Tag Archives: school bus

ER Tour

Riley’s school reading across my phone during the school day would normally put me on guard immediately. However, Riley’s bus could not even have reached the school yet.

“Hello, I am the Vice Principal of Riley’s School….”she started. “We have been trying to reach you.” You have?

a little voice

We are very fortunate to have a kind and caring team of driver and attendant. Truthfully we have been very fortunate over the past several years, discovering kind and compassionate people behind that school bus. Our driver this year has even gone to the Transportation Department successfully requesting to change the route to shorten Riley’s ride time. As usual, Riley is the most fragile on bus 27125 and both driver and attendant do every thing they can for their precious riders.

Breathing Just Fine

She started out the day all confidence with a great big smile that drew Riley and I toward the school bus. As she struggled to lower the wheelchair lift, Riley’s bus attendant introduced herself to Riley ignoring the fact that he was not yet noticing her. I knew he would eventually warm to her as he figured out that he would be going to ESY (Extended School Year). The bus driver appeared in the open doorway to greet Riley and secure him safely on bus 27125.

Field Day, Special Olympics Florida 2014

So many activities and organizations designed for special needs children sound out of reach for Riley’s abilities.  That has always included Special Olympics.  Over the past several years however,

Little battles

Riley and Ronan are seen here hanging out with Miss Southwest Florida 2012, Miss Caroline Kay Dixon, at Freedom Waters Foundation’sHeels & Reels last month.  Miss Dixon was very kind and sweet with my boys and was happy to don her crown again after a very full event for a photo.

One little battle after another.  This special needs life still feels like a war to me.  A never ending taking up of arms one moment and protecting my child the next.  This week they are just tiny little battles but I have become weary of heading out each day.

A Friendship

ESY, Extended School Year, began on Monday at Spring Creek Elementary.  Those of you who have followed Riley’s school career would know that sending Riley through those doors would have me rattled. 

School Bus Roulette/IEP Time

Preparing to enter 5th Grade, Riley’s IEP is scheduled for Friday, March 23rd.

That Riley would be entering 5th Grade is a strange concept.  How can a child who cannot speak and does not know there is such a thing as math enter 5th Grade?  I’ll need to ponder this later, however; it is not my concern of the moment.

The Functional Skills Classroom at Rayma C. Page Elementary is a blessing!  Years ago, Spring Creek Elementary shut their doors on us.  The new school assignment was somewhere in North Fort Myers, Orangewood over 22 miles north of us.  No.  This began my first rally with the school system.  Eventually, Rayma’s  Principal agreed to open their doors to us.

I Notice

This is one of those morning’s when the special needs aspect of my life rattle around my head just a little louder.  May I remind you Dear Far and Between Reader,this is a special needs blog where my intention is to share that the special needs life does not take us down the average path and my vantage point sometimes takes me in odd and frustrating directions.  

Today, I am simply focused on the little behaviors that I interpret as revealing a person as dismissive of those around them or caring.  Now, I must remind myself to not be so black and white or even judgmental because I certainly resent being judged.  So, perhaps I’ll just leave this as a bit of a rant.  If we are all lucky, I’ll remember this in my own reactions… but don’t hold your breath.  As Riley’s mother, I get to be Crazy Woman or the term I read recently may be more appropriate, “Dragon Mom.”
The day beyond our own walls begins with the arrival of Riley’s bus (bus 27127 is quite reliable and calm recently).  It is my neighbors who show incredible disrespect during Riley’s pick up and drop off in front of our home.  On many occasions neighbors have passed by the bus while lights are flashing and Riley is loading.  Last May, I fired off an email to my community not even thinking about who the latest lawbreaker may be: I simply knew I was angry and offended.
“Subject: school bus
… it is illegal to drive past a school bus loading a child… yes I see them and will definitely remember their lack of respect and consideration in this matter.  Thank you.”
“I know you are speaking of me as I passed the bus this morning. The red lights flash the entire time the door is open. Your child is being loaded from the house side. There is never anyone on the street side. Are you suggesting everyone sit and wait the entire time the loading process is going on? I will make sure I never leave the community by going past your house again so as to not upset you.”
I shared my frustration with another friend and neighbor who seemed to empathize.  This week, same neighbor drives right around the bus with flashing lights.  ?. Shall I take this as my opinion and the law are not as important as your needs Dear Neighbor?  I saw you. Now what should I do?  Pretend that I did not?
While I was busy ruminating on the lack of respect toward my child, I drove up to Riley’s school to collect him for physical therapy.  Being the quiet lunch hour I parked at the front circle, threw open the jeep hatch and arranged the ramp before bringing Riley out to the car.  When I returned to the vehicle, mowers were going all around and it was quite loud.  My focus turned to Riley’s happy greeting,removing him from the wheelchair and settling him comfortably in his car seat.  When I brought my head back out from the car I turned to discover the wheelchair no longer beside me. 
What?!  Oh! There stood Jamie (I’m certain I’ve mentioned his kindness previously), the gentleman in charge of Rayma‘s facilities.  He had just dismantled the chair as he had seen me do before, slid the heavy chair into the back of the jeep, folded up the ramp and was closing it all up nice and neat.
How do I react to this?  This is an amazingly kind and sweet gesture.  How many times have I loaded that chair in my own driveway, hugely pregnant and had every male neighbor – and at the time one lived in every house two to the right, two to the left, four across the way – and the only man to ever to rush to my aid(sometimes straight out of the shower and barely dressed was my own husband).  There are some other random individuals to have helped over time and I remember them. I will always remember them. 
Yes,it’s a big deal to me.  Thank you Jamie!  You are pretty wonderful.
We are all special… by Stacie Wiesenbaugh 

Seize the Day! Literally

5:00 am From his hospital bed I hear the familiar intake of breath as a muscle spasm begins.  Switching on the light I discover Riley in a clonic seizure.  Grabbing him up, talking to him, massaging his limbs; the seizure subsides in moments.  Four years ago, this episode could have lasted for hours.  Now with all the anti-seizure drugs he is often able to cease without intervention.

5:02 am On with the day.  After rearranging him repeatedly throughout the night, this meant falling back to sleep and oversleeping.  John and Ronan always rise by 5:40 am.  Oddly, they oversleep as well.  This is very strange. I cannot explain Ronan oversleeping.  John however has been working non-stop and just started trying Valerian Root Tea to help with his insomnia: it appears to actually work.

8:00 am Riley is off on the bus with a new assistant, Antonetta.  Assistant Liz had to cut back on her hours; we are very disappointed.  John and Ronan have already headed in their separate directions.

8:05 Plan for my day: dishes and laundry, desperately needed class at the gym, paperwork, sell some Arbonne, collect Riley from school by 2 pm, Integrity Biofeedback appointment for Riley and myself, pick up Ronan, oh – did I get Riley back into Dr. Stohler’s chiropractor routine, riding by 5 pm (we missed last week), is the shower set up for Riley, do I have everything Ronan will need for homework at the barn, are tomorrow’s appointments set up, is dinner planned for the late return…. then start it all over again.

8:35 am Phone call from Lee County Transportation.  Riley has suffered a seizure on board the bus and EMS is with him now.  Then EMS/Bonita Springs Fire-Rescue is on the phone.  I must sign in person for the bus to be released from the roadside.

8:40 am Heading somewhere in the vicinity of Old 41 and E. Terry.  How do I handle this now.  Seizure’s are part of our life.  Riley has quite a lot of drugs in his system to manage this disorder.  The last neurology appointment, I was instructed to administer Diastat after the next cluster seizure – this must qualify.  However, that window has come and gone.  Riley is ready to go on with his day.  Stimulation is better for him than coddling him.  Yet, Riley is a “hot potato.”  Everyone who gets him in their arms tosses him back to mom or dad as quickly as possible.  Do I just take him home to humor everyone else?  No thank you.  Riley needs to live a life.  I need to get a life.  On the way I talk to school’s nursing office: I love that office, let him have his day – what do ya’ll think the big green frog backpack hanging from the wheelchair full of Diastat  and medical and contact information is for! (no one touched it by the way)

9:00 am I have found them, bus, EMS, ambulance. Screeching the jeep into a tiny little used car lot, I am there.

Camera in hand.  Yes, I have my camera.  These are the moments to record as far as I am concerned and I have missed plenty of them.  EMS spies the crazy woman in ripped gym clothes, uncombed hair, red backpack purse and camera slung around the neck climbing aboard the bus.

I am greeted by a concerned driver, Louis… he spoke at least 20 words this morning, he must have been really nervous.  Welcome to bus 27126 Antonetta!  And then three rather serious EMS technicians.  Loosen up guys, perhaps you’ve encountered seizure disorders before.  Then of course Riley, still seated in his chair is smiling, laughing, and kicking – just like the last time I tracked down the bus and ambulance.  Good times.

9:10 am.
Sign some papers.
Kisses for Riley.
Big “Hi” for the little girl across the aisle tugging on my arm.  “Hi” again.  Yes, “Hi, Sweetheart.”
Merry waves from the boy ahead in the bus for the men in uniform.
Riley laughs.
Uniformed man stands up straighter and pulls in his chin.
Ambulance drives away.
More seriousness… more laughs.
On your way please school bus #27126.
Oh yeah, swing by the pharmacy for Leviteracetam.  Say yes to drugs.
Where was my day going?  Seize your day, Stace!

We’re gonna have our day, darn it!  Stacie Wiesenbaugh

School Begins & Bus Driver Roulette

First day of school begins today.

Most parents feel a sense of relief when their children return to the classroom.  As a special needs mom, I have a dread for Riley, my non-verbal, non-ambulatory child being sent out without me to protect him.

I am grateful as well.  The constant watchfulness of the Summer, the long hours feeding, holding him, providing therapy and being trapped indoors because our Florida heat is too much for my child are finally over.  My guard can finally come down for a moment.  I can linger a few moments over my coffee and return to the gym.  Perhaps find a little sanity.

New 1st and 4th graders.


Curiously, my de-stress became John’s stress.  He took this picture because it amused him and had every intention of carrying the load into class for Ronan.  The chaos of the morning left staff demanding parents clear away cars as quickly as possible which left Ronan alone in the gymnasium with his pile of goods.  Now, he cannot forgive himself for not seeing the entire production through, especially given the panic on his child’s face as he left.

John’s wannabe Facebook post:

John wouldn’t post this (even though I said he could) out of fear of my not sleeping with him again (married 15 yrs and disabled kid: like that would happen!)… his draft post:  First day of school and apparently after years of rift the Lee County bus sys.  learns…. (John: how was the bus today?) (Me: good, in fact the bus driver wouldn’t even make eye contact and barely talked to me) (John: So your reputation precedes you and they finally learned).

We are all special… by Stacie Wiesenbaugh

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