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Be Careful What You Ask For!

Someone at another site asked me how I was doing…here’s what I shared:

“I’m sorry you are carrying such a heavy load.

I’m relatively OK.  I’m seemingly “stuck” in some type of quasi-PTSD hopelessness loop over not being able to get any positive traction on my son Josiah’s Special Education case.  I’m still furious about how they broke the law with impunity & how the legal protections for the vulnerable are twisted into butt-coverage for the bureaucrats…it makes one feel so helpless/hopeless.  I did Major work for like a year & a half on Josiah’s Special Education case & when we finally talked with an attorney (after some funding from a family member made such a conversation possible) he basically said “there’s nothing you can do for your son…but I’d really like you to go ahead & be an advocate for other kids”.

I’m not fully ready to concede defeat but am still so burdened by the pain & frustration of it all that it is Very Hard to move forward mentally or emotionally.

My husband wants me to speak with a Counselor but I am skeptical that there is really anyone out there (besides God) who can grasp the magnitude of what we’ve faced historically with our son, it’s ramifications in our lives & for me personally, & I can’t even muster the energy to attempt to contemplate having such (allegedly) therapeutic conversations.

I’m not (obviously) actually very good at “letting things go” & really need the Serenity Prayer conceptually to help with this process.  I hate to “give up” but I also hate to see the “system” escape unscathed & have Zero Accountability.  It’s also still too bitter & unapproachable to try to advocate for other people’s kids (even if I could muster the energy or find the appropriate avenue to do so) when there is still so much that needs attention in my own son’s life.

These are like those “first world problems” that lefties mock people for.  Not the basics of food, clothing, or shelter but more the apex of that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramids proverbial “Self-Actualization” BS arena, I think.

Sometimes I think I’m just too scarred from all the battles to even begin to know how to live in “regular” society.  I’m in pseudo-hibernation/cocooning in hope that (eventually) winter will end (my fat stores will melt off!) & I’ll emerge a beautiful butterfly with sufficient energy to pump those superfluous abdominal fluids into those nascent but hopefully beautifully majestic wings & somehow manage to soar above before my brief sojourn planet-side is over!

OK, so it’s very late & I’m expressing my self in verbose flights of fancy…Thanks for asking how I am…I hope you don’t mind my ridiculous reply!

If I may quote you here “I am an emotional basketcase and the pain is brutal and that’s the upside of my grief right now.”  I really do relate…”

Our conversation can be found here:

Prayer Requests – 9

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Change–Blast From the Past

This song just keeps popping in my head…check out the YouTube site for detailed info on the song & musicians if you’re interested here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJMUugMQeIg&list=PL8Z7cWD-PWoDhiXoOJx3ypcSSW90YLyNO&index=7  

I couldn’t even remember the artists who did this song so looked up some of the lyrics online to find it was done by “The Archers“, a Christian group from “back in the day”.  I found this album, Fresh Surrender, at another family’s house, I was there babysitting their kids, & used to play it sometimes on their record player after the kids went to bed.  At that time I remember thinking that those parents were pretty cool to have some (seemingly) Christian Rock Music choices in their home.

This family has stayed pretty closely connected to my family over the years.  The parents & my parents have been part of a local “Prayer Group” of Christian couples that has been meeting regularly since the 1970s.  Several members of this Prayer Group have since gone on to their reward & the Prayer Warriors are now more likely to meet separately as a Men’s Group & a Women’s Group than their former Couples-focused Prayer Group.

Many of these Prayer Group Prayer Warriors have been an integral part of Prayer Support for my family over the years.  Jon & Judy, whose kids I was babysitting, were also heavily involved in praying for my son, Josiah, & our family during his Liver Transplant process over the years…What a Blessing!

It’s funny how a song from decades past can pop into your head & grab hold of you.  Here are the lyrics, from another site: http://greatgreatjoy.com/2014/11/19/change/

Change
Don’t come easy sometimes
I’m a stubborn girl
I just want to be alone
Sometimes

Maybe You’ve been showin’ me
Just how nowhere
My own will has been
As far as You’re concerned
And You really love me

Lord I need Your love, I need Your care

And I welcome Your change
Like I welcome the rain
After nothing’s grown in a long, long time

Sometimes
Any change is better
Than staying where you are
When you’ve been there too long
Already

All the changes you’ve been bringin’
Only seem to heal me deep inside
And I don’t wanna be alone
Without You

Lord I need Your love, I need Your care
I find my rest in knowing that You’re there

And I welcome Your change
Like I welcome the rain
After nothing’s grown in a long, long time

Ah, ah ah ah, ah ah ah

And I welcome Your change
Like I welcome the rain after a long, long time
Been a long, long time

La la la la
La la la la
La la la la
La la la

I’m so thankful for the ongoing fellowship of faith that is available to all of us.  The Lord is permeating the world around us & is calling to us always, if only we have eyes to see & ears to hear, we can connect on a deeply personal level with the Eternal God.  In encountering this song again the line “Only seem to heal me deep inside” is the one bringing those misty eyes.  I’m so thankful for the tender loving touch of the Master’s Hand!  Thank you, Lord, for showing forth Your Love & Grace to me, to us all, always.

Blessings,

Valerie

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from a Bing.com image search for Bible healing

If you are interested in learning about our experiences with Josiah’s Liver Transplant, I’ve “encapsulated” some of that journey here:

https://specialconnections.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/four-years-ago-today-a-transplant-tale/

I’ve also archived our journey (including messages, like those from Jon & Judy mentioned above), as recorded in my CarePages blog, JournalingForTheJazzman here:

https://jazzmanjournal.wordpress.com/about/

I’m still developing the JazzmanJournal site so it’s easiest to navigate from the About page currently, or to do a search.

If you might be interested in following along further on the journey with Josiah here is where I’m continuing to blog about his medical situation & prayer requests & happenings with him & the family, since CarePages is ending.  God Bless YOU!

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/josiahcurren

Feelings

This a beautiful post that seems to encapsulate some aspects of the autism experience from within. I’m so thankful that some people will choose to open up & share their unique insights from their personal perspective. I hope to get my autistic son to read the original post some time & see if he actually relates to this description of emotional/sensory overload.

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from a Bing.com image search for “feelings scripture”

Here’s what I shared with the author:

valeriecurren
Beautifully & eloquently stated. This helps me understand my autistic son just a little bit better. Thank you for sharing this!

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from a Bing.com image search for “feelings scripture”

Image result for feelings scripture

from a Bing.com image search for “feelings scripture”

Please read the original post, I will revisit it too, which is why it’s posted to my blog, for it is precious & in her own words!  Blessings, Valerie

autismthoughts

I think I feel too much. That is what autism is most like for me. Autism is feeling everything acutely all the time. I literally feel everything. I feel every object in a room. I feel sounds and smells and tastes. I feel words. I feel emotions. I can’t say I feel differently than you because I don’t know exactly how you feel. I have never been you. But I can say that I feel everything physically. And it is exhausting…

I was telling a friend today that I think I love too much. Love for me is overwhelming. It makes my whole body tingle. Love is a burst of energy that penetrates every fiber of my being. It feels like it literally changes my DNA so that I am now connected to a person in a way that they are made a part of me. I love hugs because it…

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Celebrating the Life of The Legal Genealogist’s Nephew Tim

from the posting below “That’s Tim there in this family photo from a reunion in 2002. The one on the left, in the wheelchair.”

http://www.legalgenealogist.com/2017/06/24/saying-goodbye-2/

I was just moved to tears by this family’s loss and the beautiful tribute this Aunt wrote about her nephew Tim.  She shared some of the things that made Tim unique & special…and none of them was about Special Needs!  May we all be remembered thusly by those we eventually leave behind, clinging to treasured memories & love…

Please lift up this family in prayer as they lay Tim to rest…may they all find comfort.

Blessings,

Valerie

Please visit the original post above to read about Tim as his Aunt has shared some of his legacy with us all…“We saw the shining spirit that was Tim.”

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from a bing.com image search for “sorrow not as those who have no hope”

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from a bing.com image search for “sorrow not as those who have no hope”

I shared this with The Legal Genealogist:

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Thank you so much for sharing this tribute to your nephew. So sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful way to honor who he was. I have a special needs son who sometimes is only seen as Autistic…but, as you’ve so lovingly shown about Tim, is so much more than a label…or a chair.

May the Lord bless you and your extended family as you celebrate Tim’s life, mourn his loss, and share his legacy.

Blessings, Valerie Curren

PS I shared your post with my readers here:
https://specialconnections.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/celebrating-the-life-of-the-legal-genealogists-nephew-tim/

Sharing from 2015, Prayers For Conner

Source: Prayers For Conner

This is an older post but tells of some of the details of a young family experiencing their baby’s heart surgery.  The minutia are different from our experience, yet in many ways the story is the same.  I’m so thankful that other writers share from their hearts their experiences and their perspective.  This “Prayers” posting was written by Conner’s grandmother–and what a loving, godly heart she exhibits…

ConnerJune20174

 

“Added note. To all who were here with us when my grandson Conner had his heart surgery almost two years ago now, who have asked so frequently how he’s doing, I added his picture. Yep, he’s one of the next generation of fearless daredevil boys in the family. His favorite thing is climbing and jumping, which he’s in the process of doing here. Thank you all for remembering him.” 

This update on Connor, and his picture, is from his Grandma’s recent posting (that is also well worth the read) here:

Thank You God, For Men. Real Men.

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Image is from a Bing.com image search for “heal your heart scripture”

It is a blessing to me, and hopefully to you as well, to be reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness in delivering other people out of their challenging circumstances.  I know nothing of this family beyond the two posts referenced here…but I know the Joy of seeing a heart surgery child running, climbing, and in general just being a boy!!!

Blessings,

Valerie

 

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Image is from a Bing.com image search for “heal your heart scripture”

Update June 23, 2017

Please check this post at my son’s new blog for further info about Conner & his family in the Comments Section.  Thanks!

https://josiahsfreakshow.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/josiahs-first-post/

Bikers Rock Mid-Michigan for Jesus!

We were so privileged yesterday to participate in the Blessing of the Bikers event held this year at Victory Biker Church in Lennon, Michigan!  My husband’s band, Lively Pelts, was among several Christian Rock Bands invited to share in this amazing venture.  Also attending were Second Day Story, The Savior’s Army (TSA), and the church’s house band, Anchored in Christ.  That church band can sure rock!  The lead guitarist/singer, “Crow”, is also the church’s worship leader–wow.

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Lively Pelts, Marty–Lead Guitar & Vocals, Roy–Drums, & Michael–Bass & Vocals: 6-17-17

 

This day also featured a special guest preacher, The Machine Gun Preacher.  This is the real man upon which the movie by that same name is based–he actually said that there is a movie sequel in production that should be out in a year or so.  Machine Gun Preacher shared some of the moving stories based on his intensive involvement in all types of ministries in Africa, where he lives and works full time.  He appears to be doing serious kingdom work over there and his ministry is well worth investing in.

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Machine Gun Preacher at Blessing of the Bikers, Victory Biker Church, 6-17-17

Check out his website here:  http://www.MachineGunPreacher.org/

Victory Biker Church seems like quite a unique place for real world fellowship and teaching.  They obviously cater to bikers but were very warm and welcoming to us band families too.  There were people of all ages and races present and they really exhibited a Family of God atmosphere and a come as you are mindset.  This seems to be a church where The Rubber Meets The Road–Literally!  Please feel free to stop by and visit them if you are ever in the region of Flint, Michigan on a Sunday–you are sure to be blessed!

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Poster for Blessing of the Bikers, from VictoryBibleChurch.org

Following the concerts the Bikers were going on a Hundred Mile ride, fanning out across Michigan to share their faith in Christ along the road.  This was a day for real ministry to the real world by real people, many of whom have a background of brokenness, but have surrendered their hurts, habits, hangups, and history to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and He is using them mightily!  How many of us can truly say that about our own walks with the Lord if we are being completely honest?

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Poster for Machine Gun Preacher, from VictoryBikerChurch.org

There were quite a few trials the band faced in participating in this event from power outages, technical difficulties, & even near collapse from heat exhaustion.  In fact, when “Crow” took the stage just after the Pelts set, he declared “It’s hotter than hell-fire up here!”  That was no exaggeration…so the guys really had to press through on multiple fronts.  However, this was a venue and event that bore tangible fruit in the Kingdom of God, & we were so blessed to be there & to be part of at least Four New Souls coming into the Kingdom by accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord & Savior!  Thank you, Lord, that your Love is not limited to one type of person but is poured out freely to us all!!!

Blessings,

Valerie

A version of this quote below adorned the men’s room wall at the Biker Church and my husband enjoyed reading the quote aloud to various family members Sunday.  In honor of Father’s Day, and manliness, this perspective seems extremely apropos!

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from a Bing.com image search for “what a ride quote”

PS  please check out Michael’s band’s Reverb Nation page…or find them on Facebook…

 

Thoughts on “I Can’t Do This Special Needs Life”

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from Bing.com image search for “special needs life”

It’s always with a bit of fear & trepidation that I ever decide to engage the special needs arena more directly than daily life requires, especially when it’s mandatory (like IEP time).  Well, this short article came into my inbox and some of her thoughts below really resonated…

I can’t do this; be a wife, a mom, a nurse and keep my tears behind dry eyes.  I had dreams of doing things in the medical field a lifetime ago. That didn’t happen for reasons upon reasons. But here I am, working (and living) in the medical field every day. I didn’t expect my patient would be my own child. Now that those long-lost dreams are alive and well in my everyday life all I can think of every moment is, “Please God, I can’t do this.”

from: http://www.keyministry.org/specialneedsparenting/2017/6/9/i-cant-do-this-special-needs-life

The bolded part in the above quotation is what got me back typing away here.  Through a series of seemingly random events I studied and graduated University with a Pre-Med Degree (BS, Bio-Medical Chemistry).  I did take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) and did marginally well but just never applied to Medical School.  At that time I was getting burned out on an extreme science emphasis like my basically Chemistry Major/Biology Minor Degree had demanded; I needed a break.  Being pretty eclectic in my interests & “motivations” (if one can even say I have the latter!) I was just not really interested in then pursuing medicine right out of my undergraduate program; I ended up pursing Christian Counseling instead…

The ironic thing is that I partially made this decision because I “wanted to have a life” and thought the extensive studies and training involved in Med School would mean many years before I would get much reprieve or enjoyment out of living.  Amazingly, before a decade had passed, I too, like the mom above, was facing the most challenging of all patients, my own extremely complex special needs child, and truly my life would never be my own again…

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from a Bing.com image search for “sick child”

Frankly I don’t know how anyone copes with the challenges, upheavals, sorrows, rage, exhaustion, confusion, depression, isolation, and tediousness of it all without the Lord’s saving Grace & Peace!  These extensive trials have driven our family to the Foot of the Cross time & time again.  And even with His “Peace that passes understanding” there are many days when we just have to slog it out…& it ain’t pretty either!

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from a Bing.com image search for “comfort in suffering”

I still honestly don’t know what to do with all the “stuff” that has been crammed down into my soul with minimal if any real “processing” time or resolution.  It is difficult for me to make sense of some of those special needs experiences without some outlet for said processing–which is one of the reasons for the existence of this blog at all.

Only considering my “special” son’s particular needs, here’s some of what we’ve faced:

  • Pregnancy problems/IUGR (Intra-Uterine Growth Retardation AKA small for gestational age)
  • Prematurity, Very Low Birth Weight, 2# 6 oz (qualified for SSI in the hospital)
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Complex structural birth defects
  • 2 1/2 months in the NICU (Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit)
  • Ambulance ride to a different hospital for Open-Heart Surgery
  • Living apart from my husband for 3 months during heavy season of stress
  • Inability to directly breastfeed my son due to his weakness, so nearly 3 months of pumping breastmilk for him to be gavage fed via a tube in his nose, or alternatively to feed his twin when we were apart because I was in the hospital with his brother around the clock…
  • Open heart surgery at 2 1/2 months & ~4 pounds; the night beforehand being the only time our entire immediate family was in one room together, as in I was preparing myself/us for the possibility that our son would die & that pre-op visit would be all the time that we ever had together as an intact family…
  • Urinary Tract Infection delaying hospital discharge, I discovered this
  • Relatively short time at “home”; Life threatening respiratory infection (RSV) leading to an across state ambulance ride and re-hospitalization, and the admission X-Ray revealing an unexplained broken rib so “formality” inquiries; he had a second RSV hospitalization when about a year old
  • Breathing Machine (Nebulizer) with meds & chest percussions
  • Seemingly endless vomiting with practically every feeding and/or dosage of meds
  • Various Proprioceptive & Vestibular interventions, brushing, joint compression, etc (mostly done by me)
  • Problems with hernias requiring near emergency surgery during the post-op phase from Heart Surgery
  • Visiting Nurses
  • Medicaid
  • WIC
  • County Health Departments
  • Numerous Medical Specialists with sometimes conflicting advice
  • In Home Therapy visits (PT, OT, Speech)
  • In Home Teaching, in three different cities
  • Preventive Care Services, support for a family in near crisis
  • Being written up in our local paper because of the uniqueness of our situation
  • Authorized coverage for respite child care so my husband & I could get a reprieve, but an inability to use this service because we couldn’t find anyone capable of handling Josiah’s needs and our other two or three kids…
  • Major behavioral & emotional problems
  • Balance Problems & Hearing Loss needing Myringotomy Ear Tubes surgically placed numerous times to help correct
  • Autism Spectrum issues, but not diagnosed early enough nor classic enough to get real help from the school system
  • Sound Field System in School
  • Neuropsychological Testing numerous times, virtually all data was ignored by school “professionals”
  • Unspecified Neurological Impairments
  • Balance, Equilibrium, Processing, & Sensory Challenges
  • Unusual Therapies; Sensory Integration Therapy, Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Social Skills Group, etc.
  • Early-On Program
  • Developmental Assessment Clinics
  • Virtually no “typical” twin experiences, nothing like what “the books” say
  • Complex staged birth defect surgeries
  • Positional Head Deformity, requiring an orthotic helmet to reshape the skull
  • Moving our residence across the state to be closer to adequate medical care (husband’s job change & our near year separation, except for weekends, during the entire selling/moving process)
  • Second Open Heart Surgery at about 4 1/2 years with statements implying that another heart surgery would be likely within a decade (though a 3rd surgery in this domain still pends)
  • High Blood Pressure, Blood Pressure Monitoring Machine, spotty compliance
  • Numerous Medications over the years
  • Social isolation for our son in particular, but our family as well, due to the complex challenges & lack of awareness on other people’s parts
  • Years of car rides, mornings, announcements of plans changing, etc that resulted in ceaseless screaming, hitting, kicking, etc…=familial upheaval
  • Years of deliberate “button pushing” of all family members, being a deliberate atomic bomb within the family=massive stress
  • Lifelong Pediatric Cardiology care
  • Lifelong Pediatric Urology care
  • Massive battles with Special Education after having positive Special Ed Pre-School experiences
  • Only one month in “real school” with his twin brother
  • Having to “repeat” a year of Special Ed Pre-school due to educational negligence, incompetence, &/or indifference & my own weaknesses in entering the fray
  • Severe Learning Disability in Math, misinterpreted as global delay
  • Tutoring
  • Being told for years we needed Advocacy help, but rarely finding any available and/or affordable
  • Community Mental Health, home & center-based care
  • Insurance challenges in getting needed services covered/provided
  • Respite Care, both in home and center based
  • Chronic Bedwetting, well into the teen years
  • Multiple Sleep Disorders requiring CPAP usage
  • Congenital Double Vision, eventually “corrected” surgically
  • Student Aides/Para-Professional involvement only after major battles with Special Ed even though doctors insisted this was vital at the outset of regular schooling
  • Massive Educational & Disability Discrimination…any real recourse here???
  • Learning about free advocacy training and materials but when pursuing them discovering the programs were cut; same now in relation to job training issues
  • Having a Brain Tumor and Liver Masses discovered at virtually the same time
  • Getting Cancer evaluations
  • Human Growth Hormone deficiencies, but no real treatment because of other complicating issues
  • Being accused by school staff of inappropriate behavior that he didn’t do, and not allowing a parent to be present to assist him in processing the situation
  • Brain Tumor removal through the nasal passage, so no visible scarring!
  • Ultimately needing & getting a whole Liver Transplant
  • Lifelong Liver Transplant Clinic care
  • ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • Unexplained dizzy spells, EEGs don’t reveal reasons
  • “Hypoglycemia”
  • Emergency Room Runs for injuries & once for an environmental breathing issue that I thought meant my son would die in my arms before we reached the hospital
  • Pervert encounters in the park as a child and at school as an adolescent, with major emotional fallout
  • Spiritual battles that periodically resurface & blindside & overwhelm him
  • Continuing to help him navigate the world, including processing why even though he and his twin brother are a minute apart in birth times their life experiences are worlds apart
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from a Bing.com image search for “comfort in suffering”

Well, my oldest son has mentioned on a number of occasions how I “never use my education”, since I’m not currently in the workforce.  It has honestly taken every aspect of what I’ve learned formally, inter-personally, spiritually, and experientially to navigate the extremely treacherous waters that Special Needs Parenting has led us through.  Some doctors have kindly indicated that I have a virtual medical degree by way of this personal parenting experience.  Whatever I have become, much of it is now attributable to being a Special Needs Mom.  It has become a burden, a badge of honor/courage, and ultimately a blessing.  In God’s Kingdom He brings Beauty for Ashes, Light from Darkness, and Hope beyond Despair!

Though I didn’t ask for this calling, as much as it lies within me, I try not to shirk the attendant responsibilities.  We’ve spoken as a family on these matters a number of times and we all agree we wouldn’t change things, even if we could.  As my eldest son has said, “Josiah is the heart of our family!”  So we are Challenged, Confused, Cracked Up, and Comforted by his uniqueness.  He still sees the Lord with “unveiled face”, being so pure of heart.  The rest of us might be relatively normal by this world’s standards, but Josiah stands tallest and purest in the Kingdom of God!  It is all of our privileges to walk along side of him in this crazy, painful, wonderful life…

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