Archive for July, 2008

Givin’ Some Blood

July 30, 2008

I’ve never been a big fan of having to give blood. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been scared of needles whether it was from getting a shot or having to give blood at the doctor’s office. I’ve gotten a little better at it as I’ve become older (I no longer have to sit on my mom’s lap and I don’t need a prize or lollipop afterward). Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. Last year during my annual physical I managed to make it through the appointment by myself, but I did buy myself an ice cream afterwards as a reward.

I’m now finding the only thing worse than dealing with these needles myself, is having to watch my little son go through it. He’s not at an age yet where you can tell him why he needs to do something that hurts for a minute. 

A few weeks ago we had to take him to a lab to get some blood drawn for some tests to make sure his body is handling the chelation treatments ok. My wife and I were dreading this appointment for quite some time.

I repeatedly told my wife leading up to this appointment that it was an absolute necessity for us to remain calm the morning of the blood draw, as Josiah would be able to sense our mood. If we were calm, perhaps he would be calm too. If we were all tight and tense, he would pick up on that too.

I guess I forgot to take my own advice because as we were trying to find the lab I almost pulled right in front of some oncoming traffic. It wasn’t even close to being an accident, but the other driver looked at me and shook her head. She was probably right to do so, but I started to lose my cool and was saying things like, “Hey, if only that lady knew the stress I’m under! We’re about to give some blood here! Cut me some slack!”

My wife actually had to laugh at my little outburst and she said, “So is this what you meant by keeping the mood calm?” Oops, guess I forgot what I was doing for a moment!

After some confusion over whether we had to pay for parking or not (I think we were supposed to, but it was unclear, so we didn’t and we never got a ticket), we entered the building. Josiah wasn’t too thrilled once we entered the office we needed to go into, so I said I would check us in and my wife could just walk around the halls or something with Josiah.

I waited for what felt like an eternity for someone to come to the front desk to get us (it was actually only 5 minutes or so). I could see through the window in the office that Josiah was dancing to some music at the entryway of the pharmacy across the hall. I’m not sure what song was playing over there, but in the office I got to relax and wait for the nurse with the soothing sounds of Barry White doing a cover of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” I wasn’t aware that cover existed but there was no mistaking Barry’s pipes.

We eventually got our chance to go to the lab and long story short, Josiah did amazing. The nurse whipped out a huge needle and it ended up popping out of the first arm she tried so she had to try his other arm. I thought I would be the one who needed a nurse because in order to help hold Josiah’s arm I needed to watch the whole process and I’m not usually too good with the sight of blood.

Josiah cried a little bit, but much less than I expected and he was rewarded with a Garfield band-aid on his arm and another trip across the hall to bust a few moves to the tunes at the pharmacy (which was actually called an Apothecary for those keeping score).

So I guess the moral of the story was that we often worry so much about how a certain event is going to go and more times than not, our kids rise to the challenge and it’s us that spend needless time worrying and fretting when we could be doing more important things like tracking down obscure Barry White cd’s.

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A Savage Attack

July 28, 2008

By now you may be well aware of the Michael Savage/Autism controversy. Savage is a radio commentator who has angered the autism community with the following statements he made recently….

 

“I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, `Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.”

 

The backlash against Savage has been pretty swift. The National Autism Association has quickly issued a response that is well-written and very insightful.

 

Normally I don’t get too involved in these kinds of matters because these types of radio pundits always seem to be saying something to court controversy. I wouldn’t doubt that’s a large part of Savage’s motive just to get his name out there a little more and get some added publicity whether it’s positive or negative.

 

Besides the above quote, he’s since said some things about how parents want their kids to get the autism diagnosis because they’ll get all sorts of free medical care. That statement will get a good laugh from any parent who has an autistic child. I’ve yet to come across any help so far that’s been anything close to free!

 

I’d love for Mr. Savage to spend one day in the shoes of a parent of a child with autism. The constant worrying about your child’s present and future. The depleted financial resources from all the therapies, supplements, and diets. The toll it takes on relationships.

 

I wish it were as easy as telling our kids to ‘cut the act out.’ The fact is our children’s conditions are all too real and what they need is love, support, and understanding from everyone.

 

All I know is my two-year-old autistic son is the farthest things from a ‘brat’ you’ll find. He’s actually the bravest, most courageous person I know. He has to work harder than any little guy his age should have to. We’re always subjecting him to a therapy, a supplement, a shot, etc. He does all this the best he can and with much more grace than I’d be able to.

 

I don’t know much about Mr. Savage other than what I’ve read about him from this controversy. Why is it that so many of these buffoons are the ones that have the ability to reach the masses with their outlandish and outdated views? Imagine if someone in that position could use their influence for something positive. Like using the microphone to preach tolerance for those affected by autism.

 

I originally wasn’t planning to even comment on this situation. It seemed to me a lot like dealing with bullies when you’re a kid. The best advice was usually just to ignore them and they’d go away. But I know I, along with countless other parents, deal with enough crap in a given day to have to let someone bully our kids on the airwaves. Many autistic kids may not be able to defend themselves against such a ‘savage beast’ but I’m not about to let someone who is ill-informed off the hook without getting my 2 cents in.

 

I’m glad to see many advertisers are pulling their support for his program. And by reading up on him, I learned that Savage isn’t his real last name. It’s funny that his real last name fits his personality much better. His real last name?

 

Weiner. (I’m not kidding, you can look it up). I think it speaks volumes that a Weiner has to act like a tough guy and call himself “Savage.”

 

Yeah, Weiner sounds more like it.

Best Birthday Gift

July 17, 2008

I’m sure all of you have this marked and circled on your calendars, but my birthday is quickly approaching. I’m getting to the age where I’m finding there’s not much I need for my birthday anymore. Although if you were planning on buying me an iPhone or something, feel free to proceed as planned. Long gone are the days where I had a huge list of things I wanted for presents and you eventually hit a certain age where you can pretty much eat anywhere you want anytime you want, so it’s not as big a deal to go to a certain restaurant for your special day. I would love to go to the Bump ‘n Tilt though. That’s a North Dakota reference for those scratching their heads right now. It was THE place to have your birthday party when I was a lad. All the videogames and bumper cars you could play for one price all afternoon plus frozen Cokes.

Anyway….as I age, I find I value the little things more. For a day like my birthday, just getting to spend some extra time with my family or share some laughs at work is enough.

Yesterday something happened that I believe is the best early birthday present a guy could ask for.

When I went to pick up my son from his therapy center yesterday they were excited to tell me a story. They said a few minutes after I dropped Josiah off earlier that day, he started to get sad. They figured he wanted a certain toy or maybe was hungry or something. So they asked him what he wanted. He said, ‘Dad.’

For many of you reading this that might just sound like a cute story but nothing overly remarkable. But for the parent of a child with autism, that’s pure gold. We are so fortunate that our little guy is verbal, but calling us by the names ‘Dad’ or ‘Mom’ is something that really doesn’t ever happen. He did use those words a bit before he was 18 months when we noticed him regress into autism, but ever since it’s been few and far between.

Most days it doesn’t even dawn on me that I don’t get called ‘Dad.’ I’m just happy we’re making the progress we are and that he does use a lot of words. But I’ll have to admit I see other kids running up to their parents and saying ‘Daddy!’ and I start hurting inside a bit. 

It was the perfect day for this to happen too (and not just because my birthday is approaching). I had kind of a crappy day yesterday before I picked him up. Nothing too serious…just tired and feeling a bit down. But to get the news I did sure gave me a huge boost.

So when my birthday comes around next week, I really don’t need anything else (although if you already bought me something you might as well still give it to me and I will happily accept it!). Just knowing that my little guy said my name and also was missing me is present enough.

Ma Ca Ca?

July 2, 2008

My son has an interesting language he uses to speaks to us. Most of it is pretty easily understandable (to us at least). It’s mostly of the one word variety right now and it’s pretty functional stuff like “cake,” “milk,” etc. He also has some nice two-word combos he’s been throwing out too like “get out,” “climb up,” and “let go!”

Usually we can understand what he’s trying to tell us and even if it’s not necessarily the correct word we know what he means because we first heard him say it in a certain context. For instance, he might say “handle” which we right away know he wants us to sing the song “I’m a little teapot.”

Well a couple of weeks ago he looked at us and said “ma ca ca.” He said it innocently enough but when we didn’t respond appropriately he really started to get ticked. “MA CA CA!” For the life of us we couldn’t figure out what this meant. My wife thought, “perhaps he wants us to sing the Macarena?” I didn’t think he’d ever heard that song but I started singing it anyway (which by the way is not as easy a song to sing as you’d think if you don’t really know the words other than ‘heyyy Macarena.’)

Apparently that wasn’t it so we started to drag out every toy the kid owns to see if that’s what ‘ma ca ca’ was. He finally got over it and we breathed a sigh of relief. We didn’t even remember it the next day until once again out of the blue our little dude started persistenly asking for ‘MA CA CA!” Oh no, not again!

So this went on for a while…we’d get a reprieve for a few days and then this ‘ma ca ca’ business would start up again. We’d jokingly shake our fists and rue the day ‘ma ca ca’ ever came into our lives.

Then one morning my wife happened to pick up our son’s plastic harmonica and was playing it for him when he first woke up (nothing better than starting your day with the soothing sounds of the harmonica!). All of a sudden our son smiled and said “Ma Ca Ca!” Ohhhh…Harmonica! I guess that makes sense. He used to just call it ‘ca’ so I’m surprised we didn’t figure that one out sooner.

So our sleuthing is over for now until the next “ma ca ca” surfaces. I guess I’ll use the downtime until then to learn the real words to the Macarena in case he starts liking that song.