Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's happening

We have a lot going on...I feel like "life" is just busier than ever.

The kitchen is pretty much done! I still have a few more cabinets to do and also need to finish getting knobs for all the cabinets, but this is pretty much the finished look of the kitchen. I am happy with it. Looks so much brighter and even bigger.
We'd like to eventually update the counter with a different color--probably something dark--but that is "down the road."
My School
I don't know if anyone is really interested in how things are going with my dog training...but I'm nearing the end. I'm halfway through Phase 7 (it goes to Phase 10.) This phase focuses on "problem behaviors" like jumping, counter surfing (when the dog steals food), separation anxiety, aggression, pulling on leash, dealing with shy dogs, resource guarding and potty training issues. All those big things that most people contact trainers about.
I'm practicing on my Phase 6 exam too. This one is a big one and I need 75% or higher to pass or I get kicked out of the school! Yes, kicked out! You get one more chance (which you have to pay extra for) to pass but if you fail twice, then you are kicked out of the program. Pretty strict, for a dog school!
For my Phase 6 exam, I have to "teach" my mentor (who will act as a student) the basic commands that are taught in a dog training class. Sit, Down, Target Training, and Leave it. In all of these commands, I'm expected to first introduce the command to the "class", explain why it's a valuable command, teach it verbally, and then demonstrate with my demo dog (Joey or Ace.)  Every time I practice on the kids or Dennis, my mind goes blank! I can't for the life of me think of why "sit" is valuable or "down" is valuable as a command. It just is! So I wrote down a list of reasons and use my "cheat sheets" every time my mind goes blank. I keep these sheets in front of me as much as possible: hanging on the fridge or hanging in my room. I'm really nervous about it and worried my mind will go blank during the exam.It would be devastating to get kicked out after all this work just because my mind went blank when I know that I know all this stuff!
The Downstairs Bathroom
A new project: the downstairs bathroom! Long story short--mold led us to tearing out the walls which then made us think that we might as well retile the floors (we have leftover tile from another project), which then led us to just remodeling the whole thing. It needs it! I wasn't expecting the downstairs bathroom to be done this year so this was a nice surprise!
It will be a basic update--nothing fancy, but hopefully, get out of the 80's.
Where the vanity once stood
Behavioral Therapy
We started Luke on Behavioral Therapy today. This is supposed to help him with controlling his tic and finding underlying causes that may be triggering it. Not much to say here, except that I'm glad that we're finally going to be treating it.
And that's it for now...life goes on.
Spring is just around the corner and I'm excited to get outside a little bit more. Excited to be done with my Phase 6 exam and hopefully it goes well. Excited to be done with school for good and get started on some work. Excited for the bathroom project and excited for Luke's progress.
Life is good.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Day 8 and 9:

Today is the last day of my novena, and I feel I've attained the peace I've been looking for. Accepting the suffering as a formation of my soul, accepting it as a purging of my sins. This is how I find peace. Though, it is hard and I struggle every day. Some days I accept it well and others days I don't. It all depends on how Luke is doing: when he suffers, I suffer. But I at least have found peace in surrender.

Another thing that has helped is that today Luke will be altar serving with Max. This will be the first time that he's served since all of this has happened. I had to talk him into it a little at first, but not much. The only thing he was really concerned about was his tic sounding through Father's microphone when he stands by him. I told him that it probably wasn't sensitive enough to catch it, and so he's ok with serving.

Striving back to return to normal. This is what we need! The fact that Luke's interests are starting to return again tells me that he truly is doing ok and is happy.

For me, it is another answer to my prayer for Luke's welfare. It shows me again that God is with him in this.

During practice

I know--I know--that I feel too much in these things. That I am too sensitive. That I even make my sufferings harder than they need to be. But as I told Dennis, I rather be too sensitive and feel things deeply, than not be sensitive and feel nothing at all.

God gave us hearts to bleed and beat for each other. To share each other's hardships and joys. Today, I'm glad to be able to share in Luke's joy in serving again.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Day 7: Sweet Sleep

Last night, Luke couldn't sleep. I don't like those nights. Because when Luke can't sleep, I can't sleep.

It didn't help that Anna smashed her finger in the door and it looked like it might be broken. I decided to bring her in to the Urgent Care to get it X-rayed but it was super busy and with just a little broken finger, she was at the bottom of the list. So we ended up leaving without her finger getting checked out and just decided to splint it on our own.

I was exhausted when we got home and looking forward to bed. So you can imagine my dismay when I saw Luke in the hall, ticking away, saying he couldn't sleep.

I gave him more Benadryl, even though he already had some. Dennis didn't give him his full amount prescribed by the doctor, because lately, we've found that Luke can do ok with half the amount (he's really groggy in the morning with the full amount.) But even that didn't work and an hour later, he was still awake.

I adjusted some things in his room to make him more comfortable. Told him to sleep with his covers off and turned up the fan. It gets really hot in his room and he sleeps on the top bunk. Then I headed to bed because I just couldn't stay up any longer.

At 12:30 in the morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom. And there was Luke--in the bathroom! I don't know who looked more surprised when he opened the door--me or him. I became really upset that he was still awake. Not mad at him but just mad about the situation. He had to go to school the next day, and I had had him out for a few days already for a stomach bug. Now I was getting nervous about him going to school half-asleep.

I gave him one more dose of Benadryl, praying that it wouldn't end up killing him in his sleep. I really didn't know what else to do.

I sent him back to bed and I went to bed myself. But I was wide awake with frustration. I was so sick of these episodes of no sleep. I was sick of not being able to do anything for him. It seems that that is the case with everything lately.

So I prayed--a very angry prayer, I'm afraid. Angry but honest. I still don't know if my prayer was a "good" prayer or not. We're not supposed to get angry at God or blame Him. But last night, I was blaming Him. I had done all that I thought I should: pray, keep faith, and be patient. I had done all I thought I should do as a mom, which would be to bring Luke to the appointments but we've seen zero progress.

The neurologist prescribed Zoloft for Luke's "anxiety", hoping it would reduce the tic. Nothing.
The Pediatrician prescribed tic medicine, hoping it would get rid of the tic. Nothing.
The "Herb Doctor", as we call him, prescribed many supplements to support Luke's brain function and immune system. Nothing!

And yet, the only Person who could help me and take this all away, had not helped. This is how I saw it at the time, anyway. It isn't the way I feel now.

All I wanted was for Luke to go to sleep. It was hard enough to take shuffling steps of "progress" (just a bunch of appointments with very little results, in my own opinion), but it was quite another to take giant steps backward of problems I thought were already solved, like insomnia.

It wasn't that I was doubting God's power or ability, or if He did exist at all. I was doubting His mercy.

Wow, that is hard to admit out loud.

But God knows everything and I think He just wanted me to say it. So I did. It felt good to say it and yet it didn't. Because I didn't want to admit something so horrible.

This prayer was maybe 2-3 minutes long when I suddenly had the idea to help Luke fall asleep by sitting up. (It is a trick I use on myself a lot. Just sit up until you are so tired you have to lay down. Then you're relaxed enough to fall asleep.) So I got out of bed to go talk to Luke.

He was asleep. Within 2-3 minutes of when I talked to him.

Was it the Benedryl? I had a hard time believing that it could work so quickly, especially when the first two doses hadn't seemed to touch him at all.

Was it God? I should have latched onto this idea right away, but I couldn't believe that God would be so merciful after the way I had acted. I had acted like a brat, and I knew it.

Believe it or not, I couldn't believe he had actually really fallen asleep. I thought for sure he was in maybe a very light sleep and it would just be minutes later that he would wake up. So I went back to my room to express my doubt to God.

Now that it was "out there", I couldn't seem to take my doubt into hand. I couldn't just suddenly say, "Ok, God. After all these weeks of discouragement and dead ends, I suddenly believe You are helping us." I just couldn't. I seriously just didn't believe that God helped us.

I stayed up maybe a half hour longer, waiting for Luke to come into the room. He never did. I went to his door again, pressing my ear against it, to listen for his tic. It was nothing but silence.

I finally went back to bed myself and finally got the sleep I had been needing all day.

This morning, I thought about the whole thing again. I'm in a much better frame of mind. I apologized to God all day, repenting and wishing I had never stooped to such a level of doubt. But in the back of my mind, still wondering, did God really help us? Even after the way I acted?

I believe that He did, because He is greater than my sin. I know that He did, because He loves Luke--and me, too--even though I'm a brat sometimes.

I think that He wanted me to face my anger, my doubt. I didn't. I wanted to remain unaware. But you can't move on when you're stuck. You can't grow when you're stunted.

It is Day 7 and another answered prayer. I don't think Luke will be cured--at least, not any time soon. I believe though, that he's going to be ok regardless.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Day 6

I have noticed every time I say a novena, things begin to happen. And usually, they aren't pleasant things. Fights break out, backlash happens. But even other things happen, a revelation of your own weakness and a knowledge and understanding of the problem you are presenting. And an acceptance of what you have to accept.

Things happened today. They weren't good things and I don't think I should talk about them in a public blog. But it didn't surprise me; like I said, backlash always happens when I pray a novena and sometimes I'm afraid to continue it.

But after the terrible things happened, good things came next, and I counted this as my answered prayer for Day six.

Today, Luke's Principal called and suggested something that I had wanted all along but was too afraid to ask as it seemed like an impossible request: she suggested that instead of Luke starting school at 8:30 every day, that he start at 10:00. This will give him time to sleep in if he needs it, time for drs appointments and therapies. It also means that we will get rid of one of Luke's biggest stressers which is "Specials" (the add-ons classes.) I haven't totally understood why Specials are such big stressers for Luke--I always liked them when I was a kid. But we are all different and it was a treat to see the relief on his face when I told him all of this and he said, "Oh, thank you, Mom! Thank you!"

(I didn't steal the credit, I told him it was the school's idea.)

This is a huge answer to prayer and not one that I even bothered praying for. I didn't think it was something the school would ever consider. I wasn't expecting "special treatment" for Luke but I must admit that this has helped relieve so many of my worries--primarily his mental well-being and rest--so much.

It is another prayer answered. I am sort of scared of what Day 7 may bring and yet looking forward to it to. All I am asking for in this novena is peace of mind, grace of acceptance, and courage to deal with what lies ahead (in social aspect for Luke.) And of course, a cure. It never hurts to ask.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Day 5

I'm still continuing my novena to our Lady of Good Success, and on Day 5, things start to happen. Today, it was finding comfort in a stranger.

It was the receptionist at Luke's therapy for OT, of all places. Through a therapist, I found out that the receptionist's son also suffered from tics. She introduced us and left with Luke. The receptionist and I ended up talking for 40 minutes. (Thankfully, she wasn't too busy.)

She told me her story, and it mirrors Luke's story to the "t". Her son, now fifteen, also began to tic "out of the blue" from a bad cough and cold. He also was the same age as Luke when it started.

His mother, like me, began hunting for answers right away. Like me, she was led from one diagnosis to another. Finally, a neurologist was able to tell her that it was a tic.

Again, like me and Luke, they then had to find a way to help her son. She didn't want him on meds, so instead she looked to Integral Medicine and they changed his diet and found supplements to help. They also started seeing a Behavior Therapist, who specializes in RBT (Reverse Behavior Therapy.) Her son still suffers from tics (Tourette's), but has learned to control them. He also has learned to find out what his triggers are. That is the key to success.

Throughout our conversation, she was giving me handouts that was given to her through her appointments, book recommendations on tics and Tourette's, advice on what triggers tics through food (sugars, aspartame,  dyes, artificial sweeteners, MSG's and preservatives), and business cards of doctors that had helped them. But most of all, she gave me her ears, her understanding. A shoulder to cry on, though I didn't use it.

Maybe it was because it was a mom that was talking to me about tics; not a doctor, teacher or therapist. And I think she sensed in me mutual understanding of her pain because she completely opened up to me about all the pain she had gone through all these years; the lack of understanding from others, the arguments with her husband and school, and the sacrifices that had to be made with diet change.  (They chose to go through the diet change as a family.) "I still cry about it from time to time", she admitted, even after all these years. "My son is 15 now and happy with who he is. He has learned to accept that his tics are a part of him. But I still want to fix it for him."

Forty minutes of mutual understanding, of feeling validated for my own grief that I have felt. Forty minutes of good advice on life change, trigger causes (she even had a handout on that too), diet changes and "What to expect" for the future (tics morphing into different tics; illness bringing tics back full force.)

Last of all, she handed me her own business card "For if you ever want to talk," she said. "It's been so good talking to someone who knows what this is like. Thank you."

I wasn't supposed to go to therapy today. Dennis has been taking Luke lately since I have done so many of the other appointments. But for some reason, I felt like I should go today.

Anyway, Day five. Our Lady is on this.

Antiphon: Holy Mary, save the miserable, help the weak, intercede for the afflicted, plead for the people, intercede for the clergy, petition for the faithful. Permit all those who celebrate thy holy memory to experience thy favor and assistance.

   V. Pray for us, O Virgin of Good Success!
   R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

I Surrender

Last week, we were late for Mass and had to sit in the back. For whatever reason, Luke's tic was louder that day and he kept yawning, which made it even louder. (He tics through his yawns, which makes them louder, like a hollow drum.) We began to get looks. I put up with it for as long as I could, and then me and Luke went to the Narthex while the other kids (except for Henry) stayed in the pew. I can live with Luke's tic but these little episodes of intolerance make it hard for all of us.

I am at the place now where I can honestly say to God, I give up. Not in a despairing sort of way. But if You wanted to, you would have healed him by now, and You haven't. There must be a greater good for all of this.

So I surrender it all. I know it won't be the first time I will need to surrender. It should be daily habit but it's not. I'm learning though.

I surrender, I give up, I give it all to You. I surrender all the moments of sadness and confusion. I even surrender doctor appointments to You. I surrender bad days to You. I won't fight anymore. I will continue to pray, but I won't worry. I'll continue to ask, but I'll be ok with waiting too.

Perhaps I will get so good at this that I can even surrender each of Luke's tics to God. They can be like little gold pieces falling into the Cup saying, "I surrender, I surrender, I surrender..."

Friday, March 10, 2017

Starting over

A tough and discouraging day for me.

We met with the Integrative Medicine doctor who very much supported the idea of Luke having PANDAS. His symptoms add up to it. He gave us a regimen of supplements for Luke to take to support his immune system and brain function. This was in hopes that they symptoms (mainly the tic) goes down or even goes away.

But then our doctor called later in the day (the pediatrician) and told me that Luke's titers are down which means that there is no strep in his system, which also means no PANDAS. You would think this was good news to me, but it's not. I don't want Luke to have this tic anymore. Having PANDAS meant that we found the root cause of the problem. A tic is just a tic--a symptom of who knows what. We are back to square one again.

Honestly, I wanted to cry. All that progress we made just feels wasted. I am done with doctors appointments and school meetings and emails to keep everyone updated (mainly the school). But then Luke continues to be so uncomfortable with this tic; it exhausts him. I can't just sit by and do nothing.

And so it's back to day one of my novena. My novena to our Lady of Good Success brought us to a diagnosis, so maybe it will bring us to a cure.

Praying for a good outcome, praying for good success. I truly feel done with it all...


As I was getting ready for bed last night, I had a strange moment that I can't really describe. In my minds eye, I suddenly saw a flash of a diamond--and yet, it wasn't a diamond. It was more like a bright light in the shape of something like a diamond and as bright as when light catches on diamonds...

Anyway, immediately after seeing this, a thought formed in my head: "It is for Luke's benefit that this is happening..."

 I hadn't really thought of it that way. None of this seemed beneficial at all. And I must admit, I cling to the comforts of what is "normal" and familiar. Suffering is not comfortable. And yet, even children need to go through it. Suffering can form us into saints, if we let it. But we tend to avoid what is good for us.  Suffering is the broccoli of sanctity.

The moment was literally only a moment; it left as quickly as it came. But it gave me a lot to ponder. This thought stayed with me the rest of the night; in some ways it gave me some comfort to know there is a reason for it all.

This morning I opened my Divine Mercy emails, and this one really spoke to me. As long as God keeps speaking to me in all of this, I'm ok with waiting for a cure.

November 19, [1936]. During Mass today, I saw the Lord Jesus, who said to me, Be at peace, My daughter; I see your efforts, which are very pleasing to Me (Diary, 757).
As I was conversing with the hidden God, He gave me to see and understand that I should not be reflecting so much and building up fear of the difficulties which I might encounter. Know that I am with you; I bring about the difficulties, and I overcome them; in one instant, I can change a hostile disposition to one which is favorable to this cause. The Lord explained many things to me in today’s dialogue, although I am not putting everything in writing (Diary, 788).