Just a follow up! I said that we have had to deal with all sorts of people that has really made our journey that much more difficult. I closed the blog talking about a little boy that came up to greet Dylan and just shared his love and acceptance of Dylan, just the way he is. That little boys’ mom should be very proud of him. She is raising him to love and not hate, to accept people with differences! Bravo to her. I also want to share an amazing and humbling event that just took place about two hours ago. This helps to restore my faith in mankind even further. As Terri, Dylan, and I were leaving Wal-Mart, I was approached by a gentleman with two young daughters. I thought he wanted my cart, which I would have gladly given to him, but that’s not what he wanted. He says to me, “Hey, I want to let you know, I understand how difficult it is raising a child with special needs. I have a daughter who is special needs herself. I want to give you this.” He said handing me something from his hand. I actually wasn’t sure what he was giving me, but, then he said, “Please have dinner on me tonight.” I thanked him as he and his two beautiful little girls walked towards the entrance of the store. I stood there in amazement for several seconds, before I looked at the bill in my hand. I was both humbled and overwhelmed. In my hand was a brand new 100.00 dollar bill. I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I continued to stand there dumbfounded for several minutes. I slowly put the bill in my pocket and got in the car. Terri noticed right away that something was wrong, so she asked me. A few hot tears began to streak down my face. I was at a loss for words. I finally said, “Give me a minute. I regained my composure and fished the 100 dollar bill from my pocket and placed it in her hand. She looked at me shocked. “Where did that come from?” she asked. I told her what had just happened and the tears began to well up inside me once again. She said that she noticed the man looking at us as we were putting Dylan into the car. We snapped a picture of his truck! This is why I continue to hold out hope. It is these type of things that restores my faith. This man was truly an Angel in every sense of the word. He didn’t know me, or my situation, but he felt compelled to help us. That is the real meaning of tithing. That is what God truly expects from us. To reach out to others to give anonymously expecting nothing back in return. There is no doubt that this man will be blessed tenfold. For the stranger that gave of himself freely, I want to say thank you and may God bless you abundantly.
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.)
This is just a little poem I wrote for my son Dylan, My son, my hero, my inspiration! I Love you!
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/
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 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)
By Jeff King
The Real Superman Part II
We went home and together sat at our computer, we googled triplication of chromosome 15 at that time there wasn’t anything written about it, however, a few things did come up in our search one was duplication of chromosome 15, or Isodicentric chromosome 15 syndrome. We began to read about it. For more information you can read about Idic 15 at the following websites http://www.dup15q.org/understanding-dup15q/what-is-dup15q-syndrome/
By reading this material we had a little better understanding of what Dylan was going to be like, but these were duplications of the chromosome and not a triplication. We read that 1 in 30,000 newborns are born with this. We read about the developmental delay that the children have, behavioral difficulties, mental retardation, autism, seizures and just so much more. It was truly overwhelming. We stumbled on an organization that was called Unique The Rare Chromosome Disorder Support Group. They were based in the United Kingdom. We wrote to them about what the geneticist told us about Dylan.
Several days later we received an email back from them and they informed us that they believed that Dylan had Idic 15. They signed us up with their organization and sent us a welcoming package that had names of other families who had children with rare chromosome abnormalities. There were families in the United Kingdom, and even many in the United States that had children who had Idic 15. We didn’t feel quite so alone anymore. We would identify Dylan’s disorder with Idic 15, however, he didn’t have a duplication, but a triplication of the 15th chromosome, so we still didn’t really know what to expect?
We contacted the Maryland Infant and Toddlers Program and was entered into Child Find. The sent out a team of assessors to see if Dylan qualified for this program. We shared with them all of Dylan’s health records. After the initial assessment it was determined that he qualified for help and right away they set up home visits from physical, and occupational therapist. These visits would go on once a week and they were not fun for Dylan and made us have to go outside on several occasions. The therapist would come in and ask us a slew of questions before they began to work on Dylan. This was done by twisting and pulling and contorting his little body in every way imaginable. He would scream and cry; it was heartbreaking for us as parents. They brought in a giant exercise ball and would place Dylan on it and roll him around on it. By doing this it helped to loosen up his tight muscles.
Dylan’s therapy went on for several excruciating months. He didn’t like whenever the therapists would show up, because he knew that they would make him work his body. We didn’t like to hear him crying in pain, but it was a necessary evil. I probably was the father from hell towards the therapist, because I would yell at them. They would always make me leave the room. I did start to notice that Dylan began to be able to do things that he was unable to do when before the two therapists showed up. He could now crawl, grasp items and then, he was able to sit up.
Dylan seen these two ladies twice a week for a year and the results were amazing. In the meantime, I had begun blaming everyone for the way Dylan was born. I never told her at the time, but I was sure it was my wife’s fault, perhaps it was the doctor’s fault, or even God? I then started blaming myself and beating myself up over it. It is hard to explain the darkness that some people go through when something like this happens. The tears that I cried and the anger and bitterness that was eating me drove me further away from my wife and my other two children.
I continued to angrily question God, “Why in the hell would you allow this to happen to this child? What kind of cruel God are you?” I’d scream through bitter tears. It was in one of those tear-filled rages that I looked at Dylan. He had now been able to pick himself up off the floor and navigate himself around the room using the furniture for balance. Then the words I heard echo inside of my ears and stabbed me right in my heart! “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! Look at your son, he is awesome! He is a champion. No matter how hard it has been on him he hasn’t given up. He has fallen down thousands of times, yet he still gets back up!” That day my 16 month old son taught me the most valuable lesson I have ever learned in my entire life and if I could share this with anyone this is very important. Never, ever give up! If you falter, or fail a thousand times, a million times; keep fighting the good fight! It was at that very moment in time my whole life changed! Dylan hadn’t given up on us and I would be damned if I would give up on him! (To be continued)