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Would YOU?

Would you let 35 children under the age of five drown every year, would you let another 28 children be left disabled and another 120 children be admitted to hospital ........ from a cause that can be readily stopped?

I'm pretty sure your answer would be NO, you wouldn't allow this to happen if it was in your power to stop it!

Thankfully it IS in your power to help stop it.... firstly is personal action at your household level... use this checksheet to make sure your pool area is safe, always keep your kids under direct supervision in, on, or around water sources, learn CPR and teach your kids good water skills.

Then at your local and state level.... for those of us in NSW and Queensland we currently have the best opportunity in almost the last 20 years to make changes to the Laws and Regulations that CAN and WILL make a big difference to the numbers listed above!

Both the New South Wales and Queensland Governments are reviewing their Swimming Pools Acts and are calling on public submissions to inform the legislative process.

The New South Wales review papers can be found here, and the Queensland paper here.

There has been some vocal opposition to some proposed changes in both states, with some pool owners resistant to potential cost and some local governments opposed to "additional work" . I guess you have to ask what cost a child's life, what additional work for parents (and the health system) for raising a disabled child?

Choice has demonstrated that pool fencing materials are also a major cause for concern, with a large number of fencing materials failing to meet the Australian Standard.

The Samuel Morris Foundation has made preliminary submissions to both Governments and is in the process of drafting its final submissions.

What do you think? What changes would you make to improve the safety of home swimming pools and prevent toddler drowning and near drowning incidents? We want to hear your thoughts!

Photo by Rickes

Another day another challenge!

Sometimes you have to wonder if there is any such thing as a routine day? While Samuel Morris has been recovering well from his surgery, a new challenge has emerged.

Many disabled children confined to their wheelchairs develop severe osteoporosis and become at serious risk of fractures. It has been clear for some time that Samuel has been in this category and there had already been discussion about possible treatment interventions such as biphosphonate infusion to improve his bone density. This issue is now a primary one as will be explained below!

Medical professionals also need to pay heed to the observations of parents (particularly in non communicative children), who after all do know their children the best! It was pointed out to some of the doctors that Samuels pain and discomfort did not appear to associated with the operation site or general movement but more specifically with the movement of one of his legs. Several requests were made to have his leg xrayed, but the doctors tried to assure us that the pain was associated with the surgery. After finally agreeing to have the xray done what did they find......... broken tibula and fibula in his left leg.

It seems that the breaks are as a result of the physical manipulation to determine his range of movement and improvement since the insertion of the Baclofen Pump. So I guess now we know the reason for his cries of pain and obvious discomfort.
So in addition to everything else Samuel now has a large splint on his left leg, and a bunch of new challenges in positioning him to make him comfortable (and not break any more bones!), whilst finding a solution to sitting him up and getting him mobile as he cannot be adequately positioned in his wheelchair! We know have the challenge of discussing treatment options to improve his bone density, and make this happen asap.

The Sun Comes Up: Even on the bad days

Samuel Morris is in the middle of his 24th hospital admission since his near drowning accident on the 9 April 2006. (average length of stay 7-10 days)

This admission to the Childrens Hospital at Westmead is for surgery to insert a baclofen pump to help manage his severe spasticity and dystonia. His operation took place on the 28th April, and he has been doing very well since the operation, but today was not such a good day, with Samuel unsettled and experiencing a lot of pain.

The pain is as a result of the surgery and associated bruising, not the intrathecal baclofen pump or the delivery of the drug, as we can already see some changes in Samuel's tone following the surgery and the commencement of the delivery of the drug into his spine, and the test dose that was given prior to arranging this surgery showed some significant results.

Days like these are the ones that really challenge any parent, and when these challenges are presented frequently, like they have been in Samuel's case and for the many children who are experiencing disability as a result of near drownings (or for that matter any other cause), they can be tough to deal with.

So today has not been a good one for Dad either! Like most parents whose children are disabled as a result of an accident there are always a million "what if" questions, an underlying sense that you have in some way failed your child by not adequately protecting them, that you have not done enough along the way to make them as good as they can possibly be, and then always wondering .... what next.

It can be really tough to learn to "sit with" these feelings and just accept that they are normal feelings and that it is OK be feeling them, and that they just have to be accepted for what they are.

While feeling like this I was going through some photos and found this one (above) that I took a while ago now, and despite the fact that I have been having a bad day, it made me think about this morning alongside Samuel's bed. The blinds were up in his hospital room, the sun was streaming in through the windows providing a nice warm glow and I had this simple thought..... you know what The sun comes up even on those shitty days! and I still have lots to be grateful for..... and I feel better!