Monday, January 31, 2011

Good news?

For the last several years my seizures have been slowly getting worse: more frequent, mostly.  And after the grande mal in September where my husband had me sent to the hospital via ambulance, terrified that I was about the die and leave him with three small children, I reluctantly agreed to put a little more effort into finding out how to control them.

Because none of the medications that I have been prescribed have ever worked, I decided to follow the advice of a second-cousin in Colorado whom also has seizures and start avoiding gluten.  So, in October, I gave it up.....Finally, but the third week of November, my seizures had ceased completely.  Really?  Stopped?  I was so confused.  I'm so used to having seizures that to go for a day....or two....or a week without having them made me nervous.  I decided that the connection may have been a coincidence and ate some pie for Thanksgiving.  Ten minutes later I had a seizure.  And kept having them.

Okay, I was convinced, it was the gluten.  I hate the idea of following what sounds to me like a 'fad diet', but I couldn't argue with the results.  The difficulty was always remembering to think about what I was eating.  It was easy to avoid bread and noodles, but this meant I couldn't eat our family Saturday morning pancakes.  Or flour tortillas with our Sunday lunch burritos.  I had to change my recipes for chicken enchiladas and not use canned cream of mushroom soup in casserole.  I couldn't eat packaged french fries.  Or the onion soup mix that I use in marinara sauce.  I even had to make up my own taco seasoning.  But the kicker came one Sunday when I realized that I couldn't eat the bread at communion. Gosh, that's not sacrilegious, is it?!

But the best day was when I was rereading through some year-old magazines and there was an article on neurology and celiac disease. The neurologist that was interviewed says "If you look at neurological'll find a higher than expected percentage of these patients have celiac disease.  Some syndromes, like epilepsy with calcification in the brain, are definitely linked to celiac disease."

A-ha!  There was a tie-in!  I have had a calcium deposit on the back of my skull since I was born - my parents were told that it was related to my birthmark (Sturge-Weber syndrome).  But no one had ever told me that it was any more than that.  But here was the link - those annoying seizures were linked to my calcium deposit that were directly linked to eating gluten.  Amazing.  The thing I thought was so benign was actually the cause of my most obvious problems. 

I also was reading about something called gluten ataxia, which is when a person's gluten consumption leads to their clumsiness.  I tried to pass this off on my husband as the reason for my lack of grace in movement, but he wouldn't buy it.  Phooey.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sweet, Sensative Boy

Boy Two likes animals.  Really, really likes them.  As long as they can't come close enough to hurt him.

This year for Christmas from my in-laws he received a set of National Geographic animal documentaries and has been plaguing me with requests to watch them.  The first one we saw was about the relationship that exists between lions and hyenas in Botswana and it was fairly gruesome.  I can watch animals chasing down and killing each other (c'mon, it's their nature), but to see a pack of hyenas pulling the flesh off of a still-living zebra is a little gross.  Or a baby hyena kill and eat her baby sister; ew.  I decided that I abhor hyenas with a passion and was cheering for the male lion that killed them for annoying him.

After two viewings of said DVD (and the replay and narration by my son with his plastic animals) we decided to shelve the offending video and try something a little more....gentle.  So we picked wolves.

Boy Two was enthralled with that wolf clan, who was taken from Canada in 1996 and resettled in Yellowstone Park (where wolves had been missing for sixty years) to control the elk population.  I admit, I'm a sucker for documentaries and eagerly find excuses to watch them with my kids while I should, in fact, be cleaning the fridge or scrubbing the bathroom.

The wolf documentary became much more personal for Boy Two when it sporadically told the story of the female beta wolf in the pack who was constantly pushed around by her alpha wolf sister and, finally, driven from the pack for good.  Boy Two started to tear up as he watched the beta wolf slink away, whining like a sad puppy, and wandering around by herself, howling for company.  The epilogue finally ended her story well by telling of the alpha female's death and subsequent re-admittance of the beta wolf to the pack to care for her sister's pups.  This encompassed about twenty minutes of tears and quiet sobs by my boy and at one point he had to come and sit on my lap and bury his face in my neck because it was too much for him.

He even was overcome that evening when recounting the story to Daddy but the entire event served as a decent conversation starter.  He was concerned that, if a wolf family could drive away one of their own, certainly a human family could do the same and he was afraid that if it happened to him he wouldn't know what to do or where to go.  We talked about how, while we never send people out of the family, we do begin to add people to the family as time goes on and even add other families to our family.  This seemed to reassure him, a little.  But after watching the documentary the next day he decided that he wasn't going to watch the wolves anymore - they were too sad.

He is so sweet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January. Again.

Christmas was great.  Sane as always.  And now another brand-new year has come around and I have nothing to say to wrap up an entire year of our lives.

So, let's jump right in to another year!

Boy One started the first week of school learning that he's made of sterner stuff than he thought.  Things went "Outstanding!"-ly smoothly on Monday, but by Tuesday his teacher stayed home ill and there remained for the rest of the week.  Ugh.  Boy One does not tolerate changes to his routine well, and rarely behaves for substitute teachers, but Tuesday and Wednesday went by in relative calm.  Unfortunately, on Thursday his full-time aid also remained home due to illness so he now had two substitutes with whom to contend.

Not hearing a word from the school, I assumed he was functioning just fine until I received a call from the school after lunch that he was in the nurse's office, telling them he was ill (yeah, right).  Indulging the school, I hurried down to appraise him where he informed me through tears that, not only were his teachers gone, but that the worst had occurred: there had been an unscheduled fire drill, too.  Rats.  There's no way he'll be able to cope in class, now.  I'll have to take him home.

Once at home, he recovered shockingly fast!

The next day he tried the tactic again, even going so far as to take all his things to the office after lunch and tell them that I said he could come home early.  What?!

Girl and I entered the office a little winded, having just come from dropping Boy Two off at school, and Boy One put on his I'm-trying-to-convince-you-I-don't-feel-good face.  Too bad for him, Mama knows him too well to be fooled by that!

I spent ten minutes asking about how the day had gone, what were the plans for the afternoon (music class and art projects!  You don't want to miss out on that!), testing his various limbs for ailments, etc.  He finally came around to the fact that *sigh* I can do this, and went back to class where he made it through until dismissal.  (Aided, no doubt, by his substitute aid's ipad that very awesomely played BATTLESHIP.)

I was actually very impressed.  Not having anyone familiar to turn to, he refrained from having a fit or causing a disturbance and instead had to office call me to come and help him come around.  That is phenomenal progress in problem solving for him!   Truly, I was amazed.  In addition, we received a progress report from his speech pathologist and he has exceeded the goals that she set for him to complete by June!  Hurray!!  This boy is so difficult for me; sometimes I feel like I'm parenting him blind.  But he's making the progress I knew he could in spite of that.  Such relief. 

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 
Boy Two, having received a set of National Geographic wild animal DVDs for Christmas from Grandma, has taken to acting out the gruesome scenes with his plastic animals while narrating the action.  I usually try to tune this out, but couldn't help but hear him exclaim as his tiger chased the zebra, "The tiger GOT the baby zebra!  He takes a bite, and there's meat inside!"  I had the strange urge to laugh and throw up at the same time.  Needless to say, he's not watching that particular video anymore!

  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
I couldn't help but notice that the other blogs I read have all posted something about New Year's resolutions, but I have little to report on that front.  However, I do have several things that I'm anticipating this coming year with great relish:

* My husband's brother and his wife are expecting another baby, and I'm hoping for a girl!  Yes, she will be five years younger than my own daughter, but I'll just say it: I'm partial to sweet little girls!

* This next fall I will have all three children in school - hurray!!  I'm excited to use the time to volunteer in the kid's classrooms (I haven't gotten to volunteer at all this year) and other things that may come up.  All my kids in school!  I'm getting so old!

* We decided that the kids are old enough to start going on family vacations this summer.  Husband and I made a list of places fairly close to us that we'd like to take them: mostly places that I went with my family growing up.  My husband adores long, cross-country driving vacations and wants to make a loop through to Mount Rushmore.  I've never been there!  I can't help getting excited!  Though I think this year we'll probably start with something small, like a week in Sunriver or camping along the coast with a day in Bandon at the animal sanctuary.  We're waiting a few years before we tackle the traditional Disneyland exodus.

* I'm making progress on treating my epilepsy naturally and am guardedly hopeful that they may diminish over the next year to become a much smaller factor in my life.

* Husband will have finished all of his mandatory seminary courses and that may cause us to make changes with our church situation - welcome changes, frankly.

Anyway, that's the summation of what we've been up to these last two silent blog weeks.  But really, what's the point of writing if one doesn't really have anything to say?  Which, often, I don't!