1. Make friends with the other patients and families. We were fortunate to meet some awesome people, we supported one another and we had lots of good times together. But the best part is, we've made relationships that will last for years to come.
2. Live near the water or at least have a really good pool. Through out this process, water has been the great equalizer. When Carter is in the water, he is just like every other kid (oh, except avoid the ocean when there are really big waves, or you might get knocked over and your kid with a fixator, too and people will stare and gasp). He may not be able to run or ride a bike right now, but he can swim and this is Florida. Perfect.
3. Take walks on the beach in the evening or just sit, as the sun goes down, and take it all in. Hint: this has been key to my sanity. Sometimes I've gone alone and just cried as I've walked. Sometimes I've taken my kids and we'll sit on a blanket, laughing and chatting while the waves crash and that amazing ocean breeze blows. And one lucky time, I got to go with my hubby.
4. Do stuff! There's lots of free and inexpensive things to do in WPB. Together, with other families, contact the local businesses/attractions and see if they'll give you a deal. Our experience was very positive, most people love to invite PALLI families to enjoy what they have to offer.
5. Get a library card. The WPB library is one of the best I've been to, and you could say I'm a library connoisseur, of sorts. Not only are there books, movies, and the usual stuff, but they have lots of fun activities, too.
6. Keep your gas tank at least a 1/4 of the way full. Nuff said.
7. Don't ever, ever take no for an answer when it comes to an insurance company. Keep fighting and pressing forward until they listen to you!
8. Plan on being at the clinic most of the day when you have appointments. Listen, we all know that Paley is the best. I mean, why else would we travel from Timbuktu to see him? Just plan on the wait and know, the staff is great, there's stuff for the kids to do, you can meet other families. Just plan on it, and be happy that you aren't the one that Paley decided he was too full to see.
9. Enjoy your time! It will be over before you know it. One of the best parts of daily P.T. and hanging out with other patients, is that you are like everybody else, you have something in common. If you're like us, you only experience that camaraderie when you're here.
10. There will be hard times, so hard in fact, that you'll think you can't do it! And, most likely, you'll have sleepless nights and who can be civil when they are sleep deprived? Possibly, this will be one of the hardest things you've done, especially watching what your child goes through on a daily basis (am I talking about myself here?). But, I really believe, you can also have many pleasurable experiences, if you try. Take the time to do things that make you happy and make your journey memorable.
10 + 1. Don't pack stuff you won't need....I'll give you my list tomorrow.