We need help…

I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to admit that my family needs help. Of course the financial cost of our journey with Sean is a pretty expensive one, but that’s not the help I’m referring to in this post.  Somehow we figure that out. We make our deductible payments and copays.  We squeak out the money for the supplements and treatments each month. Kelly works overtime and I’ve been working two jobs since the spring.  We make it work.  When you come to our house, you’ll see we could really use some new carpet, we have a couple of new holes in the walls that need to be fixed, a couch that has a few holes in it, and a refrigerator with some dents on the side. This is mostly due to Sean unfortunately, but not entirely.  Would a lottery win be helpful? Sure would, but that obviously isn’t realistic. So until we slowly replace things, please just look the other way. 😉

What we really NEED is respite care.  We are not the only family in our similar situation that needs this help. I have talked to many parents who need it and can’t get it. You can pay for respite out of pocket, but it’s expensive and if we had that kind of money, then this post wouldn’t be needed.

Today, we found out that the therapy hours we thought we had set up are not going to work out. I’ve been off all summer from school thinking that I was all set for returning to work on Tuesday and found out today that we need to pick Sean up earlier than we had planned.  That means that I have one business day to figure something new out.  To say that I’m upset and frustrated is an understatement.  I love his clinic, but I really do not think this is fair to us, but like my mom used to always tell me–nobody ever said that life is fair. So it’s the next set of cards that we’ve been dealt and Kelly and I will figure it out.

However, it dawned on me today that it comes back to not having respite care.  If we had respite care and help with picking him up from therapy each day, it would really matter if the time changed. (not that I wouldn’t still be upset, but it wouldn’t feel like time to panic a bit)

There is a process in Michigan to receive help if you do not qualify for Medicaid.  (I have a whole long story for another post about what a ridiculous government mess that was last summer.) You have to first apply to Medicaid, get denied, and then get put on a waiver list.  We did this process.  It should have taken about 30 to 60 days max, but instead it took close to six months.

There are about 68 waivers given out in the state of Michigan. (I’ve been given a few different numbers all in the 60s so 68 is pretty accurate.) That is not per year.  That is at one given time ever, for the whole state. I was told that Sean was in the “middle” of the list in Macomb County.  There are 83 counties in Michigan.  I can only imagine how many kids are on that list waiting for someone to age out at 18 or pass away. That’s pretty much the only wait to get the waiver in our state.  I also found out that the waiver isn’t just for autism families.  It is for any child whose family doesn’t qualify for help through Medicaid.

Not long ago, I went to a meeting at the Macomb ISD for parents of special needs kids to find out about services and help available to them in Michigan.  I was really excited because I naively thought there might be some help out there that I wasn’t aware of for us. I ended up leaving after about fifteen minutes after realizing that they were going to share all these great things…BUT only if you qualify for Medicaid. I actually raised my hand and asked the presenter if this was true. He said yes and I got up and left.  I wonder how many people in Michigan are receiving Medicaid when they really shouldn’t be?  That’s for another post too…

Parents are actually given the advice of quitting their jobs and qualifying for Medicaid. I know at least two families who were told they could divorce on paper and then likely qualify as a single parent household.  Really? Families that are struggling every day with children who have been dealt a pretty unfair hand in life (in my opinion) can’t get any relief or help unless they cheat the system? I think this is wrong and I want to change it.

Things with Sean have been extra difficult lately and it seems to be hitting us at every angle. In the last few weeks, we found out that our insurance is partially denying ABA services, our favorite and most helpful neurologist is closing his practice, Sean’s speech services have been cut and his hours are now changed too,  On top of all of that he’s weaning from abilify and although he’s having pretty good days at therapy, he’s a bear at home as of late. He is destroying things. Spitting on everyone and everything. Smearing poop. Hard to get to sleep. Being really mean to our pets. Not listening like he used to. SO.MANY.HARD.BEHAVIORS! 😦

Honestly, I feel like giving up.  I know that I won’t, but I’m so tired of fighting and so tired of one hurdle after another. It’s hard not to feel hopeless at times.  If I didn’t have my faith, I honestly don’t think I would make it.  In fact, I know I wouldn’t because even with it, I’m having a hard time lately.

It dawned on me tonight.  Maybe all of these hurdles are just pushing me to do something to change this for not only my family, but others too. This mom is beyond tired. This mom is upset. This mom is feeling defeated. But this mom isn’t giving up.

The gloves are on…

 

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Let’s talk about sleep…

One of the hardest aspects of life with Sean is the lack of sleep. I don’t really talk about it unless we are in a place of sleep issues.  I don’t believe in jinxing things, but I swear every single time someone asks me how he sleeps and I say like a champ…we have a rough night. I’m talking about it, so you know what that must mean…UGH!

We went through a terrible spell a few years ago.  He would have 2-3 nights of pretty much no sleep, or at least very little every week. Kelly was still living in Indiana and until Autumn moved here, it was pretty much just me to deal with it. I was obviously still teaching full time being a single parent and it was an extremely difficult time in life. I am very grateful that I no longer have to do this alone, but that post is for another day and another time.

Unfortunately, when the no or little sleep happens, he obviously cannot be left alone. We went through a period of about 4-6 months in which the only way I could get him to chill out a bit and allow his brain to calm down is if I took him for a car ride. Thankfully, we lived with my mom for most of that time and Liam could just stay home with her and sleep. I have been known to swing through the Tim Horton’s drive through at 2 am for a cup of coffee. I guess that’s better than buying something off of every single infomercial watched like my mom used to do when she couldn’t sleep! LOL When Kelly and I were looking for houses, I would take Sean through neighborhoods scoping out for sale signs when it was daybreak and I could see. Today, he wanted me to vacuum at 5am.  This is a very odd request and not like him at all.  We do have a new vacuum cleaner, so perhaps the sound is soothing or something.  At any rate, my main floor is all vacuumed by 5:30am. I guess I can feel good about being a little productive!  I didn’t even wake anyone else in the house up. Perhaps they all find it soothing too.

Sean won’t snuggle.  He won’t chill out on the couch and watch a movie or tv program.  He won’t play on his iPad.  If he’s up he usually wants to eat, go for a car ride, run around the house, jump off anything that he can, go in the backyard, or get into some sort of mischief that often includes soap–usually hand soap, but sometimes dish soap.  So, when you’re up with him, there’s usually no relaxation involved, sadly.   I can’t really complain because at least he lets me sit down.  You might be scratching your head with that one.  Remember that really bad stretch of sleep we had a few years ago before we started treating PANDAS and traveling down the biomedical route? Well, if we weren’t driving in the middle of the night, we were home.  When we were home, Sean refused to let me sit most of the time and he was RELENTLESS about it. I’m sure some people reading this are thinking…refused to let you sit? You’re the parent…why would you allow that?!  Well, let’s just say, it’s REALLY easy to question that or judge that when you are not living it and I’ll leave it at that.

We have come a very long way since then and I am happy to say that he usually sleeps like a champ and at least ten hours a day. Although every once in awhile he reminds me of how hard life was back then by either not falling asleep until the wee hours of the morning, or he waking up way too early–like today.

Sean had his last dosage of abilify on Thursday night. Friday was an amazing day at therapy.  One of the best reports I’ve received in a long time. I was hopeful that the CBD oil was really working some magic. I still have hope for it though because I think his behavior and night waking is because we decided to stop the last half pill of abilify now before I return to work next week.  I am praying he has this hard behavior out of his system before then.  The doctor said cutting abilify shouldn’t affect his sleep, but it has every time we’ve shortened the dosage as we’ve been weaning.  So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that we are sitting here in the middle of the night as the rest of the house and I’m pretty sure neighborhood–sleeps!

The older I am, the more difficult it is to bounce back from lack of sleep.  It’s a chelation weekend, so I’ve already been getting up through the last two nights and .  Today, Sean woke up at 3:45am for the day.  That wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been to bed before 1am. I taught four classes last night and then had to give him his chelation cream at midnight. It took me awhile to fall asleep and so it was a 1am bedtime for me. Fortunately, it’s the weekend and I will be able to nap today.  However, like I said, it definitely takes longer to bounce back as I get older.  All of the stuff I had planned to get done or do today will be affected because I’ll nap when I wasn’t planning to and then I will likely feel like junk much of the day.  This will also throw off Kelly’s plans for the day too. Man, I remember in my twenties when 3 hours of sleep would probably be just fine.  If not, I could nap a bit and bounce right back.  Not anymore! Maybe this is God’s way to help me prepare for when I am older and my own body won’t let me sleep anymore.  😉

There is a very good reason that sleep deprivation is a form of punishment.  Everything is harder when you are exhausted. EVERYTHING! I have found that when I have consistent decent sleep I feel like I can conquer the world…or something kinda like that.  However, when I’m desperate for sleep and feel exhausted for long stretches, I kind of want to throw in the towel more easily. Sometimes the littlest hurdle will feel like a mountain. I’m anticipating this to be a short phase related to the weaning of the medicine. I think/hope we’ll be just fine soon.  (Please God– tonight!)

Yesterday was a particularly hard day overall for Sean.  It was rainy which means no pool time.  That’s never good. I was school clothes shopping with Liam so Kelly was left to deal with Sean’s crankiness. He was pretty irritable throughout the day and actually kicked a hole in our drywall going up the stairs. Lovely. I wasn’t home when it happened, but apparently, he wasn’t even angry. It just came out of nowhere. I’d say it’s definitely related to weaning of abilify.  That dang abilify! That’s two holes in our drywall during the weaning of this medicine. We haven’t had holes made in walls since we started treating the PANDAS.  Maybe a few dents, but no holes. I find that depressing as I really try to keep a nice home, but he makes it not so easy sometimes. I’m sure I’ll post more about that in the future.

Thanks for “listening” to me. Let’s hope we are on the upswing of things!

It’s a Chelation Weekend…

Well, it’s a chelation weekend in the Lowhorn house.  What does that mean exactly?

We found out in the spring that Sean did indeed have high levels of mercury as well as elevated levels of lead. Kelly and I really were not surprised, however, it was good to confirm with a test.

In addition to about five prescription medications, Sean is on many supplements and also uses a chelation cream every other weekend. This is called a “round” and we can get about three rounds out of one $115 bottle of DMSA chelation cream container.

From Friday after therapy until Monday morning before he goes back to therapy Sean has chelation cream applied every three hours. We rotate the spot of where we put it for it to be absorbed into his skin. It has to be applied an hour after and an hour before any sort of medication, supplement or vitamin.  That’s the tricky part…oh and the middle of the night applications can be a little tricky too. 😉 He’s done about 7 or 8 rounds.  We are anticipating continuing for a good year or two.  Our biomedical doctor is hopeful that this will bring words back.  I sure hope so.

He’s on quite a biomedical protocol right now.  It’s pretty expensive and some months we struggle to swing it, but we find a way because we believe in it.  Dr. V was the first doctor that really gave us hope and looked into what was going on on the inside and didn’t just try to medicate him with an anti-psych med.  He was the first doctor to give us hope that we could truly help Sean.  Unfortunately, he is closing his practice in October. We now also see Maria and BioEnergy Medical Center in Ann Arbor.  She is amazing! Sean’s infection level is the best it has been since we first found out he had PANDAS.

We can’t stop now. In fact, we just started CBD oil with him and I think it’s going to be a really good addition to his protocol.

I hope to be able to share some positive and amazing posts soon. Please pray for our little guy!

Sean takes the following medications and supplements.

They are renewed every 4-6 weeks. 

Complex B capsule, B-12 spray, Zinc, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Activated Charcoal, and Melatonin

 

 

The Journey Begins

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Admittedly, I am not a perfect writer. I’m certain that I have run-on sentences, errors in punctuation, and mediocre word choice.  However, I have a story to tell.  I have a journey to share. I am the mom to six “children” (two are actually adults).  Four of those kids are technically my stepchildren, but in my heart they are all just my kids.

My husband Kelly and I officially combined our families nearly five years ago. We have three daughters and three sons. Yep, just like the Brady Bunch.  Our youngest son, Sean is almost ten and is the inspiration behind this blog. Honestly, he’s the inspiration behind a lot in our family.

Sean has autism. Sean has PANDAS too.  But these two labels do not define him.  They make his life a struggle at times, but it’s not who he is.  So who is he then? Sean is such a beautiful boy.  He has a terrific sense of humor.  He has a pretty strong stubborn side to him too.  He has amazing eyes and a dimple which will melt your heart.  Sean is so smart. He’s not smart in the ways that kids are typically “tested” for intelligence, but that doesn’t mean he’s not intelligent.  If you really get to know Sean, he touches your heart in so many ways.  He’s my biggest challenge in life. He’s changed me more than anyone else I’ve ever met. There are days that his behavior makes me want to throw in the towel and just give up.  However, on most days he helps me to stay determined and keeps my fighting spirit alive. He is my heart and I am his voice. I’ve been fighting for him for nearly a decade and I’m not about to stop now–even on the hard days and nights.

Sean is severely affected by autism and PANDAS. So often autism is shown in the media as a movie or television character with just some quirky behavior.  Sean is not Rainman. Sean is not The Good Doctor. Sean doesn’t just have a few quirky character traits. Sean is non-verbal.  Sean has had seizures in the past (most likely from the PANDAS), but they are controlled with medicine. Sean gets really frustrated at times because he can’t communicate with words.  Trust me, he communicates in other ways! Sean is a little boy who works really hard at therapy every single day.  Sean is the youngest in our family (aka number six) and he is very loved.

As a special needs mom, I often feel pretty lonely on this journey. My husband is fantastic and is a true partner, but he’s not a mom, if that makes sense.  It’s not often that I meet another mom that I think can really relate to all of this and truly understand. I belong to multiple FB groups, but there is one in particular in which I can relate the most to and it’s because it’s a group of parents, mainly moms, who have kids similar to Sean. I can vent there. I can empathize.  I can really struggle there and they “get it” pretty well as their children have similar behaviors and struggles.

I want to document our journey, but I also want to connect with other moms who can relate. I want to give hope and encouragement to others. I want to share the truth about this journey.  I hope I’m able to do it all justice…

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton