Parents of Children with Disabilities

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Jeff King and I have a son who was born with a rare chromosome disorder. I call it 3X15C. There is no real name for it. He is only one of about a hundred known cases worldwide. This is a triplication of Chromosome 15. For anyone who knows chromosome 15 duplications are common in children with autism. My son has a triplication of that chromosome, therefore, he has autism and was actually diagnosed as severely intellectually challenged. At the age of seven-years-old he began to have intractable epilepsy. He is now 12 and although he is on medication and has been fitted with the Vagus nerve stimulator, he continues to have severe seizures. My wife and I have just recently started a blog dedicated to him. It is about his journey and ours as well. We have titled it “The Real Superman.” because we truly believe he is not only super, but our hero! We are looking for parents, family members, friends of people with special needs and also Sped. Ed. Teachers and people who work with our children. It is our hope that the story that I am telling will not only encourage others, but also offer inspiration and hope. Please come check it out and join our blog page and feel free to leave a comment or two. We are also looking for people to join us at Parents of Children with Disabilities. We only have 3 members and would love more. That is at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/107339921749944736766

 

 

 

Thanks!

Jeff King

The Real Superman Part XIII

By Jeff King

December 22nd, 2011 was finally here. We took Dylan to his surgery appointment early that morning at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. We had to be there by 6:00 AM to get him prepared for the VNS. My wife and I was quite nervous about this procedure. We had researched it and we knew that he was at the top hospital in the world. With the top neurological surgeon for children, George Jallo. Who is also the Clinical Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery and a Professor of Neurosurgery. This guy is the best in this field and he has the credentials to prove it. We were still very worried. We prayed and waited with Dylan until the anesthesiologist showed up. He had his own team that he brought with him. They assured us that Dylan was in good hands. Of course we were concerned after what Terri had went through, but this was the hospital that I had taken her to. This was where the surgeon who had put her back together once practiced at. He had moved on to another hospital, but he had designed the surgery that saved my wife’s life Dr. Charles Yeo was a miracle worker and we were sure that Dr. Jallo was cut from the same cloth. He worked at the same hospital. The hospital that people from all over the world come to when they want to get well! Dylan was in good hands indeed.

The surgery took about three hours and the Doctors assistant kept us informed throughout the surgery. This is definitely a first class hospital and they deserve every award they receive.

After about three hours the Doctor came out and told us himself that everything went well and that they were getting ready to transfer Dylan into recovery. It took about a half an hour before a nurse came out and got us and took us to Dylan. He was out like a light and we examined is tiny body. He had a scar that ran up the left side of his chest to just under his chin. It looked like someone had cut his throat. It was a little disturbing looking to us. Dylan was out for about an hour before he finally woke from his drug induced slumber. We thought he would wake up crying or screaming, but, no, he didn’t. Like some sort of Friday the 13th movie Dylan sat up like Jason Voorhees. He was ready to get up and go. We gave him some juice and he drank it down like it was nothing.

Almost immediately we noticed a difference in Dylan. The first few weeks we almost had the old Dylan back. He was more alert and for the first time in over a year he was seizure free! Our thoughts were, “finally, we have found the magic bullet. This would surely be the golden cure that we were looking for. We took him to Dr. Rubenstein over the next several weeks so that he could adjust the stimulator. He was amazed how well the surgery went and how well Dylan was doing. He witnessed Dylan trying to communicate again. He wasn’t talking yet, but he was definitely more vocal and we truly believed that soon, he would talk once again. Finally our son had returned. How I missed that boy.

Dylan was more animated than he had been in over a year. He was walking around and moving at will. He began to play with some of the toys that had been lying dormant for the past year. We were definitely witnessing our second miracle; the first one being the day he started running. What we didn’t know that this too was only a temporary fix and that the seizures would be back with a fiery vengeance in about 4 months. (To be continued.)

A Journey of Next

When you’re on the journey of God’s next. The road is not always easy. You see God will take you through the wilderness where you’ll encounter all types of hardships. We quite often want to stay in the bondage of the old, because it is hard, but at least we know what we have. Many stay where they’re content, because it’s just easier that way. Most people are afraid to start a new journey, because they are afraid of the unknown, they’re afraid of the struggle before them. Many who do partake on a new journey is often met with what they believe to be unsurmountable odds. They cry out for food and water and safety, because at least where they were offered that to them. Where they’re headed is an unseen land and often the road is narrow and dark. We quite often travel through barren wastelands where there seems to be no promise of a new and brighter day. Quite often we climb hazardous mountains on our journey to the next; forging our way through the roughest terrain that we could ever imagine. We want it easy, but no greatness comes so cheaply. Greatness cost us everything. We want to learn our lessons without sacrifice without hardship, without going through the darkness. We want to sit atop of the apex and look out over the valley to see what awaits us on God’s journey of next. God knows that we can never learn what He is trying to teach us if we stay atop the mountain. He knows that the valleys and the deepest shadows are where we learn the most. We learn to trust, to wait, to hope to endure, through our deepest and darkest moments in our lives. A wise man knows that the journey through life is just that a journey. We were never meant to become content with where we are at, but look forward with hope to the next part of our journey. When life for me here has ended, I do not believe that my journey will end at death, but it will be the next leg of this journey that we are all on. We cannot see that side of eternity, but we look on with expectant hope that our journey to God’s next awaits us there.  Sometimes the journey is thrust upon us. We are taken out of our comfort zone and are forced to begin a new journey; not a journey we would have chosen for ourselves. 12 years ago Terri and I were forced upon a journey that I am sure that we would have never chosen for ourselves. We were young and inexperienced when Dylan was born. We were parents, but could have never imagined the journey that awaited us with Dylan. He has been our guide through this journey. We have learned so much along the way. I decided to go into special education, because of Dylan. I am no longer content with just teaching children with special needs. I now want to be able to do more for my son, other children and adults that have special needs. I want to be their voice, their advocate. I want to be a defender of the defenseless! I want to be able to fight for their rights. See the thing is when you’re on a journey, you get hungry. You need sustenance. You look forward to crawling and scraping through the wilderness, you know that shadows and darkness awaits you, but you also know that shadows cannot exist without light. That light is what keeps you going. You know when you reach the top of that mountain you have a meeting with the Almighty and he is giving you another set of marching orders to carry out! Then it’ll be onto the next journey! A wise man once said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I say enjoy the journey.

The Real Superman Part XII

The Real Superman Part XII

By Jeff King

We began hearing a term called VNS. This procedure was supposed to be working miracles for people who suffered from intractable epilepsy. I didn’t even know what VNS was, let alone how it was done, so I began to research it. I went to the Epilepsy website and began to read about this new and innovative procedure that was helping tens of thousands of people who suffered from epilepsy. They termed this new procedure as, “the pacemaker for the brain” (Schachter, 2013). This device is placed under the skin on the left side of the chest. The wire runs to the Vagus nerve which is a part of the autonomic nervous system. This nerve controls functions of the body which are not under voluntary control. The neurologist sets the devices impulse to send a small jolt of electricity to the Vagus nerve. In theory this can stop a seizure from happening. You are also given a magnet that you can use for any onset signs of seizures, or when a seizure comes on. You placed the magnet over the stimulator outside the chest and in theory, it stops the seizure. You can learn more about it at http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/devices/vagus-nerve-stimulation-vns. This sounded wonderful, a very promising weapon against seizures. The more I read about it as well as testimonies from patients and parents and family members of patients the more I liked it. My wife had also checked it out and we were determined to talk to Dr. Rubenstein about it.

On Dylan’s next appointment to see him he asked us how everything had been going for Dylan, we explained how Dylan just laid around very lethargic and was continuing to have up to 40 seizures a day even on the medicine. We asked him to help us order a special wheelchair for Dylan, because, I could no longer carry him around because, he was getting so heavy, plus he was dead weight. He agreed and put a request into Medicaid. He started talking about maybe introducing a new medication into the mix. Terri and I quickly cut him off and almost in unison said that we wanted to try the VNS on Dylan. He listened patiently and then said, “I couldn’t agree more.” I am glad that you both are very pro-active in Dylan’s health and you both are well informed. I definitely believe that he is an excellent candidate for this procedure.” We talked a little more about it and he gave us all the details about what to expect and what side effects could also occur with this procedure. We all came to the agreement that Dylan would be fitted with the VNS and we began to plan the date of his procedure. His surgery was set for December 22nd, 2011. Which was about three months away.

Medicaid had approved him for his wheelchair, which was great for us, because now we were able to go to the store and take Dylan in with us. Before that I would sit in the car with him while Terri went inside to do the grocery shopping, which was okay, but I believe it was better if Dylan was able to go into the stores too. I mean his life consisted entirely of laying around having seizures. He no longer watched any TV. He was just there. It sounds cold and harsh, but that’s the best way I can describe him. I can tell you as a father, I cried many tears as I watched him slowly disappear his whole personality was vanquished. It was a very sad and horrible existence that he was living. I thought about the Metallica song “One” “Darkness imprisoning me All that I see Absolute horror I cannot live I cannot die Trapped in myself Body my holding cell” (James Hetfield Lars Ulrich, 1993).

I thought how sad, his body was his holding cell! This made me weep hot tears of sorrow ran down my face! I was sure hoping that the VNS would deliver my son from that darkened abyss that he disappeared into.

When we got his wheelchair we decided to go shopping at our local grocery store. I got the chair out of the trunk and set it up. I got him out of the back seat and placed him in his chair. We went grocery shopping. He just sat there impassively, but at least he was out and about, so that was a good thing. We finished shopping and we go outside. I was pushing Dylan and Terri was pushing the shopping cart. There was a car blocking the handicap aisle that was in front of the store. Terri yelled out, “How rude!” The driver of the vehicle pulled up out of the way, but started cussing us out. I told the lady that she didn’t want to mess with my wife and that she was illegally parked there anyway. She got out of her car, but stood inside her car door and hurled insults at us. Then she says to me, “You’re not even a real man, because you couldn’t even create a whole child!” Man I was enraged, but Terri was twice as angry. She wanted to go after this vulgar extremely evil women, but she didn’t. She just walked away! What an offensive wicked thing she had said! I am not going to lie, I cursed her and said that one day, that she would reap what she had sown. She reaped hate she will definitely sow that same hate! This was just another of the many incidents we would have along this journey. The hate and the evil that spews from the mouth of people against people with special needs, children with special needs! I never hated anyone in my entire life, but as God is my witness, if that woman would have choked to death on her hateful words, I would have begun to cheer right then and there. Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t wish those type of things on anyone, but it was very hurtful. It just made me hurt for my son and I just couldn’t believe this woman would say such an ugly thing about a child. (To be continued.)

The Promise

This is just a little poem I wrote for my son Dylan, My son, my hero, my inspiration! I Love you!

The Promise
By Jeff King

I’d give you my eyes if you couldn’t see/ My heart is yours for eternity/ I give you my strength when your body grows weak/ and my voice is now yours since you cannot speak/I’d trade my whole life to give back your health/ To see you lively once more would be unspeakable wealth/ I’d give you my tears/ If they could take all your pain/ All my years would be yours and not wasted in vain/I promise you son that I would lay down my life/ To give you a chance would be worth sacrifice/ Though my years have been many and yours just a few/ I would give all I have left to you/

The Real Superman Part XI

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

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.