Reluctant To Try Respite Care? One Mom’s Story Might Change That

Nick in his “Elf” hat.
If any parents out there need reassurance about utilizing respite services for children with severe disabilities, Janette Coombs is ready to give it.
“It took an accident to help me realize these places are gifts, but now I know how fortunate we are to have Cedarcrest in our back yard,” says the Claremont, NH mom.
Janette had cared for 20-year-old Nick at home ever since he was born 10 weeks prematurely with rare physical, neurological and cognitive impairments. She was driving him and his 16-year-old sister from school when Nick had a seizure so violent he broke a femur.
The doctors had to immobilize him in a heavy hip-to-toe fiberglass Spica cast to promote healing. Although Nick weighs just 60 pounds, Janette wrenched her back badly while attempting to move her son in this awkward contraption.
“I had to crawl to the phone to call for help,” said Janette. “For the first time since he was born I realized I wasn't going to be able to care for him.”
Fortunately, Nick’s doctors at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire referred the family to Cedarcrest Center for Children with Disabilities in Keene for temporary care. Although anxious about sending Nick away, Janette said she had no choice.
The light-filled rooms, friendly staff and 24-hour nursing schedule reassured her that Nick would be safe and well cared for. This impression was reinforced during frequent visits when Nick always wore a smile. Nick returned home after ten days, but Janette says she will be forever grateful to Cedarcrest Center for helping both of them heal and for opening her eyes to respite services.
“I learned that others are capable of taking care of our special children,” she said. “They may do things differently, but mom doesn't have to be the only one. The experience helped me loosen my grip.”
Recently Janette and her husband Alex were inspired to utilize Cedarcrest Center’s respite option to take a vacation that did not revolve around Nick’s medication schedule “for the first time in my motherhood.”
In Florida, daughter Kayleigh articulated deep feelings. Her mom recalls her saying it was the first time her parents were able to give her 100% of their attention. Janette recalls her words: “I always knew Nick needed more of you, but now you know I need you, too.”
After Nick’s graduation from high school in 2012, Janette started the Elf Shelf gift basket business to help Nick be an active participant in the local community. To learn about it, visit: www.youvebeenelfed.com
For information about Cedarcrest Center, visit www.cedarcrest4kids.org.