The Real Superman Part VIIII

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.)

The Real Superman Part VIII

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.)

The Real Superman Part VII

The Real Superman Part VII

As a parent with a child who has special needs it is sometimes a very difficult journey. When you find out for the first time there is a process that you go through. As psychologist like to call the 5 phases of grief. At first, there is denial. You just don’t want to believe it. I liken it to losing a loved one. You just can’t believe that your child has something wrong with them. All the hopes and dreams that you had for them seem to vanish. I know that I kept playing every scenario over in my head. He wouldn’t play any sports, I could envision him playing football, or baseball, but then suddenly the reality came crashing in. Dylan would not be able to play any of those sports. As a family, we all are very sarcastic and have very dry senses of humor, but that shared sarcastic humor would be lost on him. What was also hard for me to come to grips with was Dylan and I probably wouldn’t share in those coveted father and son talks or those father and son moments that every father looks to share in with their son; those rite of passage moments wouldn’t come for us. It saddened me to think about those things. I also thought about the fact that he would never experience his first kiss, marriage, or children, or any of those things parents look forward to from their children. I was left with a feeling of despair and actually felt alone, like no one could know the depth of my despair. What a cold hard lonely feeling.

It didn’t take long before the feeling of denial and isolation turned to bitterness and anger. This was the time that I would blame my wife, myself and my God! Those were the times when anger and frustration crept in and darkened my thoughts. I asked myself, “what in the hell did I do for Dylan to turn out this way, had pissed God off, did I commit such a dark sin that this was my retribution for it?” “Maybe this was my wife’s fault, maybe something was wrong with her?” Those thoughts were soon replaced by blaming God. “It was all his fault!” I told myself. “God has caused this!” “What father would impose this sentence on one of his own children?” I continued to ask. I was angry at God and I was going to let him know just how angry I was! I felt like Job, I wanted to question him; hell I wanted him to come down in the flesh so that I could personally confront him. I would fight him man to man. I issued that very challenge to him.

The tears of sorrow that I cried, were soon followed by tears of anger and frustration. I was bitter! I was mad as hell at the world, at myself and at God and wanted everyone to know it.

I soon started trying to bargain with God, “God if you would please help my son to be able to walk and talk and understand. I will do anything.” I also thought that maybe if we only knew sooner that something was wrong with Dylan, maybe there would have been something that we could have done, or tried? I was definitely trying to bargain with God.

Then slowly depression came creeping in and I don’t know what my wife felt, but I truly felt like the weight of the world had been cast upon my shoulders. The dark abyss of despair heavily surrounded my soul and my very heart felt as if it was going to break. I began to feel sorry for myself, “How am I going to raise this child?” I stammered. “I am not worthy of this task. It will be incredibly too hard for me. I started feeling sorry for Dylan. “He is going to have such a hard life, other people will make fun of him. What are we going to do?” All these feeling of doubts begin to invade my mind and cloud my thinking. I would lie awake at night and ponder all of these questions.

Then finally a peace came over me when I saw Dylan doing his daily struggling trying to sit up, or to crawl, or to grasp a toy, or to stand. Watching him fall continuously, but never giving up. Always getting up and trying it again. He would fall, then up again. I thought, “My God I probably would have given up by now?” He didn’t. He wouldn’t. It wasn’t in him to. I was witnessing firsthand what a true fighter; a champion was made of. In a moment of selfish reflection I saw all the struggles in life that I had went through thus far, growing up in a poor neighborhood. Raised by a single mother who had to take on menial jobs to try to supplement the welfare and food stamps we received. The struggles I had to endure in the projects of Baltimore. I didn’t have a father around to teach me or to share in those father and son moments. I had to struggle to get up out of the poverty. I couldn’t quit. Failure was not an option. I had forgotten that. Dylan taught me that lesson that day. He showed me what it was like to be a warrior! I was humbled. God had used my little man to teach me such a powerful life lesson and I felt humbled that Almighty God would chose Terri and I to be the parents of this Real Life Super Hero! I had finally accepted the fact that we were chosen for such a special task. That was the day I stopped feeling sorry for myself and for Dylan and saw things for what they really were. (To be continued)

The Real Superman Part III

By Jeff King

The Real Superman Part III

Dylan was getting along very well, and for the first two years he continued to make strides. He could crawl and walk around the furniture. He could hold his bottle and there was nothing wrong with his appetite. He couldn’t feed himself, but he would eat anything that you would feed him. Dylan liked to hear you sing and he liked to watch TV; his favorite was SpongeBob Square pants. We used to take him out in the front yard where he would pull himself up by the fence and walk around the yard. We wondered if he would ever be able to walk, or if this would be the extent of his walking? We quickly came to terms with the fact that, he wouldn’t be able to walk on his own.

Throughout the next year, Dylan continued to improve, but he still could not walk on his own yet. I had one prayer that I continued to pray, “Dear God, all I want for Christmas is to see my boy walk!” Terri, was in agreement with me. We were invited to my brother-in-laws wedding and reception in September of 2005. I am an ordained minister, so my brother in law wanted me to say a few words at his wedding. I felt kind of awkward, because they had another minister doing the ceremony and I didn’t want to impose myself on her, but I agreed to do it anyway. Afterwards they had a nice reception and we were all there enjoying ourselves. Dylan was sitting on my wife’s lap eating and after he had his fill he scooted down off her lap onto the floor and began walking around the table holding on to the chairs as he went along, just then something miraculous happened; Dylan let go of the chair and began to run! I sat there tears welling up in my eyes! I could not believe it Dylan wasn’t walking, he was running! I looked at my wife and tears of joy was streaming down her face! I quickly got to my feet and started chasing him around. Everyone in the room was amazed. This was nothing short of the power of Almighty God! All the anger and bitterness that I felt, seemed to melt away right then and there! It was replaced with such an indescribable feeling of hope and joy! Our prayer had been answered, Dylan would indeed walk this Christmas! The boy wore me out that evening, but I didn’t once complain or tell him to sit down! That Christmas we were eyewitnesses to the power of God!