ANNIE’S STORY – PART SEVEN OF TWELVE
After trying and failing at several Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) interventions, I thought Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) was going to be our saving grace. My husband and I gambled big… we drained our savings account and bought a home unit.
We were told by our DAN! doctor to go in the chamber 60 minutes a day, every day, for 2 months. At this time, Annie spent a lot of her days running aimlessly around our house. In addition, she flipped out if she was confined in any way. So, I wasn’t thinking she would enjoy hopping in our coffin sized HBOT chamber very much.
I admit, getting Annie in the chamber the first time wasn’t pleasant. However, after we completed the first session and she saw that it didn’t hurt and we weren’t going to be living in there forever, Annie loved it. In fact, she would crawl in the chamber multiple times a day. This was her way of telling me she wanted to do a session. I thought, “We’re on to something, this must feel good to her and it must be helping.”
We completed our 60 dives over 2 months. Then, we had a check in with our doctor to discuss results and do some tests to make sure Annie was healthy enough to continue treatments. I told the doctor that Annie did not have any increase in expressive (spoken) language as we were hoping for. However, she did make a big leap in receptive language. In other words, suddenly she could understand what we were saying to her. Prior to hyperbaric, Annie could only follow 1 or 2 step commands. But after our 60 dives, she could follow complex, multi-step commands. In addition, she seemed to be sleeping a little better. I was very encouraged.
After taking a month rest from hyperbaric, the doctor advised me to increase to 2 sessions a day (120 minutes a day). I truly believed that this was it – Annie’s recovery was on the horizon. But that was not the case.
After a few weeks of the increased treatments, “the wheels seemed to be coming off the tracks.” Annie’s bowel movements got worse. The diarrhea was back. The dark circles under her eyes got worse. Her stimmy-ness got worse. And most disappointing, her behavior got significantly worse. She went back to having several tantrums every day and became very aggressive. We were all “walking on eggshells” – never knowing why or when she was going to explode. It is also worth noting that Annie no longer asked to get in the chamber. In fact, she fought me about getting in. It became a daily battle.
One day, Leah and Brody came over right after we had finished a session. Leah told me that Annie’s eyes looked weird to her. Annie was staring off into space a lot (something she had never done prior to hyperbaric). Leah point-blank told me that she thought Annie was having mini-seizures and that she didn’t think we should be doing hyperbaric anymore.
I saw that Annie was regressing. I saw that my daughter did not want to do the treatments any more. I heard my closest friend tell me not to do the treatments anymore. And yet, I kept on going. It wasn’t because we had spent our entire savings. The reason I kept on going was because I had believed, with my whole heart, that hyperbaric was going to be the intervention to finally heal Annie. I didn’t know what else I could try if I gave up on hyperbaric. To me, giving up on hyperbaric felt like giving up on Annie.
This is one of my biggest regrets now. I wish I had listened to the signals Annie was giving me a lot earlier. Just like she knew it was good for her in the beginning, she knew it was too much for her when we increased the number of dives. Our children have extraordinary inner wisdom and I wish that I would have paid attention, instead of clinging to my desperate hope.
We didn’t finish our last week of “double dives”. I had finally come to my senses. We stopped hyperbaric all together. Annie’s behavior got better, but it still wasn’t great. I was dealing with at least 1 tantrum per day instead of multiple tantrums every day. Annie did not lose her gains in receptive language, but her health was clearly worse as a result of too much hyperbaric. Annie was hardly sleeping at all.
I have come to believe that the reason everything went wrong when we increased the number of dives was because Annie’s yeast got worse and she experienced too much detox, too fast.
This was a real wake up call for me. I was mad at myself for hurting my daughter. I had no idea what my “next move” was going to be. I was really “down in the dumps.”
To be continued…
For Parts 1 – 6 of Annie’s Story go to https://ventography.wordpress.com/category/annies-story/
For more information on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy go to http://www.healthinducedautism.com/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy-hbot.html