Suddenly, I Have Perspective

I was recently presented with a question:

What is your autism super power?

I immediately answered:

Perspective

From the second that Adam took his first breath, I had this feeling deep in my gut that raising this child would be a different experience than with my two older children. My intuition was on high alert. To this day, I still  can’t explain it. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would raise a child with autism and a seizure disorder.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine burning through our savings, have to refinance our house not once, not twice, but three times in order to keep up with the insurmountable medical and therapy bills that we would soon face. The term college fund is humorous to me; for college will be out of the question, if we don’t address his immediate concerns and needs. Ironically,  we are rapidly spending his college fund so that he will have the best chance possible to go to college.

Adam’s journey has changed who I am. It has changed who Chris is. It has changed who my two older children are. It has changed us as a family. I think that anyone who has experienced a crisis with a child will agree. It is life altering, life changing and most of the time happens suddenly.

For one Saturday in January of 2010, I had just brought  Adam home from tae kwon do.

As I was making lunch, he suddenly started speaking ‘jibberish’, his eyes rolled back and he vomited.

Suddenly, the paramedics were rushing him to the hospital for he was having a seizure.

Suddenly, I realize that the doctors and nurses are cutting off his beloved tae kwon do uniform and rapidly hooking him up to every machine imaginable.

Suddenly, I notice the ER doctor pacing and shouting orders, as I am told that Adam’s seizure is continuing… 40 minutes after our arrival at the hospital.

Suddenly, I am at Adam’s side, pleading with God to let me have more time with my son.

Then suddenly, my prayers are answered. The seizure is over.

Suddenly, I notice that I am straddling my son on a gurney as we are being whisked to a CT scan in search of what caused the seizure.

Suddenly,  a nurse is waving consents in my face as she is rattling off the possibility of a brain tumor, an aneurysm and a number of other frightening conditions that never, ever, entered my mind.

And suddenly, I find myself in the front seat of a transport ambulance,  a wall of glass dividing Adam and me, as a nurse, delivers deliberate ventilations during the entire 30 minute ride to the children’s hospital.

Suddenly, I realize that his life is in their hands.

Suddenly I feel completely helpless as I watch him lying in bed, machines keeping him alive.

Then suddenly, a friend posing as my ‘sister’ talks her way into the ICU for no other reason than just to be by my side.

And suddenly I have perspective.

Suddenly, after spending two hours speaking with our neurologist we finally have a diagnosis after 5 years of searching.

Suddenly, as crazy as it sounds, I feel nothing but relief. I’m grateful that my longtime suspicions are finally confirmed.

And suddenly I have perspective. Nothing in the world mattered, except walking out of that hospital with Adam.

Suddenly life as we know it has changed, and in some ways it is completely the same.

Suddenly our lives are dictated by speech, occupational, and behavioral therapy appointments. Not to mentions intense tutoring sessions.

Suddenly, I have perspective.

Suddenly, I realize that the things we take for granted are the most difficult tasks for Adam to master.

Suddenly I have perspective.

Suddenly, I realize that every baby step  that Adam tackles is actually a huge victory.

Suddenly I have perspective.

Suddenly I find myself agreeing with teachers,and then adamantly disagreeing with teachers;

Suddenly I find myself researching, educating and advocating. Advocating, educating, and researching. This part never ends.

Suddenly I find myself crying and laughing all in the same moment.

Suddenly I feel hopeless.

Suddenly I feel hopeful; then hopeless; then hopeful again.

Suddenly longtime friends feel like distant strangers.

Suddenly distant strangers become my best friends.

And suddenly an entire salon is selflessly honoring my son and individuals just like him; by raising money to support autism research.

Salon Coccole Autism Awareness 2016

Suddenly, I realize that in his short 12 years, Adam has taught me so much about love, hope, compassion, perseverance, bravery and patience.

Suddenly, I have perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I watched Adam grow and develop, I knew something was different. Something didn’t feel right. Maybe it was his constant ear infections, his constant sinus infections. Suddenly, antibiotics became Adam’s 5th major food group. He was on them more than he wasn’t. When he got sick, he regressed. When he was well, suddenly, he progressed. For 5 years, I visited every ‘ist’ in the Chicago area; you name the specialist, I sat in that office on a quest to find the source of his infections. Every test, every scan, ever doctor told me that there was nothing physically wrong with my son. They also told me that Adam did not have autism. Most parents would be relieved by these words. Instead, these words just continued to frustrate me. I knew that they were wrong.

 

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