker is certainly necessary.
The talker and its case are fully charged. Maya's vocabulary file for her app has been backed up and loaded into our back-up iPad. We have a car charger for the iPad, so we could charge it in the car if we needed to, but that won't work for the case---so we would have to take the iPad out of the case if the battery in the case dies (because otherwise there would be no sound).
The talker is as storm-ready as it could be. But it got me thinking again, about how things sometimes feel so unfair. I mean, plenty of people get annoyed when the power is out simply because things get more boring---no tv, no internet, no movies, etc. But for Maya, a prolonged power outtage could mean no voice. If the talker died, and we couldn't charge it, I imagine that Maya would be equal parts confused and frustrated, and justifiably so.
I thought that the hard part of adjusting to using AAC would be the education needed to learn the system. I had to learn it, Maya has to learn it, we need to model and practice and reinforce. But the reality is that relying on an AAC device is no small feat---and it's not just because it takes work to use the system, but also because it takes work to maintain it. I've gotten used to carrying the talker around with us, despite the fact that it's heavy and cumbersome, not something you could easily pop into a bag. Dave & I remember to charge it at night after Maya is sleeping, lest she be left accidentally mute from an unforeseen battery drain. And now we've seen that preparing for emergency situations means preparing the talker as well.
Safe thoughts to all of those in Sandy's path.