A Ventography!

Just two moms letting off some steam


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LEAH AND MOLLY UNLEASHED

We escaped. We left the 20 mile radius we tend to “do life” in and went to the big city. We were Thelma and Louise – minus the crime spree. We left autism at the door. We were free!

But don’t think that freedom didn’t come at a price. We had to leave lunch and dinner ready to heat up, supplements ready-to-go, and instructions for every possible scenario.

Our agreed upon departure time was noon, however, I was ready to go by 9:30am. Molly – not so much, as she is chronically late. It was not for lack of enthusiasm, she just couldn’t find an outfit she felt was “big city shopping” worthy.

First stop – Kohl’s. Thanks Elizabeth for the great tip you gave us about the cute paisley dress! Unfortunately, they did not have it in our size. We failed miserably at finding stylish summer dresses. They were either too grandma, too fattifying, or too hoochie coochie.

So, we aborted our mission to find dresses as a replacement for our daily, unflattering, comfy, stretch pants and t-shirt ensembles. We decided to focus our efforts on make-up instead.

One little hiccup… how do you match make-up to blonde/pale orange hair? That’s right – I tried to fix my hair fiasco and walked away with shockingly orange hair. The cut is a million percent better, but the color is… well, a picture speaks a thousand words…

Not so pretty.

We headed for the Bobbi Brown section at Nordstrom’s. But were scared off by the sea of clown faced, Chuckie doll make-up artists beckoning us to their counters. We said, “Sayonara” and trekked across the mall to Sephora instead. The make-up artists in Sephora all looked like they had come back from a rave. We asked ourselves, “Are we out of touch? Where is the dewy, fresh-faced make-up we long for? Is it out of style? Why does it elude us so?”

As soon as these thoughts crossed our mind, we were accosted by a woman with flaming red hair and make-up to match, asking us to sit in the make-up chair for a consultation. I decided to go for it (Molly gave an evil cackle as I was the guinea pig). To our surprise, my make-up artist was pretty darn good. She listened and was patient and I walked away with an everyday make-up look I can be proud of. According to Molly, it makes my eyes “pop” and my face “glow from within” (minus the two “blemishes” on my cheek). Look how much fun we had in Sephora…

Molly’s turn. Molly is a fan of Bare Escentuals and insisted on going to their boutique for a consult on how to do eyes and lips. We had to wait for Molly’s appointment, so we decided to get a cup of tea to kill the time. We were shocked and dismayed when they told us the amount we owed for two measly cups of tea… we had to take out a second mortgage on our houses! Since when has tea become $5.00 a cup??

The make-up gal Molly was assigned to in Bare Escentuals looked like she was all of 13 years old. Molly requested a natural, every day look. However, she walked out sporting 10 pounds of very “un-natural” purple eyeshadow. We wondered if the girl has been formally diagnosed with MLD, “Make-up Lingo Dyslexia.”

Molly decided to risk the clown faced make up artists at Nordstrom’s because she had become obsessed with this picture which she saw at the Bobbi Brown make-up counter:

We don’t ask for much in life… was it too much to ask for our make-up to look like this… our definition of dewy, fresh-faced, 2012 make-up?

Back to Nordstrom’s we trotted. Molly got right in with the make-up artist. She asked the lady to re-create the look in the picture. However, on Molly, the eyeshadow did not look quite the same. On a twenty-something, the glitter looks pretty, but on a 30-something mom, the glitter was a little too disco. But the make-up artist did a similar look (minus the sparkles) and Molly was thrilled.

We learned a valuable lesson – don’t assume clowns can only do clown make-up. If we are ever allowed out of our cages again, we plan to make another appointment with this lady to learn additional make-up looks.

What a successful day. Both Molly and I left the mall feeling pretty, the closest we’ve felt to our pre-autism selves in a long, long time. We actually spent 6 six hours without thinking about or discussing autism, even once. We were refreshed.  We had a new pep in our step.

Molly walked in her house only to be greeted by her husband who said, “What’s up make up face?”

WHOMP WHOMP… feelings of prettiness flushed down the toilet. Maybe Molly should have gotten a matching hoochie coochie dress to go with her new “face” after all.

Up next: We’re starving… new diet is in jeopardy. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of “Recovering from Recovery.” -L&M

For more “New Year, New Us” posts and our ongoing quest to recover from recovery, go to: http://ventography.wordpress.com/category/new-year-new-us/.  How are you “recovering from recovery?” Please share with us your tips and suggestions.

A shout-out to  http://puzzledmommy.wordpress.com/ – we love https://www.birchbox.com/. Since we don’t get out much, we love having the alternative of the latest and greatest make-up products coming right to our door. Great find.

A shout out to Rob who had the dishwasher unloaded and Annie’s bed made when I got home. You’re the greatest. -Molly

L&M CONFESSIONAL: We know we are giant hypocrites. We just blogged about the toxic ingredients found in make-up. We had good intentions to find healthy, organic make-up. But once we saw the illustrious Bobbi Brown picture, it was all over for us. Our willpower was gone. We were a marketer’s dream. We fell for the promises made by that picture… that we too, could look like doe-eyed twenty year olds and we need poison make-up to do it. Please forgive us.


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MOLLY’S GUIDE ON HOW TO ANNOY YOUR DAN! DOCTOR

ANNIE’S STORY – PART SIX OF TWELVE

After Annie’s regression, I saw some encouraging gains from starting her on the Gluten Free Casein Free Diet (GF/CF) and some basic supplements. I had read all about the Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) protocol and was anxious to try it. I knew I was at the point where I needed professional help in order to get Annie to the “next level.” So, I found a DAN! doctor and made an appointment as soon as possible.

The doctor’s first step was to order tons of lab testing – blood, stool, urine, etc. The results confirmed what I already knew; Annie was a sick little girl!

Since Annie was already on the GF/CF Diet, her doctor wanted to begin by addressing her food allergies. According to the lab test, Annie was allergic (“sensitive”) to just about everything. Her doctor asked me to eliminate all the foods she was allergic to for 60 days. This was another drastic diet change. On top of eliminating gluten and casein, I no longer let Annie eat corn, soy, additives/preservatives, food coloring, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, and numerous fruits.

I was overwhelmed. I had to learn to make everything from scratch. This was not easy for me since my idea of cooking was heating something in the microwave or thawing a frozen dinner. Annie seemed to hate everything I made. But after a period of trial and error, and a lot of help from my mom, I finally found new things she would eat. After 60 days on the elimination diet, Annie’s gut issues were significantly better and her language took another jump. Even though her doctor said I could add back in some of the foods Annie was allergic to, I decided to keep her on the diet. I didn’t want to do anything to cause more inflammation to her gut.

Next, the doctor wanted to attack Annie’s yeast (candida). He wrote us a prescription for Diflucan and I filled it right away. But once I had the pills, I was too scared to give them to Annie. I just stared at them every day, but couldn’t bring myself to give them to her.

This was the beginning of what Leah and I call my “supplement graveyard” – where supplements go to die. I have a cabinet, filled with supplements, that I once thought were going to be the “magic bullet” for Annie. But now, I have given up on them for various reasons and yet, I still can’t bring myself to throw them out. They are like my pets. I admit it – I am a supplement hoarder.

But back to Diflucan. From what I had read on the internet, Annie would have to be on and off of Diflucan (or other, even stronger prescription antifungals) for a long time in order to keep the yeast under control. To me, that just didn’t seem like it would be healthy for Annie in the long run. Since I had made a vow to follow my “mom instinct,” I opted not to give her the pills and explained my rationale to my doctor at my next appointment. I asked him if we could try natural antifungals instead. To his credit, he did not make fun of me or put me down and agreed to follow my intuition.

I tried probiotics, grapefruitseed extract, olive leaf extract, monolaurin, caprylic acid, uva ursi, and oregano oil. I tried them in various combinations and potencies. I rotated them. I tried everything to make them work. But the lab tests proved I was doing little more than keeping Annie’s candida in check. It hadn’t gotten worse, but it wasn’t any better either.

My doctor and I were at a stalemate on the yeast issue, so he moved on to other suggestions. He helped me add several key vitamins as indicated by Annie’s lab tests like: Vitamin D, Riboflavin, Magnesium Malate, Zinc, Co Q10, GABA, and Inositol. He told me to give Annie Melatonin and 5HTP to help with her sleep issues (they helped her fall asleep, but then she’d wake up at 2am ready to rock-and-roll). Lastly, he prescribed Methyl B12 shots to be given every 3 days.

From these additions, we saw more exciting progress. Annie’s vocabulary continued to grow, she was more aware, less stimmy, and her sensory issues were better. The most dramatic change came from the B12 shots. After a month of the shots, Annie was back to the social little girl she was before her regression. Once again, she marched right up to kids desperately trying to play and talk with them despite her limited language.

Next, my doctor spoke to us about chelation. He believed Annie could benefit from EDTA suppositories, since she had extraordinarily high levels of lead in her system (along with plenty of other heavy metals). I read about EDTA for myself and learned about the possibilities of chelation disturbing mineral balance in the body and/or the heavy metals doing additional damage to Annie’s brain on their way out of her body. The risks seemed too high, so I declined and asked my doctor if there was anything else we could try.

He suggested nebulized Glutathione as a way to improve my daughter’s immune system and perhaps, get the body to chelate itself. Well, that process was a nightmare. I had to wrestle Annie to the ground and try to hold a mask on a kid with sensory and anxiety issues! Not fun. And on top of that, it made her horribly hyper and stimmy. I wanted to try oral or topical Glutathione next, but the doctor informed me that they often lead to a yeast outbreak so, I gave up on Glutathione altogether.

Our doctor, bless his heart, was still willing to work with me despite all of my neuroticism. His next suggestion was the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber. Once again, I did my homework. But this time, I had a good feeling about it. For some reason, it made sense to me. I felt like inflammation and lack of blood supply to the brain were at the core of Annie’s issues and it seemed logical to me that hyperbaric could really help. I was beyond excited. We drained our savings in order to buy a home hyperbaric chamber. I could not wait to get started. I was fully expecting a miracle.

To be continued…

NOTE: I want to make sure that nobody thinks I am bashing DAN! doctors or the DAN! protocol. The DAN! doctors I’ve encountered are amazing human beings who truly want to help children with autism (in fact most of them have children with autism themselves). I know the DAN! protocol has recovered or improved the lives of many children and families struggling with autism. For Annie, I believe the DAN! interventions we did improved her health dramatically and laid the foundation for what was to come.

FOR PARTS 1-5 of ANNIE’S STORY: http://ventography.wordpress.com/category/annies-story/

For information on:

DAN! protocol: http://www.healthinducedautism.com/overview-of-dan-approach.html

Elimination diets: http://www.healthinducedautism.com/elimination-diet-allergy-diet-information.html

Allergy therapy: http://www.healthinducedautism.com/allergy-therapy.html

Candida treatment: http://www.healthinducedautism.com/candida-yeast.html


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GETTING OUR GROOVE BACK ON – MOLLY AND LEAH STYLE!

MOLLY AND LEAH 2012 VERSION

In January, we made the bold decision to “recover from recovery” and reclaim our old selves.

We were in a rut and utterly exhausted from putting so much time and effort into getting our children healthier. We were slowly lulled into apathy. First, we gained some weight. Then, we no longer felt like getting dressed up, nor did we have the money to keep up with the latest fashion trends. Then, because we looked so sloppy, we were too embarrassed to go to the hoity toity hair salons that could give us a chic haircut. Then, to add insult to injury, we even stopped putting on make up. We had spiraled out of control.

Well, no more… we are returning with a vengeance (but a snail’s pace)! Meet Molly and Leah – the 2012 version.

We have kept our promise to make time for exercise. We tried running, but our bladders did not cooperate. Then, we moved to fast walking but found that our gabbing prevented us from keeping up our pace. Next, we tried doing yoga DVDs at home. We thought yoga was supposed to be peaceful and relaxing. Instead, we found it to be a torture session and we hated every minute of it. So we moved on to Pilates. We now have 2 Pilates DVDs that we enjoy doing. They are helping us tone up and we find them to be stress-relieving. Problem solved.

We knew exercise alone would not help us lose the weight. So, we made changes to our diet as well. If we could put so much time and effort into the health of our children, why not us? We tried to do the South Beach Diet, but of course, we decided we know better. We tweaked it to be South Beach “L&M style.” Even though we are not following every detail of the South Beach diet, we are proud of ourselves. We are eating healthier than ever and we are sticking to the game plan. We eat similarly to our children now. Sugar and processed foods are no longer in our diet and we are eating more vegetables than ever. Yay for us!

But maybe South Beach “L&M Style” is not as great as we think because the other day, when Leah asked Tom (her husband) if she looked any thinner, he remarked, “Yes – your shoulders look thinner.” Just what every gal longs to hear from her husband after starving and exercising for weeks!

Our diet and exercise plans were going well, so we decided to tackle our hair issues next. We had been on the hunt for a decent stylist for 2 years. Then, one day, I thought I had struck gold. I called Leah to tell her about my award-winning hair experience. I pressured her to make an appointment immediately. Two days later, Leah found herself in the stylist’s chair but sadly, she didn’t have the same experience. Things went bad fast. An hour appointment turned into a three-hour, whoopsie-doo, salon owner must fix, we feel so bad about your haircut, the cut’s on us visit. Leah left with a Dorothy Hamill cut in the front and a 1980s Salt n Pepa haircut in the back. Not the haircut that dreams are made of.

Our kryptonite remains workout/comfy pants. Our excuse… bloggers need to be comfortable. We cannot be expected to be creative in skinny jeans.

Next on our agenda – fix Leah’s hair disaster, throw out 10-year-old make-up, and learn how to put on dewy, fresh-faced, 2012 makeup. We’ll keep you posted.

Anyone want to join us in “recovering from recovery?”

-L & M

P.S. – WANTED: the perfect shade of lip gloss for blondes… all suggestions welcome.

For other “New Year, New Us” posts go to: http://ventography.wordpress.com/category/new-year-new-us/


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SUPPLEMENTS – OUR NEW NORMAL

 

ANNIE’S STORY – PART FIVE OF TWELVE

The Gluten Free Casein Free Diet turned the lights back on for Annie, so I knew I had to keep going. Next up, supplements.

I decided to begin giving Annie a multi vitamin, enzymes, probiotics, and fish oil (EPA/DHA). After I pain stakingly made my supplement concoction, Annie would give it a sniff and spit it all over me as soon as the first few drops would hit her lips. My hands, my clothes, and my whole house smelled like rotting fish. I thought, “I can’t live like this.” But again, the voice in my head told me to keep going.

Even though I didn’t think she could understand me, I told her the supplements were not a choice. It was obvious, from looking at her, that she wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed from her food.  She was malnourished from all the diarrhea. It was “do or die” time. I knew if I let her get away with refusing the supplements now, she would never take them. I explained I was giving her these things to stop her diarrhea and to help her feel better. I tried again to give the supplements and she went to spit them out, again. So, this time, I closed her mouth and held it until she swallowed. She looked at me like I was the meanest mother who ever lived. But you know what? She looked at me!

My mom and I went through several days of holding Annie to get her to take the supplements. Any time I contemplated giving up, I thought about parents who have to hold their children down for chemo or radiation… they don’t want to do it, it hurts them to see their child in pain, but they know it’s what is best for their child. If they manage to help their child deal with all sorts of needles and scary equipment, I could certainly get my child to take some vitamins! After a week, Annie gave in and realized this was simply our new way of life and it wasn’t worth the energy to fight it. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

I had written down every word Annie ever said before she regressed and to my surprise…within a few weeks of Annie taking the supplements, she had all those words back plus a few more. I realize now how lucky this was since I’ve had plenty of friends and acquaintances who’ve tried supplements with few gains. Supplements were not a miracle cure for Annie… we still had to deal with diarrhea, dark circles, rashes, toe walking, motor deficits, social deficits, language deficits, and sensory issues up the ying yang. But I was encouraged never the less.

Time to take this to the next level and get some professional help. DAN! doctors here we come.

To be continued…

For Parts 1-4 of Annie’s Story: http://ventography.wordpress.com/category/annies-story/

For more information on supplements: http://www.healthinducedautism.com/a—d1.html


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THE AUTISM RECOVERY JOURNEY BEGINS

ANNIE’S STORY – PART FOUR OF TWELVE

After Annie’s regression, I spent three months being held hostage by depression. I spent my days crying and praying Annie would come back to me to no avail.

On her second birthday, something made me “snap out of it.” I started hearing a loud clock, ticking over my head, reminding me I had no time to waste (this clock still plagues me to this day).

I was ready to take action. If early intervention was key, I was ready to intervene. I was a computer researching madwoman.

One day, while reading about therapy for autism, I stumbled on the words:

Autism – Recovery is Possible.

This was, for me, another defining autism moment. Those four words gave me the hope I had been missing for the last several months. I had never heard children could recover from autism, let alone did I know anything about how health relates to autism. My brain was on fire with excitement. I did not leave my computer for the next week. I read about special diets, supplements, chelation, etc. until I thought my eyes would fall out.

“Sign me up; where should I start?” I asked myself. The Gluten Free Casein Free (GF/CF) diet seemed pretty low risk. I called my mom to ask her what she thought. She thought it couldn’t hurt, so I immediately called my husband and asked him to meet me at Whole Foods Market (even though it was 8pm). I had him watch Annie so that I could concentrate on buying a whole new array of foods.

I made Annie go GF/CF cold turkey and she was not pleased. Prior to the diet change, she lived on cheese and pizza. Annie went on a hunger strike and I contemplated throwing in the towel, but something told me to keep going… I had to at least give it two weeks. Prior to the diet, Annie walked with her head down and arms out to the side like a robot, making strange “gunk-gunk” noises all day long. Her noises were like nails on a chalkboard to me.

After 2 weeks of the GF/CF diet, it was like a fog had been lifted for Annie! She actually looked up for the first time in months. She even looked in my eyes occasionally. I felt like she was aware of my presence again and she cared whether or not I was around. She started using a few gestures and even a word here and there to communicate with us.

Although the GF/CF diet certainly wasn’t the dramatic cure for Annie that I read about on the internet, her subtle improvements were enough to keep me going. I knew I was on the right path with the diet, but I needed to keep adding more building blocks.

Up next…supplements. I was off to the races!

To be continued…


Annie’s story Part 1 http://ventography.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/the-super-nanny-episode-that-changed-my-life/

Annie’s Story Part 2 http://ventography.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/the-prequel/

Annie’s Story Part 3 http://ventography.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/the-straw-that-broke-the-camels-back-annies-regression/

For more information on the GF/CF Diet go to http://www.healthinducedautism.com/gluten-freecasein-free-gfcf-diet.html.


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MOM’S VITAMIN D LEVELS LINKED TO LANGUAGE PROBLEMS IN CHILDREN

Summary of New Study on Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy:

  • Adequate vitamin D levels among pregnant women may be important for the optimal development of their baby.
  • Language difficulties increased twofold for children whose mothers had the lowest level of vitamin D, compared with children whose mothers had normal levels of vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D levels among pregnant women have decreased steadily over the past 20 years.
  • Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, noted that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk for preeclampsia (a condition marked by increased blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy) and the need for a cesarean delivery.
  • Taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy may relieve the problem.
  • Pregnant women should be increasing their vitamin D intake to levels recommended by the Endocrine Society, which is 1,500 to 2,000 IU a day.
  • Women who are deficient in vitamin D may need as much as 10,000 IU a day.

We both know that we had low levels of Vitamin D during our pregnancies with Annie and Brody. We wish we would have known this information. One more piece of the autism puzzle.

To read the full article, http://news.yahoo.com/moms-vitamin-d-levels-linked-language-problems-kids-170207935.html.


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THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK – ANNIE’S REGRESSION

ANNIE’S STORY – PART THREE OF TWELVE

To refresh your memory… Annie had just recovered from back to back assaults to her immune system – a negative reaction to the varicella vaccine, rotavirus, and a brown recluse spider bite.

I then made the brilliant decision to take Annie to a children’s water park for a day of fun. Much to my dismay, Annie took several sips of the nasty water while at the park. The water was contaminated with “God only knows what” from all the toddlers with swim diapers running around in four inches of standing water.

Two days after our visit to the water park, Annie started having diarrhea with a vengeance! This was not your ordinary, run of the mill diarrhea. She had it at least 8 times a day. It came out with such a force that it could shoot across the room (right past her diaper). It was almost chalky white in color and had a smell so bad that I cannot find the words to describe it. The diarrhea would eat her skin off, making her look like she was covered in acid burns that eventually bled and scabbed over.

Every time the diarrhea came, her entire body would tense up, she would begin to shake all over, and then let out a blood curdling scream. She could not eat or sleep. She turned ghostly white and got severe dark circles under her eyes. She began to walk on her toes (I thought it must be due to her gut pain). Even though she hadn’t eaten in days, her belly was bigger than ever… swollen and bloated like the kids you see on television that are starving to death.

The only time we left the house was to go to the pediatrician for another useless visit… only to be told she has “toddler diarrhea” and that it was normal. “NORMAL!” I screamed. I knew there was nothing normal about what we were experiencing. That was the last time I set foot in that pediatrician’s office.

After the diarrhea persisted for a month, I realized that Annie’s personality had changed dramatically and she didn’t seem to be snapping out of it like she did during previous illnesses.

She didn’t seem to notice when I walked into the room anymore. She wouldn’t look at me. She wouldn’t respond to her name. She didn’t want to read together. She wouldn’t talk or answer questions. I thought – well, who wants to talk when they feel sick? She’ll get her words back. But they weren’t coming back.

Annie started playing in unusual ways… lining things up, doing the same things over and over. If I tried to interact with her, she would grab my hand and escort me to another room… her way of telling me to go away without words.

She started covering her ears even when there was no sound. She was doing it in anticipation that something might be too loud or anxiety provoking.  She didn’t want to play with other children anymore.

I knew we had a big problem. I took her to the Emergency Room to see if they could figure out why she was still having diarrhea. They did a stool test and determined she had super high levels of salmonella. I was again advised to let it run its course.

Two weeks later, I got a call from the state department of health. They wanted to educate me on how to prevent the spread of salmonella in our house. Did I know to clean my counters and my hands after touching raw meat? Questions of that nature. (Apparently, hospitals have a duty to report cases of salmonella). I tried not to get offended.

The lady on the phone then proceeded to ask me how I thought Annie got salmonella. I told her she got sick right after our visit to the water park. Her interest perked up when I mentioned the water park. She asked me if we had been to a particular water park during a particular period of time and I said yes.

She let me know that there had been a massive outbreak of salmonella from the very park we visited and that the children’s water area had been shut down for investigation. Just my luck.

Now I knew what was causing the diarrhea, but still had no idea when or if my daughter’s personality and developmental milestones would return. After two months, the diarrhea lessened (to a couple of times a day), but there was still no trace of the Annie I used to know. What had stolen my little girl?

Then came the life changing Supernanny episode that I wrote about in a earlier post. The episode that gave me a name for the thief that stole my daughter… AUTISM.

I knew that my daughter was trapped in a different world. I’d like to tell you I immediately took action and started trying to bust her free, but that would be a lie. The truth is, I became paralyzed. I went into the second worse depression of my life and did nothing but cry and pray this nightmare would go away for the next three months.

To be continued…

Annie’s Story Part 1 http://ventography.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/the-super-nanny-episode-that-changed-my-life/

Annie’s Story Part 2 http://ventography.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/the-prequel/


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THE PREQUEL

ANNIE’S STORY – PART TWO OF TWELVE

You heard the story of when and how I first realized Annie had autism. Now, I want to back up and tell the story of what happened prior to my night of Supernanny hell.

Annie had a rough birth experience. My epidural was turned up way too high causing her a lot of distress. Her umbilical cord was knotted and way too thin (diameter of a pencil when a normal cord should be the diameter of a finger). She was born with a MEGA cone head. I am talking Saturday Night Live Cone Head. The hospital staff, thinking they were doing me a favor, molded her head to look normal over the course of a few hours. Now I know they should have taught me how to gently mold her head to look normal over the course of a month. They applied way too much force to a newborn skull. All of these things, I believe, contributed to Annie developing Sensory Processing Disorder.

I didn’t notice her quirks because I was a first time mom and had no one else to compare her to. But my mom noticed right away.  “She’s so sensitive,” my mom kept saying. Gradually, I realized what she meant. Everything was too bright, too loud, too windy, and too itchy for Annie. But I found ways to work around it and as she got older, she seemed to be outgrowing it.

Cut to Annie as a one year old. She was the happiest baby ever. Just a bundle of smiles and laughs. So interactive and bright eyed. She could point to any animal, color, or body part you asked her about. She waved, blew kisses, and played games like “so big” and “peekaboo.” Strangers would routinely stop me and say, “Your baby was smiling and waving at me, so I just had to come and say hello.” Annie had hit all of her developmental milestones (crawling, walking, talking) right on time. This was one of the happiest times in my life. If only I had known what was to come… I would have cherished those moments even more.

Shortly after Annie’s first birthday, I took her to the pediatrician for her one year vaccinations. Prior vaccines made her develop a low grade fever, swelling at the injection site, crankiness, and sleep issues, so I wasn’t looking forward to our visit. Annie received the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine along with three others that day. Within 48 hours of receiving the shots, Annie came down with a full blown case of the chicken pox. “Very unusual,” her pediatrician said. But he told me there was no cause for alarm and I believed him. She got over the chicken pox after two weeks and all seemed well.

At 18 months, I took Annie to a Discovery Toy party with tons of other toddlers in my neighborhood. Twenty four hours later, Annie had a high fever and diarrhea. My baby’s second major illness. I figured she would recover in a week, but a week passed, then the next, then the next… I kept taking her to the pediatrician and calling to ask, “Is this normal? Is it okay that my daughter has had explosive diarrhea and a fever for a month?” I was informed that this was the normal course of rotavirus. It was NO BIG DEAL.

Finally, the diarrhea stopped and the fever went away and we had two glorious weeks… my sparkly, happy baby was back!

I took Annie to the park and she was filthy from playing with the other kids in the sand. Into the bath tub she went. I was scrubbing the dirt off her ear when I noticed… “That’s weird – what are those two puncture marks on the top of her ear? Are those fang marks?” I asked myself in horror. I started to panic. “What horrible creature bit my child?”

By the next morning, her ear had swollen to twice its normal size and turned purple. I gave Annie some breakfast and she promptly vomited. She had a fever and chills. I was now officially freaking out.

Back to the doctor we went. We all suspected this was the work of a brown recluse spider. But since nobody knew for sure, we were given a topical antibiotic cream and told once again, to let it take its course. “This is so close to her brain,” I told the doctor. “Will it affect her brain?” I asked. He chuckled and said I had nothing to worry about.

During the next 2 weeks, Annie’s ear looked completely disgusting. I was genuinely worried it was going to fall off. The tissue turned black and looked like it was rotting away. But somehow, my little trooper fought off the venom and eventually her body healed itself. Once again, Annie was back. Hooray!

We took it easy for a few weeks and stayed close to home. Then, a friend invited us to meet them for a play date at a local water park for children. Annie hadn’t been out of the house in weeks. She deserved to do something fun I told myself. I agreed to meet them there.

The kids had a blast running around in the four inches of standing water in their swim diapers. Occasionally, Annie would fall down and take a big sip of the water. I tried to explain to her why she shouldn’t drink the water, but it didn’t seem to register. I was disgusted, but I figured, don’t all kids drink gross water at some point in their life? I know I did and I survived.

By the time Annie was 20 months old she had dealt with:

  • Oxygen deprivation in utero
  • Head trauma at birth
  • Severe negative reaction to varicella (chicken pox) vaccine
  • Month long bout with rotavirus
  • Brown recluse spider bite

I believe it was all of these things together, occurring in a short period of time, that weakened Annie’s immune system to the verge of collapse. She was no longer able to deal with the insult to her health that came next, the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

To be continued…

For Part 1 of Annie’s Story: http://ventography.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/the-super-nanny-episode-that-changed-my-life/


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RECOVERING FROM RECOVERY ©

There are very few people who understand how much it takes out of you to attempt autism recovery. For the last 4 years, I have completely forgotten who I am. I got lost in the maze of autism. I’ll be honest, I have let myself go. My name is Molly and I am an autism addict. 

It all started with the lack of sleep. Annie did not begin sleeping through the night until she was 6 years old. This caused night-time food nibbling (of the donut variety) so that I had the energy to get up 8 times a night. Then, as my recovery plans were yo-yoing, I got more and more depressed. Which caused me to have a glass of wine every night just to “unwind.” Then, I stopped working out… I just didn’t have the energy anymore.  As I felt worse and worse about my self-image, I eventually stopped getting properly dressed and putting on makeup every day. Yoga pants and hair in a pony tail became my standard uniform.

One day, I looked in the mirror and could hardly recognize myself. Where had the years gone? How did I go from a fairly stylish, successful career woman to a frumpy dumpy, autism obsessed mom?

So this year, my New Year’s resolution was to recover from recovery. To get back to the person I used to be. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I am going to have a life outside of autism. During the last 4 years, I stopped doing so many of the things that used to bring me joy. I lost touch with friends, no longer had the desire/money to travel, could care less about shopping or going out to restaurants, and I lost my entrepreneurial spirit. Basically, all I wanted to do was sleep or research autism.

2012 is going to be the year I revive lost friendships, discover new passions, regain my self-esteem, and take time to do the things that bring me pleasure.

I don’t want anyone to think I am whining. Sure, I am having a bit of a “woe is me” moment. But the truth is, I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. I would live in a paper bag and smear dog poop in my hair if I had to. The net result of my last four years of effort and sacrifice is that I can now have a conversation with my daughter. Something that I once thought was inconceivable.

Nothing brings me more joy than recovering my daughter, so that will still be number one on my priority list. But, I am going to regain my sense of balance. I have gotten Annie to a good enough place where I can breathe again. So, I think it’s time for a new year, new me.

Copyright © 2012 [A Ventography!]. All Rights Reserved.


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LESSONS LEARNED – PART THREE

Bucket of Toxins Theory... we can’t remember who we heard this from but… we believe that our kids are born with a bucket already semi full of toxins, where as a neurotypical child is born with an empty bucket. Then, as our children are exposed to pesticides, food additives, VOCs, and immunizations (to name a few) their bucket begins to overflow. This is when you can see a major regression seemingly overnight. Our job as parents is to empty our children’s buckets and to keep them from overflowing ever again. Educate yourself on the toxins in our food, water, air, soil, clothes, toys, etc. and minimize exposure to the ones you can control.

Some Supplements/Drugs Create New Problems..we are not bashing supplements. There are some supplements we feel we could never stop giving our children. However, we were surprised to learn that some supplements, that seem beneficial at first, can create a bigger problem in the long run.

For example, I began giving Annie 5HTP to help her sleep. At first, it was amazing. She actually slept through the night! But then, I realized I had to keep upping the dose in order for it to keep working. When I asked why this happened, it was explained to me this way. Annie’s brain did not manufacture enough 5HTP/tryptophan on its own so when I first gave her the supplement, her body responded well and worked the way it is supposed to (which is why she slept). But after some time, the 5HTP said to Annie’s brain, “you don’t need to manufacture this anymore, I’ll do it for you”. So Annie’s brain quit making any 5HTP at all and she ended up having a bigger deficit than before which is why I had to give her more and more of the supplement.

The point to this story? Do your homework before giving a new supplement or drug to your child. Look up potential negative side effects and interactions for yourself.

Follow You Child’s Lead... we all know our kids are super sensitive, right? Well, this can be challenging but it can also be very beneficial. For instance we believe our kids can size things up more quickly than most people (including us). For example, they know when people have good hearts. And they know when a particular treatment is beneficial for them. When I (Molly) tried Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Annie, she absolutely loved it at first. She would ask me to take her in the chamber. But when I increased the amount of “dives” (treatments) we were doing, she began to fight me about getting in. And when we got out, she no longer seemed healthier and energized. Instead, she became aggressive and Leah swears to this day that she was having mini seizures. Eventually, I paid attention to what Annie was telling me (through her actions/behavior) but I should have responded a lot sooner. This is something I still feel guilty about. Pay attention to the signals your child is giving you. They have extraordinary inner wisdom.

Is there anything you’ve learned along the way that you’d like to share? Email us and we may post your suggestion on our website, Health Induced Autism.
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