HEALING BRODY – PART 5
To refresh your memory, we had recently returned from a house hunting visit down south. During our trip, Brody had done something very strange… he began jutting his arms out in front of him like he was being electrocuted. This was the moment I knew I could no longer ignore my mother’s instinct which was shouting at me that something was wrong. Upon our arrival at home, I called Brody’s early intervention therapist to tell her about the arm jutting incident. Did she think autism was a possibility? Her response, “I don’t think so. It’s just too early to tell. He doesn’t display the characteristics of a “typical autistic.” Give him more speech therapy and he will progress. Remember, he is a boy and typically they talk later than girls.”
I wanted to believe her, but I was still unsettled. So, I made another useless appointment with the pediatrician. The doctor reviewed Brody’s chart and we discussed his health history. She felt strongly that his frequent ear infections had “probably” contributed to his speech delay. Since he recently had tubes put in and his tonsils and adenoids removed, she wanted to give him time to catch up. There was no need, at this point, to be an alarmist she told me.
Once again, I brought up Brody’s stomach issues. “Well, what about his daily bouts of foul-smelling yellow diarrhea? The acid burns on his bottom? Could this be indicative of anything? It seems to be lasting an awfully long time.”
She chuckled, “No, no, no. It’s probably toddler’s diarrhea. I see this all the time. He will grow out of it.”
I then demonstrated the weird arm movements Tom and I had witnessed a few days earlier. She asked if we had seen Brody do it again. “No,” I replied. She had no explanation for the behavior and asked if I had any other concerns. I had the feeling she was thought I was looking for things to be wrong with Brody.
“Could his language delay be a result of being knocked unconscious?” I asked. I re-told her the story of what happened to Brody six months earlier.
It was around 6:00 pm and Brody was dressed in his pajamas playing in our family room. He came running over to me to give me a hug and tripped. In slow motion, I could see the events unraveling in front of me. There was nothing I could do to stop him. I was utterly helpless. Brody fell head first into the corner of a table with a tv on top of it. He fell backwards and his body became limp. I was quiet, waiting for him to get up and cry. But he didn’t. Brody just lay there with a large dent in his forehead, his eyes closed. I interrupted the eerie silence with my scream.
I shook him hoping to spark life back into him. My husband grabbed him and I ran to the phone to call 911. I pleaded with them to get there as fast as possible. I have never been so frightened in my life. We could not get him to respond. I was hysterical. The EMTs arrived and made the decision to have the Life Flight helicopter land in our front yard and airlift him to Johns Hopkins.
Brody was now coming to, but the EMTs did not want to waste valuable time taking him by ambulance. I remember getting in the helicopter and seeing the faces of my neighbors as the EMTs carried Brody out on the stretcher. They did not want to meet my eyes.
We stayed the night at the hospital watching Thomas the Tank Engine videos and were released early the next morning. Brody had been diagnosed with a mild concussion. The doctor was not overly concerned about future ramifications and did not recommend a follow-up plan. “Kids are pretty resilient,” he assured me.
Brody’s pediatrician listened to me re-telling the story and responded by saying it was highly unlikely his concussion contributed to his lack of language. Her recommendation was to continue using early intervention services. And that was that.
I was noticing a pattern in my life. Most of the doctors and therapists I came in contact with did not put much stock into my concerns about Brody. They were very dismissive and at times, defensive if I questioned them. Why was that?
Is it because modern medicine has become too focused on a “one size fits all approach?” Why is the majority of the medical establishment not willing to dig deeper and look past surface symptoms? It is imperative for health professionals to listen to the thousands of parents pleading for doctors to hear them and not shrug off their concerns. Is this too much to ask?
If no one was willing to dig deeper into my concerns I would have to take matters into my own hands. My new mission was to find someone who would listen and finally, help me.
To be continued.