Monday, February 9, 2015

An Update on Jude

I wrote this post two weeks after visiting an alternative doctor in Florida hoping that he could help Jude. I just realized that I never published it, so I'm finally doing that. In the three months since, my fears have proven true that it was a complete waste of money. Jude is no different than he was before our visit. At least the kids had fun at the beach and we got to visit Mark and Jessi. I don't feel quite as hopeless now as I did when I wrote it, but I'm leaving those emotions in, because they're authentic. 

Below is the original post:

Many people have asked how Jude is doing since his doctor’s visit in Florida two weeks ago. Honestly, I haven’t known how to respond to those questions. 

What I do is smile and say is that we haven’t seen much of a difference yet, but we’re hoping it will have a more long-term benefit in terms of letting his body begin to heal. 

What I want to do is burst into tears and say is that we’re afraid the whole thing was a colossal waste of money that we didn’t have. And that it was pretty much our last idea for how to help him. And I’ve gone to the Lord in tears many times over the last two weeks, because the idea of him ever recovering from autism pretty much feels hopeless right now. Maybe that’s a little extreme and overly emotional, but it’s how I’ve felt.

Maybe I should explain more about this doctor. But first, let me preface it by saying that it all sounds super quacky and weird and we were skeptical, but we heard about this doctor through a good friend who is not someone to buy into quacky, weird stuff. She went to him to treat her lyme disease, and he has done wonderful things for her. We’ve talked to a handful of people, and they all have a similar story of being at the end of their options, finally giving this doctor a try, and experiencing almost miraculous healing. Real people. With whom I have personally spoken. When I called to make Jude’s appointment a few months ago, I spoke to the doctor personally and he said he’d treated many autistic children, and he was very optimistic that he could help Jude.

The doctor’s name is Dr. Jack Garvey, and he works at Sunridge Health Center in St. Augustine, Florida. I’m including that not because I want to give him bad press, because like I said, he’s done great things for many people, but because I tried googling for more information about him and what he does before scheduling Jude’s appointment and came up empty handed. I’m hoping this may help any others who are also looking.

What he does is something called Frequency Specific Acupuncture, which I think is misleading because it’s not acupuncture like you normally think of it.

The first thing he does is sit you down next to a machine that scans your body for viruses, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens. You hold this metal cylinder that is hooked into a machine which is plugged into a computer. Then, you prop your left foot up and he has a pen-like thing that’s also hooked to the machine. He changes stuff in his computer program, and touches the side of your middle toe. He gets some kind of read-out from that which tells him what pathogens you have in your body. This part takes an hour or two.

Because Jude was so little (and so uncooperative), he sat in my lap and I held the cylinder to his tummy under his shirt. I propped my foot up and he used it to scan. I asked him how the machine could scan Jude this way and not me, but Jude was too uncooperative (read: screaming and wrestling me the entire time) for him to answer me well. I think he managed to reply something like, “it just does.”

I told you this stuff sounded weird.

After he gets a print out of everything he found, his assistant writes in some numbers next to each thing. You go in another room, and there’s another machine. This machine has lots of black boxes plugged into it, and most people also wear headphones, but Jude wouldn’t tolerate those. At this machine, you punch in the numbers, and it will tell you whether to leave the machine on that number for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or 2 minutes. You just work through your list until you are finished. When you are an adult doing this for yourself, it is really easy and quick. When you are an exhausted, screaming 5 year old with the strength of an ox, it takes your mother holding you down with the boxes strapped around your waist, an assistant holding two boxes near your head, and another assistant punching in the numbers on the machine (that only happened one of the 3 days, praise the Lord).

This machine emits light frequencies that are specially figured to kill specific pathogens. Josh said he just read about a machine they’re using in hospitals that uses UV light to completely sanitize the whole room, even the parts where the light doesn’t necessarily touch. That’s kind of like what this machine does. Dr. Garvey compared it to an opera singer singing the exact perfect pitch to shatter glass. Hopefully one or both of those comparisons are helpful.

New patient appointments are 3 days in a row for about 4 hours per day. On Jude’s first day, he screamed and wrestled for the whole first part, and then slept for the whole second part. On his second day, he watched VeggieTales calmly for the first part, and screamed and wrestled for the second part. On his third day, he did really great for both parts.

All the money, all the driving, all the screaming, all the wrestling… we would do it all again five times over if it were worth it. But I’m so afraid that it wasn’t.

But that’s life with autism. We throw everything we have (and much more) into trying to help him. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes it isn’t. But what else can we do?

I feel like we’re at the end of our rope with treatment options. His DAN Dr. (which stands for Defeat Autism Now; she specializes in treating kids with autism) is completely perplexed that he is on such a strict diet of basically just meat, green vegetables, eggs, broth, kombucha, and filtered water, as well several prescriptions and a small health food store’s worth of supplements, and yet he isn’t getting any better.

She really wants us to get an infrared sauna, but they are so expensive. 

She’s recommended trying hyperbaric oxygen therapy again, but it’s a lot of money, a LOT of time, and we didn’t see any benefit from it last time, so we’re hesitant to do it again. 

Probiotic enemas would probably be really helpful, but I’ve tried giving him one, and let’s just say we won’t be doing that again any time soon.

I know this is long. Congratulations if you made it to the end. I don’t really know how to wrap it up, except to ask you to please keep praying for him and for us. Pray that God would heal him. And pray that God would give us wisdom. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Four Months Post-Placement

I realized the other day that I haven't posted an update on our foster care situation since two weeks post-placement. So here we are.

It's been four months since our family doubled. Mercy. What a whirlwind. Where to start?

Basic milestones: Little J graduated to a big boy bed. Miss H lost a tooth and has started reading chapter books. Jude and Miss T both got their first 6 year molars. The girls both had birthdays, Jude's birthday is tomorrow, and little J's is next month. Little J's thoughts, sentences, imaginative play, and sense of humor have all developed so much over the last four months, and it is so fun to see.

Christmas was miserably exhausting, but that was mostly because of Jude. The bigger he gets, the harder he is to control. And he didn't sleep well. The new kids all seemed to really enjoy themselves, although my introvert, Miss H, did have some anxiety about the big family gatherings. 

One funny thing is that the kids came to us believing in Santa. While I'm not going to debate the virtues or vices of Santa, it is not something we do. We had planned on having a don't-ask-don't-tell policy on Santa this year, where we didn't encourage the Santa talk, but we didn't just flat-out tell them he isn't real, either. But Miss H had so many questions in the weeks leading up to Christmas (and probably sensed our lack of enthusiasm for the jolly old elf) that the truth finally came to light, and we told the kids we give them gifts at Christmas because we love them, and as a reminder of the gift God gave us when he sent Jesus to be born on Earth and to live a perfect life and take the punishment for our sins so that we could live forever with God. Miss H was satisfied with that as long as she got presents. Only after Christmas did I realize that I'm pretty sure Miss T still believes he's real, but just doesn't come to our house. She, too, seemed ok with that as long as she got presents.

Speaking of Jude being difficult, little J has gotten to where he likes to imitate what Jude does, which is sweet except for the fact that we spend most of our time trying to get Jude to stop doing most of what he does. This means we now have two boys climbing on the furniture, yelling nonsense gibberish, spitting everywhere, making huge messes etc. it's so exhausting. Today Jude was throwing books from the bookshelf into the floor (a regular thing for him), and little J started helping him and actually said, "Yaaay! We're making a mess!"

Officially, we are still waiting for the paperwork to all go through before we can schedule the court date for their adoption. Our social workers tell us that this will hopefully happen sometime in the next couple of months.

Overall and considering everything, the kids are all doing really well. After some initial struggles, and then a relatively calm period, the girls' behavior has been a struggle again recently. I think we've finally figured out that we were changing too much on them.

We'd gotten to a point where I guess we figured that things were going well enough that we could start taking baby steps in an even better direction (for example, we've been singing the girls to sleep at bedtime, but then we started trying to only sing two songs and then leave while they were still awake, which was causing huge issues; I also started trying to work on table manners with the girls), and it totally backfired on us. Their meltdowns have gotten so regular and so intense that we realize now that what they need most is stability and predictability, not constant little changes in routine and our expectations of them.

We're also learning big lessons about self-care. Childcare has been a huge roadblock to time alone for us. In order to babysit three of our kids, a person has to be finger-printed and background checked through social services, and we don't personally know anyone who has done that. And while there are ways to find someone, we aren't going to just leave Jude with someone we don't know. Not because we care more about him than the other three, but because there is so much to explain and teach and go over with new caregivers for him. So many little details that we could forget. Not to mention that he is more difficult than all three of the others put together, so we just don't want to ask someone to take all four together, even just for a few hours. So for Jude we tend to stick with people who already know him and are familiar with his needs.

Anyway, so I said all of that to say that we just haven't figured out a way to coordinate childcare in order for us to have a date in the last four months, and we haven't even really been able to give one another sufficient alone time.

Add that to the fact that Jude, who had been sleeping great for most of last year, has regressed to being up half the night more often than not, and we are both starting to crack. We're figuring out a way to make a date happen... like THIS WEEK. Because WE NEED IT. We sat on the couch together for five minutes this afternoon while the kids all played outside, and I swear I heard angels singing. It was wonderful. I can't wait to go on an actual date. 

Let's not end on that note, though. Let's end with these two pictures. Because for as exhausting as they are, we really do love these kids so fiercely. And having siblings has been so good for Jude. We are so thankful for all four of these kids that God has given us. If you think our hands are full, you should see our hearts.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I am on A Way With Words!

On a whim a couple of months ago, I called in to the radio show A Way With Words to ask a grammar/lanugage question that had been bothering me for a long time. I was shocked, nervous, and excited when they said they wanted to feature my question on the air!

That episode finally aired, and it's pretty weird to hear my own voice on a national podcast/radio show.

I personally find all of every episode of A Way With Words interesting, but if you'd like to skip ahead to my part, you can start at the 16 minute mark.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

2 Weeks Post-Placement

Hi friends!

I figured it was time for me to try to sit down and write an update on how things are going with our new family size. In case you haven't heard, our family has DOUBLED!

Yep. Two weeks ago, we accepted a placement for 3 siblings: a 2 year old boy, and 4 and 6 year old girls. Needless to say, our lives have been a lot busier since then!

Guys. I just can't even handle how awesome this is. #fosterparenting

I'm happy to say that the kids have fit in so well with our family, and it has gone about as easily as adding 3 kids to your family overnight possibly could. Of course the kids have some age-appropriate behaviors that we are working on, but nothing concerning. They are generally so good, and the girls are so eager to help out around the house.

These girls are going to turn my hair gray with all of their drama, but they are gems and I'm so thankful for them. ❤️ They were so excited to help me with dinner tonight.

Jude struggled a bit the first week or so. I think he was overwhelmed with having 3 kids in his space all of the time, and he was likely feeling a bit sad about not having our undivided attention all the time. And on top of that, I was so busy with 4 kids that I kept forgetting to give him his medicine, which makes a huge difference in how he does cognitively and behaviorally.

But this week has been much better. I make sure to give him his medicine, and Josh and I have been more intentional about connecting with Jude one-on-one a few times per day. Our oldest has also gotten really good about trying to play and interact with Jude. It makes my mama heart smile every time. And it's good in a different way for him to fight over toys with the younger two, too.

Bedtime Bible story with our wild, wonderful crew. Each person in this picture is such an undeserved blessing to me. Our hands and hearts are so full. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

The kids' goal is already adoption, and we are told that we can start that process in 90 days.

I can't even put into words how much we feel God's hand in all of this. It's just amazing. Our hearts and hands are full.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Staci + Ryan's Wedding Sneak Peek

Hi friends! I just posted a sneak peek of pictures from Staci and Ryan's wedding last weekend to my photography blog, but since I haven't posted anything there in ages, I thought I'd share the link here, too. Their wedding was beautiful and perfect!

Click here to go see!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Non-Update Update on our Foster Adoption

You may or may not have wondered over the last year how our foster adoption journey has been going. If you see us regularly, you probably realize that it hasn't really been going anywhere at all, because we don't have any new kids.

It's been 10 months since we were approved for foster care through Sunrise Children's Services. We've accepted a handful of referrals during that time for kids from 2 weeks old to 12 years old, but we weren't chosen for any of them.

I didn't know exactly how the referral process worked before we got into this, so I'm going to assume that at least someone who reads this won't either. I thought that if we got a call and accepted a placement, then that child or sibling group was as good as ours. Not so. Usually several people will accept the same placement, so the child's worker will collect all of the homestudies and decide which one seems like the best fit.

There are several factors involved in choosing which home is right for each child: obviously the needs of the child are the top consideration, but we've learned that the convenience of the worker is also weighed. If it's between two ostensibly equal homes, but one is a 10 minute drive for the worker and the other is an hour drive, guess which one they're going to choose. I really can't say I blame the workers, but it just stinks when you live out in the middle of nowhere like we do.

We LOVE Sunrise. We really super do. Sunrise is a ministry of our Kentucky Baptist Convention, and if you are a member of a baptist church in Kentucky, then it's likely that part of your tithe goes toward supporting them. You should be proud of that. Our training was wonderful, and the post-placement support is apparently top-notch. One of the things we loved about going with Sunrise is that they hold your hand and help you out a lot more than the state caseworkers are able to. Being a Christian organization with Christian staff, it is wonderful to pray with them, receive Godly counsel, and know that they are making their decisions based on prayer and a desire to honor God.

That said, we knew going into it that we may wind up having to switch to going through the state. With Jude being nonverbal, our parameters for the children we will accept are pretty narrow. That, combined with us living in no man's land, has made getting a placement through Sunrise difficult.

We began the process of switching to the state a couple of months ago, and I'm told that we should be approved by the end of the day tomorrow. Everyone at the DCBS office has talked like we should receive a placement pretty quickly after that, so we'll see what happens.

We are so eager to have more kids in our home and in our family! Will you pray with us that the Lord would be pleased to do that soon?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Homeschool Room Tour

I know I'm a little late for all of the fun room tour blog hops that happened a few weeks ago, but better late than never, right?

Welcome to Theodore Roosevelt Academy. Also known as our basement. This is what you see when you open the door to go downstairs:

Well, hello there little classroom. Look, there are my boys picking up toys before the first day of school. That big red bucket of soft toys drives me batty, because it just always gets dumped out.

 I hung the curtains to hide some pipes on the wall, and I think they help cozy up the space a bit, too. The "Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort" is a quote from TR, and one that I thought was very fitting for a homeschool room. The world flags are a free printable from Mr. Printables, and were a crazy amount of work to cut out, but I love them. I added a few more countries that are near and dear to our hearts, but were missing from his original pdf (Moldova, Malawi, Romania, Nicaragua, and Poland). Before you get to that area, though, you walk past this spot:

The Veggietales growth chart is very precariously hiding the fuse box. "Comparison is the thief of joy" is another quote from TR that really speaks to my heart as someone who has always struggled with what I call "the grass is greener syndrome."

This was our classroom after the first day of school:

Oh look, now it's magically straightened up:

Beside the lockers is a dry erase calendar where I've roughly planned our school year. Seeing it all at once like this is priceless to me:

On the other side of the area is a reading tent that Jude hates (but the animals love, so there's that) and a few toys. Beyond that is my poor neglected craft area. You can also see the swing where Jude swings while we sing our memory verse of the week.

 Going back toward the stairs, I can't leave out the hammock and trampoline. They are crucial to our sanity on very cold and very hot days! Behind the trampoline is an office-y space where I do my printing and cutting and whatnot, and also where the file cabinet is that holds all of my plans for the year:

And I'm so excited to have finally found something to make our bare bulbs look a little more finished. I'd been searching and searching for something that would look nice, but not interfere with the light, since the basement is kind of dark anyway. These were pendant lights from Target that I got on sale, and I just took them apart. The big body of the CFL bulb holds them up on its own, otherwise I'd have been in trouble. I love them!

Well there it is! It isn't anything fancy, but I think we've made the most of it! If you homeschool, what does your area look like? Or if you don't, do your kids have a special place for homework or crafts?