Friday, July 13, 2018

Stonewall

Have you ever looked at a stonewall?  The ones I saw were old, ruined and tattered, but rustic, peaceful and beautiful. They typically last a lifetime or more.  I had made a trip recently to an old historical town, and much of the architecture was of stone. Many stonewalls surrounded the perimeter of the properties.  I wondered how long it took a person or persons to build a structure as tedious as that.  First having to find the stones, haul them from their resting place to the location they are now.  Cementing them together to build a wall that stretched many yards and sometimes it looked half a mile long.

I thought about my own life and how it relates to a stonewall.  The beauty of the random shapes of the stones and beautiful colors of slate grey and random orange and red streaked threw out.  The edges of some were smooth, and yet some were jagged and rough giving it character.  The appearance of these beautiful stones made by the harsh weathering and pounding of the elements.

I think of my life as this stonewall. The challenges and many defeats of living a life I never thought I would have too.  Trying to survive depression, anxiety and the day to day.  Sometimes having nothing to look forward too also. I find myself feeling guilty for feeling this way.  My son Beckett is doing outstanding.  He is flourishing and making incredible progress.  His seizures controlled, he has close to 500 words where  3 1/2 years ago he had maybe 30.  His behavior has improved, he is learning and making leaps and bounds with problem-solving and following directions.  I should be happy, but I am honestly not.  I feel I try every day to get closer and closer to freedom and relief. It doesn't come.  I keep hoping and try never to lose hope.  I wish I could have the life I dreamed.  Happy, in love, secure and not having to fight anymore the battles to make our lives better.

I thought of my life as this stonewall.  Every aspect about it, the energy it took to build, the weathering it went through to be as beautiful and spectacular as it has over the many years it took to get that way.  It is still standing.  Standing firm, ready to fight another day with the elements.  I try to keep going, but some days, one of those stones falls off that wall.  I saw the rocks on the ground. I wondered who would come by place those rocks back where it used to be?  Who would be the one to go and put me back together?  Some of those rocks have been waiting a while to be put back, but then there are others that will remain there for a lifetime. Even if they stay, they still become a part of the beautiful landscape that surrounds the wall it once belonged.  I guess in either place, either the wall or on the ground you still are a rock.  A rock for others to build from and sometimes to sit and be a beautiful piece of the landscape.  Either way, it is difficult to be either one.  Even feeling alone, I still am the rock on which my son and family depend.  Weathered, tattered, and rough around the edges. One day I will find the beautiful happiness for which I was meant to have.  This stonewall will not keep me prisoner of the happiness I deserve.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Hard Part

I keep saying I am going to write a tell all book one day... Well, it may come sooner than later.  In my almost 50 years of living these last 2 years have been the hardest to cope with.  The excitement of working to try and change the lives of others has been incredibly daunting.  I thought that doing something you love would bring great joy all of the time.  Which by no means doesn't mean I don't still love what I do, it just means I have had to deal with more people, more personalities, more points of view. Now it's coming down to the hard job of separating my personal life from work and dealing with problems circulating around business.

The line between being a parent and a leader of an organization has to be drawn.  The emotion and distinction between the two can't be mixed.  You are either a leader or a friend.  When it comes to business I must take the parent hat off and look at decisions made objectively. Removing ALL emotion to do what is best to focus on a mission I set out to accomplish.   That means sacrificing even more to get the job done the right way.  I didn't understand what it meant when said "It's lonely at the top".  It is lonely at the top.  I have realized so many things about human nature and how success changes the people around you.

I think sometimes people forget I am also dealing with the challenges of caring for a child with special needs. Grieving the loss of a son I will never have and accepting the fact I have to let go of the hope that what I am doing may never help him.

I am devastated by the fact that I have people thinking I am doing is all for selfish gain and to control. I am a person who has a calling to go out and try to do the very best I can. Paving a path for others that come behind me to make a better life for their loved ones. The most important part, to know they are not alone.  They may not like the way I have chosen to create this path or even the direction to keep it going, but it will not stop me from continuing. I will go with those who choose to help. I don't put on shows and I don't expect anything extra but respect.

My son and family live without me being there much of the time because I chose to help find treatments for others. My family has sacrificed relationships, money and mental health issues for this cause. Of course I chose this, my question is why wouldn't have anyone chosen to do this for my son? Why did no one else in the world step up?  Then I am questioned about my motive.  I have wanted to quit and leave it all, but who would do it?

I keep going because the few who don't understand or try too are not my concern.  My mission is to help ALL those that walk into my path.  I do what I do, because if I stop I would regret living knowing I missed reaching the goal for another to have a better life.  MY SON IS WORTH ME NOT STOPPING!  It's been an emotional last 2 years with the struggle of severe depression, thoughts of suicide of loved ones, therapy, antidepressants, a broken marriage trying to recover, financial burdens and then trying to find yourself and just love and acceptance.

The last few posts have been dark. This is real! This is life! This is me trying to cope.  As long as I am alive I will not stop and I will not give up the fight to find hope and happiness.  I will plow through the mud and dark hours and one day I will reach the light I am working so hard to find.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Broken

Have ever been broken? Almost like someone has taken you and ripped you into two, not even just two parts but into shreds? Your heart, mind, body and your spirit just cut into pieces all at once.  I am broken, tired, worn out and struggling to keep a smile on my face. Smiling through the tears. That's what it feels like to live and deal with a rare disease every.single.day!  How does one cope? Get up every day and face the same thing?  No treatment, no cure, and sometimes the feeling of hope dies, and that is a feeling of being broken into many tiny pieces.

Then the question comes, who will help you put it all back together? I find myself many days sitting alone wondering if anyone cares?  You hear silence, thinking in the back of your mind that maybe someone has to care as much as you. Waiting for a knight in shining armor to rescue you from the despair that overcomes you. Someone to help and maybe depend on them to carry your torch if you can't.

Funny thing about admitting these feelings is people judge you and question your ability to keep going on.  Hasn't everyone been there? The impression that no one cares as much as you.  I'm struggling to send the message about my cause getting others to see the bigger picture. Why can't they see? It is infuriating.  I ask myself why I keep on going doing what I do. I want to quit.  I want to stop and be free and let go. Would anyone care?

I can't do this life alone. I don't want to feel alone doing it. I find myself sometimes being trapped in a vortex of emptiness and loneliness because I can't get others to see what I see.  No, I can't control others perspectives or make them believe in my mission.  So what do I do?  I cry. I pray. I ask why and then keep going.  I have too.  I have no other choice but to keep going.

My son and the patients like him, their families are depending on me to keep going.  But then I think about mine.  I feel guilty when I leave, but then I love to travel.  I feel sad I quit a secure job with benefits, retirement, health insurance, but I risk it all because I knew in my heart what I was doing was the right thing to do.  I've heard that it was my choice to quit and I should expect to live a life of less because of the career choice I made.  People, even a couple of family have said that I am in this for fame and popularity.  I don't understand how this can make someone think this way.  I am not about that nor can believe why others would think that as I sacrifice my time, my own money, my family to find a treatment. For I know in the future will benefit millions.

Please mark my words.  The discoveries that will come to light will not only help our own but many others related to them.  One day people will see what I see.  One day people will be there to help. One day I will find the hope I have been searching for so hard and long for. One day we will have a treatment.

One day I will be free and no longer broken.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The "Rare" Butterfly Effect

The Miracle of the  “Butterfly Effect”

"Butterfly Effect"

We have all heard of the "Butterfly Effect" at some point.  Wikipedia simply defines it "is the concept that small causes can have large effects.”  Initially, it was used with weather prediction but later the term became a metaphor used in and out of science.[1] In The Vocation of Man (1800),German philosopher Johann Fichte noted that "you could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby ... changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole."

Living in the world of rare disease I have noticed, like Fichte, how one small change can have so many different outcomes. The accumulation of small things is not small I am guessing the same applies to any "sub" populations in which we live.  I have found The more you expose yourself to criticism the more people are quick to judge and pick you apart.  The more successful you are, the more genuine feelings and truths surface about how they "perceive" you and your "real intentions" behind what you are doing. Some of those are not exactly positive. This could go either way. People who were "nay-sayers" in the beginning all of a sudden see success and and try very hard to wedge their way back into your life to "get a piece."  Ones who aren't quite where you are, who have walked with you side by side to help; want what you have and snicker behind your back, envying you in your journey. Then you have "true friends" who stand by you, encourage you, don't block you out and are "gingerly" honest with you.  I realize it is nothing I have done to make people feel this way, I only hope that giving hope to others will rise above and overshadow the negative in this world.





Motives and Attitude:

I guess this brings me to my point. Our motives and attitudes drive the future of what you are wanting to achieve.  It can be productive or destructive. People tend to be judgmental by nature and how one presents their opinions and views can literally destroy the momentum of someone's mission.  I was warned in the beginning that putting yourself out in public would be difficult and to be ready to have a thick skin.  Wow!!! I actually questioned this notion and thought to myself, "Why would anyone want to destroy or bring down a great cause that could help so many?"  I had to sit back and think long and hard about why someone, ANYONE would want to do this.  People are out there doing that to people out of their own insecurity and lack of their own purpose.  How naive was I? Regardless, I see it as just that. A human weakness and struggle. I personally will try and continue to build people up regardless of how they see me.  I will continue to be myself regardless, of how I talk, dress and share my life with people.  I can't be everything to everyone. I hope that others don't expect me to be everything to them. We can only do the best we can and continue to fight the good fight for rare.  We should not see each other as threats, but assets to conquering a world we are already exhausted fighting for.  My vision is to see groups working together for the same mission, TREATMENTS FOR OUR LOVED ONES.  I hear this a lot, we are all in this together.. so if we are, let's work together and build each other up and not compete for it. Oh, and if you are expecting me to go into detail about the circumstances that led me to this post, well you will never know, because it just adds to the chaos and it's none of anyone's business.  Celebrate the victories and cry in the heartaches together. I think sometimes it's a good practice to stop and do a "heart check".  Where is your heart? Why are you doing what you are doing?   




Why I do What I do?

I have had several people question my motive and I am not really sure why.  I would think that it is natural to fight for your child to have the very best.  But amazingly, people still question my motives. No, I don't worry too much about those people because this is my calling.  I don't want a brownie button for doing something that I think any caring mother would do for her child.  I do however, find it a challenge when people tell me I can't accomplish what I intend to do.  Do not ever tell me I can't do something.  I will show you I can.  Many don't know what I did to continue the fight for my son.  It was very difficult to walk away from a 23 year teaching career, salary, benefits and retirement.  I have been told that was my choice to do so.  My questions to them. What stopped you from risking everything to help someone you loved?  Would you risk it all?  What stopped you from stepping out on faith to do the unthinkable?  I typically get the response of, "I don't have the resources or support to do that".  
Who said I did? If it's not there, you create it! Bottomline!  You have no resources? EXCUSE!  There is a big wide world out there at your disposal.  Use it for good and you will succeed. Don't EVER expect it to come to you, IT WON'T!  YOU GO GET IT! 



Yes, there are sacrifices.  I have paid many and still am, because I believe the cause I am fighting for.  I am just surprised that I still get judged for it too.  So my question would be... What would you give to make your child have the best quality of life?  For me the answer was simple.  I am doing what I need and will succeed.  I have sacrificed more than people know.  There are only a few who know my business and it's been difficult and excruciating at times to plow through.  But I stay the course. This is for my son, Beckett. I will not let people keep me from success of finding a treatment for him and others like him.  Know and understand that I will keep going.  People will judge, say no, have the wrong perception of and just flat out right not respect me and that doesn't matter. The right people will see me and my true motive and will get me to where I need to be to get my son and the others like him the help they need.  

After you read this...do a heart check... Why are you in it? Make friends, not enemies.  








Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Special Boy: I Just Want to Run Away Sometimes

My Special Boy: I Just Want to Run Away Sometimes: I haven't blogged in awhile and thought maybe I should go back to putting my feelings and emotions on paper. (or digital paper) It hel...

I Just Want to Run Away Sometimes

I haven't blogged in awhile and thought maybe I should go back to putting my feelings and emotions on paper. (or digital paper) It helps me process what I am feeling. Some days you are just numb to everything. I was told recently in a counseling session.. yes, counseling.. (I think everyone has been there...if not it might do you some good) 😜 I was told I am grieving for the child that I didn't have. I'll be honest, I thought she was all wrong, yet in some ways she was right. I am grieving a lot of things. I had to process a lot and had plenty time to do it these past weeks. I'm still not ready to accept somethings and I think that's OK because it's going to take me a while to figure it out.

It's accepting that your life is not the normal one everyone else has and is even harder. Today has been a hard day for me.. Wanting to run away and never come back. That's really bad ugh? Anxiety and worry tend to take over and sometimes it's hard just to deal with. Most people tell you don't compare your life with the cookie cutter American Family you see on TV. Right? That's what you are conditioned to believe your whole life. The perfect life right? House, car, dog (I hate cats; sorry cat lovers) kids and the whole shebang!

You see, everyone else's life on social media show the house (that's not child proofed with all the fortress locks, chains and alarms) the two kids, a dog, a pool, vacations, nice cars, blah, blah, blah! Kinda magnifies the problem and confirms the diagnosis of Facebook Blues. Our life is not anything like that. The medications that are given constantly, watching for the seizures to return and waiting for that next nuclear meltdown. Planning something spontaneous is never even considered! All that is gone. I miss that! I have to be brutally honest here and say I wish I could have all that back, but the guilt consumes me to almost a depression and I get angry. Then you pop right back up to then be reminded of how thankful you should be for what you have. Which I am, but then I am not. Yes, others have it much worse than I. I get that. But the feelings are still the same.

These feelings have an affect on every single aspect of your life. I now see why most all marriages of special needs end in divorce. In fact, 70% of all marriages with special needs end in divorce. Well, I guess I'm batting a 1000 because this is my second marriage, add in three kids from the former marriage, plus a child with special needs is a recipe for just that. I can see how relationships get lost in the frantic of everyday. A divorce is the only way to get a break from it all. I can honestly say, I will never marry again. No offense to my current husband, but that's the honest truth. Now, I am not saying I am divorcing, so don't go and think that. I am just merely sharing facts about relationships and raising a child with special needs.

I bury myself in my work to make myself feel better. It does. I don't want to stop and don't think I ever will. I was told I am addicted to my job. No, I just love what I do to help other people and that's the long and short of it. Sometimes I just feel like I am running on empty and search to be filled. Crazy? Right? My work seems to give me relief somehow, yet I am still sad as I feel like I am missing something.

Of course, I have people tell me all the time God put you here. Yes, not arguing that point, I believe He called me to this. I know some reading this, (especially the ones who know me from way back when) are cringing. Why you say? Because my life experiences molded me to be the person I am today. Which I am much more "relaxed" than the "rigid" expectations I was raised with. See, I was brought up in a strict Southern Baptist home. My Biblical core values haven't changed, but some of my thought processes have on "fundamentals of religion". But, you find yourself asking all these same questions, looking for answers that may never come. The questions of all questions; like "Why me?" and "Why do people cross your path and what was their purpose for being in your life?"

Funny how the self talk that most people have with themselves are what most of us ask daily without even thinking about it. So, I got to thinking and found this article on grieving a child with special needs. It fits me. I guess my counselor was right. I know tomorrow will be a better day and I will probably still ask the same questions tomorrow. I've had to learn to step back and sometimes take it at a minute at a time just to survive.


Friday, September 30, 2016

As Life Changes

Many things in my life have changed since quitting my job teaching of 23 years.  I really don't know how to explain what I am going through.  Anxiety, Direction, Searching, Security....  You want to scream to the world what is going on inside you, but you just can't get it out.  Only some of the closest few to you know the "inside" scoop of what you really are dealing with.  I laugh when I hear people say "The struggle is real!" because in your heart of hearts, you know it really is.  There are so many dynamics taking place around us and to use words to describe them is well....impossible.  You can't really explain your place to someone because they aren't there, they can only imagine. A state that is giving a sense of loneliness to the whole world you live in.  Even when you have thousands of people around you that are reaching out everyday.

I am pretty sure if someone were to film a documentary on my life.. it definitely wouldn't be a movie.. more like a series.  What many don't know is I have come along way in this life. Unfortunately, I still make mistakes and I do learn from them..hopefully faster now than before.

Going through my childhood, youth, young adulthood and now middle age I have been through some shit. Most likely everyone would be very surprised for those who really don't  know me.  I keep a pretty BIG smile on my face at times to cover up some of the true feelings I have.  I usually don't take much off people now, but somehow I still give my heart to people and things without even blinking an eye.  I guess that's me though. I have also taught my children the same thing, give your all until someone tries to steal it from you. Then protect it with all your might.  I am sad when people can't see your true worth and value in what you have to offer.  But I honestly have to say, that will never stop me from the goals or ambition I have to really change the world.

It's funny how life shapes you to be the person that you are.  I guess the process will continue throughout life until we take our last breath.  One thing I do want people to know, is that I never did the things I do for myself.  I really always have had others in mind and how I can help them.  I never was selfish in my actions. I don't care about money, fame, the cars people drive, the designer clothes people wear, the houses people live in or friends they have.  I want people to know it was how I helped those less fortunate and gave every last bit of energy to fight for those who couldn't themselves. That's what I hope people remember.

I had a little bit of an epiphone today and realized again for myself.. "no one can love you more than you loving yourself and one can not give love if there is no love of self. "  So.. Love yourself! Then everything else falls into place where it should.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Flashback Beckett's Story

I know many special needs parents and caregivers can relate to this story.  It's been 4 years since I really sat down and thought about our journey; where we were and where we are now.  I just want to recap the beginning again for those who came in after the movie started ;)

Beckett's Story:

In November of 2012 we found out that my son Beckett has been diagnosed with a very rare autosomal dominant disorder called SYNGAP-1 gene (6p21.3). I didn’t know whether to cry or breathe a sigh of relief. He was the first to be diagnosed at Texas Children’s Hospital Genetics Clinic. Symptoms of this disorder vary in severity and include mild to severe intellectual disability, speech delay, a spectrum of epilepsies and has been linked to autism. Our son Beckett has been in multiple therapies that include OT, PT, speech therapy, play therapy and music therapy.
I knew that something was not right when Beckett was 4 months old. He was not sitting up or meeting the same milestones as his twin sister. I began my search for an answer beginning with my general practitioner, then adding 19 more specialists to the list since his birth. After many tests such as an MRI, EEG, Cat-scan, Microarray and metabolic tests at 2 years old we found out everything was “normal.” But we knew that it was everything but “normal.”
He was unable to walk, feed himself, babble or talk. We waited 14 months to get an appointment to have an evaluation at Texas Children’s Meyer Center for Autism. They concluded that our son was going to have intellectual disability and a severe speech delay, but still no real answers. The Meyer Center then referred us to Texas Children’s Genetics Clinic for Whole Exome DNA testing.  After a grueling thirteen week wait for the results, we finally got the answer to his problems. It took almost 4 years to get a diagnosis for our son.
I was in shock and knew that it would be an uphill battle.  Our genetics doctor only found one published paper on SYNGAP1.  I knew that there had to be more, but sadly there wasn't.  On the drive home from the clinic I cried and prayed for answers to why.  Thoughts of despair and helplessness overcame me.  It took me about 2 days to process the news, but I was determined this was not going to break me. I had no idea the challenges I would be facing taking care of a special needs child while raising four other typical children who needed my attention and a marriage that I was unsure would survive and that is an ongoing struggle to keep a balance.
After a past of abuse in my own personal life before I was married the second time, I was not going to allow myself to be a victim any longer to anything.  I gathered my thoughts and decided then that I would do everything in my power to help him. Finding answers for him and others was my purpose. I began to blog about his progress and wanted to try and raise awareness of SYNGAP1 and find others like him. 
When I posted our diagnosis on my son’s blog I began to reach people from all over the world who were like me.  I created an information page through Facebook that is strictly for research on SYNGAP1 and brain based research that is related to SYNGAP1. The first parent who found me helped me set up a closed Facebook group for parents looking for support and a place to talk about our children’s medical progress and challenges.
As the Whole Exome DNA test becomes more common we see our group growing worldwide. The network we have created in this group has brought several international doctors together to work on research to define our rare disease. We continue to drive research to help find a treatment that will help our children. We have since created a nonprofit for education and research for SYNGAP1. Our group has doubled in the last year.  We currently add newly identified patients worldwide on an average of one per week.  Though this journey over the last four years has been difficult, we have had triumphs and trials. I wouldn’t change for the world. I have learned more about myself and the love I have for people than I ever thought I would if I had not been placed in this situation. I am very grateful and appreciate life more than I ever have and am truely happy doing a job I love.  I will not stop, I will not give up.  #NEVERSTOPPING

Friday, May 13, 2016

My Special Boy: I Can Change The World!

My Special Boy: I Can Change The World!: It's been quite a while since I have posted an update on Beckett. Since the start of the new year we have been full speed ahead.  Becke...

I Can Change The World!

It's been quite a while since I have posted an update on Beckett. Since the start of the new year we have been full speed ahead.  Beckett has started a new medication which in addition to his Lamictal has helped him control his meltdowns and sensory overload.  He has been on Clonodine for the last 6 months.  It has been a life changer for us.  His meltdowns are minimal and his cognition has improved over time.  We still have the occasional tantrum, which is expected.  But this is nothing like from years before.  The hours of screaming are gone and it is much easier to redirect his behavior.  He is now at a daycare where the children and workers love on him.  I see him truly happy and there has not been an issue with him at his new after school care.  The foundation is taking off.  We are full speed ahead and are focusing on building our programs and planning a long lasting strategy that will sustain our mission.  My new motto has become #NEVERSTOPPING.. because until I am 6 feet under I am never stopping.  My hope grows stronger for these children every day.  The great scientists and clinicians who are walking by our side all the way are going to help us get there.  There is so much to say and do.. but to keep this short there is one picture that says a thousand words.  A picture that my Beckett brought home form school said it all.......
He has changed my world.......