Sunday, February 17, 2013

The road to injury, the path to recovery.

I know it's a bit inappropriate to take such a long hiatus between posts, especially after the debut. We could blame it on writer's block but honestly, I think it's pure terror. I know Dana was traumatized after reliving Keanu's story. This is far from an easy thing to do but we want nothing more than to be perfectly honest, open and real. We want to do our part to change the world, but also to be there for other parents who have been traumatized in a similar way. The only way to do that, is to face the demons of the past and relive it everyday, every minute. So here I am to share the road to Elijah's injury. Please bear with me, this is not easy.

Elijah was born in July 2008. I had a normal first pregnancy. I avoided the right foods, didn't medicate myself when I was sick, I worked until it wasn't safe anymore (dog boarding/daycare facility), and we walked at least 10 miles a week during my third trimester. I even managed to avoid getting a flu shot despite it being pushed on me at every OB visit. Giving the flu shot to pregnant women was a brand new concept in 2008, so the OB didn't even have any in stock, they just kept telling me to go to the pharmacy and get one. Well, I'd never had a flu shot before and I wasn't about to get one now. So, the afternoon of July 24th, I went into labor and after a quick labor with a heavy dose of epidural, Elijah made his appearance at 11:22 PM. I wish I could say he was perfectly healthy upon delivery, but he was in distress. His first apgar score was a 2 and he was quite blue. The nurses were able to revive him fairly quickly and his second apgar score was a 7, then 9. It was just a frightening moment they said. He is fine. And he was. He was perfect. He received his very first vaccine immediately. Hep B.

Elijah at birth

I didn't get to nurse Elijah until after his vaccination. He didn't want to latch. I attributed it to my ignorance and lack of experience. But this continued to be a problem for weeks. After one infection after another (and antibiotic after another), I gave up and just started pumping. I pumped for 13 months, probably the only right thing I did the entire first year of his life. By the end of 2008, he had 16 doses of 6 vaccines: Hep B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, Polio, and Pneumococcal. Yes, by 5 months old he had taken as much poison into his body as I had my entire life. 

His sleeping habits were normal until about this time. Then they went horribly crazy from then up until he was 4 years old. Aside from that, he was a very normal baby. He drank well from the bottle and loved his pureed baby food when we started those around 7 months old. He started crawling on time, he was walking at 10 months old. By 12 months old, he had a few words. When he turned 1, he had 28 doses of 10 vaccines: we add in more Heb B, more Rotavirus, more DTaP, more Hib, more Polio, more Pneumococcal and started our first rounds of MMR, Varicella, Hep A and a flu shot. At 15 months old, we added another round of DTaP and Pnueomococcal. **Please remember the MMR and DTaP are 3 in 1s so they count for 3 doses per shot.** So 32 doses by 15 months old.

Me with Elijah (10 months old) He loved the water before 
we lost him. Now, he hates it.

Elijah the day before his 1 year well child visit

Elijah one month after his 1 year child visit. The light wasn't out
completely yet, but we noticed the change.
Elijah at 21 months old. 6 months after his 15 month shots. The light is gone.

This is when we lost him. This complete onslaught of vaccines in such a short time was the end of our normal, healthy child. This is when we saw the switch in his brain go off. Perhaps his traumatic birth put him at risk for this. Perhpas his brain was already predisposed to autism. What I DO know, is he was never evaluated for that risk. He was blindly jabbed to the point of near oblivion. He stopped eating, sleeping, talking, playing  and interacting. He started to go into himself. This is when his OCD tendencies began along with meltdowns.
I could go into a very detailed description of just what he went through, but autism parents reading this already know. The list could take days to describe so we will leave that for another post. To say the least, the effect this had on me was devastating. I can't describe the emotions and heartbreak of watching my son regress into himself. Into an angry, hurt and sick person. You shouldn't have to sit by and watch your child stim or hit themselves out of pure frustration.

In 2010, we had him evaluated for early intervention with our school district as recommended by the pediatrician. His complete change in personality didn't seem to bother her a bit and was perfectly normal by her standards. Perhaps they were normal by her standards. How many hundreds of kids had she done this to? Elijah qualified for many areas of developmental delays and was quickly enrolled in the program.

Still, we vaccinated. One more round of Hep A, Hib, and Pneumococcal. It was at this appointment that the pediatrician decided it was time to get him on the 9 month waiting list at Seattle Children's Autism Center for evaluation. This was the last time we saw her. By now, I had met Dana and learned what I had done to Elijah. The rest you could say, is history. He was diagnosed in March of 2012. But we knew a year before. We knew when we saw the light go out at 15 months old. But we pushed the damage further.

2012 saw many great milestones. His new preschool teachers and therapists worked wonders. Coupled with a huge diet change and a year of no more vaccines, we saw our son start to come back to us. In April, I went on a road trip with the kids and my mom to Las Vegas for my sister's wedding. Elijah loved it so much. We discovered he loves to travel. He flourished. When we got home, even his teacher noted the change in him. He was starting to speak and interact with other students. That June, we went on another roadtrip with my husband to California. Again, he thrived. Ever since then, its been a progression of complete progress. His IEP goals are being met and he tries to play with other kids now instead of just watching or following them around imitating them. I'm so incredibly proud of him. We have a very, very, very long road ahead of us but I feel that we are on the right path towards recovery. Perhaps someday, we will see a full recovery. It's a long shot of a dream, but I dare to dream it. 

                                                                      Elijah January 2013

Cheers! ~Nicole