Superman update!

So, Superman has been doing some walking in rehab with the help of a lift. He also has the ball in the picture that motivates him to move. On Friday he did a lot of walking with mine and his PT assistant. I am proud of the progress he making.

💜Update on Superman Dylan!💜

They took him off the ventilator yesterday, it was hard to watch him at first because he was choking and gagging a lot. He is doing much better today. Physical therapy came today and had him sitting up on the side of the bed first time in 21 days, he was getting tired from it. So he is resting now. He did have a fever overnight. So far today he hasn’t had fever. His blood pressure was a little low overnight. Baby steps but he his headed in the right direction. The chest Xray shows some improvement on in his lungs, but he still has ways to go. He has been doing a lot of wheezing today. I have been suctioning him a lot today, it is bring a lot of the junk up from his chest. He was happy to see you balls today but he didn’t grab for them yet. I think the chest tube is to painful for him to reach.

The Real Superman Part XIX

The Real Superman Part XIX

By Jeffrey King

Dylan is 12 years old and as I have explained in previous blog posts he still wears diapers. We were putting out a lot of money on diapers, wipes, etc. We were actually thrilled when we discovered that Medicare would pay for his diaper supplies. It has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. Without that help there is no way we could afford to keep him in diapers. Before he began to have seizures Terri and I and his teachers at school all were trying to potty- train him. We were having some positive results, until he begin to have the seizures, which have robbed him of so much cognitive abilities. He has regressed so much that everything that he once learned or knew has long since disappeared.

I know that there are plenty of special needs parents out there who experience the same things that we have to experience on a daily basis. It never fails when we’re out and about, Dylan has to go in his diaper. We have a small Hyundai Sonata and there are many times that we have to find a parking lot to change him. I usually pull into the back of a parking lot away from any parked cars. I pop the trunk, which I leave it opened to actually block the back window. I grab Dylan’s Superman Backpack and take out a diaper, some wipes, a plastic bag and some hand sanitizer. If it has been hot out, the wipes are usually hot, so, I usually keep a bottle of water up front with me to cool down the wipes, and of course in the winter the wipes are cold and quite often frozen, therefore, as you can imagine, not a pleasant feeling. Regardless this is a necessary evil that has to be taken care of, because we don’t like to let Dylan sit in a dirty Diaper. One afternoon while we were out Dylan done his business and I pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot. I drove to the back lot by some trailers. I popped the trunk retrieved the materials that I needed to change him. As I was changing him, suddenly a car pulled up; of course it was a police car. The officer got out and approached our car. Terri rolled down the window to greet the officer. He immediately asked her if everything was okay. She explained that I was changing my son and explained to him our situation. He was very kind and told us to have a nice day. I knew one day that this would probably happen. We have had other people ride up on us. I guess they are trying to be nosey. It is a shame that even though most malls and department stores have family restrooms where you can change your child; the changing tables are only for infants and small toddlers. Companies really don’t take into consideration families that have special needs children, or family members that they need to care for; that includes toiletry needs. It is my hope that one day this will change and companies will begin to take into consideration these people.

Two years ago we took the family to a theme park. I will not disclose the name of that park, but I will say one of its roller coasters has the name of this titled post. We had Dylan in his Wheelchair/ stroller and we were going to the rides. I have to say I was impressed how they accommodated Dylan and all special needs individuals when it comes to their amusement rides. They allow people with disabilities and handicaps to get on the rides first and let them come through the exits, so as they do not have to wait in line with the crowds. We were having such a good time and we decided to visit their water park. I took Dylan in the bathroom to change him, but was shocked to find out that they didn’t have any family restrooms with any changing tables. I had to take out a sheet that we keep folded in his diaper bag and had to lay it on the floor right by the sinks, because there wasn’t any room in the stalls to change him. Luckily there wasn’t anyone in the restroom at the time and one of the security guards came in. He kept everybody out until I had finished changing Dylan. What a great person he was and I thanked him several times.

After we finished at the water park, we decided to go to one of the shows that the put on in their outside theater. This particular show was a Wild West stunt show. We entered into the arena, which had posted on the outside on a sign “No Strollers allowed in the seating area” I didn’t think anything of it, because Dylan’s chair was actually a wheelchair. Anyway while we were headed to the handicap seating area a security worker came up to us and said, “I am sorry sir, but you cannot bring the stroller in here, it has to be left outside.” I was furious I immediately left and went to find the customer service building to complain about this policy. I got there and told them that this policy was wrong and that this chair is considered a wheelchair. The manager agreed with me and gave me a coupon book with free food coupons. He apologized and called the theater. They sent the security worker up who promptly apologized to me and took me and Dylan back to the show. They brought us up front and we watched the show and all the stunt actors came up after the show to personally greet Dylan and my two other children. They made good on a mistake and I was very pleased with their handling of this situation. I did an online survey about the incident. On the form they had a place where you could enter a comment. I entered this. “I was pleased how your organization handled this situation. I really have only one concern. I would wish that you would consider installing special needs bathrooms for people with special needs.” I added some other things, but that was the most important thing I felt needed addressing.

AS I said before I know there are plenty of families that know our experiences. There are also others that don’t have to consider what we have to actually deal with on a daily basis. It is my hope to bring awareness for parents and families that have children, or family members with special needs that have to deal with these type of issues. I know many companies have stepped up their game to accommodate us folks, and we surely appreciate it, but there is still work to do. We still have other issues that have to be addressed. You see on the daily news about people being brave and standing up for issues that they believe in.  We are hoping that people will stand up for people like Dylan and others like him. We have to be their voice, because many of them don’t have one. We have to be their advocates. Please stand up with us! Thanks! AS always, the Real Superman will continue! Until Next time!

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 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 VI

By Jeff King

The Real Superman Part VI

Dylan was a pretty amazing little boy. He was learning so much and could do so much, but we were learning from him as well. We learned patience, which is something I Sorely lacked. I finally understood what the meaning of unconditional love. How Dylan was and is the very meaning of that term.  We were watching the brain slowly developing right before our very eyes through this slow process that was going on in Dylan. I was already a compassionate person for people with disabilities. I believed myself to be the defender of the defenseless and I can still remember until this day when I was fourteen years old and me and two of my friends were walking up the street. About fifty yards ahead of us was a man probably in his early twenties. He was intellectually challenged, or what they called at the time mentally retarded. Such an ugly hateful word. This young man was walking along going about his business, not harming anyone when three older teenage boys begin to tease him. I heard them calling him hurtful names, like Retard, Freak, Mistake from God, Gimp, Idiot, and such ugly evil words. They were yelling this at this man. I was behind them while it was going on. The more they teased and laughed at him, the angrier I became. I started screaming, “Leave him the hell alone!” They just laughed and continued to harass this poor man, but what one of them did next, was the final thing I could handle. They had hemmed the poor man up against a sticker bush and one of the punks pushed him into them. I became enraged! I felt my adrenaline pumping inside me, I heard my heart beating in my ears and in a blind rage I ran up to the older teenagers and begin to push them into the sticker bushes! I started punching them and kicking them. There were three of them and they were bigger and older than me, but I didn’t care. My only concern was for the gentleman that they had been bullying and teasing. I let go of every ounce of my anger and let all three of them have it. By the time my two friends had caught up to us I had successfully beaten every one of those assholes up. We all helped the young man up who was now crying and visibly shaken! I asked him his name and he told me that everyone called him Happy Jack. Later on I found out that Jack was indeed his first name. As I got into my house later that evening, I started to cry myself. How could anyone be so cruel to such a sweet innocent being. The world we were living in was very sick and twisted.

I added this story because, when I look at Dylan, I can see the hate that people will have towards him. I can imagine the pain that he will have to endure at the hands of evil people like these teens were. After Dylan was born and it was determined that he was indeed intellectually challenged, that incident came back to me fresh as it had just happened. My question was would Dylan have a defender if he was ever in that situation? Who would be his voice? Who would be his fist if need be? I long realized that this world is full of cruel people that would harm him. It saddens me.

I made a vow that for as long as I live and as for long that there is a beat in my heart and a breath in my lungs that I would always be Dylan’s defender. I would not be alone, because my wife feels the same way and his two siblings have also stated the same thing.

This has also been a journey for my other two children as well. Growing up with a special needs brother hasn’t been easy on them. Throughout the years they have cut ties with friends who made fun of Dylan, my daughter also is like me when it comes to people with special needs; she is a defender of the defenseless. She has stood against hatred and teasing of other children by other children that she went to school with. It hasn’t been easy on them, but, they have learned to be champions for others and I am proud of them!

This journey that was chosen for us has been an incredible one. It wasn’t a road that we chose for ourselves, but if we had the chance to do it all over, I believe in my heart that Terri and I would choose to have Dylan again. I am a firm believer that God doesn’t make mistakes and although the universe has dealt us this hand, I believe when it is all said and done, we will come out holding Aces! (To Be Continued)