Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Current Truth: Part 3 - God's Glorious Light

First, let me apologize for taking so long to get this posted. I know that many of you have been watching my blog and most likely worrying about me. Thanks you for your thoughts and prayers - it is precisely because of them that I can write this post!

God is good.

In the midst of fight ing the darkness and accepting my current truth, He has continually dropped things into my life reminding me of His presence, His plan, and His love. He is the light in every aspect of my life. Today I want to share with you some of the many things He has put in my life to help shine light on my path as I continue in this journey.

The people - oh the amazing people God has blessed me with. To name a few, my mom, Kara Dennis, Stephanie, Irene, Janice G., Erika, Lara, Ashley, Jenn, my amazing husband, my dad, my nana, Kathy C., Pam Mann, Paula, and the list goes on and on and on. To give you a little more detail on how God is shining His light in my life I want to tell you about 2 of these people in particular - Kathy & Irene.

Irene and I became friends several years ago when we found ourselves working in the nursery together. I actually took her job while she was on maternity leave, and when she came back we got paired up working early service together. She then started working with my for Ladies' Class and took my spot when I was on maternity leave. Irene is precious. She's a friend that I can call and say, "I need you to pray about something for me," nand know that she will. One of Irene's sons has Autism. They often sat behind us or near us during church and when I would hear her son it always made me smile because I new my friend - who I came to know is an AMAZING mom - was nearby. I always admired Irene and her husband for how well they seemed to handle life and it's many circumstances. Needless to say, when I began having concerns about Tripper I called Irene. Isn't God amazing? Irene and I became friends when Tripp was an infant. Lots of peopel didn't even realize we knew each other because outside of the nursery we weren't really in the same circles of people. But God not only knew we were friends, He planned it that way. Irene is a brilliant shinning ray of God's light in my life!

Kathy and I have known each other for a number of years as well. In all honesty, other than hellos at church and the very rare occaision to chat a minute or two we really had never had a conversation until the last 3 months. Kathy was always someone I wanted to know. She just seemed to me to be so very real, and quite funny to boot! I had her middle daughter in B class a few years ago. This summer I was doing some chidlcare for our pre-school board meeting (Kathy is one the board) and I had her kiddos. During the course of that day Kathy told me that her oldest had been diagnosed with Autism. This was about the same time I was really starting to think that might be what Tripp is dealing with. Then a few weeks later I found out that she and Paula (another name on that list up there) were needing someone to watch two of their kids during the fall semester. I took the job. Did I mention that Kathy uses the same pediatrician we do? I ran into her last fall in the doctor's office while we were in the process of Vivian's millionth (well, not quite) ear infection and found out that they had been through it too - and that they used the same ENT we were using. Fast forward a few months and you'll find me realizing that we have to take our son to Temple. And moments later realizing that Kathy and her family have been down this road - in truth are going down this road only a few steps ahead of us with their second daughter. I told Kathy that we were going to Temple before I even knew for sure that was what would be happening. She is now someone I see almost everyday. And every time I see her I get a hug - and it makes the day better. I know I can cry or laugh or talk or pray and Kathy will listen and join in. God takes everyone on a journey - Kathy's and mine just happen to be along similar paths right now and I am so very grateful that God sent her to help light the way.

Now, how else is God's light shinning? Can we say music? Music has always been soemthing that impacts me strongly. God is using that to send me messages almost daily now.

Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in Lord, stil I will say....Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be your name

Many other songs are touching me these days. I'm horrible at knowing who sings what, so I won't try. What I will say is that every time I get in the car I hear something on KSBJ that remind me that he has it under control and he will give me everything I need. I would also like to tell you how God used Mark Shultz.

I went to the Women of Faith conference a few weeks back. Friday night we're all sitting there enjoying ourselves and the host for the night starts introducing a surprise guest. Mark Schultz is there to sing for us all. I thought to myself "I know that name - I think I like his songs." and I clap witht he rest of the arena. My friend Kara was next to me and she was about to come unglued she was so excited. So, I'm listening and enjoying everything and Mark Schultz begins to tell a story. As I listen I realize that he's about to sing a song that has been haunting me for weeks. The song is titles "He's My Son." It's a daddy praying that God will make his son healthy, that God will never leave him, that his wife can have some peace, that he would take his son's place if he could. It is a gut wrenching song - the chorus ends with "See, he's not just anyone, he's my son." He's my son. I've fought back the tears many times listening to this song. As he finishes the set up for it (it was written about a young boy that had cancer) something in me comes unhinged. I began to sob. I leaned over into my mother's open arms and cried and cried and cried. She held me and loved me and let me hurt because she knew it was the first time I'd let myself really let any of it out. I'm told that everyone in our group was brought to tears - I wouldn't know. Al I know is that as Mark Schultz sang that song I wept. And then this amazing thing happened. As the song ended and I struggled to gain my composure Mark says that his favorite thing about that song is singing it knowing that the little boy is now 23 years old and cancer free!!!! Light. God's glorious light of hope and reassurance was so bright that I cried out in joy.

God's light has brightened my days in many other ways, from the love and prayers of all of you to the fact that he created the banana (the only whole food that everyone in my house will eat and enjoy!). God's love shines brightly everywhere I look. I do have to give one more shout out to a friend before I stop writing. My friend Lara recommend a natural supplement that she has used to help her combat depression. We've talked many times about that struggle that we share and I knew that she wouldn't recommend something to me that didn't actually help her. I've been taking it (5-htp) for almost a week know and I can honestly say that I feel better. I don't feel medicated, I still cry, I'm sleeping better. More than any of those physical things though, I feel like I'm better able to see the good things in my life. Sometime we get so clouded with the noise in our head that we need some help calming it down enough to hear God.

I don't know where this journey is leading. What I do know is that God is the one I'm following. The path my not be easy. I may fall. Scratch that, I will fall. There will be times I can't see where to put my next step. There will be tims I feel all alone. There will be dark times. THere will also be places where the path is smooth enough to skip with joy. There will time of great fellowship. And as I continue on this journey it is my fervent prayer that I can in some way help light the path for others.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Current Truth: Part 2 - Fighting the Darkness

So, as I'm sure you can guess from Part 1 of this little series, I've been a little stressed out. Add to my concerns about Tripp the fact that Paris started the Big K, I started my new job at church, T&V both started Sonshine School and what you have is, well a lot of change and a lot of stress. I thought I was doing OK with all of it and then the last month hit.

Let me backtrack just a bit...over the last 6 months or so I've had a significant increase in migraine headaches. After experiencing the worst one of my life I decided I had to get some help and that it made no sense to just endure 1-3 of those things a week when there is help out there. I was hesitant though, because I didn't want to just get put on some kind of preventative medication. I wanted the cause to get fixed. I'm not at all interested in being told I need to put some synthetic chemical into my body every day for a potentially endless period of time. I went to my doctor - she's an internal medicine doc - and she said she wanted to do some blood work and a brainscan (CT) before we starte dany course of treatment. OK. It took 2 weeks to get all that done and the results in. One of the things she tested was my thyroid (more on this in a bit). Results: sinus drainage. Are you kidding me?!?!

In the three weeks or so since I made that original appointment I begin talking with my mom and several friends. Bottom line is, I'm concerned about my health - physical and mental. I've been down a lot. Scary down. Sit on the couch and let the kids watch TV and eat snacks for dinner because I don't have it in me to do anything else down. It hasn't been constant, but I've been down more than I've been up as of late. There are a host of other things going on that don't make sense to me. My hair is falling out. I'm holy cow tired. I've had a couple of dizzy spells. My tummy hasn't been my friend much lately. Concentration on anything is competely out of the question. So, after speaking with those mentioned above, I went back to the doctor on Friday ready to get some answers or a referral or something.


I was told that my symtpoms are just stress. Really. I was told that my thyroid is "good and normal." I'm not sure I beleive that. the TSH test results have a "normal range" of .4-4. Mine was a .6. Does that seem like it's in low range of normal to anyone but me? Doc insisted that my thyroid is fine. She said most of symptoms are those associated with stress and indicate depression. She would be happy to give me some pills, but understands if I'm not ready to do that at this point. In the meantime I am to finish my antibotics to clear the sinus infection. Turns out the the "drainage' the nurse reported to me was actually a completely occluded right sinus cavity. When I'm done with the meds they will do another scan to be sure it's clear and then we will go from there.

I was not happy with all of this, but felt like there wasn't much I could do. I didn't want to start on some anti-depressant because I felt better this week - and I don't like medicine - and surely, surely I'm not there again. I've been through a major depression before. I can't possibly be on that path again, can I? This simply must stop. I can not put my family through THAT.

Well, Friday I had a nice, honest talk with my mom over lunch and was assured that getting some medicinal help is by no means a representaion of failure. That it's possible that even though my modd was better this week, my body is manifesting all my stress with this myriad of issues. I love my mom. She is aways patient, and she waits until she thinks I'm ready to hear something before she says it. And no matter how much what she says may rock my world, I always know her heart is beating right along side mine on this journey and that her love for me will never change. She's taught me a lot about showing God's love.

Since I'm writing my current truth I must admit that my mood has tanked today. It has a lot to do with the fact that my husband got assigned a project in Midland. I dropped him at the airport on my way to church tonight. He'll be back Wednesday afternoon. Our first parent-teacher conference is tomorrow. Easy says I can call him and put him on speaker for the conference. I know he's trying, but that is so not the same as him being there. Plus that means 3 nights of stinky sleep (I don't sleep well at all when he isn't here), and three days of it being all me when it comes to the care of our children. I tried hard not make him feel bad for doing his job, but it was all I could do to keep from balling at the airport. It doesn't take much for me to burst into tears these days. (hey, that's another hallmark of depression.)

So here I sit, fighting the darkness. I would honestly love nothing more than to tuck in all my children, turn out the lights and watch junky TV. Then I'd like to sleep for a very long time and tomorrow I would like to just be alone. But that's not going to happen. Instead I will get up in the morning after not enough restful sleep and try my absolute hardest to be a good mom. To love my kids the way they deserve to be loved. To not let them sense that Mommy would really rather go crawl in a hole. To feed them, and play with them, and maybe even teach them a few things. To pray with them. To know how to answer Paris when she asks why something is different for Tripp than her (like why I bought him a bunch of calculators and her only one). To know what the best course of action is to getting my son the best possible help. And I'll try to be a good wife and not fall apart when Easy calls to check in. I'll tell the kids about how hard Daddy is working so he can take care of all of us. I'll choke back the tears so their precious little hearts don't have to feel my pain. And when the day is done I will crawl on to the couch and cry as quietly as I can so they won't hear. I'll cry and pray and beg God to make me better. To make my son better. To give me the strength to fight off the darkness that seems to close in when I least expect it. And then I'll wake up, lean on Him and try again to be the best I can be for a day.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My Current Truth: Part 1 - Tripp

It's been weeks since I posted. They've been hard weeks. It's time to get honest. I started this blog to help hold myself accountable and perhaps help some people along the way. I can't do either of those if I'm not being honest. So, take a little journey with me if you will. It may take a week for me to get it all posted - probably in three parts. Have patience as you read, and please, if you feel the urge to pray for me and my family - do it. Were it not for the prayers of friends and family and the amazing grace of God I'm not sure how we (or at least I) would have made it thus far without my sanity coming into question. So here we go.........Part 1 of My Current Truth: Tripp

I'm not sure whether to start at the current spot and then give history or bring you on my journey from January to present. I guess since many of you already know where we are I'll choose the first option.

About a month ago Tripp's speach therapist (Ginger) finally said that she thought it would be best to have him referred for evaluation by Scott & White's Austim Team in Temple. So, there's the hardest part. Autism. I can say it out loud without choking most of the time now. We don't have an actual diagnosis at this point and we can't get in to see the team until December 17th. But, I think you'll see as I share what got us to this point that it really doesn't matter what the team says - we've had to accept that our precious, brilliant, loving, number-obssessed boy just doesn't process the world the same way we do. Here's how we got to today........

Tripp has always been "laid back" about most things. His physical growth has always been normal (though he's a bit on the skinny side!). In truth, he was a breath of fresh air after Paris. Don't get me wrong, Paris is phenomenal from head to toe, heart and soul - but she was (is), shall we say, a bit more high maintenance than Tripp was as a baby and toddler. We often laughed and joked about how anal-retentive he seemed to be as he got older. He always lined up whatever toys he was playing with....perfectly straight. The cars would all be facing the right way and if he realized you had turned one around he would simply correct the error. He's always flapped his hands when he gets really excited and happy. He's always spent more time on his toes than his feet. All cute things that seemed to make Tripp the most adorable boy ever - and he is the most adorable boy ever!

Well, about a year ago Tripp started going to Sonshine school one day a week. He really didn't speak when school started. Once he got settled he seemed to really start blossoming. By the end of the first semester I remember thinking - finally, he's talking! He was a little over two then. The truth is, however, that he counted more than he talked. He acquired a few words like juice and please, but for the most part he just new his numbers and would count anything he could - he even counted when there was nothing to count. I decided to put him in for two days the next semester since he seemed to do so well and was at least using his voice for something other than the whiny-cry or grunt we had become accustomed to interpretting. We also started potty training over Christmas break - we're still working on that by the way.

Once school started back in January I started to put some things together in my brain (remember, I have a psych degree), and I was a little unsure about what the picture was turning out to be. The counting increased quite a bit. Tripper truly has a gift with numbers. I realized though that he was using numbers to self soothe. Then the poop smearing started. We went through several months where every so often Tripp would poop during "rest time" and paint his room with it. This is when I started to loose it I think. I did everything I knew to stop this behavior. I even spanked him - it didn't seem to register and the look of pain on his face was pure torture. After one such experience I found myself laying in his bed with him, trying to calm his tears and wails and I just started crying with him. I remember saying along the way to both my mom and my friend Dasha that I was afraid I was going to screw him up. That allowing him to obssess over numbers combined with my reactions of extreme frustration over the potty training challenges was going to really just screw him up.

In late spring I decided to take him in to the pediatrician. He had been having a lot of snot off and on since like October. I thought he had allergies, but I was tired of wiping his nose non-stop so we went to the doctor. He had a sinus infection - bad mommy, he'd probably had it for 3 or more months by the time I took him to the doctor. To my credit, he never ran a fever and the snot would come and go so I didn't think too much of it. Anyway, at the encouragement of my mom I decided to talk to the pediatrician about my concerns when it came to his speech development and behavior. What I told the pedi was essentially this:

He plays with his poop. He tippy toes. He counts things endlessly. He lines things up precisely. He has a very short list of people he will make eye contact with or allow to interact with him. He knows numbers, letter, shapes, colors - but he can't have anything resembling a conversation. I haven't cut his nails in over a year because he chews on them. I know that any of these things by itself is nothing to be concerned about, but when I put it all together I'm conerned. What do you think?

He said, "I assume your conerned about Autism Spectrum Disorder?"

Me: Well, yes. I just don't want to over react, but I don't want to dismiss things either. Maybe my degree is just making my paranoid.

He said,"Well, it probably is making you a little more sensitive to what seem like red flags to you. You know, we really can't tell about Autism much until kids start school and we really get to see them along side other kids their age. I think we should just keep an eye on things and see how it goes."

I should really not use quotations there - that's from my memory, so I'm sure it's not EXACTLY what he said. And just in case youaren't sure about my thoughts on his opinion - I think it's a bunch of poo.

Me: OK. Well, what about his speech? Do you think he's on target for his age?

At this point I began to sense that he was slightly tired of our conversation and he said that we could "go ahead and do a referral to speech if it would make me feel better." At least it made me feel like I was doing something so I jumped on it.

I think that's when reality started to settle in for me. Our first session with Ginger was wonderful. She listened to everything I needed to say. More importantly, she watched Tripp. She interacted (or at least tried to) with Tripp. She didn't just chat with me while he milled about. Instead she focused on him while I answered her questions as best as I could. By the end of the session she was telling me that when we were ready she could refer him to see the Autism team in Temple. No business about him being too young - just an offer to help when the time came.

We've been seeing Ginger for several months now. About two and a half months ago as she was working with him during our normal time with her and she asked if we wanted to go see the team or if we felt good about the progress we were making. I wasn't ready and I hadn't really talked much with Easy about it so I told her I wanted to stick to what we were doing, but I wanted her assurance that when she felt like we needed to go she would tell me. Her response changed my world. She said, "Of course I will. I think it will be in the relative near future."

During the next month alot happened. Tripp spent a week with my folks (with his sibings) and his reaction to being away from us was hard. It took him nearly a month to re-bond with his daddy. It seemed that only I could do anything for him without him melting into a pile of tears on the floor. It slowly got better and he and Easy are back to their normal deal now. I had a long talk with my mom and after having a week engulfed in "Trippness" she said that she thought he would probably wear an ASD label at some point. That was hard to hear, but I trust my mom's opinion about kids after all the years she spent in education - some with an Autism unit on her campus. I processed stuff personally all month and then finally found the courage to talk with Easy. I told him that I fully expected Ginger to say it was time the next time we went in. It was a hard conversation. It was painful for both of us. In the end we decided that we would indeed go if Ginger felt it was appropriate.

Well, she did think it was time so we started the proces sof referral. It took 4 weeks to find out when our appointment is, and as I said at the beginning of this - it isn't until December. So now we are waiting. We don't know what to expect but there are a few things we know to be true:

God is good.

God made Tripp exactly the way he is.

God is good.

It doesn't matter what label our son does or doesn't need, we could never love him any less.

God is good.

Tripp brings joy to this world.

God is good.

Easy and I are united in praying for God's will in this situation.

God is good.

At the moment that is what I'm hanging on to.