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Shorthand Hospital Run…

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So my son, Josiah, and I returned to the University of Michigan Hospital today because I’d rescheduled his MRI of the head (aka Brain Scan) from yesterday afternoon to this morning, so he could participate in a special needs social event last night.  We rarely have back to back hospital runs so this was kind of “fun”…

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  • Up late, running late, getting to the hospital “on time” cause we left a cushion!
  • No traffic “cops” at the parking structure entrance like yesterday (when a screaming motorist & screaming parking lot “enforcement” personnel made me think someone just might pull a weapon–it’s Detroit area, after-all–& for once Josiah decided to Not escalate an already tense situation!)
  • Doing loop-de-loops in the parking structure looking for a space…and Josiah feels some dizziness coming on (he’d already complained how he got dizzy at his recent Liver MRI & was concerned about dizziness from the procedure)
  • Offering to drop J off near the entrance we might use (depending on what level I actually get to park on) & he finally takes me up on the offer–so hoping he actually follows instructions & waits in the right place–praying all the way…
  • making our way through the various “buildings” (interconnected) of the hospital complex to the appropriate elevators & descending to sub-basement B-2
  • walking the halls to the Adult MRI department (his Liver MRI was in the Mott Pediatric part of the hospital the other day) with Josiah getting spooked (it looks older & less kid friendly here) and saying that it looks like we’re going to the morgue (where we’ve never been but maybe he has in video games or shows?)
  • filling out the “abbreviated” pre-procedure forms (3 pages)–thankfully they don’t ask about All Organ Systems, like the pre-op paperwork, for that level of recall is really exhausting
  • Josiah wants to fill out his own forms (which is great)–I finish page one & give him page 2 and he gets stumped right out of the gate when descriptions of prior heart surgeries/devices are needed–sigh–I want to support his independence, but I know these things better, can write in an adult hand (his printing is large & grade-schoolish), and he’s already said he doesn’t want talking so wouldn’t appreciate the amount of verbiage needed to “coach” him here…I complete p 2 & he refuses p 3…
  • no problems in changing, getting a locker (I keep the key for him), nor getting an IV–I’m not allowed back with him (he’d requested me to accompany him at the Liver MRI) and he actually goes along with the staff without issue!
  • I remind the technician that he got dizzy when they moved him in and out of the other MRI machine & she says she can accommodate him there…since he didn’t complain of dizziness afterward it appeared like things went OK!
  • sitting in the waiting room working on a book (I finished), a sudoku puzzle, and a word search…then perusing a number of photo based magazines where I’m bombarded with guilt-trips of the leftist agenda ad nauseum–sigh…no napping…a TV blasts out of sight while trying to sleep & I recognize Chip & Joanna Gaine’s voices from the Fixer Upper TV show…but too tired to attempt to watch this
  • he’s done & we depart without issues & decide to swing by the “interfaith” chapel that’s just outside the elevator on our return trip to the 2nd floor
  • We are alone in the “chapel” so we search for any signs that Christianity is even one of the faiths that might be represented in that room…there’s no cross visible, but prominent Islamic paraphernalia, slightly reserved Judaism items, and eventually a “New Testament with Psalms” Josiah unearths under one of the seats
  • Josiah reads a Psalm from the lectern (we’re in full view of some security camera–yikes, does it have audio?), I sing a version of the 23rd Psalm aloud.  Josiah and I both pray aloud for many things/people “in Jesus’ name”.  Josiah begins singing “How Great Thou Art”–a song that always reminds me of my father & the first church of my childhood–solo (he asks me to Not join in) when a swarthy looking young man enters & sits adjacent to the Islamic prayer rug; J voluntarily stops singing & we decide to leave to give the other person privacy
  • Traversing 3 different buildings to get to the Family Resource Center, where we use the computers & partake of complementary snacks/drinks
  • strike up a conversation with Cameron & his mom about Cameron’s medical needs (brain tumor found 4/30, two surgeries, stroke, etc)–he’s wearing some type of helmet to cover his missing skull…I offer to post his prayer needs on my CarePages medical blog & they agree…we give pointers about living at the hospital etc.
  • J & I both work on both CarePages.com and on WordPress.com blog accounts and attend to some email business at adjacent computers
  • I decide to use one of the consult rooms to call my husband (I don’t have a cell phone) & they are now locked, a new development since my last usage
  • get a staff person to let me in and complimenting her on her new hairstyle leads to an in-depth discussion about her recent Cancer & Heart Attack scare.  We share various stories about medical issues, hospital employment (in my former life), and dealing with overwhelming emotions.  We go on a bit about Transplant issues, me from the family perspective & her from working as staff in an organ procurement organization.  She tells of a family that she turned down as a transplant donor because they didn’t want any of their son’s organs going to any N-words–Wow!
  • we’re interrupted by a volunteer & later an MSW co-worker so we never “finish” our conversation…are those discussions ever really done?
  • Quick phone call with my husband, who’s still at work
  • J & I wrap up computer work & head up to the 12th floor for Skyline Cafe, the Thursday evening complementary meal & music offering sponsored by Delta Airlines & managed by Bob (musician) & Byron (social worker)
  • We assist two different families with in-patient kids on IVs in the elevator
  • We enjoy nearly an hour of acoustic guitar & vocal music as we eat pizza, etc
  • after the event wraps up we speak with Bob & his wife Tracy about my husband’s band, The Lively Pelts, possibly participating musically sometime–I’d cleared this planned discussion with my husband previously–(Bob says Skyline happens Every Thursday of the year, except Thanksgiving)…
  • discover that Tracy & I met before as she’s actually the Pastor at the church kitty-corner from our own church–wow–small world (& I’d almost applied for a recent job opening there)…
  • Josiah tells some tales from transplant & beyond & several eyes tear up…
  • we finally head home during a rainstorm with just enough time to spare to take care of one errand before that business’ closing time; I get soaked to the skin…
  • I send Bob the promised email about the Pelts…and we await to see if God might open yet another door in our lives…

As you can see, even a “simple” day at the hospital can get pretty involved…and exhausting.  Josiah & I both did decently and had an overall good time, which was capped off by the blessing of Skyline Cafe, a pretty rare treat for us nowadays…

Well thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit of our experiences.  Blessings, Valerie

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PS Please consider keeping Cameron & his family in your prayers as they travel a new special needs pathway…I’ve written more about their situation here if you’d like more details:

http://www.carepages.com/carepages/JournalingForTheJazzman/updates/3856615

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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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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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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/

Here are those comments from Josiah’s site, as of 11-1-18…

20 thoughts on “Josiah’s First Post”

  1. Menagerie

    I’m looking forward to hearing more of your story Josiah. My four year old grandson has recently been diagnosed as autistic. He has been in speech therapy for several years and also has occupational and physical therapy. Next year he will attend pre school at a school for special needs children.

    Great job on your first post. Blogging can be a very rewarding outlet, and for some who work very hard at it, even an occupation.

    I wish you great success in your endeavors.

    Liked by you and 2 other people

    1. The Autism diagnosis can lead to quite a wild ride. We are quite familiar with the Therapies, Speech, PT, & OT, ones he still should be receiving. Josiah used to also receive a form of OT called “Sensory Integration Therapy” that helped with many of his sensory issues.

      Depending on the severity of your grandson’s needs there are quite intensive therapies (like ABA–Applied Behavioral Analysis) available that are theoretically Required to be provided by Special Education. I believe the Pre-School portion of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is called “Part C”. If your family hasn’t yet geared up for special needs advocacy I would strongly encourage you to arm yourselves for “battle” here. Of course my perspective is colored by years of illegal abuses of special ed law from our local school system…

      Here is a source of helpful advocacy info, a jumping off point, depending on how deep you want to engage the rabbit hole here:

      http://wrightslaw.com/

      http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/autism.index.htm

      http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/ei.index.htm

      Supports & Services vary widely by state. Where we live in Michigan there is an organization called Community Mental Health…Josiah used to receive the above therapies through them because of Developmental Disabilities (and still could if we could work out insurance issues). They also were involved in The Early On Program (then birth to age 5) and still provide Case Management services and Respite Care for our Family.

      It’s really important to get good/great information about Autism (from my perspective) and EARLY INTERVENTION IS CRUCIAL. We didn’t get Josiah’s Autism diagnosis early and dealt with a school system in complete denial of his spectrum issues so we have a lot of baggage in this arena. Anyway, having Great Professionals on board is vital, like Behavioral Pediatricians.

      Here’s some general overview of some necessary autism-related disciplines:
      Behavioralist/Behavioral Pediatrician
      Autism Waiver Program Center
      Neuro-Psychologist (Neuro-Psych Testing is Crucial too–way beyond scope of school testing)
      Communication Disorders Center (we never went due to funding/insurance probs)
      Specialty Learning Centers (ditto above note)
      Respite Care, in home & center based
      Therapies (PT, OT, Speech, Sensory Integration, Music, Art, Group, etc)
      Sensory Diet
      Social Work
      Counseling
      Psychology
      Medication Management
      Dietary issues (we never went this route, but some people swear by it)
      Tutoring
      Sib-Shops (a siblings of special needs program, normalizes experiences for families)

      We are blessed to have a local physician who is a strong Christian and has her entire practice dedicated to managing complex special needs children & their families. They try to provide a “Medical Home” there and are quite involved in medical, therapeutic, educational, & social interventions…perhaps there’s someone similar in your/their area?

      Well there is A Lot of info out there. It’s probably best to get connected to people going through similar experiences relatively close to home (something I never did). It’s also key to get some degree of Prayer Covering depending on what battles/issues you might face.

      May the Lord equip, encourage, empower, and establish you and your extended family as you enter into the fray in a completely different way. Autism is a universe unto itself, each child being incredibly unique and yet “fearfully & wonderfully made”. Enjoy the Journey…You are all Blessed Beyond Measure and now members of the exclusive & exhausting club of Families Impacted by Autism…

      May the Lord give Grace, Peace, & Joy to you and yours,

      Valerie

      I could give you the actual names & disciplines of people involved in Josiah’s Autism care (in MIchigan and often affiliated with the University of Michigan Hospital) so that your family could get referrals from their departments to high caliber people in your area, if you’d like. Please email me directly at
      ValerieCurren@sbcglobal.net
      if you’d like that type of detailed info.

      Liked by you and 1 other person

  2. Menagerie

    Conner is fine and healthy now, and he runs us ragged trying to keep up with him. Although it was a very scary experience for our family, and it is never a minor thing to have open heart surgery, we were.very fortunate that Conner’s problem was one that was easily repaired in one surgery. He had holes in the upper and lower chambers of his heart. One would have grown closed by itself eventually, but the other was too large, and the holes from one side to the other didn’t line up, so they had to do surgery.

    The doctors said Conner is now fine, and should have no further problems with his heart. He goes to see a cardiologist once a year to get checked out.

    Thanks for asking about him. There is a picture of him on the post your mother shared on her blog.

    Liked by you and 2 other people

    1. Sounds like Conner had a VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) & an ASD (Atrial Septal Defect)…like Josiah did, among other things…right? Josiah’s first heart surgery at 2 months & 4 pounds was that VSD repair with a Gortex patch. Later when Josiah was 4 1/2 he had another open heart surgery with a “Sub-Aortic Stenosis Resection with Myomectomy”–basically they removed a hardening of the tissue and a small amount of heart muscle just below his malformed aortic valve. He has a Tri-Cuspid rather than the normal Bi-Cuspid Aortic Valve.

      His Aortic Valve is still being monitored as well as the Aortic Root/Arch which is somewhat dilated so will likely involve another Open Heart Surgery…eventually.

      Will Conner also have to be monitored by Pediatric Cardiology for the remainder of his life? If so, how frequent are the visits? Josiah’s never been less frequent than every 2 years…and when things were fairly dicey we were seeing Peds Cardiology every 3 months…

      Thanks for reading Josiah’s blog & communicating with him! This means so much to both of us!

      Blessings,

      Valerie, Josiah’s mom

      Liked by you and 3 other people

      1. Menagerie

        Conner sees the cardiologist once a year, in Chattanooga. The Vanderbilt doctors said there was no need for him to come back there unless something very unexpected happens. If I remember correctly, they are going to see Conner yearly at least until he is school age, and they may change that then.

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        1. Well hopefully things continue to improve in the Heart arena for your family. Since we were told Josiah would Always be followed by a Pediatric Cardiologist I guess I assumed that was a typical Heart Baby scenario. Maybe that depends on the nature of the Congenital Defects…some repairs are lifelong. Great that they can see doctors (presumably) closer to home…One of the reasons we moved to Metro Detroit from Northern Michigan was to be nearer to Josiah’s Specialty Care at U of M…

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Sharing from 2015, Prayers For Conner | Special Connections
  4. Hi Josiah! I am a friend of Menagerie’s who also blogs at the Tree House. I grew up with a younger brother who was diagnosed with autism way back in 1956. Boy….things were a lot different back in those days as far as diagnosis and treatment. I am just amazed and delighted to hear about all the opportunities that are being offered today.

    I look forward to reading more and learning more about you.😀 (Yeah…I’m one of those people that like to use the happy faces.)

    Liked by you and 1 other person

      1. Hi Valerie! The happy faces are easy-peasy.
        1. Go to the Dashboard on your WordPress Administration page.
        2. Scroll down to “Settings”….it’s the second option from the bottom.
        3. Select “Settings”, then click on the second item, “Writing”.
        5. On the top of the page you’ll see “Formatting”…..click on the first box that says, “Convert emoticons like 🙂and 😛 to graphics on display.” This will allow you and your readers to type in the semicolon, dash, and right parenthesis that makes up the basic smilie.

        As for my perspectives on Autism, I don’t know how much I can contribute that would be of use. I’m thinking what I do have to say would probably be more appropriately said on your main blog. I’ll pop over in the morning.

        Liked by you and 1 other person

        1. I never did find “formatting” under item 4/5 from your instructions…so didn’t quite get to the emoticons option. Perhaps they’re not available when one is only using the “free” wordpress service? I do appreciate the suggestions here though…

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Josiah! I’m a friend of Ad rem and Menagerie. Will be interesting to follow your blog. I have two grandsons – one in high school and another in middle school in Illinois. I live in Michigan too.

    My older grandson had a malformation of the skull when he was a baby, but it fortunately didn’t require any intervention other than braces on his teeth a couple of years ago. Somehow, everything worked itself out as he grew.

    What is your favorite thing to do?

    Liked by you and 1 other person

    1. Hi Stella, this is Josiah’s mom, Valerie. Josiah has a Great-Aunt, my dad’s sister, in Illinois. She lives in the Chicago area, Naperville and usually comes to Michigan to see our family at my parents’ Cottage in Gaylord. We hope to see Aunt Pat near the 4th of July…hopefully she’ll get to watch the annual fireworks over Otsego Lake with us but we’ll see since this trip she’s staying with her late husband’s family a few miles from the Cottage.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My family lives in Oak Park, IL. My daughter and SIL both grew up in the Detroit area, and I lived in Illinois myself for about ten years (my daughter was born there).

        We normally spend July 4 at St. Helen, not too far from you, at my SIL’s family’s cottage, although I won’t be there this year. My older GS’s birthday is July 3, and we always have his birthday party in St. Helen, but he is in Japan on an exchange program for six weeks.

        Liked by you and 1 other person

        1. Blessings on you & yours as you celebrate Independence Day perhaps further afield. I was out of the county for the 4th in the late ’80s on a Missions Trip in Liberia, West Africa and it was extremely strange to not be in America with celebrating Americans for that patriotic holiday. It does make you realize how we blessed we are in this country though…

          Liked by 2 people

Some Thoughts on “The Price That We Pay as the Keepers of the Memories”

This referenced blog posting is quite insightful and spoke to me as the author articulates an intersection between Family Historian and encounters with pain and death…which, of course, also reminds me of walking that Special Needs Tightrope…These remarks from her blog posting (see below) especially resonated!

“I am my family’s Keeper of Memories.  I pay a price because of that.  But it is a price I would pay again and again because the joy, understanding, and connections that come, outweigh the price every single day…The depth of my pain only exists because of the depth of my love and the joyful memories…”

from https://thegenealogygirl.blog/2017/06/13/the-price-that-we-pay-as-the-keepers-of-the-memories/

Also within her posting she refers to Eternal Families and has a link to share her beliefs.  I did not click that link nor read what she said on that topic, so I am not endorsing her viewpoints, as I don’t know what they are.  From my own Biblical Christian perspective I consider the concept of an “eternal family” to be applicable to the family of God, and those who are in the household of Faith.  There are many biblical passages where family is addressed, especially from the perspective of eternity.

Historically the Jews/Hebrews were/are God’s Chosen People.  Abraham was the Father of Faith, because “he believed God and it was credited unto him as righteousness.”  Later in the New Testament the process of being “grafted into the vine” or “made children of Abraham” is described as a faith journey, beyond descendancy via blood (unless you are referencing the Blood of Christ).

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Galatians 3:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[b]

Footnotes:

  1. Galatians 3:6 Gen. 15:6
  2. Galatians 3:8 Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. From BibleGateway.com

 

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from a Bing.com image search for “I am the door”, in context this is Jesus speaking…

 

Jesus describes himself as The Way and The Door.  The only way to the Father is through him.  So, from my understanding, we All have the option of becoming part of the Family of God, of accepting Christ, and then sharing in eternal life.  This assurance of eternity in the Lord’s presence, and being united with loved ones in the faith provides me (and many others) great comfort when those seasons of death and loss arise.  Losing a loved one who is a Believer means only a temporary “See You Later” style of goodbye, not a permanent severing of the connection for those of us who are also in Christ!  As scripture says, “we do not sorrow as those who have no hope”.

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Here is a lengthy passage of scripture worth pondering…

Romans 11 New International Version (NIV)

The Remnant of Israel

11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”[a]?And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that could not see
    and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”[c]

And David says:

“May their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
    and their backs be bent forever.”[d]

Ingrafted Branches

11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all!Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruitsis holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

All Israel Will Be Saved

25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way[e] all Israel will be saved. As it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is[f] my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”[g]

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[h] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Doxology

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[i] knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”[j]
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”[k]
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Footnotes:

  1. Romans 11:3 1 Kings 19:10,14
  2. Romans 11:4 1 Kings 19:18
  3. Romans 11:8 Deut. 29:4; Isaiah 29:10
  4. Romans 11:10 Psalm 69:22,23
  5. Romans 11:26 Or and so
  6. Romans 11:27 Or will be
  7. Romans 11:27 Isaiah 59:20,21; 27:9 (see Septuagint); Jer. 31:33,34
  8. Romans 11:31 Some manuscripts do not have now.
  9. Romans 11:33 Or riches and the wisdom and the
  10. Romans 11:34 Isaiah 40:13
  11. Romans 11:35 Job 41:11

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. From BibleGateway.com

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Well, thanks for stopping by.  May you find the Lord to be your Savior, Healer, & Lord and may he comfort & sustain you during those seasons of sorrow…and magnify your joy as you Abide in the Vine!

Blessings,

Valerie

the genealogy girl

PETERSON, Grandma and Grandpa with Kent kids, 1987 My siblings and I with our grandparents – Ronald and Margaret Peterson.  1987

The first time I read The Giver by Lois Lowry, I was in my late teens or early twenties attending college.  I was instantly struck by the lack of true joy that existed in the community because of the absence of historical knowledge and freedom of choice.  The stripping away of freedoms, the complete control of the environment – even the weather itself – eventually led to a deterioration in all that makes us human.  No one chose their own career, spouse, number of children, what to eat.  They took daily “vitamins” to control their sexual urges.  Children were bred and then placed with families.  Members of the community were instructed in every way.  They even lost their ability to see color.

But there was one community member who was the “Keeper of Memories”.  This community elder…

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

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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
Image result for comfort in suffering

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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Image from a Bing.com image search for “beauty for ashes”

 

 

Commenting on a Transplant Tale

I’m still coming to grips with a sea of emotions in relation to my son’s Liver Transplant (among many other medical, educational, and interpersonal issues surrounding his life and my intense involvement in caring for his myriad needs) so it is always with a bit of trepidation that I approach other’s stories about the Transplant Journey.  This arena represents a potential emotional hand grenade for me personally & it’s never certain what might cause the pin’s removal leading to potentially devastating internal destruction.

The article below was impacting enough that I just felt compelled to write a comment afterwards, which I wanted to document here and share with my readers and also give myself a known repository of this particular topic in case I want to return to this article again…like for inspiration to gear up for when we finally contact the “Gift of Life” organ registry to attempt a contact with the donor family to express our deepest gratitude.

Such a contact has thus far remained beyond my personal ability to approach except in the most theoretical terms.  It’s hard to know where to begin in expressing the deep gratitude for the life-giving sacrificial gift this other family has provided.  We spent so much time while waiting for the Transplant in prayer for the family and the donor, asking that the Lord would be involved in all their lives, that they would each have a saving knowledge of Him, that there would be such wonderful memories made and no regrets for things left unsaid or undone with the donor.  Contemplating the eventual loss of such a loved one was almost more than I could bear.  What do you say when the Liver Transplant doctor says that your son’s “ideal candidate would be a 12 year old gun shot victim”.  I was more overwhelmed by  the other family’s impending loss than I was by our own upheaval as we awaited this amazing and generous Gift of Life.

Complicating such contemplations is the nature of my son’s complex medical status.  Some staff on the Transplant Team mentioned that in some locales they wouldn’t even offer a transplant to someone as complex as my son (the implication being that his autism or other atypicalities, not necessarily medical in nature, may have lead to a form of disability discrimination against him).  How will this other family feel when they discover that their child’s Liver Recipient is disabled in myriad ways?  What if God has yet to have answered some of the prayers noted above and this family is in a spiritual desert and cannot grasp the value of my son’s life because of his disabilities?  What if learning about who has received their child’s liver they are even more devastated by who/what he is and this adds immeasurably to their grief, pain, and loss?  Should I spearhead the effort to contact them and generate conversations periodically within our family, or at Liver Transplant Clinic Visits (we have another bi-annual one next week), to help prepare us, or should I wait for God to so move on my son, husband, or other family members?  Should I be the one to make the contact or should my son (who has various communication challenges but is incredibly gifted in spiritual insight and compassion) attempt this solo?

Just writing some of these lingering questions down reminds me that this is a process that needs to be bathed in prayer.  I need to reach some place of peace and serenity so that regardless of the donor family’s experience/reception we will feel “persuaded” in our ultimate approach in contacting them.

Any of you reading this that know the Lord please lift us up in prayer as we continue to process and prepare to eventually make contact via Gift of Life and express our Thanksgiving for this family’s Gift of Life to our son!  We don’t want to be among the 9 lepers who didn’t return to thank the Lord for the healing…

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image from bing.com image search

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image from bing.com image search

image from bing.com image search original from blogspot.com

Please consider reading the original story of this group of Transplant Recipients meeting the mother of the Gift of Life donor…what testimonies!

Here is the link to the original article:

https://gma.yahoo.com/face-transplant-organ-recipients-meet-donors-mother-first-181313919.html

Face Transplant and Organ Recipients Meet Donor’s Mother for the First Time (ABC News)

Here are my comments left at the above article’s website:

This story is profoundly moving to me as the mother of a liver transplant recipient. My son was a teenager while going through the transplant process and as a strong Christian was prepared to possibly die if the surgery was unsuccessful. (Before his transplant operation he wanted to tell the surgical team “If I die during the surgery don’t be sad because I’m ready to go home and be with Jesus”–wow). As a young man on the Autism Spectrum he had a hard time understanding that for him to receive the needed whole liver a donor would have to die, so he initially thought he would be murdering someone to get their liver. We had to reassure him that it was ultimately God who would decide who lives and dies and it would all be in His hands…we were not causing the other family’s desperate scenario…

One way my son was comforted in being the recipient of the Gift of Life from someone whose life was cut short was that we agreed before his procedure that if he didn’t survive we would be sure to donate all of his usable organs and tissues so that others would also receive such life-sustaining gifts from him. In fact, while we were waiting for “his” liver we were contacted by the Liver Transplant Team to be prepared as a back-up recipient for another “perfect liver”, a seemingly unprecedented event. At that time another child was higher up on the Transplant List but was so ill that it was possible that they wouldn’t survive the procedure and my son who was to be “waiting on deck” would then get that other liver. This situation was just so unbearable for me personally, thinking that already one family was losing a child for my son to receive a liver was already overwhelming, and it would be incredibly devastating that TWO people would die so that my son would benefit. We called family together and beseeched the Lord in fervent prayer on behalf of this other child…and thankfully they (apparently) survived the surgery and were still doing well more than a year later when my son finally received his transplant. Being involved in a Transplant situation is deeply moving, challenging, and ultimately a lifelong journey of discovery.

Thank the Lord for those brave and generous families who choose to give the Gift of Life during their own season of heartbreaking loss and bereavement!

After checking back at the original article here is a reply to my comment that may have been written by someone who is professionally involved with transplants, and this is such an encouragement to me as it may be representative of other’s perspectives:

  • Avatar
  • these are the stories that make participating in an organ harvest so rewarding. One family’s loss can lead to so many benefits for other families, it is unfathomable. However, the pain, the heartache the loss is so palpable, during our surgical timeout the donor identified…the directed donations are identified as well as research donations. These are huge and incredible gifts

 

 

 

 

Relating to Others in Pain

” And the children who bring him the most comfort are those he barely knows, at least outside of this center…With these peers, he does not have to explain. He gets no curious stares. They are, for the time being, his peeps.”

The room where I am my very best self

image is from http://www.carolecgood.com/genesisofcarolecgoodcom.htm

This is such a beautiful post by a woman with deep wells of the soul as both a wife and a mother.  I can relate to her experiences on several levels, though not (thus far) in the Cancer domain.

The quote above reminded me of how amazing it was to see my kids years ago interacting with other kids at a Siblings of Special Needs Kids Weekend retreat.  I had Never seen my kids before bond so quickly with complete strangers.  The shared “Sibling” experience was also something that goes beyond words.  There is an instant camaraderie with others who instinctively “get it”…and none of us needs to explain our background for validation.

This is similar to my own experiences in interfacing with other parents of Special Needs kids.  We live in a world that regular families rarely intersect, except during events like the random ER visits a “regular” kid may need from horsing around.  The endless waiting, confusion, helplessness, hopefulness, fear, determination, bravado, relief, and exhaustion are constant companions in our lives…not occasional nuisances during “normal” kid mishaps.  Having to weigh medical & therapeutic & educational “expert” opinions against your own deep well of experience and hard won knowledge of your unique child’s makeup and then attempting to synthesize these disparate themes into a cohesive whole is a lifelong song and dance.

I’m so thankful that authors, like the woman above, have been willing to bare their souls to share their profound journeys of life, love, loss, healing, endurance, and faith to move, inspire, and challenge us to also “take up our cross” with grace.

Blessings,

Valerie

I posted this comment on the above author’s posting too…

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Thank you so much for sharing beautifully from your heart and the depths of your soul. Your words inspired a post on my blog here
https://specialconnections.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/relating-to-others-in-pain/
Blessings, Grace, Peace, & Joy (even in the midst of sorrows) to you and your precious family,
Valerie Curren

 

Commenting on yet another DNA Explained Blog posting

Below is a comment I made to another DNA Explained blog posting  in response to another commentator’s post.  My response was based on relatively recent experiences at the Gaylord, Michigan Family History Center, a local branch where genealogists can access much of the Mormon Church’s massive Family History Library’s holdings.  On the rare times I get to be in Gaylord during the week I will make a concerted effort to access the local FHC…as the ones that are closer to my home require much more travel coordination that the one near my parents’ vacation Cottage.
Here is the article that both Roger (I copied his comment below) and I were responding to:
This above blog posting gives a very thorough treatment of Ancestry.com’s DNA testing, comparing the current to the previous version.  I was given an Ancestry DNA kit relatively recently and have been reading Roberta Estes’ postings on Ancestry DNA as part of my information trajectory for when to send in our own DNA samples, hoping to avoid the upheaval expected at Ancestry as they were transitioning between their old and new test versions…fyi…Valerie

I don’t know if anyone will read this or even care, but want to express my dissatisfaction with the ‘new’ Ancestry.com way of doing business, which also carries over and severely impacts my research of 10 Ancestry DNA kits that I administer —

For the rest of my limited time on Earth (I’m 70), I’m not going to waste it on Ancestry.com phone queues that are ultimately unsatisfactory. I’m done calling you guys — you promise all and deliver nothing.

My 3-year-old cry for support with outgoing in-app messages has never been resolved. In fact, you recently closed my last Ancestry Support Case — 00155616 — without even following up by telling me why.

The last time I phoned, the lady promised me a 3 month complimentary sub when my paid one ran out. Instead, I received — “Roger, we’re sorry auto-renewal took you by surprise.
We automatically renew our membership packages to make sure our members always have access to their discoveries and family history tools. But it seems we weren’t very helpful this time. To make it up to you, we’d like to give you a chance to save 15% on your membership.” — Thanks, heaps!

You shift the burden on us users to call you, instead of allowing me to e-mail. I’ve called at least 8 times over the last year. You’re ignoring me, I guess. Is this your business strategy? Too big to fail?

Oh well, in response, I’m switching over to Geni. Sorry it had to end this way.

  • Hey Roger,

    I was recently at a small town Family History Center in Gaylord, Michigan and the manager of that center spent a significant amount of time assisting a patron via the phone and web in handling some type of problem with Ancestry (I’m not sure if that was a DNA problem, per se). She used her FHC leadership position to apply pressure to the seemingly less than helpful Ancestry employee in an attempt to resolve the patron’s problem. This service may be reflective of FHC service in other locations or an example of a lesser trafficked location’s leadership going above and beyond.

    Based on this observation may I suggest that you consider visiting a local Family History Center (you can find them from FamilySearch.org) and seeing if you may be able to get direct help in navigating treacherous Ancestry waters. That FHC manager also mentioned that (at least at that Gaylord “church”) if you joined the “church” that you automatically could/would receive a free Ancestry.com membership. From my perspective this Could mean that if one could locate Mormons that are also involved in DNA this could lead to a group that by definition works with Ancestry and likely Ancestry DNA. Hope this hint may be of some help.

    Best Regards,

    Valerie Curren