By Jeff King
The Real Superman Part XI
By Jeff King
Between the seizures and the meds that Dylan was on, he had regressed; mentally he was possibly 6 to perhaps 9 months in his mind. He no longer talked he would just lay around. We tried to get him up and around, but his muscles would no longer allow him to move fluidly. We were going to try a new medication trileptal. It was very promising. Right away he began to have an allergic reaction to this drug and broke out in hives. We stopped giving it to him right away and called his neurologist. He called us back and told us to continue giving it to him for the next couple of days, but we didn’t. We made another appointment with the neurologist and while we were in his office he began to argue with another neurologist that he shared an office with. It was very unprofessional and the office was full of patients. After he called us in the back to see him, he asked what we were seeing him for. Everything that we told him previously he seemed to have forgotten. We had to explain things all over again to him. He asked us are we still giving Dylan the trileptal and we told him no we stopped a few days ago! He looked at us like there was something wrong with us. I became angry and told him that I wasn’t going to keep giving Dylan the medicine after he was clearly having an allergic reaction to it. We promptly walked out of the office.
When we got home I began to search for a new Neurologist. We found one who worked out of Kennedy Krieger Institute and was a neurologist at John Hopkins University also. Dr. James Rubenstein. This guy was wonderful! He was very caring. He listened to all of our concerns. This wonderful doctor had an amazing bed-side manner reminiscent of the old time country doctors. You could see the empathy he felt towards Dylan. He didn’t look at Dylan as just another patient, one more number. No this gentleman was the real deal and he was very caring. He also answered every question or concern that we had. He took extensive notes and would ask us questions too. The other neurologist was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide. I will just refer him to that name, because, I don’t want a law suit against me for deformation of character, but this other Dr. was completely terrible when it came to Dylan. We had a wonderful first meeting with Dr. Rubenstein and He said that we will continue Dylan on the Keppra and slowly wean him off the Clonazepam, because we were sure that this was making him very lethargic. We went home thinking that we have finally found the right neurologist for Dylan and we were absolutely right.
Dylan didn’t make too much progress as we slowly weaned him off the Clonazepam. He still was very lethargic, but the seizures seemed to only worsen. He was having seizures where he would go into full grand mal seizures and when he came out of them he could no longer walk, or stand. His whole right side was like he was paralyzed. These seizures really frightened us and we noted each and every one that he had. He had also had some that were so severe that we had to give him Diazepam anally to force them to stop. Then he was rushed to the hospital several times to be checked out only to have him released in a few hours. This was very emotionally draining on us.
It was around then I was researching seizures when I first heard the term intractable epilepsy, which meant epilepsy resistant to all drugs. As I was reading about this I also found an article on SUDEP, which is an acronym for Sudden Death in Epilepsy patients. This scared me half to death and I filed it away, I hadn’t wanted to share it with Terri, because, it would only make her cry. Then Unique which was the rare chromosome disorder support group started running an article on children with Idic 15 dying un-expectantly in their sleep. This brought tears to my eyes. I read about a little ten-year old boy who had went to sleep only to never awake the next morning. I didn’t want to tell Terri any of that, but little did I know, she had already read the article. Dylan would never again sleep in his own bed for fear he would have a seizure and we would not hear him. He has been sleeping in our bed ever since.
Parents shouldn’t have to fear these things, but this is the cruel hand that fate has dealt us. We could sit back and be passive victims or we could take this fight on tooth and nail being proactive and gaining as much knowledge as we could possibly gain. Dylan needed us to be the best parents that we could be and that is exactly what we were going to do! We would never give up on him! Surrender was not an option! We were only getting started on this fight and I’ll be damned if we weren’t going to do everything in our power to make sure Dylan would fight this too! (To be continued.)
The Real Superman Part X
By Jeff King
Over the next several month’s Dylan continued to have seizures he had Grand Mal, Absence, Myoclonic, Clonic, Tonic, atonic. You name it, he had it. The seizure activity was so frequent, my wife and I often wondered how long can Dylan survive like this. These dark, demonic beast had taken control over my son’s body and mind. Between the Clonazepam, and the seizures, this little boy was absolutely fried. I remember crying leave him the hell alone! After he would shake and violently convulse. I felt like Father Damien Karras in the Exorcists when Regan was convulsing and being distorted by the demon that had possessed her! I to screamed out “Take me! Come into me!” Leave him the hell alone! He doesn’t deserve this! He hasn’t done one thing to deserve this! He is an innocent child! This demon was slowly consuming my baby and I felt powerless. I couldn’t do a damn thing to help him. What a dark feeling. I felt like the Devil himself had come to dwell in our household. This sinister being that held my son hostage had made me realize that this was indeed a dire situation. I started remembering the scriptures “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Acts 19:15 I felt just like one of the Seven Sons of Sceva, because this beast didn’t know me, but it sure was very acquainted with my son and this demon wasn’t going anywhere. I remember the words that Jesus had spoken in Matthew 17:21 “However, this kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting.” I had prayed, I had fasted I had done everything that I could possibly think of doing, but this one wasn’t going a damn place. It sure wasn’t going back to the hell that it came from, but it did bring hell with it and it was unleashing every dark power it could unto my son and all we could do is watch helplessly! “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” I cried those very words. It stung my heart. The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness had taken control of me and my wife. We weren’t just walking through the valley of the shadow of death we were neck deep in the mire of it!
We went back to the neurologist who now prescribed another medication that was supposed to be great for seizures. It was called Keppra and it isn’t a good drug either. Some of the side effects are horrible and Dylan was becoming more and more non-verbal so he didn’t have a voice to tell us how he was feeling, or what this poison was doing to him. Just some of the side effects were: Hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, suicidal thoughts, bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness; feeling very weak or tired, fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat, problems with walking or movement
Imagine your child taking a medication approved by the FDA that can cause hallucinations or suicidal thoughts and your child cannot tell you how he’s feeling? Over the first several weeks on this poison Dylan began to bruise more easily every time we turned around Dylan had a new bruise on another part of his body. This certainly wasn’t the worst of it though. Dylan became weak and very lethargic. He would simply lay on the couch and didn’t do anything. He didn’t even enjoy watching any of his cartoons anymore. The little boy who was once so happy and lively had become a shell of his former self. I cried often. As a man society seems to believe that if you cry then it is a sign of weakness. I didn’t give a damn about what society thought about me. My son who once was filled with such joy and love was now this empty being that was now impassive and cold. His beautiful voice was now gone and would never return. The singing had stopped, the laughter had stopped the joy ceased to exist. We were left with memories of a different Dylan. A Dylan that used to run and play and joke and sing and talk and laugh. These demons had robbed his very soul. Between the poisons we were pumping into his body and the seizures which still had control over him, my little boy was gone! Terri and I went through the 5 phases of grief all over again; only this time it seemed much worse.
This had an effect on the entire family. The kids stopped playing with Dylan, because, he wasn’t interested in playing or really doing anything. He would just lay around. At school he regressed and no longer did anything that he used to. The teachers let him sleep most of the time, because the seizure activity was so bad that he would seize sometimes up to fifty times a day and that was with the two medications that he was on. We now had gotten him a wheel chair, because he could no longer walk. Just a few short years ago, Dylan ran in the Special Olympics. This child couldn’t even crawl, let alone walk!
This was indeed one of the darkest times in our lives. The journey we were on had driven us across an arid desolate wilderness. There were no oasis in site and we were getting ready to climb the highest mountain facing the toughest terrain that we would have to encounter yet. If there were a light at the end of this tunnel we had not spotted it yet. We were left forsaken and alone, but we had to continue to trudge on.
The Real Superman Part VIIII
By Jeff King
We made an appointment to see a Neurologist at Sinai hospital in Baltimore city. The Neurologist was supposedly one of the best around. We met him and he had all of Dylan’s hospital records from the previous seven years. Our first impression was a good one of this gentleman. He seemed very knowledgeable and genuinely caring. He played with Dylan and made us feel at ease. He talked about a treatment program that we should start and the first medicine he prescribed for Dylan was a seizure medication known as Lamictal. Lamictal would have the least effect on Dylan’s cognitive skills, so the neurologist explained. We began to give him this new medicine and right away, the seizures stopped. He was doing so well on this medication. We felt like the seizure activity that he had been experiencing was just a little hic up in his overall health, but now with this new medication, he would be back on track.
He continued to make progress and the seizures hadn’t effected his cognitive skills as of yet. He was loving on a new show Yo Gabba Gabba and his favorite character on this program was a little fuzzy monster-like dude named Broobie. Dylan quickly learned the songs on this show and began to sing them. His favorite was called “Party in my Tummy” I still remember Dylan saying, “Does the green beans want to go to the party in my tummy?” He would wait several seconds before answering that question, “Yeah” then he’d break into the song, “There’s a party in my tummy, so yummy, so ,yummy, there’s a party in my tummy!” You get the gist of it.
We weren’t really concerned about Dylan’s cognitive skills. He continued to learn how to say words and use sentences. We understood that most of his language was mimicking what he heard, but, he did know and understand so much. Maybe we should have been more concerned, but at the time there was no indication that he would regress and become nonverbal.
After about two weeks of taking the Lamictal Terri noticed a slight rash around his mouth. We weren’t sure what it was so she called the neurologist to voice our concerns. He asked us to watch him overnight and see if the rash got worse. He never told us to stop giving Dylan the Lamictal. The next day the rash had spread all over his body and he was covered in big blotches. His skin looked as if he had an extreme sunburn. We called the neurologist and he told us to bring him into his office right away. We took him into his office and he said, “I was hoping that this wasn’t going to happen? He’s having an allergic reaction to the medication. He then prescribed some antibiotics to begin giving to Dylan right away. He told us to discontinue the Lamictal. We took him home and gave him the antibiotic. It was about a week before he was better. The neurologist then prescribed Clonazepam tablets to begin giving him. These things would begin to have Dylan spacing out. He slowly began his dark decent into an abysmal place where we weren’t sure if we could ever get him back from.
We had gone through some very tough times before Dylan began to have these seizures. I have already mentioned how Terri went into the hospital to have surgery to remove her gallbladder. It was supposed to be a very quick and easy procedure; a same day procedure. It would be done with the doctor using endoscopic surgery. This minimally invasive surgery was supposed to be an easier and safer way for Terri to have her gallbladder removed, however, the surgeon ended up cutting a bile duct and bile from her liver began draining into her stomach. She nearly died and she had to be transferred to John Hopkins Hospital where a well renowned surgeon who had invented the surgery to fix her practiced at. He saved her life. I touched on this just a little, because about three years after Dylan was born, Terri developed a pretty big hernia, most likely from carrying around Dylan. She had to schedule another surgery with the doctor who had created a new bile duct using part of her large intestine to do it. He would perform the hernia operation, because, we didn’t trust any other hospital or doctor around. She had complications and ended up in the hospital for two weeks. She was so upset, because she kept thinking Dylan would forget who she was. He slept with me on the couch for those two weeks, which was a binding experience for the both of us.
When Terri was released from the hospital, I tried to take some time off the job I had been working for the last ten months, but, because I hadn’t been there for the entire year, I was told by their HR department that I could not do it. I had no choice to resign to take care of Terri and the children. It was a tough dark time in our lives. I can’t mention the name of the company I was working for at the time, because they may sue me if I was to, but let’s just say that they were an up and coming Baltimore Clothing company that has ties to the NFL and whose clothes can now be seen in movies, and even other sports franchises. They were not very family friendly and it is sad that the owner got rich off the backs of his workers and didn’t care if those workers had families or more important things to attend to. I could say Karma is well you know. I know I am being so cliché. Anyway, it is my sincerest hope that the owner will one day reap what he has sown!
I mention these things only because it sets the events in the story of what troubles we would have to face next. We as a family had continuously walked through the shadows, but each and every time we came out holding tight to the light of a promise. A promise of a new and brighter day. Little did we know that this struggle was just getting started. (To be continued.)
By Jeff King
The Real Superman Part VIII
Throughout the years, Dylan continued to struggle. He could walk and run. He could talk, but as I mentioned before his language was rote and he would just use words that he had heard. I believe that he did know some of them though.
Dylan ran in the Special Olympics when he was six years old. We bought him a bike for Christmas and he would get on it out in the front of our house and using his feet he could ride it around. It had training wheels on it, and he never actually learned to ride it, but, that didn’t matter to him; he loved it and had fun just sitting on it and using his feet to move it.
Dylan used to go with my wife up to my older children’s elementary school every morning. There was this little girl, who absolutely adored Dylan and she would go out of her way every morning to seek him out, so that she could give him a kiss on the cheek. My wife said Dylan began to look forward to the little girl coming over to him to give him a kiss. Terri said that he would smile. That blew out my argument that Dylan would not have a first kiss, because, he had many.
Dylan also liked to get in the front seat of our minivan and sit up at the steering wheel. He would laugh and say, “I’m driving, I’m driving.” He would turn the steering wheel back and forth, and he also would turn on the turn signals. These are days that I miss so much. Dylan was incredibly smart. He would come up to us and say, “Want to sing?” Whenever it would rain, if we were walking to the minivan he would always inform us, “It’s raining, it’s rrraining!” One winter we had a big snow storm. It was Dylan’s first real snow and we were at my brother in laws house. I had Dylan outside playing in the snow, he cracked me up when he suddenly said, “Look at all this damn snow! It’s cool!” He did pick up some inappropriate language and at one of his IEP meetings his teacher informed us that he had dropped the F Bomb, but she added, he used it in an appropriate way. We struggled hard to get him to stop saying those words. Many of those words he had learned from his older siblings and probably neighborhood children too. This may sound pretty asinine, but, I would actually love to hear him drop the F Bomb again. At least then, I could hear his voice once more.
As I mentioned before, he could be quite a clown. He would do things to make us all laugh at him. This may actually sound inappropriate, but this was one other thing that would make us all laugh at Dylan. As I mentioned before, Dylan loved Dora the Explorer. He loved the character the map. If you’re not familiar with the map from Dora, it was wrapped up like a scroll and it would sing, “There’s a place you need to go. I can get you there you know, cause, I’m the Map, I’m the Map, I’m the Map I’m the Map.” Well Dylan would actually pull his penis out and sing this little tune. We assume that Dylan thought that his penis was the map, and he would start singing this tune whenever he pulled it out. We struggled to get him to stop, and we’re still struggling with that problem today. He doesn’t sing the song anymore though.
He also knew how to get our sympathy. One day I had him out front and he was running up and down the sidewalk, when suddenly he tripped and fell. He injured his right arm. We took him to a clinic where they examined him and told us that he probably bruised his arm. They wrapped it and told us to put ice on it and give him Tylenol for pain. We did this for about two weeks, because he continued to favor his arm. He would scream whenever one of us tried to lift it up over his head. He whimpered and acted like a wounded animal. We felt bad for him and took him to his pediatrician who re-examined it and said he didn’t see anything wrong with it. He set us up an appointment at a specialist. It took us about two weeks for his appointment and we continued to keep his arm wrapped in the meantime, but whenever one of us tried to lift up that arm, he would continue his little act. Finally the day of his appointment. The bone specialist looked at the x-rays that we already had and took some of his own. He examined Dylan’s arm and about thirty minutes later he called us back in the examining room to go over the x-rays and what his findings were. “I don’t see any nerve damage, any broken bones, or anything at all wrong with his arm.” He explained to us. Dylan had been playing us the whole time. Right after that appointment, Dylan’s arm seemed to be miraculously healed. This little boy was quite an actor. We never had any more trouble with him or his arm afterwards.
Dylan was never potty-trained. We tried forever to get him to go on the toilet, but he just wouldn’t do it. They started to try to teach him at school also. We bought him pull-ups and would take him every half an hour, but, he just wouldn’t do it. We did this for about a year and finally we were having some success. He would come up to us and back his backside up to us and say “Let me check.” He did this because we would always say let me check when we wanted to check his diaper. He would tell the teachers at school, “Pew you stink, whenever he soiled his diaper.” They would tell him, “No, Dylan you stink,” and laugh about it.
We began to be able get him to go on the toilet once in a while. We were happy, because this was a start and we believed that we would finally be successful. Dylan was almost seven years old. He still drank out of a baby bottle and still wore diapers. It was getting expensive. We finally were able to get Medicaid to cover his diapers, but here we were on the verge of a great big breakthrough. We were convinced that he would be potty trained soon, and we wouldn’t need diapers or pull ups any longer. It had been a long journey, but, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Then on April 18th 2010, on my wife’s birthday. It was a Sunday. I told Terri that she could sleep in and that I would take care of Dylan. Dylan and I were watching one of his other favorite programs Diego. He was very excited because two of the characters on the program; two monkeys known as the Bo Bo brothers were on there and they were causing some havoc. Dylan was yelling, “Stop Bo Bo’s” which is what Diego and his pet jaguar was saying. The phone began to ring and I got up to answer it. Dylan was standing in front of the TV enjoying his cartoon. It was my mom. We started talking. I decided to go back in the living room to sit down. That’s when I found him. Dylan was face down on the floor moaning he was in the middle of a full blown grand mal seizure! It seemed as if all the blood drained from my body! I screamed, “OH MY GOD!!!!” I heard my mom yelling on the phone, “What’s wrong?” I threw the phone across the room and begin to yell for my wife! “TERRI WAKE UP DYLAN IS HAVING A SEIZURE!” He seized for what seemed an eternity. Terri came running down the stairs. “OH GOD CALL 911!” I ran and picked up the phone from across the floor my mom was still on there I quickly told her what was going on and she began to cry and hung up. I immediately called 911 and told them that my son was having a seizure! “PLEASE HURRY!” I shouted. The 911 operator was asking me a slew of questions that I sure as hell wasn’t worrying about answering right now. I wanted to just scoop Dylan up off the floor and hold him in my arms. The seizure had finally subsided and we awaited the paramedics……. (To be continued.)