Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tylenol & Vaccinations

I guess I've been on a roll of reflection, self-pity and concern. So why not keep that theme alive again today?! Ha.

Before we wised up when M was three years old, we went to a pediatrician I will refer to as Dr. Chia pet. (Because her name was similar to the plant-growing wonder--not her hair!) Dr. Chia pet had been a pediatrician for many, many years and actually has a decent reputation, depending on who you talk to about it. She was one of those doctors that I never felt connected to. When M was an infant she would repeatedly call him 'she' and rarely did she even skim over our chart before entering the exam room in an attempt to fake some knowledge of us having been there before.

When a child starts going more and more to a doctor because the parent is concerned about certain behaviors or slow development, I'd like to think that's when a pediatrician should make a concerted effort to REMEMBER said patient and the patient's Mom. I just don't think that's asking too much.

During the first year of M's life I repeatedly said things to her like 'my nephew has autism, and the fact that M shakes his head, tenses his body, repeatedly says "EEEE!", and didn't roll over on time makes me worried.' Every time I spouted off a new (and very valid) concern, she would say, and I quote, 'This child does not have autism.' Interesting...
When M was still not crawling at 14 months, I would have to force her to refer us for an evaluation with early intervention. When he was not walking at 20 months I would have to again force her for a referral for private physical therapy at which time she said to me, 'I'll give you the referral for PT, but I don't think he needs one for speech.' (And yes, two months later we were in speech therapy, and M at five years old still does not speak conversationally)

And so we arrive at the purpose of this post: tylenol and vaccinations. As a first time Mom I was always reading Babycenter and naturally listening to any 'tips' my doctor could give me. One such tip was to give tylenol 30 minutes prior to vaccinations being administered so that your child wouldn't have the 'annoying' fever and side effects that may have followed. Since M had reacted in such a way on several occasions before, I was all for trying to alleviate any discomfort for my sweet baby. When I'd proudly tell Dr. Chia Pet that I'd given M tylenol before the shots, she always told me that was a great idea. Really, she did.

Well, today I understand a lot more about tylenol and its effect on the body. Don't get me wrong, I still use tylenol, but I prefer motrin for my little guys. Please remember I am most certainly not a doctor nor do I claim to be explaining this process in perfect medical terms, but tylenol blocks the body's natural production of something called glutathione. Glutathione is a really important thing that aids our bodies to naturally pass or process toxins. Make no mistake, even though vaccinations are beneficial, they are also TOXINS.

So by giving M tylenol before each and every toxic dose, I was essentially blocking his ability to process the vaccines in a healthy manner. Did I cause my child's autism? Well, maybe I did. (Insert expletives and desire to become sick to my stomach here) And this is why I always tell people who ask me about the vaccine debate that we weren't one of the cases that you hear about happening as a result of the MMR vaccination; we had delays and red flag behaviors that occurred from very early on. However, I do NOT discount the fact that vaccinations could have been one of the things that spurred M's autism since he started getting vaccinations at only five days old. I believe in the power of medicine, but I also believe that we need to focus not so much on discrediting those who believe vaccinations caused autism, but instead on developing tests for newborns that can determine whether or not they have certain genetic markers for disease. This way, parents can make more educated decisions about whether to delay, space out, or forgo vaccinations altogether for their children. And for sure, so they'll know NOT to give a child with a predisposition any tylenol before being vaccinated.

You're going to start reading more and more about mitochondrial and metabolic diseases and their relation to autism. These things are already being noticed as potential underlying causes to autism and other developmental disabilities. I am very hopeful that the pioneers in autism research are able to keep searching for, and hopefully pin down, the true cause(s) of autism soon so that we can stop this growing epidemic. It is not going to be easy. There are a lot of interests involved in this debate, many of which do not have our children's health as their highest priority.

In the meantime...I would urge you to not give your child tylenol before or after vaccines. Go with motrin instead. I don't want anyone else to worry that they, the parent who gave life to their beautiful child, may also have caused their child a lifelong disability.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Do you have memories of seemingly random things that you find yourself recalling over and over again without really knowing why? For instance, when I worked at Excite(.com) I managed our account with Universal Television. My Universal counterpart was a (very) white guy named James Brown who was a once-professional magician turned business-y guy. For some odd reason, during one of our meetings he told me that he'd also worked in an emergency room and that he saw a ton of people come in with giant gashes on their hands from cutting bagels. I, being a bagel-lover who eats one nearly everyday slathered with some tasty Irish butter, think about this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. that I eat a freaking bagel. (And, I suppose, now you will too!)

Anyhow, the real point of this is a memory from when I lived in the Bay Area the last time...probably circa 1999. I remember going to the San Bruno Target to return something. The line was probably about 10 people long and moving at a snail's pace. There was a Mom a few people in front of me, and her young son--maybe six years old--was sitting in a chair to the side of the line. This little boy was clearly autistic, even to me, a newishly married, non-parent whose nephew was still two years away from diagnosis and whose own child was four years away from being born. I don't have a lot of the details left in my brain of exactly what behaviors this little guy was exhibiting other than the fact that he was quite obsessed with putting his hand down his pants and even at one point inadvertently flashed us out one side of his shorts. I remember trying really hard not to stare. I also remember feeling really terrible for the Mom who was getting so flustered with her son as well as the one cashier available to process returns. She was doing some huffing and puffing; rolling her eyes and continually telling her son to 'not do that.'

I find it so interesting that I came back to this memory so often in my life and now...I am this memory. I am that Mom whose child inappropriately touches himself and sometimes even pulls his pants down a little too far in public. I am the Mom who huffs and puffs and gets sweaty when things get a little too stressful while we are out and I can feel the eyes of a hundred people staring down at me.
I've always had a very strong sense of intuition. I do not discount the fact that that event, 10 years ago, was likely the universe's way of providing me with some foreshadowing.

I hope that I smiled an understanding, do-not-worry-so-much, kind of smile to that Mom. I hope that I was not one of the faces that caused her more stress. I hope that she and her son are in a much more comfortable place today. The early years of this journey through autism are so tough. Those who've plowed this path before us always say 'It does get easier.'

Let's just hope they're right.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


...or at least my latest worry.

M is growing. This is obviously a good thing from a health perspective. However, it also reminds me that with a growing stature also comes strength. Though my little man does have low muscle tone and little stamina, he is remarkably strong. His will seems to aid what his muscles may lack.
I am fortunate in that M is not what you would call an aggressive child; though this year has shown a bit of a testosterone increase that we had not witnessed prior to five.
He gets a look in his eye on occasion around his little brother and I know that he is about to pounce. I won't lie, B sometimes asks for it, and frankly it was a long time coming. But now, even though it is nice to see M sticking up for himself sometimes, it also concerns me. Because M lacks the ability to communicate appropriately with words--and because I don't think he really gets the fact that B is little and he really could hurt him--I find myself getting upset with him more than I probably should. I truly try my hardest to put the ownership of the problem on B if he pushed M too far unnecessarily. I don't want M to think I am always favoring his brother, but I fear I do not do a good enough job with this reassurance.

A few weeks ago M and B were sort of sloppily wrestling. Since I was in the midst of worrying that I put a stop to 'normal' brotherly play too quickly I let it go on for a moment. I wasn't really paying that close attention as they took their interaction to the couch, at which time B started screaming bloody murder. I looked closer to see that M had B's forearm clenched tightly in his teeth. I physically had to pry one child's mouth off of my other child's arm. B's flesh was the color of ground beef in the perfect shape of a mouth. I was horrified. So horrified that before I could address B's obvious pain I had to drag M to his room for an extended time out. He was hysterical and I still wonder if I did the right thing or not. I kept my cool as much as one could in such a situation and just kept telling him (between gritted teeth) that Mommy was very, very upset with him for biting his brother, and that was why he was going to spend quite a bit of quiet time in his room until he could rejoin us. I went back to his room every so often to remind him in the simplest terms a wordy girl like me could muster...'We don't bite. Ever.'

Three days later, as I was bent over, trying to wipe his bottom, and at the same time keep him from rubbing his hands on his tushy, he got angry and bit my side-- right under my rib cage. Both B and I still have slight marks from our bites. B reminds me still each and every day, 'M hurt my arm.'

It sucks. It sucks royally. I know why he's taken to biting. (and I also know we are very, very lucky to have only been on the receiving end of such a behavior twice) He is frustrated because he can't communicate to us properly. His expressive speech has improved somewhat over the past month or so. There are more, spontaneously appropriate utterances; and yet, there is clearly so much more in that beautiful brain of his that he CAN'T tell us but really and truly wants to.

Tonight we went out to dinner with a friend and her son. M was perfect at dinner, as he so often is at a restaurant. However, when we were leaving he adamantly refused to step off the sidewalk and climb into our car. I had one hand holding his cup, my keys, and our leftovers, which left me with one one hand to control him. It just wasn't happening. Thankfully I had someone else there to make sure that B didn't run out into the parking lot. M was very, very upset, but I had no idea why. I still am not quite sure, though his sour tummy after we got home may have been the culprit.

My child is 5.5 years old. He weighs 45 pounds. What will I do when he weighs 145 pounds? How will I get him from point A to point B? I have no freaking clue and that scares the living crap out of me. It horrifies me to think of the what if's that could occur in the future. We already deal with stares over negative public behaviors because M doesn't look like he is different on the surface. Can you imagine if I was struggling with a teenager--or worse, a grown man--in public this way? Would someone think he was hurting me? Would they hurt him in turn? Will someone call the police? Will they take him away from me??

And so all I can do is send yet another plea out to the universe: Please, please help my little boy. Help his body to feel more sound and his mouth to find his voice. Help him to remain the sweet-natured, loving boy that I know him to be, and give him the means to deal with his emotions in a rational manner.

I don't ever want to get to a point where I cannot remain his caretaker. The thought is too much to bear, but I would be lying if I said that it wasn't one that has crossed my mind.

I know how lucky we are. M is generally a gentle, sweet, old-soul of a child. I sometimes have to remind myself of the things I am blessed with rather than letting the thoughts of what I don't have overwhelm me and send me into self pity.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some Crazy Shiznit

My parents just left after a six-day visit. Lots to talk about, but little energy to think so I will leave you with a most bizarre tale from my brother.

My brother lives outside of Lexington, Kentucky. He called us on Friday and said, 'Hey! I met William Shatner yesterday!' My response: 'I heard he's a bit of an asshole. How did you meet him?'

Wait for it...

(and no, it wasn't at a Star Trek convention)

'I witnessed a murder.'

Well, crap. That was NOT what I expected his answer to be.

Anyhow, my brother was shopping at a bookstore. As he walked out, he heard a gunshot and turned just in time to witness one man walk up to another man, put a gun to the back of his head, and fire. He fled the scene in his car, and after they were sure that he was gone, my brother went to the man who had been shot, but he was clearly already deceased. It was about this time when he met William Shatner who owns a horse farm in the area and was also shopping in the bookstore. They had to stay there for several hours until they were sure the suspect was not still in the shopping center, and naturally they had to answer a ton of questions. My brother will have to testify when this goes to court. Messed up, huh? Sadly,(or is it a good thing?) I think his years in the navy prepared him to not be too bothered by the sight of a dead man. When I asked him if he was going to speak to a professional he said, 'Nah. This isn't going to bother me.' I have to say, I can't get the story out of my mind. I certainly don't know how he could.

So that is my piece of drama to now share with you. Here's the full story:



Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Has It Really Been Nearly Two Weeks?

Wow...I can't believe I've taken this long of a break from my blog! Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? Do you sense my insecurity and need for a back pat right about now? haha.

The break was unintentional and not necessarily due to anything in particular. We've all continued to pass around various viruses which was (and continues to be) no fun. We had guests from out of town visit for two days. M didn't go to school for two straight weeks. (One due to aforementioned virus and one for Winter break) It has rained for pretty much three weeks straight. The other half went to London to bury a beloved uncle. The other half got sick. The other half traveled to Portland. The other half is currently in Austin. In other words, Mama Deb has spent a hell of a lot of time with her children, alone, while they have been sick, cranky and unoccupied of their time. Whoopee!!!! And what was worse was that I was sick and cranky much of that time, too, which meant little wine consumption to help bide my time. Ahh well...my liver is happier.

So basically I am coming off of this break with not a damned thing to report. Well, unless you would like to hear my thoughts on American Idol and last night's finale of The Bachelor. Oh, you do want to hear my thoughts on those things? Great! Here goes...

I canNOT for the life of me understand the allure of the ambiguously gay, Adam Ant-wannabe, Adam Lambert. I don't believe I have ever disliked a contestant on that show so heartily as I do this one. It's usually the other half that gets all riled up about annoying contestants, and I just sit back and say, 'Okay, honey. Uh-huh. Yep.' But I'm right there with him this time. The guy grates on my nerves like a nursing baby clamping down on your nipple. Yeah. That's how much I dislike him. I want him to stop wearing so much makeup...it makes his pores look bigger. I want him to not wear skinny jeans. Heck, I want ALL members of the male gender to stop wearing skinny jeans. And I don't ever, ever want him to butcher another Rolling Stones song again. Please, please!!!

And then there is The Bachelor...le sigh. I admit that I was a bit smitten with Mr. Jason Mesnick when he was slayed by Deanna last season, but this season he ruined it for me. The guy is probably reasonably nice; and I'm sure he really and truly loves his son; but damn, he needs to get his head out of reality tv-land and buck up a LOT. Does anyone else wonder what his ex-wife thinks of him doing this show? Is she saying to her friends, 'See? This is why I cheated on him!!' Does she hate it as much as I do that he keeps parading his child out to meet all of these fakely interested women? I just don't get it. I feel like last night cemented for me the idea that this show pays people to go for the bigger ending. That has to be what happened last night, doesn't it? Gah...I can't even type anymore about it because it pisses me off too badly.

And this concludes your senseless update from the past two weeks.

I'll leave you with a deliciously adorable picture of M & B at the harbor last week. Check out M's new glasses. The boy is stylin'!

Oh, and I can't resist posting this one too...and I fully expect B to be mad at me for this one day:

We had a great three-day run of potty training with him, though that has ended. In that photo he is begrudgingly using the toilet while wearing his big brother's tennis shoes.

Over and out...