Sunday, November 17, 2013

Am I up for the waiting game?

A Sunday morning when I could sleep in, I am wide awake at 7 a.m..... the remnants of the night's dream still fresh in my mind.

It was an odd  dream... most people would brush it off without a second thought.

I was at a strange funeral for a "grandfather".  There were over a hundred people gathered to solemnly pay their respects, but instead, the familiar faces from my past were all preoccupied with a decision I had made, that had nothing to do with the funeral.

Apparently, soon after moving to this new city, my right hand had been cut off.  I decided to reattach it.  It was sore, and wasn't working quite right, but I had confidence that given time to heal, my hand would be able to function well enough to write, type, carry things etc....even if it wasn't perfect, the job would get done.

Conversations continued as I made my way around the crowded funeral.  People couldn't believe I had chosen to get my hand re-attached. 

"You should have your stump in a sling and learn to use your left hand to write.  People do it all the time."
"Aren't you worried about infection?'
"Your hand will never function like it did before."
And so on.

Weird, right?

But as I think about it, this is really a parable for my whole adult life.
I have always been questioned about my choices....that in my mind....seem like a perfectly rational decision.

I mean, if you could save your hand.....why wouldn't you?  Why wouldn't you spend the time, money and effort if it meant you could keep your hand?

I spent a lot of my life focused on "doing the right thing"....being a "good parent" and a "good person" by societies standards.   I always followed the rules....often times not thinking for myself the overall picture.  Just going by what I believed would keep myself and my family safe.  There was a false sense of security in that kind of thought.

I started to realize from experiences that when I had questions, they didn't have the answers, so If I wanted answers, I had to start finding them myself.  You one else  was really looking out for me or my family.  It changed my perspective on life.

I went back to using my gut to guide me in my decisions.  I used prayer and guidance from the holy spirit so I could feel confident in my decisions.

Have I always done the right thing?  No.  I am definitely not perfect. 

What really shocks me is how many people make judgements on other people's decisions without knowing all the facts.  Actually, I'm not shocked people make snap judgements, I guess I'm more shocked at the fact they voice them to the person they are judging and that the judgements don't make any sense.

I'm the weird one that people don't understand.  Most often times, I make a terrible first impression.  I am not good socially.  I hate small talk.  I find it very awkward.  Once I get to know someone, I feel comfortable and conversation flows easily.  I am honest and loyal.  I make decisions that other people don't understand, but the people who know me best...who have heard me explain my thought process....are always supportive.

Society doesn't think I should have gotten married at 18.  They think I should have given my baby up for adoption for a better life. 

Society doesn't understand why I would pay tithes and offerings to my church when the cost of autism is so great.

Church members can't comprehend why I would home school my children.

Others see us living on low-income and question the choice I made to be home with my children instead of working full-time.

And I'm sure if I had biomedical-diet-intervention based friends with children with autism (that weren't on Facebook)  they would have opinions too about if I'm doing enough of the right things, too.
I hope not.

I try to keep myself away from the Facebook world, as I am busy with many responsibilities that should be a priority.  It is such a different world from the real one I live in.

I don't stand on the street everyday with a picket sign warning people of vaccines.  Most people I see in my daily life have no idea of my views, which I would think are the most controversial of them all....and yet I get the most opposition from my daily life practices that seem very rational to me.

On facebook, I post articles I believe to be true, inspirational and life-changing.  Many friends and colleagues choose not to see what I post because of it...but at least that is a passive way to disagree. 
In my real day to day life in the community, I get lots of loaded questions, confused looks and lack of support.

Like....Why would you have your hand sewn back on? 

Makes perfect sense to me....but I guess I'm alone in that logic.....just like everything else.

Diet?  How can you deprive your kids of food? How can you afford it? 

Vitamins and Supplements?  Those aren't necessary.  They are a waste of time and money.  If they just ate healthier, you wouldn't need them.

Biomedical Doctor?  Why don't you just get insurance so the doctor is affordable? 

Homeschooling?  What about social skills?  Don't your kids miss having friends?  Aren't they going to college?   Doesn't your son need special education services?

In the end....does any of this change my mind?  No.  I'm still going to do what I believe is right for my family, no matter who objects. 
It just kind of sucks, not to be supported, even in a casual strangers or acquaintances...
Even faking interest and understanding is better than a preconceived notion of the situation.

It took me at least four years for people to "get me" the last time I moved.  Things could be worse here, for sure.....I feel guilty about complaining.  

I have a hard time getting past things that don't make sense.  I can't understand people not being supportive of growth and happiness.

Life is strange.  People are strange.

So for now, I will continue on...each day...without a single face-to-face person that "gets" me. 

I'll give you an update in 2017.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Free Health Care- Part 2

When my husband joined the army he was 19 years old.  We had a one year old, and it was a good career choice for him.  It gave him a way to provide a steady paycheck and health coverage for his family.  It was an honorable thing to do, and as I think back, I know we were blessed to have that stability in our lives, when we were a young family starting out.

When I think about my husband's experience as a disabled veteran using the free health care system the government set up for him and others like him, I always feel a bit torn.

I don't want to seem ungrateful for the life the Army gave us at such a critical time in our lives.  I am not ungrateful for  a modest disability pay, or for Josh's free college education.  But what good is any of that, if the veteran is hurt or sick and the system that is set up to help him almost kills him?
The world is not black and white....experiences are not only good or bad.  The Army gave us our start, but robbed us of our future.

I don't know that all VA hospitals will fail their veterans in the way they failed my husband.  I am just lucky he is alive and well.

Josh fought with the 3rd ID as an Infantry mechanic in 2003 when the US sent in our troops to over-take the cities and ultimately take control over Baghdad.  Josh was 23 years old and often faced hand to hand combat.  He later told me he only had one thought in his head...I have to make it home to my family.
All of the details aren't important.  Suffice it to say that my husband was not a violent man, who loved guns and joined the army to get the chance to kill people.  It was to take care of his family, and hopefully have a promising career he could be proud of.  He was sweet, sensitive and charming.  He did what he had to for his family and for his country.

Seeing friends die and children used as bombs and shields still haunt him today, as it does thousands of soldiers.

After they reached Baghdad, he and his unit were cleared to go back to Kuwait.  Not long after arriving, his foot was crushed by a two-ton trailer.

Even after a few surgeries and pins to keep the bones in his toes together, it was the mental scars where the real damage was done.

We struggled with his patience with the kids, spending sprees, and alcoholism over the years.  It seems he was always disconnected and trying to find a new way to cope.

He finally agreed to go to the VA clinic to be treated in 2007/2008.  He even asked me to go with him, and I was happy to take off of work to be there to support him.  We spent the day being evaluated at different clinics.  We learned occupational therapy techniques to help him.  We learned physical therapy techniques to help him.  I met with a female case worker who was so kind and supportive and understanding to me, the wife, and shared some of her own experiences.  She gave me a card with her personal cell number and told me to call her anytime.  I was again, so grateful to have these services available so finally my husband could get the help he needed and our family could heal, grow and move on.

But that's where the hospitality ended.  In the next visit my husband made by himself, he was prescribed a half a dozen prescriptions.  It was a whirlwind of a nightmare over the next few years.

The pain and anguish we the family endured over endless side-effects from the medication paled in comparison to the shock and disbelief of the lack of help, support and care for us during this pain-staking time. 

Trembling and shaking and at my wit's end, the first call I made to the case manager who had given me her card, she listened and only instructed me, that if I ever felt my life was in danger I should call the police.  She said I shouldn't be afraid to leave him.  I told her of all the tics and convulsions he would have in his sleep and how they terrified me.  She said she would give the message to the nurse. 

They took him off the Tramadol and put him on Oxycodone at his next visit.  I couldn't believe it.  And they added more meds.

Everyone knows how addictive oxy can be. 
He worked his way up to taking the whole month's supply in the first week of it arriving.  The next week would be a come-down that was horrible.  The third week, he was starting to be more coherent and I could try to talk to him about how he was acting and what the drugs were doing to him.  He was unable to urinate, sleep or even speak coherently.  He was wasting away...his skin was blueish and hung off his bones.  His eyes were sunken into deep black pits.
He would not listen to me.  He dismissed everything I said...even the videos I took of his convulsions, and the pictures of him falling asleep while opening Christmas presents.

I tried calling the number I had before.  No answer.  I left messages that were never returned.  I called the clinic and left messages.  I was finally told I was no longer allowed to participate in his medical treatment.

I called family members out of desperation.  Surely, he would listen to them!  They gave me numbers  to drug abuse hot lines.  They all told me the same thing....take my kids and leave.

But, this wasn't Josh!  He was being enabled to live this way by being sent over a half a dozen drugs each month without ever being seen by a doctor....only once a year.  I think he may have talked on the phone to a few here and there, but there was no scheduled therapy...that he attended anyway.

So, maybe those reading this would say, this is not the VA's fault, it was Josh's.  He chose to take more meds than he should have and missed appointments.

I disagree.  I think the VA clinic should know enough about the medication they so freely prescribe, to know what it does to an individuals state of mind.  They should know they have deep rooted issues that need to be talked about in a therapy session rather than drowned with drugs.  They should have a responsibility to their patients to take the best care of them, and to have a caregiver they can talk to so they can have a real idea of the situation.  People on drugs do not realize reality!  He couldn't tell if he was good or not!

To this day, he swears he did not take me off the list as people who could discuss his health care.  He might have an doesn't remember.  There needs to be a better system in place so this doesn't happen.

I remember being so scared everyday, when I came home from work, I would rush to the basement to see if he had over dosed.  I tried to take his medicine and hide it and he threatened to call the police on me.  I gave him the prescribed amount for a while, each morning before I left for work, and he was horribly mean about it.  The next monthly supply came and he hid it from me.  I searched the house, vehicles and garage for it, but could not find it.

I was so exhausted from the daily fear of what he was going to do or how he would treat the children, I secretly started to wish he would overdose, so I wouldn't have to be scared anymore.

It was a nightmare of a life, and I choose not to go into anymore detail, as I have put that chapter of my life away.

My point in sharing this story is that, just because it's FREE doesn't mean it's GOOD. 
Do you think if we had to pay for the meds, Josh would have been so quick to try them all??  No.  We would have done research together and talked about what was most important and least risky.  But for free, heck, why not?

What a huge let down by our government...who promised to take care of my husband in case of being injured fighting for our country.  He was abandoned in his time of greatest need.  I felt very alone and betrayed.

Our story has a happy ending.  During a brief time of clarity, Josh agreed to go to the chiropractor with us.  We just started chiropractic care for my son in the Autism Whisperers program at our local Maximized Living clinic.  The doctor offered my husband a free year of chiropractic care in their Veteran's program. 

Within two weeks, Josh was feeling so much better.  He started listening to me about the side effects of his medication and decided to stop taking them..

It was a day that God poured out his blessings on our I will never forget.

I often wonder if it hadn't been "free" if he would have ever tried it.   I know the doctor who offered it to him was inspired to do so.  He didn't have to.

Josh still has the American mindset when it comes to "free".  If it's free, "why not?".  Thankfully, we used that mentality to our advantage to get him chiropractic adjustments....not everyone is that lucky.

I hope and pray that American can wake up from the "free" mentality and see just what mainstream medicine can do to a person.  It's not a joke....this is your life, and the life of your loved ones.  Be smart.  Do your own research.  Think for yourself.  Give yourself the credit the doctors want to take away from you. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Free Health Care- Part 1

Our experience using the hospital and clinic on an army base is not unique.  Most will tell tales of  half-days spent in the emergency room, scheduling appointments months in advance only to get a doctor who never once looks you in the eye, and an endless supply of the cure-all wonder drug Motrin.  But it was it was hard to complain about the lack of worth-while care we received.  We were just lucky to have any care at all, right?

I think back at that mentality and I despise it.  I mean, really?  We have to take the crappy because better care would cost more?  Does it really cost more in the end?  Free doctor visits could cost you your life when over worked doctors having large patient loads cease to care and see you as just another pile of paperwork.

When we first moved to Ft.Benning, fresh with a new autism diagnosis, Tristen was three and Tanner was one.  The perfect age to be pumped full of vaccines at "well-visits".
I was determined to be a "good mom".  No one was going to accuse me of not keeping my kids' doctor appointments!  I had their complete shot records with me in my purse that I had religiously filled out at each visit. 

Plus, my oldest child remained sick with frequent ear infections, fevers and rashes, so I needed to take advantage of our new health system.  I couldn't get him better if I slacked on my check-ups!

I rarely ever saw our primary care physician.  It seems she was always busy...I can only think of three times we saw her in the almost five years we lived there. 
One time in particular, I was fed up with not getting any answers about the boy's unexplained skin rashes.  I had tried everything I could think of at the time....changing soaps, detergents...looking for outside reactions or bug bites.  I was at a loss and wanted some answers.

Our PCM barely looked up from her desk.  If they have rashes, we will prescribe Zyrtec. They can take it every day and it will get rid the rashes.
I didn't understand.  I wanted to know what was causing the rashes.
"We don't need to know what is causing it.  Zyrtec will clear up the symptoms."

When Tanner was just a toddler, he fell on the corner of an end table and had quite a gash in his cheek.  The skin sagged at the site, and although I was certain it would need at least one suture,  I dreaded the thought of heading to the ER.  It was evening and I knew I was in for a wait of around 6 hours for something non-life threatening.  I packed up my boy with toys and snacks and headed for what was sure to be a long night. 
I don't remember at what hour I lost my patience, but it was the wee hours of the morning.  I was tired.  Tanner was tired and his wound had stopped bleeding.  We decided to go home.  About a half hour later, we received a call from the ER doc asking us to come back in.  He apologized for not getting to us sooner.  Because of his persistence and sincerity, I agreed to bring Tanner back in.  The Doc met us out in the parking lot....where he saw his face had healed.  He apologized again and gave me a few instructions and I bundled my little sleeping boy back up to head back home.

The most confusing experience I had at the military clinic was when I had Tanner in for one of his "well-visits".  He had his vaccinations, one shot in one leg and two in the other.  I had not met the doctor or nurses before, but I was used to that.  We were instructed to wait in the waiting room for about twenty minutes to be sure he did not have any reactions to the shot....if he started to have a rash, swelling, trouble breathing or anything, I was to alert the nurse immediately.
I have to admit I wasn't worried.  I did this many times before with him and with Tristen. 

I can't remember if it was the swelling, or red streaks or what.....the deepest part of my soul began to panic and fear the worse...I just remember something was seriously wrong.  In slow motion, I got up from my chair and left my autistic son unattended to get the nurse and they swooped him out of my arms.  Nothing makes you feel more helpless than when your sick child is taken from you and a flood of doctors and nurses are surrounding your child and all you can do is stand there in shock.  I don't remember who was watching Tristen...maybe he followed me into the exam room.  I remember when the tension in the room became calmer and the doctor's face looking relieved. 
She told me, "He should not have the DTaP again.  We can't be sure what it was that caused the reaction, but he should not have that shot again."
I was so grateful he was alive and well....having no idea of the damage that was done deep inside.
A few months later, we are back at our "well-check" with a stranger.  He tells us Tanner needs a booster for the DTaP. 
"But I thought he couldn't have that?  He had the reaction last time?"
"What?"  He gasped as if I had said the most absurd thing he had ever heard.  "Who told you that?"
I explained.
"Well, we dont' know if it was the diphtheria, pertussis or tetanus that caused it.  We can give him single doses."
This didn't make any sense to me, but the doctor treated me like I was such a moron, I was afraid to stand up for myself.  He already thinks I'm a bad mother for suggesting it, I thought.
We left with not DTaP that time, but at our next visit, I was questioned about why he had not received the shot.  I explained what the last doctor had told me, again to another doctor I had never met.
"We can't do that.  There are no single shots.  He should be fine."
My head was spinning and before I could think straight they had injected him with the same poison that caused so much trouble before. 
He had redness and swelling in the injection site and a fever.  All which they said was normal, and they sent us home.

I think back at how naive I was and I am just sick.  Why was I so desperate to do "the right thing"...which was only what society was telling me was right, not what made sense or what felt right as a devoted mother.

If our new health care system ends up anything like the base medical institutions or the VA hospitals/clinics, we are in a world of trouble.  For someone who wants run of the mill, standard, impersonal care, maybe it would be fine for them.  If you are poor enough to have no choice but to wait hours for so-so advice and lots of free medication, it may be enough for you. 
It was not enough for me.  I wanted someone who listened to what I said and actually wanted to help my child.  I needed a doctor who took my concerns and looked for  answers.  So, I started to pay for that kind of doctor out of pocket.  No insurance.  Because GOOD health care, is better than FREE health care.
Free health care never looked into my son's illnesses.  Insured health care never looked beyond the end of their nose to help me or my children's illnesses. 


Why would I ever waste my time, ignore my gut, and put my family in jeopardy again...because I'm poor and it's free?  Because now I will be fined?

Not gonna happen.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Green Bean Girl"

It's simple.
That's what I eat.
I don't want to be misleading....I eat over-cooked green beans with coconut oil and sea salt.  At least four times a day.
Once in a while, I will have some meat for dinner...a small portion. 
My health has depleted in an alarming rate and this is all I can tolerate.
"Why?  What actually happens to you?"  I can hear the accusatory tone.
It is difficult to put into words the reaction one can have to food, when it isn't an obvious reaction.  If you need to carry an EpiPen, you're good to go in the eyes of the world.  If you need a benadryl, they may even offer one to you.  But when you start to talk about food affecting how you "feel" on the "inside"....other than a feeling of full....people look at you like you are crazy and easily brush you off as another "nut-job". 
I can't be too critical...I was the same way.
I won't bore you with a complete history of all the lazy people I've known in my life.  Suffice it to say, there have been A LOT! 
I never understood someone not doing their job, or something that really mattered, because they "didn't feel good".  Seemed to me like an easy way to get out of stuff, and I was determined that was never going to be me.

For me, the worst part of a food reaction, is not being able to think.  I am in a fog where the outside world seems to be crushing me.  I want to be left alone.  I get irritated very easily.  My body becomes inflamed, my joints swell and my insides feel like my organs are in a knot.  My vision is blurry and I struggle with reading.  I have mood swings and do not feel like myself.

I will continue to add some history as to how I got here in the essays to come.

Today, I want to close with this thought:

Not eating certain food is hard.  Only eating one food makes me feel selfish and guilty because of my disdain.  How many children in the world would feel happy to just have something to eat everyday?  ANYthing to eat is better than NOthing.  So I have to step back from my pity-party, because in truth, life  could be much much worse.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What is the right answer?

I don't know why it irritates me so much when people question Tristen's autism.
I should be happy.... a lot of parents out there would love it, I'm sure, if their child's disabilities were brought into question, because that would mean progress.
I get that.
I know I shouldn't complain.
I just can't shake this feeling.  I get so wrapped up in it....which is why I blog.....mostly just for get these thoughts and feelings "out there" and then I can move on.
Why would someone question Tristen's disability?
Do people think I am dishonest?  Would I lie about something as serious as Autism?  Would I wish for any child to have it?  Would I tell people my children had any disorder that I really did not truly believe they had?

Do they think they know more about Autism than I do?  I'm not saying I'm an expert, but I have dedicated my life to this cause...not only for my child, but others in every community where I have, I would find it poor logic to conclude the average person has more autism experience and knowledge.

When confronted like this, I feel I need to explain...and when I'm met with speculation, then, I worry I sound guilty, like I'm making excuses.

I've written about how kids on the spectrum are individuals, and do not always fit into cookie-cutter categories:

This doesn't help, however, in a social situation outside of the internet.

How do I tactfully sum up a response?  How do I sum up 15 years of consistent hard work and dedication, doctors visits, diet, allergy treatments, HBOT, chiropractic care, chelation, vitamins and supplements.....there is no one key answer to how/why  he is doing so well!

"I guess I'm just one of the lucky ones!"  Fail...yuck...sounds so disprespectful of those whose journey is more demanding.

"You should have seen him before!"  Fail....sounds like a put-down to Tristen, and in actuality, an exaggeration by omission.

"He is vaccine damaged, which is often misdiagnosed as autism."  Ooooh, now that would really get them thinking....AND probably avoiding me from that point on at all costs. Especially the young mothers with lots of little kids and those working in the medical field.  If I could just avoid people that don't agree with my views, it would be easy...but often times I have to edit myself so I can work amicably with people at church.

"He is recovering from autism, due to diet, supplements and detox."  Fail.  I'm assuming they will stop listening at "recovering".  Then, you are just the crazy nut-job who thinks their child can get better.  I probably believe in aliens, conspiracy theories, and santa claus as well.

I don't know the correct response.  It's hard to know how a person you have met recently is going to react to your comments, which is how I have learned to tailor my conversations over the years.
I have many Facebook friends who get tired of my posts about vaccine injury, diet and toxins and simply block my posts, which is better than an arguement.  (When they have an affected loved one, they will know where to find me.)

What most people don't know, is this was never about "curing autism".   I never set out to do that...even after hearing stories of recovered children.  This was about making a sick boy well.  That's it. 

I wasn't afraid he might have to live at home with his family way into adulthood. I was worried he wouldn't make it to adulthood.

Fever after 7-day-long fever......daily vomiting, unexplained rashes...ear infections and illnesses were a constant in our house.  As much as I hate asking for help.... I did what I had been taught was the right thing to do;  I turned to doctors and nurses to help me help my son.

They told me I was over protective.  They told me to stop calling unless the fever was over 104 and lasted more than 7 days.  When I called then, they told me to alternate Tylenol and Motrin every four hours.  I cried out for help from dozens of different doctors in three different states and no one had any answers....and crushingly, no one really cared.

My first internet research was not about autism.  Autism I could handle....I had figured that part out.  It was this constant sickness keeping him from school and being a happy little boy. I watched helplessly while he layed on the floor lathargic for yet again another episode.  I really really needed answers.

I read about childhood illnesses.  I tried to find something that fit.  I knew there was something everyone was missing.

My mother-in-law bought me the book, "Changing the Course of Autism" by Bryan Jepson.  I hadn't read any autism books up to that point, even though Tristen was 9.  I was focusing on illness, remember?  I could handle the rest.  I just couldn't watch him wither away in front of my eyes. 

When I started reading this book, and learned there were other children out there like my son....children who were autistic, but more impressivley, they were mind was opened up to a whole world I never knew existed....a world where doctors acknowledged what a mother said and did  crazy things like TESTS!

That was all I needed to know and I was on board.  I set out to find a doctor who would treat my son.

The rest is great history....and I guess, I sometimes forget where we started, as we sometimes do as parents focused on progress.  We have no defined "goal" long as progress is being made, we are happy. We have been so very blessed from the Lord above with miracles touching our small, insignificant family.  None of this would be possible without Him.

We're all on a journey....whether autism is a pit-stop or along for the entire ride.....we can never really know what it is like walk in someone else's shoes.  We must be empathetic and non-judgemental.

It's so interesting to me how things have 2000 when we got the diagnosis, we had to explain autism because only a few people had even seen RainMan.  Now, I am argueing with other's perception of what autism is and am grilled about my practices and treatments.

I guess I'm still not sure about what the right response is.  The first step, I guess, is not being so shocked by it, so I sound befuddled in my explanation.  And, not worrying so much about what other's perception of me is, and simply stating the truth,  would help as well.

It's so much easier talking to those who I don't feel I'm trying to convince.  I just tell it like I see it.  You don't have to agree, you just have to respect my journey.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If You Never Had don't know what your missing

Having a sick child with Autism drove me toward a better understanding of the human body and what it needs to heal. I read dozens of books with information about creating an optimal environment for learning and growth to give my son the best chance at reaching his full potential.

Because of the suggested dietary changes I made that amazingly lessened the severity of his autism, I noticed that food was causing some of my own recent health issues as well as other problems that had plagued me my whole life. The chronic itching and hair loss I experienced after a medication reaction was only present soon after eating wheat or gluten.

I found that consuming dairy caused the embarrassing thick, dark, dry, patches on my elbows and knees. When I eliminated these foods, my vivid nightmares disappeared as well. My brain fog and inability to wake up in the morning vanished.

These small changes in my daily life made a huge difference on the QUALITY of my life. I did my best to stay focused on keeping my family healthy.

Due to increased stress at home and at work, I began to be dependent on late-night rewards. To have candy and a Coke after the kids were in bed and the house was quiet, was my way of relieving stress.

I started to have shooting pains from my hands and fingers down my forearms. It became more intense and then it started to happen in my feet. I went to two or three doctors who were each equally sure I had tendonitis.

“Do you work at a computer all day?”


“Do you do repetitive movements in a factory?”


Then they would do the test where they bend your arms and wrists this way and that. Nothing. No pain. I went home with no answer and nowhere to turn.

Finally, when the pain was so intense at work I could no longer hide it, I went back to yet another doctor and said,

“Look. I do not want pain meds. I don’t want antidepressants. I just want to know WHY this is happening!”

He did blood work. He did x-rays. I was later sent to a rheumatologist. I had electric currents sent through my nerves. I had an MRI. Nothing.

I researched to find out I was experiencing peripheral neuropathy and found many diseases that could cause this symptom. One was diabetes.

Soon after testing, I began to break out in a rash all over my face, neck and arms every morning when I arrived at work. The doctors thought it was stress related, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. I tried to find a food link, but nothing seemed to fit.

Out of frustration, I went to have my allergies tested. There must be something I missed. The testing showed I was not only allergic to wheat and dairy, but also Candida, a yeast/fungus that had over grown in my gut. It survives on sugar.

Everything started to fall into place. My rashes went away and so did my hand and foot pain. I started realizing just how much sugar I was eating. In a gluten/casein free diet, you tend to over indulge in sugar and starches without realizing it. Lots of fruit, potatoes, chips, soda and rice. Sugar and yeast are hidden in many products as well, like sauces and soups. After eliminating sugar and starches, I lost forty pounds in a few short weeks.

With all the improvements in my health, I still did not feel better. Something was missing, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I was eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables and lean organic meats. I was exercising. Why was I still finding it so hard to manage through a day?

When I decided to try chiropractic care, it was a huge turning point in my life. I had to try one more thing. I knew chiropractics had helped my husband and my children, but I had a hard time justifying spending the money on myself.

And then, the thought entered my head.....who is going to care for your family if you are not around? I knew I had to find a way to make it work. I needed to listen to my gut and have faith because I couldn't continue feeling this way.

I went to my first adjustment, just hoping to sleep better at night and have more energy. I hoped this would give me a more positive attitude. What I didn’t expect was the change in the way I would literally see the world.

It was my birthday. I had a terrible time seeing through the rain and the fog from the time I left home at 5:45 am until my appointment that afternoon. I was so frustrated. I cursed my stupid eye-sight that always seemed to hinder me. I had to be extra careful while driving, because I was prone to hitting deer and knocking off my side mirrors. It was something I had learned to live with: Severe near-sightedness. Astigmatism. It was odd how new glasses never seemed to help me see well for too long. Forever straining to see was my life. I supposed that was just my luck.

I parked the car, just glad I made it in one piece, and headed inside to try to re-adjust my contact lenses. They shouldn’t be this bad today, I thought…I just put in a fresh pair a few days ago. I turned them, I ran them under water….I was irritated at the thought of having to go in already to buy new glasses and contacts.

I waited in the waiting room. I thought about how difficult it was for me to see the instructor at my class that day. I worried about how I did on the exam, because all the notes were on the wall, which I couldn’t see.

Then, it was my turn.

I was in shock. After having my neck adjusted, and I could finally see. I could see outside in the rain and fog…and I was not enjoying life like I once had through my windshield . I could ACTUALLLY SEE details in buildings, rocks and pavement. I could read even the smallest print on signs, and people's faces and eyes were so clear….and in 3D! I felt such joy tears began streaming down my face. It gave me hope.

Dr. Chad at Maximized Living said if I hadn't already been following the healthy lifestyle protocol they encourage for their patients, I might not have seen such a dramatic change. I am so grateful for the doctors who have cared enough to give us the knowledge needed to live the healthiest lives it has helped my family to heal.....and now I can be a part of that as well!

My American Dream: Stop Blaming the Uninsured

I am frequently bombarded by political agendas...most of which I agree with and a few I don't. I don't "rock the boat".... I feel like everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. We don't always know another's personal journey that is swaying their perspecitve.
I keep hearing the argument for ObamaCare (which I have been against for personal reasons since I first heard of it and thought it to be unconstitutional) that it's what needs to be done to keep taxpayers from having to pick up the slack and pay for those without insurance.
I feel this "how DARE you" kind of accusation is a generalization. Not everyone who is uninsured doesn't pay their medical bills.
I pay my medical bills. I have had insurance and still paid medical bills. I have paid OFF countless medical bills from numerous medical facilities all of my adult life.
Will someone please explain to me how people are getting away with not paying their medical bills when they do not have insurance? Are these the few that just simply don't pay? How do they get away from the phone calls and collection agencies? The threatening notices in the mail? They simply ignore it with no consequences? If that's so, it isn't right, and they should be held accountable to pay for what services they received.
Our family has tried multiple kinds of insurance over the years. For my family, it was not worth it to pay for premiums, then deductibles....never ever seeing any real payoff or savings...for doctors who never helped us in the first place!
The doctors we wanted to go to when the "approved" doctors failed us, were usually not covered by ANY insurance plans. After years of playing this game so as to be on the side of the "good guys", we concluded we were wasting thousands of dollars for no answers. Run of the mill tests that never led them in a direction to actually help the problems we were having, ending with a shrug of the shoulders and a shove out the door.
When we started choosing alternative treatments, we were happy to pay out of pocket! These doctors listened to us and treated us like human beings with real value. They prescribed things like diet and supplements that actually worked! We learned about therapies we had never heard of before that dramatically improved our quality of life. It was worth more to us to drop our useless insurance and use the money to pay for answers....and the bedside manor was an added bonus!

What about Well Checks?
Don't believe in them. They check if you are well, so they can make you sick. Just a front to push vaccinations, that I DON'T WANT.

What if we need to go to the Emergency Room?
We have. We did. And we pay monthly on the bill.
It is still more affordable, because if we had insurance, we would be paying a premium each month, AND would still have had to pay for the ER visit because the deductible, being so high, would not have been met.

What if someone gets cancer?
If someone gets cancer, I want to be as far away from the pharma shrills as possible!
What if I get pregnant?
Well, this baby factory is closed....but if it weren't, I still wouldn't want conventional medicine anywhere near my baby.
Complications? Bleeding? Unresponsiveness?
You got me. I would ask for help. And I would be happy to pay for it.

Yes, if we are in a car accident or severely burned, broken or bleeding...stopped breathing or had a heart attack....then, yes, I would have to resort to those professionals, and I would be grateful.

But that's MY choice, isn't it? Isn't it MY choice as an American to be able to decide to whom I do business with and when?

Shouldn't I be able to decide where to buy my groceries? No? The government knows the best place for me to buy groceries? What if I like rhubarb and they don't sell it? What if I want organic produce? mean the government knows better, and they say that organic food is crap, so I have to go and shop where they say I can? And if I don't I get a huge fine? And maybe my kids are taken away? All because I disagree on with the Federal Government on where to make a purchase?

I do not have insurance.....not because I couldn't afford it or wasn't offered it, but because it didn't make any sense for me to pay outrageous premiums and deductibles for something I would hopefully hardly ever use.

If a tragedy did occur, I would be of course more than willing to pay on it monthly, and use my tax returns to pay off the debt. Everyone has debt! College students! Should they not get an education if it means going $20,000 or more into debt? What about vehicles? An SUV will cost you more than that! People buy boats, or motorcycles...add a deck on the house....get a pool....
I won't have the luxuries of many Americans, and that is fine by me. My family's health is way more important than material things.
Because MY American dream is the freedom to think for myself, to choose how my money is spent, and to have a say in my children's medical care.
What is yours?

By Definition

I was participating in a church youth activity yesterday, when the teacher asked if everyone would just tell a little bit about themselves.

Kids usually say the easy stuff...what they like to do in their free time...or talents like playing an instrument. Easy.

One girl started with the statement that her parents were divorced. It was easy to gather this girl was intelligent, and had a fun out-going personality. She was creative and inventive. Yet, she chose to define her opening statement....that her parents were divorced.

I identified with this young lady, as I thought about how my parents divorce seemed to define me for so many years. It is easy to assume this is because of how devastating it can be for all when a family unit is broken. It is always a tender wound in our hearts hidden in the back of our minds.

I always hated being asked to tell about myself as a teenager and I imagine I started off many of my introductions the same way.

Moving to a new area where people don't know you, really makes you think about introductions, because you will be doing a lot of them. At random moments at the grocery store, or every Sunday at church when you meet someone for the first time, there is an introduction.

I have a feeling that people want to know about you in a nutshell. They want to know one piece of interesting information so that they can remember you, or sometimes, as I find more common in the south, they are just making conversation to pass the time. They hope for something interesting to come out of meeting someone new.

Meeting people is tough for me. I don't know what they expect from me. Making eye contact is difficult, and I tend to obsess the whole time if I am looking to long at their eyes....have they blinked, have I blinked....did I look away too often? What are their intentions on speaking to me? Do they want something from me? What are their perceptions of me? Do they like me? Do they think I am poor, uneducated, strange...? My mind is running a mile a minute and it may take quite some time before I replay the encounter in my head and realize exactly what the conversation was about.

I'm odd...I know...check out the previous post ;)

So, when I think about all the introductions I have to do, I become even more anxious and overwhelmed. What is the key point I want to convey to someone about myself?

What would be most comfortable for me is to start at birth...give a life story....of every experience I had in my life I considered significant and life-changing...and an explanation of why I am the way I am and why my life is the way it is. I somehow feel that if everyone knew my story, they would not be so quick to judge.

Giving each person you meet a transcript of your life is not an option, and if you tried to express this in casual conversation, not only do you seem strange, but completely self involved.

I think back to when I was a teenager, and the fact that my parents were divorced defined me.

After I got married, I covered up the fact I was married, had a baby and graduated High School all in the same year, by talking about my husband's job in the Army.

Being a military wife defined me, and suited me well. People believed I was strong, smart and independent. It also masked the fact I was the parent of a child with Autism. At that time, no one really knew what to say to that....except maybe "sorry"....which I didn't want to hear anyway.

When Josh was medically discharged from the Army, I felt lost again. I moved again to a new place with a sea of introduction possibilities awaiting me. I was no longer an Army Wife and that pride was no longer mine.

So, I was the mom with an autistic child, and still nobody had a clue what that meant. So, I became an expert on explaining it.

The years went by, and I defined myself by my charity service at church. That felt good. It felt normal. It didn't need a long explanation followed by blank stares and glances towards the exit.

When I started doing substitute work for the school district with autistic students, it became apparent that this was where I belonged. I didn't care how strange, odd or peculiar I seemed with my interactions with the children. I sure didn't stop talking about autism or the interventions I used to help relieve some of my son's symptoms .

To my surprise, I started being defined by my co-workers and community. I was asked to stay on as a long-term substitute, for a year and a half until they had the position they wanted for me available. When seniority would have cut me from the building where they sent all the autistic children K-3, they kept me anyway, causing much animosity. When it was time for a challenging child to move to a new school, they went against protocol and sent me with him. Parents requested me at IEP meetings. Parents went to the school board to have me with their child until graduation.

I know the gifts I have to help autistic children come from God. I know I would never have known this path in life had he not had a plan for me to have an autistic child. I do not brag in my abilities to care for them....there is a point to why I bring this up.

I think making introductions are difficult for me again, as I start out in a new community, because I finally had a definition that didn't need explaining. It took the pressure off. That is who I was, and I was proud to be able to help so many children and grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Moving here and choosing to home school meant giving up that definition. The "occupation" blanks on forms seem to haunt me....who am I?

Who am I then, if not a military wife? If I'm not a paraprofessional?

My new introductions have been, "Hi, I'm Meadow and we home school." Mostly because when my son is around...and he usually is....I don't like to have autism be HIS definition, so I don't talk about it in front of him.

Why am I not satisfied with this explanation of who I am? Is it not an honorable thing to do with my time?

The anxiety has fought it's way back into the forefront of my mind...what do they think about that? Do they think I'm a bad mother? Do they wonder if I"m smart enough? Do they think I'm lazy? Are they afraid my kid's aren't going to learn or have social skills?

What I want to say is, "Hi....I'm Meadow. I'm a Mother Warrior. I gave up my career....something I was really really good at.....because I needed to focus on the health and well-being of myself and my children first. I know that seems selfish....especially to those I left behind....but my job first and foremost in this life is to be the absolute best mother I can possibly be. My children need the tools to be successful in life and I am the best person to teach them to them. For this choice, I will not apologize to anyone. Right this is what I believe is best."

Will I have the guts to say this? I'm pretty sure they are still going to think I'm nuts.

So....until that day....I'm looking for a hobby. Preferably one I can fake, because I will really be spending my time on immunology and that will sound interesting and impressive after my name. Any ideas??

("Hi, I'm Meadow....I enjoy spelunking." Did I even spell that right??)

Legal Addiction: Where do you turn?

When you make the commitment to share a lifetime with another person, you expect to see them change; to age. You are there for the first gray hairs, the laugh lines, the aching joints and back pain, the loss of vision, and painful arthritis. It happens so slowly throughout a marriage that one may barely notice these changes until years and years have gone by.

Can you imagine watching your loved one deteriorate before your eyes? Individuals with cancer or other severe illness have to witness the depletion of a living, breathing body while grieving as they try to figure out how to deal with the loss of life even before the life is lost.

Imagine that person was not one who would be classified as physically ill, yet with each passing day they withered before your eyes. Their gray skin droops off of their body, while their once rapid movements are now slow and crippled as they hunch over and limp along. They lose 50 lbs. or more in a few short weeks and their bones feel light, weak and fragile. Their memory and comprehension are now failing. The mind wonders, “What if these effects on the body were the result of the medication that was prescribed to an individual in their twenties, who beforehand was considered to be in good physical standings?”

At the age of 27, this disabled veteran was prescribed a laundry list of medication that came with a stack of scary side effects. The side effects were much more severe than the actual symptoms he was supposed to be taking them for. The above mentioned side effects were from a seizure medication given for chronic headaches. Although I tried to explain to him and show him the risk associated with these drugs, my pleas fell on deaf ears. The medication led him to believe that I was trying to hinder his happiness, though I was in fact trying to do the exact opposite. More than anything I wanted to see the once happy individual living life to the fullest. Sadly, there was no reasoning with a person who takes these kinds of medications.

The first medication prescribed to him resulted in the most trouble and caused him to have terrible tremors. I took a video of him sleeping and caught the convulsions on film. He was not concerned after viewing this. He was constantly exhausted because his body never got the opportunity to really become rested. He trembled like a person with Parkinson’s disease. I was in constant fear every time he got behind the wheel, because his driving ability and comprehension of reality was affected.

Out of love and concern, I reported the incidents to his nurse, and they changed his pain medication. However, that is the last time they would be in contact with me, as he took me off the list of approved consults for medical intervention/care.

Just when I thought that I finally had a break from the constant worrying that consumed my every waking moment, his doctors decided it would be a good decision to add Lithium to the mix. From the very first dosage, I knew something was seriously wrong. It was like I was watching a train wreck as I watched him fall and scramble to make it up the stairs. Concerned for his safety, I followed him into the kitchen. With a plate in his outstretched hand, he began spinning in circles. My concerns he later relayed to his doctors were dismissed with a simple statement of “that’s how we know the medication is working”.

The new pain medication caused excessive itching that would keep him awake endless nights. I knew when he consumed this medication because he would go through “stages” He would start the first stage very calm, relaxed, mellow and compliant. The next stage was the constant deep raking of his skin with his nails and sometimes objects from head to toe. Then, there was the non-stop talking and repetitive language that would continue until his voice would go hoarse. The last phase consisted of a burst of energy. During this phase, he would decide to make up food concoctions in the middle of the night. There were times in which he would break plates, leave the stove on, or worse leave the food cooking on the stove after he fell asleep. Once during a drug-induced daze, he took a hot glass pot lid and ran it under cold water, causing it to explode into thousands of pieces.

This pain medication that was determined to be extremely addictive and sold as a street drug was prescribed for him to be taking up to four pills a day. I become increasingly worried after barely seeing my husband for a week at a time as he began to seclude himself in the basement. I would catch him asleep while using the bathroom. His digestive system had stopped working. He would fall asleep with his plate of food during mid-bite. His head hung limp as he passed out while our family opened Christmas presents.

I decided to count his monthly supply of pills and on average; he was consuming 29 pills per day! Every day, I come home from work worried that I would find him dead. I called family, hot-lines, and the VA. No one was able to provide me with help. After months of this vicious cycle, I started to wish that maybe he would simply not be there when I got home.

Even more frightening were the days he was coming down from the pills. Since he was taking his month’s supply in 7-10 days, he would go through a dark period of withdraw. Evil angry glares would be shot my way like daggers and I became fearful for my own life. This passed after a few days to himself, where he usually became ill with respiratory and stomach problems.

Having suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a mood disorder, a traumatic brain injury, and a right-foot crush injury, he would appear on paper as an individual who should be heavily medicated. It might surprise you to know that he was not on any medication and was able to function quite normally from 2003-2007. This was until he made the decision to be seen by the VA hospital. He sees one doctor there once a year. There is no therapy. He makes a phone call and all of the medication comes each month religiously.

Though it may seem desperate, these times called for desperate measures. Willing to try anything that he would agree to, I made an appointment for him to start chiropractic care. Thankfully, I was able to persuade him to give it a try. Immediately, he began to feel better. The once groggy individual was now refreshed and his energy level had increased. He was able to go without ALL of his medication.
This was an answer to our families’ prayers; most likely it is what saved his life. The road he was on was leading him to a life of destruction. We still have to take life day by day and be cautious of any setbacks, but the adjustments were enough to get him through to a point where he could be reasoned with. Now he is capable of seeing clearly and hearing what it was that his loved ones had been telling him all along. We will be forever grateful for all Dr. Chad and the staff at Maximized Living has done for our family.

Shopping for Heroine?

I had to go to the grocery store. The thought had been plaguing my mind for the past few days, and it was as daunting and frightening as a spooky haunted house on Halloween. I didn't want to go. I was afraid. I wasn't sure I could trust myself yet, especially alone.
I pushed the cart slowly, consciously aware of each step I took I walked with trepidation looking for what I needed while trying to avoid what I didn't proved impossible.
I stopped. The items on the shelves evaporated and it their place where thousands of syringes. They stood in perfect rows, glowing and calling to me. The temptation was almost too much to bear. I looked around to see if the other shoppers had noticed, but they continued to shop, seemingly unaware. They happily picked up multiple syringes and piled them into their carts. Each cart was piled higher and higher with the addictive substance. Babies cried for the drug on the shelf, and mother's handed them to their child to quiet them with no worry or regard. I had to press on. Somewhere in this huge store was the FOOD my family needed to survive. But I had to FIND it. And I had to make it through without falling into temptation. Stay strong, I whispered to myself. My hands shook a little as I turned the corner to the next aisle. I passed my go to treats that were special to me for special occasions. The problem was, once I started I couldn't stop. I never meant to be an addict. I criticized those who couldn't kick those kinds of addicts. And here I was...a hypocrite. The illusion of heroine lining the shelves faded back into the aisle of cookies I had been hoping to avoid.
Sugar was my addiction. I had to be strong. Falling off the wagon was not an option today. Kicking the sugar habit was one of the toughest things I've had to do. It never leaves you. It's the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think of at night. You dream about it. You CRAVE it when you are stressed. You negotiate the reasons you DESERVE it. And it is everywhere you look.
An alcoholic can live without alcohol. A drug addict will not die from giving up drugs. And a person who is addicted to sugar will not die giving up sugar.....but you have to have FOOD to eat and sugar is in MOST of it.
An recovering alcoholic stays away from bars and parties where they will be serving alcohol. They have sponsors who they can call when they are feeling weak. A drug addict changes friends and location many times when trying to kick the habit to keep falling back into bad situations that would take them back to square one.
When you are addicted to sugar, there isn't a support system. I can't stop grocery shopping. There are no stores without sugar. There are no restaurants with no sugar. Our whole society is centered around food. It is a lonely world without it that most people don't understand.
What has shocked me the most about this discovery, is how this must effect children with Autism who are on special diets....especially ones who do not speak. As parents and loved ones of these children, we tend to say, "Oh, just a little here and there won't hurt." But if they really are addicted to these gluten and casein filled foods, then it really DOES hurt. It's like giving the heroine addict one more hit. It only makes fighting the cravings that much worse. When these special children need to work so much harder than other children to focus and learn, how can we justify clouding their brains with constant thoughts of their addiction?
I am not perfect, but having this experience in my life has made me re-think what I allow my kids to eat even more.
I think of a sign made of tagboard and marker hanging in a school. The title read, "What to do to relieve stress..." Two suggestions written in bold letters: Drink Sundrop; Eat Ice Cream
Kids tell the truth.

Becoming the Green Bean Girl

 I recently read a note posted on facebook by a dear friend
So much of what she described her Autistic son goes through daily sounded like my own personal fight with FOOD...ugh! If only we didn't need it to survive, I would gladly be DONE.....if I didn't crave it every minute and turn to it at almost every stress that comes into my life daily. I feel like a drug addict....wanting to do what is right, but life is continually tempting me with a brief respite from the strain of the fight. I just want a moments peace to feel good. But, I never feel good for long and I deal with the illness and brain fog and guilt that follows.
I have too recently found that I cannot tolerate nuts. I think they get stuck in the creases of my intestines and I cannot pass them so they stick and make me feel terrible and grouchy. I've wondered for years about a thyroid disorder- Hashimotos runs in my family and both of my boys are treated for it. However, I haven't been able to get any doc to do the expensive TSH test....just the standard ones have been within normal range. (I still take two Iodine drops a day because I feel better- more "grounded")
List of Foods I feel I cannot tolerate:
Dairy (allergy)
Wheat (allergy)
Candida (allergy) So, no SUGAR
Pork (sometimes)
All Fruit except Grapefruit (newly introduced)
Chicken (unless organic)
Beans (all except green)
Eggs (allergy)

I also do not care for raw veggies....just can't stand the texture of them, except carrots which I can't tolerate either way. And by tolerate, I mean I feel yucky, crappy, sick, and slow.

My daily diet consists of Dynamic Greens powder in coconut milk, two hamburgers with a ton of green veggies like beans or peas, and then chicken, steak, or pork with a ton of green veggies. And once in a while I have some sugar-free coconut milk ice cream.

"Cannot Tolerate" for me usually shows up the next morning, like a hangover. I feel great while eating what I shouldn' stomach or intestinal pains. But by the time I wake up, I am groggy, crabby, I can't think straight and I am EXHAUSTED....usually needing at least 10 hours of sleep, and if I didn't get it WATCH OUT! ;) I don't talk much throughout the day. I forget easily what I am supposed to be doing. I run into things frequently. I get black puffy circles under my eyes. My vision is foggy and blurry and I basically shut out the world.

My allergy symptoms are different:
Wheat: Itching, hair loss, constipation, bloating
Dairy: vivid nightmares, hard grey patches of skin on my elbows, knees and feet, cravings, big-time brain fog and blurry vision
Eggs: intestinal issues and swelling of the legs and feet

Cutting out Sugar:

And throughout all of my daily food drama...even eliminating all those foods was not enough to actually feel 100% better. I would figure out a little more and a little more and maybe be 10-20% better. I was at the end of my rope, not seeing any happiness in anything I did. I really lost the joy in my life because of constant inner turmoil.

When I decided I needed to take better care of myself, it was a huge turning point in my life. I had wanted to start Chiropractic care as the rest of my family had seen amazing results, but I couldn't justify the cost for myself. I need that money for Autism. (bet ya didn't think there was a tie in) I have to watch every penny and make sacrifices to give my kids the best chance at life and I can't take that away from them by seeking selfishly after treatment for myself.

And then, the thought entered my head.....who is going to care for them if you are not around? I knew I had to find a way to make it work. I needed to try something because I couldn't keep on going living the way things were.

I went to my first adjustment and I could miraculously see for the first time since I was 6 years old- when I got my first pair of glasses. I had always had problems seeing prescription changed every year, sometimes better, sometimes worse, sometimes astigmatism in one eye sometimes in both. One time the prescription was so off when I went to pick them up, I could not see ANYTHING out of them and I had to redo the whole process.
I was also never a good driver...especially at night. Lights blinded me and I couldn't judge distance well. I can't even tell you the number of deer I hit or the times I took off a mirror. :/ I had just accepted I CAN'T SEE! I just have bad eyesight.
That wasn't the case at all. I had my neck adjusted and I could finally see details and people's eyes and in 3D! I was living in a two-dimensional world wearing frost-covered glasses. I felt pure joy and it gave me back the will to live and keep going in this crazy autism journey I call "life".

Dr. Chad at Maximized Living said if I hadn't already been following the healthy lifestyle protocol they encourage for their patients, I might not have seen such a dramatic change. I am so grateful for the doctors who have cared enough to give us the it has helped my family to heal.....and now I can be a part of that as well