Submitted by: Tammy Bonser, InstaLoan Customer Service Representative Sarasota, FL
Let’s be honest, when people think of Down Syndrome many of them immediately think of chunky people stuck in institutions, but I’m proud to say that is not true.
I found out my son, Dale, was going to be born with Down Syndrome when I was 30 weeks pregnant. I was only 28 years old and had to get ready to raise a child who would need just a little more help than most babies. He came home from the hospital on oxygen, with a feeding tube, and required constant watch due to a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, which is a fancy word for the narrowing of the heart ventricle and a hole in the heart. Just two days after he was born, Dale would undergo his first major surgery for a blocked intestine because he couldn’t keep any milk down. Within the first 3 years of his life, he would undergo four surgeries, two of which were open heart surgeries.
Initially, many doctors told me and my husband that due to Dale’s health issues he would not be able to eat via the mouth, walk, talk, go to school or “amount to anything”, which was said to me in a major well-known hospital. But, when he was just 2 months old he proved them all wrong and I had the feeding tube removed. His road to becoming healthy has been long and difficult. We almost lost him twice, but I jumped into action and started giving him CPR. The life of a parent and care-giver is never easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Though his walking was much delayed, Dale now walks, talks when he wants to, and is a VERY healthy, tall, skinny junior in a special needs high school. He is 16 years old and though still very dependent on us to care for him, he has flourished. Although minor health issues still arise from time to time, every day we go through life adjusting to his needs and ensuring he is happy and healthy.
Luckily, my job at InstaLoan allows me the hours I need to give Dale the best care I can. I come into work after he gets on his bus to school and my husband was able to adjust his work schedule to get him off the bus. Thanks to my job, I’m also able to provide the care and support he requires on the days that school is not in session. Most parents are saving for college, but my goal is to grow within the Company so I can provide him the long-term care he needs once he graduates from high school.
As the parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I have found solace and support in writing about our story. I say our story because I, too, was once considered a “lost-cause child” due to hydrocephalus and epilepsy and was delayed in my learning. But I overcame that label and now have an Associate’s Degree in Management/Marketing, a Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration, and a Diploma in Medical Assisting. Dale and I have both overcome so many negative opinions and labels that others placed on us and we have not only survived, but we have thrived! In telling our story, I became a published author of an essay called “Through the Eyes of Love” that was included in the book, “Gifts: Mother’s Reflect of How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives”, which was recently re-released.
Never tell me you can’t because even when everything seems like it’s stacked against you and it’s just so hard to make it all work- you can and you must keep going!