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Posts Tagged ‘glaucoma’

boo riddle-y

Not writing here feels like holding my breath.

Jonah has been largely aggression-free for a while now.  I say “a while” because I don’t think of time in terms of hours days and years anymore….at least not in the way I used to.  Boo’s every moment is a possibility; his focus flits and alights in bat-like erratic patterns of flight.  He soars and crashes.  Sometimes, when he is soaring, I feel a superstition of sorts – as if not writing about him will protect him from the pendulum’s swing.

Boo ridlle-y.  On Saturday he laughed and spun, ate well, sang a little, watched train-on-TV, and rode happily in the car, rocking to his tunes (he enjoys Emancipation, daddy’s double album CD by Prince right now) and making funny, silly, happy faces:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All I want is his happiness.  That’s really ,when you get right down to it, all I want.

I am grateful for it.  I take pictures of his happiness, over and over, to remind me it is there even when I cannot see it.  I am grateful today for so very many things.  Boo’s school & caregivers.  His daddy.

For the fact that I woke up free of pain and able to breathe and see and walk and write.  For the incredible freedom of working from home – to be able to write and make a good living of it.

And I am grateful for Boo’s right eye, for we were all wrong about the left.  He’s nearly blind in it — maybe he can see shapes but that’s about it.  He had cheated on the other test.  In almost every picture of him now you can tell his left eye isn’t quite right.  The amazing thing is Jonah seems not to mind so much.  I think maybe this is yet another blessing for those on the more severe side of autism:  Maybe these individuals have no expectations from life.  They just live it and react accordingly to stimuli, perhaps even instinctually, in whatever way they can in order to move through what must seem a very foreign world.  There is joy for them here, and there is sorrow, but it is not the same as ours and never will be.  Theirs is a pure innocence and a soul unsullied by envy, shame, jealousy, guilt, bitterness… so many wonderful things to be without.

I think maybe I need to try harder look at things from Boo’s perspective – to watch and listen and tune-in to him more, instead of being so reactive (something I’m almost body-trained to be from his aggressions).

I am looking forward to Saturday.  My hope is relentless, week after week, in the face of any possibility imaginable.  If that is the definition of crazy then there it is.  I can be that kind of crazy.  I can be anything I need to.  I am pliable, lithe.

Thank you is my prayer today.

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Note:  This is kind of stream-of-consciousness – I am writing lazily and may or may not proofread or edit…

This morning, P, one of Jonah’s caregiver/bring-to-the-doctor folks, called me at 8:09am on my cell phone.  I was still lying in bed and answered sleepily.  Jonah had an 8am doc appointment today with his glaucoma doc and I’d forgotten to write it on my calendar.  There was no way I’d make it there, so I asked P to please call me after the appointment.

I want to emphasize my continuous daily gratitude at the mere fact that I can still be in bed at 8:09am on a weekday at all.  It’s a distressing mystery how (and how quickly) I furtively and quietly descend from undying gratitude to a place where I am taking everything for granted.  I’m doing pretty well at maintaining the self-awareness necessary to stay in appreciation mode, though.  So I am still here in Thankful Land; even though it may not sound like it, gratitude is still my foundation.

When P called me after the appointment, she told me they weren’t able to do anything there.  Jonah attacked her, J, the nurse, the doc…everyone but mama, the no-show.  My immediate reaction was guilt — he expected mama to be there.  I wasn’t there with octopus and fruit snacks and slinky and a drink.  I started to cry and I said “I’m so sorry” – everyone had gotten at least a good scratch or bite, I’m sure.  And I’m sorry because maybe if I was there he’d have been fine.  Three hours driving for nothing.  P told me it wasn’t my fault — and maybe it wasn’t — but my forgetting the appointment was my fault, and I don’t think I’ve ever done it before.  So they have to reschedule and drive back up tomorrow or the next day if possible, because the doc is going on vacation. 

Maybe it was divine intervention – I couldn’t handle seeing Jonah like that, so I was supposed to miss this appointment so I wouldn’t have to watch (or be injured by) Jonah’s out-of-the-blue attack modes.  It’s just one more thing to add to the list of everything I don’t know.  Good thing I am relatively comfortable with ignorance where it can’t be helped.

Is it normal for me to constantly want to attach Jonah’s behaviors to some shred of meaning?  I am not a ruminator but maybe I should be more of one.  Maybe if I tried harder to attach things, they would finally attach.  For some reason today I need to feel like someone understands, and the blessing is that (partially because of a core group of readers’ comments), I know people understand.

There should be a non-fiction, realistic, autism book out there to help us feel like we are not alone and to educate the world that there are plenty of us who are just making it day by day, as best we can.  I’ve read most of the well-known “autism family” non-fiction books, but they seem to offer not empathy but rather a superior attitude.  And 90% of them (or maybe even 100%) are written about children with very high-functioning autism (or kids who were low-functioning, but thanks to the Superparents’ dogged determination, have climbed their way out of the darkness of autism into the fucking light).  Evidently the rest of us can rest assured we have done everything wrong, made bad choices, and are selfishly lacking in the love-drive necessary to save our children like the people in the books.

Now I’m projecting.

I feel angry today. Can you tell?

Part of the reason I haven’t written in a while is personal, stuff that doesn’t belong here but has nonetheless messed with my head on one level or another…not all in a bad way.  I have found out where I stand in order of importance/significance/priority with a person or two, and that order was lower than I knew, and that hurts. But I do it to myself.  You teach people how to treat you, as Dr. Phil used to say back when he was still good.  I’ve taught a lot of people to treat me however they please.  Unless you have hurt me in an ongoing, vicious, or deliberately harmful way, everybody knows it’s a safe bet Amy will capitulate on the side of letting it go… or letting it be, right K?   It’s the path of least resistance.

The truth is, though, things like this usually dissipate quickly.  They exit my mind…and so they’re only really a problem if I allow them to be.

A joyful Sunday – went with my wonderful friend D and her husband to Tanglewood for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which was fun and lovely.   The Royal Baby was born (I wanted Kate to have a girl, though).  I watched the last episode of The Sopranos last night (which, perhaps for the same reason I love Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and Lois Lowry’s The Giver, I found appropriate, clever, and chilling).  Then all the news: George Zimmerman and Helen Thomas, and this star’s marriage and the latest viral video.  And the way I put off writing here when I feel dangerously upset or anxious, because I don’t want to come off like I’m having a pity party.  The phone calls each night between Andy and me.  Something I said to him on Saturday I wish I could take back because it laid me so bare I shivered in the heat. 

Inside me today lives an unrest that may last for a day but has the potential to go on and on unless I get a grip, which I undoubtedly will, given the fact that I’m not sitting at a desk in an office selling advertising and trying not to feel all this.

I will post some picture-stores of what’s been happening since last I wrote.

On Sunday the 15th I went to Delmar for brunch to hear my lovely friend Chrys play with the Jim Sande Ensemble (they were awesome)

On Sunday the 15th I went to Delmar for brunch to hear my lovely friend Chrys play with the Jim Sande Ensemble (they were awesome)

Jonah, last week at the same glaucoma doc he flipped out on today.  Here they are testing his left eye.  He can't see out of the eye and is about to give some bullshit answer.

Jonah, last week at the same glaucoma doc he flipped out on today. Here they are testing his left eye. He can’t see out of the eye and is about to give some bullshit answer.

Boo playing nicely with the slinky I'd brought him...sitting in the waiting room patiently for doctor number two, this time planned.  He was a good boy the whole time.

Boo playing nicely with the slinky I’d brought him…sitting in the waiting room patiently for doctor number two, this time planned that way. He was a very good boy the whole time.

Chillin' while he waits for doctor number two, who told us everything looks great and the cloudy blood cells are beginning to dissipate).

Chillin’ while he waits for doctor number two, who told us everything looks great and the cloudy blood cells are beginning to dissipate.  He got to leave without the eye shield, too!  He’s had it on for two whole months.  Poor kid.

This past Saturday:  Daddy helping Jonah put his shoes on -- and no more eye shield, finally!

This past Saturday: Daddy helping Jonah put his shoes on — and no more eye shield, finally!

Here’s a cute little video of us in the car:  me handing Jonah some lip balm and showing him how to press his lips together afterward.

Me, at Tanglewood Sunday afternoon, about to enjoy Tchaikovsky, Bach, and Tellmann (all contemporaries; Beethoven and Mozart came next)

Me, at Tanglewood Sunday afternoon, about to enjoy Tchaikovsky, Bach, and Tellmann (all contemporaries; Beethoven and Mozart came next)

When the music's over...

When the music’s over…

Lots of writing work today.  I can tune my TV to 1270 and go back to the music…

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On Tuesday morning, I set out with something like hope to meet Jonah and the two caregivers who’d driven him up for his glaucoma doctor appointment.  Jonah hadn’t seen one of the caregivers, J, in a long time.  J and Jonah have a special bond, and I’m sure Jonah was thrilled when he first saw him.  I love watching them together: a big brother and his little pal.

Jonah was so good while we waited in the hall.  He amused himself, turning circles, humming, making random noises, occasionally approaching J or P or me to touch us lightly or lean in for a hug.   Of course I’d come prepared with bubbles, octopus, peanut butter crackers, strawberry seltzer, and peppermint tic-tacs.  He was as quiet as an NT kid.  Probably quieter, for a few minutes anyway.

He even sat down nicely in the waiting room chair (for a few minutes)   :-)

He even sat down nicely in the waiting room chair for a while

…shortly thereafter deciding to chillax into “punk ass” pose:

I love the punk-ass pose...almost always accompanied by the thumb-suck, making it even funnier

I love the punk-ass pose…almost always accompanied by the thumb-suck, making it even funnier

Jonah was great for the eye test too, but the glaucoma doctor seemed to underestimate and overestimate my son’s cognitive abilities.  What I mean by that is:

Doc wants to assess Jonah’s left eye only so he covers the right eye and puts the Big-Ass-E up on the screen.  Boo probably can’t see a thing but he’s also no dummy.  He’s been to dozens of eye appointments, and he knows damn well the first letter they ask him to read is always E.  Sure enough, when the doc puts that giant E on the screen and asks Jonah what letter he sees, “E,” Jonah announces confidently.  I tell the doc that Jonah knows the first letter is always E.  So the doc shows him the second line:  A  L  O.

Not missing a beat, Jonah tells him “E F G.”  He has no idea, but has E F G is the standard answer he uses at such times.

The doc sighs and shuffles through some drawers; he finds a card with the letter E on it, and I wonder how this will help since we’ve already determined Jonah will answer “E” to just about anything asked of him.  Jonah watches as the doc holds the card up and then turns it to the right, so now it looks like a boxy M.

boxy m

“Jonah, which way is the E pointing?”   Jonah says nothing, so the doc’s next idea is to ask the same question using more difficult terminology.

“Jonah, which way are the E’s tines pointing – up, down, right, or left?’

E F G,” says Jonah.

“The tines,” the doc tries again.  He may ask well ask Jonah for the square root of 3,481*.

“I wish I had my alphabet cards,” I say.  This is a good glaucoma doctor, awards all over his wall, but he never seems to remember (or doesn’t understand) Boo — and by now he’s seen him in the office probably a dozen times.  Maybe it’s just that I’m too close to it all, and to Jonah — whose language, largely unspoken, I understand.

Finally, the doc holds up five fingers and asks Jonah how many.  When Jonah answers “two,” I think we all know there isn’t much sight in the left eye. 

The good news, though, is that the doc told us Jonah could have some of his sight restored after the blood cell clouding dissipates.  It just remains to be seen (no pun intended).  He was concerned, though, about a surprisingly low pressure read in the left eye.   He wanted Jonah to get an ultrasound at the other (retina) doc next door, right away.  He called to tell them we were coming — and we braced ourselves for the dire possibilities inherent in this plan.

But Jonah surprised us, happily amenable to “doctor number two.”

He actually sat patiently through two eye exams with two different doctors within 40 minutes of one another:

doctor number one

doctor number one
doctor number two

doctor number two

After the ultrasound, doctor number two said he liked what he saw of Jonah’s eye, and that his right eye looks just fine.

It was a wonderful day.  I suppose it’s a little strange that some of my best and happiest interactions with my son are at doctor appointments, but then both the good and bad can happen anywhere – so perhaps it isn’t strange at all.

Yesterday (in the ongoing heat and humidity that will surely mark this summer of 2013) my mom and I drove down to another wonderful day with Boo.

Good day, sir!

Good day, sir!

While Jonah took his beloved bath, we (meaning mostly me) recited his favorite scene near the tail-end of the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” eliciting great smiles and giggling  from Boo.  GOOD DAY, SIR!   I love to hear him laugh.

There was only one incident during car ride to transfer station and I managed to capture it in photos from beginning to end.  No one was harmed during this incident, which was mighty nice.

Still relatively happy

Still relatively happy

We think he didn't like the volume of the song (probably not loud enough for his taste) or the commercial break, or his dislike of the song itself, though it remained a mystery why it made him so desperately upset and sad.

We think he didn’t like the volume of the song (probably not loud enough for his taste) or the commercial break, or his dislike of the song itself, though it remained a mystery why it made him so desperately upset and sad.

Andy's pulling over now.  Jonah is almost on the floor, kicking his legs up the front and beginning to cry.

Andy’s pulling over now. Jonah is almost on the floor, kicking his legs up into the front seat and beginning to cry.

After being bear-hugged and comforted by daddy, Jonah resumes his punk-ass pose.

After being bear-hugged and comforted by daddy, Jonah resumes a punk-ass pose.

This time when mom and I drove back to Albany it was with a light heart, and to my lovely musical selection: Guster Live Acoustic.

He has had a good many days in a row, sweet Boo.  And he gifted me with many hugs and kisses on Saturday, to last me ’til I see him next, on Wednesday, at the same two doctors in a row (this time planned that way).

I am grateful indeed.  Thanks especially to J and P, who as always were a huge help and support.

How I do love my amazing little boy.

* 59

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Whenever I stop blogging for a week or longer, there is too much to say.  Then another day goes by and more happens, and I start to dread attempting to sift through it all to highlight all the events, which then usually get amalgamated.  So be it.

Sometimes I’m lazy and turn everything into a pictorial.  This will be kind of like that, I suppose.

Last week Jonah had a doc appointment with the pediatric rheumatologist at Albany Med.  I love her and her staff.  They get Jonah right into a room and usually see him quickly.  I’d made sure to buy a whole pile of octopi, so I was prepared with both that and a bag of fruit snacks for Boo.  I called my dad to see if he wanted to come, because Jonah is rarely aggressive at this particular doctor, and I thought Jonah would like to see his “pa.”  So my dad met us there.  But Murphy’s Law being what it is, Jonah came at me at his usual light-speed and grabbed the front of my shirt, nearly ripping it in half down the middle.  Luckily both N and P were there from the school, so they intervened quickly and that was that.  It was enough to send my dad off into the waiting room for the rest of the appointment.  Though I tried twice to convince him to come back in the room, he refused.  His theory is Jonah aggressed because he was there, which may or may not be true…but he was a good boy for the rest of the appointment.

Jonah with his octopus and fruit snacks (and still, the eye shield)

Jonah with his octopus and fruit snacks (and still, the eye shield)
Boo, acting all punk-ass, slouched in the big chair

Boo, acting all punk-ass, slouched in the big chair

It’s a shame my dad did not get to see him for a longer period of time. I think he carries a deep sadness inside him, a kind of trepidation in his gut that simply will not abate.  I understand this, though it’s distressing for me to witness.  Sometimes I wish my parents had adopted another kid or two, so they’d have more grandchildren.

This was the second doc appointment that week, the first being the amazing one I’d talked about last post, so I got to see Jonah 4 times in one week, most of which were affectionate and joyful visits.

Though his retina doc still wants Boo to wear the eye shield, we got permission for him to go swimming with a life vest on (so he wouldn’t go too much underwater), and evidently Jonah was okay with that, even though he has never in his life needed a life vest.  I thought he’d pitch a fit, wanting to go deep under and swim along the bottom as is his preference…but I suppose he was in no mood to look this gift horse in the mouth (even one which forced him to compromise).

I missed him so much after that — maybe because I’d gotten to see him so many times the week before.  So I was really looking forward to yesterday.  When my mom and I were driving down I was in an awesome mood.

But the visit was tough.  Jonah was on the playground when we arrived to pick him up, and though I held my arms out wide for a big hug, he ran straight into daddy’s embrace.  This I can handle and understand; he is with his dad more than he is with me, but still I can’t help wishing he’d run to mama once in a while.

We arrived at the apartment and all seemed okay.  I was proud of myself because once he tried to lash out at me and I deflected his swing “Karate Kid” style, wax on-wax off, just like Daniel-son.  But then he got me good a few minutes later, coming at me with two fists and tightening each on a wad of my hair.  I called out and Andy came running, lowering Jonah to the floor and telling me to come with them (as if I had a choice).  I grabbed each of Jonah’s fists and pushed them into my head so as to lower the pain level and ensure he didn’t dig his fingernails too deep into my scalp.   While Andy was trying to disengage Jonah’s fingers and my mom tried to reason with him (Now Jonah, don’t hurt mommy), I writhed on the floor and cried like a wimp.

Then Jonah scratched up my eyelid (my eyes were closed tight) and bit my left arm, twice, hard, leaving painful welts I can feel today.  His shoes were still on, so I got a few nice hard kicks to the stomach as well.  Finally Andy disengaged him and I ran into the bathroom and closed the door.  If I’d had a sense of humor about it at the time, I’d have taken my camera into the bathroom and shot pics of myself.  My hair looked Halloween-crazy, teased into a mountain of snarls and tangles.  I carefully combed it out and removed a huge handful of hair from the comb,  washed my face with cool water, took a few deep breaths, and came back out to the kitchen.

After that he was mostly okay.  I’d bought him a train video (a double DVD of real trains) and he liked that.  We took Jonah for a car ride (my mom stayed back after I helped her log into Facebook so she could look up some relatives) and Andy gave him an eye drop, and for a while it was peaceful enough.  Later we had to pull over twice because Boo started crying and asking for one of his favorite caretakers at his residence.  Each time Andy got out of the car and hugged him tight, letting him cry.  I breathed deep.

We'd taken the eye shield of to give him his drop but you can see how it looked all gooky

We’d taken the eye shield off to give him his drop, but you can see how it looked all gooky

We have two more eye doc appointments next week – one at the glaucoma doc and another back at the retina doc.  I hope and pray the blood in his eye has abated, and that he will have some sight left in the eye, and that he can swim as he likes for as long as he likes.  My poor Boo.

Someone at his school called me last week to see if I had any questions about Jonah’s progress or anything I was concerned with, and I mentioned the medications and the aggressions-sans-antecedents, and she assured me that it was a fine idea to speak with Boo’s med doc, though I still want to wait until his eye situation is under control.  Also, the pediatric rheumatologist saw no problems with his joints, so if he does not need it for the eye, we may be taking him off the Humira and possibly also the Methotrexate.  So I don’t want to monkey with his psych meds at the same time.

It is hot today and I am smiling just picturing him able to go in that pool – not being left behind as all the other kids get to swim.  I hope he is having a happy day.  I’m still doing well and shrugging off the incidents where he hurts me.  I know he does not mean to hurt his mama.  I know he loves me and I love him and we are all doing everything we can to ensure his happiness, safety, and well-being.

I know we are lucky – especially when I broaden my perspective and think of the rest of this planet.

Every morning I wake up and the first thing I think is thank you.  My new job has an overwhelmingly positive effect on every single piece of what I think, what I do, and what has become most important to me.

Andy may bring Jonah up this week to swim in my mom’s neighbor’s pool.   We just have to borrow a life vest from someone.  I will get in the pool with him and we’ll have a blast.  At least this is what I hope.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I have not wanted to write here.  I am only going to spout lots of depressing crap in this post, so if you don’t feel like reading it, please feel free to skip this one altogether.  It reads too much like a diary and is too personal.  I admit things I don’t want to admit.  I’m this close to deleting the whole damn post.  In fact I want you to skip it.

Sigh.

When my mom and I drove down to visit Jonah last Saturday it was difficult all around.  Andy had taken Jonah the night before for an overnight visit, and Jonah didn’t fall asleep until 5am.  I don’t know if it was the heat that kept Jonah up or what, but as a result Andy was exhausted.  At first the only discernable effect on Jonah was a strangely voracious appetite, asking for one food after another, though later he napped against the window on his car ride.

asleep in the car

asleep in the car

He refuses to have all 3 of us in the car, which almost always means my mom has to stay back at the apartment while Andy and I drive him around.

This time we tried to force the issue, but Jonah wasn’t having it.  My mom got in the back of the car with him and Jonah immediately attacked her, pulling her shirt and scratching up her shoulder.  So as usual she went inside and watched Fox or QVC or whatever the hell on TV.  But she’s sick of it, the whole thing, the making sandwiches for all of us ahead of time and driving an hour and a half every week to bring Jonah gummy bears, chips, special treats, then visiting him for 10 minutes and being left behind.  She’s tired and she doesn’t want to do it anymore, as much as she loves her grandson.  Then, to add to it, Andy and I have been arguing on the car rides recently and sometimes I come back crying, and that pisses her off too.  She yelled at me on our ride back home, demanding why can’t two people get along for 3 hours once a week?

I have no answer.  I don’t know why.  It was never a problem before.

There is so much frustration in everything that has to do with Jonah now.  God help me but sometimes I don’t want to drive down either.  Back home I sit in Jonah’s room sometimes — I’ve got it decorated like a guest room now:

Jonah would destroy all of it with one sweep of his arm

Jonah would destroy all of this with one sweep of his arm

I look at it all and then close my eyes.  I picture the room as we’d prepared it before he was born:  the pale green checkered curtains and light wood crib with matching green checkered bedding.  The toy box, bookshelf full of baby books, closet & dresser full of tiny clothes.  The before.  And the wee baby days when Jonah was sweet, strong, holding his head up early, walking early.  We all thought he was so very healthy, so uniquely intelligent.  I’d nurse him on my lap and balance my own dinner on the edge of the boppy pillow, gazing down at my beautiful son, our eyes meeting with love.

"those were the days"

“those were the days”

“And you know where you were then…”  I sigh too because sweet, innocent, dingbat Edith (Jean Stapleton) of my favorite show has died, “stifled” all too soon, even if she was 90.

Now we don’t know where we are, or what to do to solve anything, and more questions, trouble, worries appear on the horizon of each day.  I have no health insurance for 90 days, and I can’t afford COBRA.  I need to find out what insurance paid for which doctor and what medicine so I can ensure Jonah is still covered for everything he needs through Medicaid disability.  Andy wants to get a divorce now (we are currently legally separated).  He has been saying for some time that he no longer wants me to help him monetarily — not with health insurance, not with car insurance, not with anything — going so far as to tell me (in a moment of hyperbole) that he’d never talk to me again if I paid for any of his expenses.  Maybe the divorce will give him closure; maybe it will make him less angry at me so much of the time.  I don’t know.  But even a no-contest divorce through our mediator is more expensive than I guessed.

And I keep thinking I should make an appointment with Jonah’s psych doctor, talk to her about weaning him off the cocktail of meds which are supposed to mitigate the anxiety and aggression, then put him back on them one at a time to see what works and what doesn’t…but I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do and I’m not sure who can tell me or how damaging it might be for Boo to put him through that.  Plus I want his eye to heal first.  I don’t know what to do.

Andy took him to the eye doctor in Rhinebeck today.  When he called me tonight to give me the daily “Jonah report,” he told me the eye doc checked Boo’s vision in the left eye…and that now Jonah can’t see anything out of that eye at all.  My heart stopped. You mean all this has been for nothing?  The operation…the hell week afterward…the anguish and the aggressions and the all of the everything?

Evidently Jonah can’t see out of his left eye because it has hemorrhaged somewhat and there is still blood in it, blocking the retina, so the doc was not over-alarmed. But Andy says it will take a very long time for the blood to clear.  Does it mean Jonah will have to wear the eye shield for another week?  Another month?  Does it mean that when the blood clears, he will be able to see again?  We don’t know.

We don’t know what is going to happen and we don’t know how to visit with Jonah and we don’t fucking know.  Andy took Jonah for a while today and Jonah attacked him twice when they were having “quiet time” lying on Andy’s bed.  Other than that he was good, Andy told me.  Other than being attacked twice…

On Sunday M and I went to church, a non-denominational Protestant Christian church his co-worker goes to in Schodack.  It was the first time in decades I’d been to anything but a Catholic Church.  I suppose it should be easy for one raised Catholic to go from the seeped-in-ritual Mass to the virtually ritual-less service of this kind of place — at least easier than if it were reversed, and one had to try to unravel all the movements and prayers of the Catholics.  But the pastor spoke about the story of Abraham and how God told him to sacrifice his son.  I started to cry, of course, silently, drawing an immediate parallel to my own life, and I couldn’t stop the tears through the whole service.  I felt like an idiot, though M assured me afterward that it was a perfectly fine place to have tears rolling down your face.  I suppose I should be glad of that.  (Of course, in the Bible passage, as soon as Abraham agreed to sacrifice his son, God changed His mind and let the child live).

My little Boo, the sacrificial lamb.

We gave him up all right, but for what?  He’s been at his residential school for nearly two years, and though he has learned a lot, his aggressions haven’t gone away at all.  If the medicine is mitigating the aggressions, I shudder to think of what he would be like without them.  He is now older, stronger.  Are they simply managing him?  No.  He is learning and he does have good days of joy and peace.  But still he moves lightning-quick to strike and slap and pull hair, to hit, to kick, to hurt whomever is in range, even when he has just been given something he wants – even when he seems perfectly happy just microseconds prior to the aggression.  It’s as if Andy and I have permanent PTSD.  Or just TSD, because there isn’t any Post.  It’s ongoing.  I am ashamed to say it but I am grateful I do not have to take care of my son; I am grateful he is not in my home.

And now I will admit the most shameful thing of all:  sometimes, on the worst days, I become ignorantly envious of parents whose children sicken and die, and for this simple reason: because there is an end to it. 

No, of course I don’t want Jonah to die.  And I am not really envious of parents whose children die.  I know it would be horrible, beyond my imagination or comprehension.  It’s the end to it that I want. 

I just want an end to it. 

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“Likely as not, the child you can do the least with will do the most to make you proud.”

Mignon McLaughlin

It was the first thing Boo asked for when I met him at the car; Andy had just driven up to the eye doctor’s office and I was there, yesterday, waiting for them.  “Octopus?”  he said when he saw me, reaching out his hand.  “Hi, Boo.  I’m sorry.  Mama forgot the octopus,” I answered, cursing myself.  I’ve bought him so many octopi and he destroys or loses them all, or they get so grimy and un-washable we have to toss them away.  But next appointment I’ll be sure to have one at hand.

Jonah and his "octopus."

An older picture of Jonah and his “octopus.”

This is a picture of what Jonah calls “octopus.”  Any kind of those squishy rubbery toys with nub or finger-like appendages will fit the bill – even those that look like caterpillars or balls.  To Jonah they are all octopus.

He was a good boy in the car ride up, and a good boy at the eye doc office, even though we had to wait a good while in a small room.

Daddy played 'push and pull' Jonah's legs while we waited.

Daddy played ‘push and pull’ Jonah’s legs while we waited.

After a while, Jonah started turning his circles in the small area, becoming less patient.

You can see where we've cut the hair along the top of his head to keep it away from his eye shield.   What he needs is a buzz cut for the summer.

You can see where we’ve cut the hair along the top of his head to keep it away from his eye shield. What he needs is a buzz cut for the summer.

We sang “I’ve been working on the railroad” for a while, trading lines, but then he stopped and said “no,” clearly done with that entertainment.  Finally, I thought the taking of the pictures themselves might occupy him. Sometimes it makes him mad, so usually when I take photos I do so surreptitiously.  But this day he enjoyed it.  I took one of him with his daddy and then daddy took one of him with me:

Coming in for a hug with daddy.

Coming in for a hug with daddy.

Sitting on mama's lap

Sitting on mama’s lap

Eventually Andy went into the hallway to tell someone that Jonah was fixing to have a tantrum (though he really was still being good) — we knew the longer he was left in the room, the harder it would be for the doc to examine him once she arrived.  Soon afterward the doc appeared.  She had me take all the tape off his eye shield and remove it altogether; I hoped against hope we could leave it off for good this time.  But his eye still looked bloody and the pressure was too high (around 32) – both of which things, she told us, were to be expected.

She put two kinds of eye drops in his eye, one of which stings, and did an ultrasound with blue goo all over a wand against his closed eye.  All of these things would bother an adult, let alone a child of 11 with autism.  But my little trooper was so good – he patiently let her examine, shine lights, and more while Andy and I waited anxiously.

She said the ultrasound looked like things were much better, and she wanted him to have two more appointments, a week apart.

Unfortunately, we had to put the eye shield back on.  Jonah seemed resigned to this and happily gave both of us kisses when it was all over.  I needed to return home to work, but Andy brought him to see grandma, and then back to his residence, without much trouble at all.

I was so proud of my Boo.

Thank you to all of you who sent prayers and well wishes through comments, or through my facebook page, or by e-mail, or live and in person, or in your hearts.  Jonah loves you all, unconditionally.  Mama promises.

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Andy drove Jonah up to the glaucoma doc this morning and I met them there.  The good part of that is I got to sleep an extra half hour and I got to see my Boo.  The bad part was the damned operation they’ve scheduled to take the Reticert implant out of Jonah’s eye on the off chance that it’s still emitting steroids, in which case we need that to stop.  Jonah, as usual, was very good through all the exams and procedures, the eye drops and pressure gauge.  But his left eye is 20/400 (20/200 is legally blind).  And so May 14th he’ll have his 5th? 6th? eye operation.

After today’s appointment Andy brought Jonah outside and I stayed behind to talk to the doc and do the paperwork.

“Is there anything we can do to treat that eye…to improve the vision?”  I ask doc S.

“Well, if he were a normal boy…”  he starts.

That’s all I hear.  Yeah.  If he were a ‘normal’ boy he could wear glasses that he wouldn’t throw and smash, and he could have the permanent operation to redirect the drainage in his eye, but he can’t…he’d rub his eyes and crush the whole mechanism before it healed. 

Why can’t this doctor just answer the question?

He gives me a brochure about glaucoma.  It’s the brochure I read months (a year?) ago – the one that says glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually steals your vision and glaucoma usually occurs in both eyes, but extra fluid pressure often starts to build up in one eye first.

I tell him I have read the brochure.  I ask him about that first sentence – the steals your vision part.  He smiles at me, answers “if left untreated,” and is already out of the room before I can respond.

If left untreated. 

Well you just told me we can’t treat it, I want to yell after his retreating figure.

I realize I’m painting an unfairly poor picture of Dr. S. here, but what I want is the bedside manner of that rare, wonderful doctor who will sit, listen, and speak to you as though you are an intelligent human being (instead of aiming medical terms over your head then ushering you out the door).  But people rave about this guy.  He has “Best Doctor” awards all over his office.  (Today I noticed he’d re-arranged them). I’m sure he is a fantastic glaucoma specialist who’s great with the demographic of the majority of his patients:  an aging, docile population of ‘normal’ people.   He is kind to Jonah in an off-hand way but never learns that Boo does not converse and is never going to answer his questions about whether or not Santa came or what kind of Easter he had.  It isn’t like Jonah hadn’t been there 10 times or so before.

Grandma?  Jonah answers when the doc asks him one of these questions – and where can the doctor go from there?  I smirk, turn my head.  Way to shut him down, Boo.

And so after the doc appointment Andy brought Jonah to see grandma.  They all drove to the train in grey car and my mom told me later that Boo was good; they saw a very long train which pleased him very much.

Easter was kind of a blur.  Andy drove Jonah up and I met them at grandma’s.

Easter Boo
                        Easter Boo

My mom made delicious food but now it is always pre-packaged up, one for Andy, one for M and me.   There is no pretense of sitting down to eat and there hasn’t been for some time.  It’s better this way.  I love my mom for making the delicious food anyway and for getting Boo a beautiful Easter basket anyway, but I also fight to stay grateful – especially, for some reason, on Easter.  I see little kids all dressed up and going to church after their Easter Egg hunts…I am jealous of that whole piece.

I didn’t even go to church on Easter myself.  My favorite priest is retired and gone, and I wanted his Easter homily only.  I am a one-priest-Catholic, I guess. And now, I love Pope Francis.  His humility and simplicity – his gentle ways, his appeal for peace, for the poor, for the helpless.  It’s not as if I am a good Catholic – or a good anything, for that matter.  But this pope makes me want to identify myself with Catholicism more than any pope before him that I can remember.  I like to keep abreast of what he’s doing and I’m so happy that, whether people are Catholic or not, what he says and does will be a big influence on the world.  We could all use a leader with a little humility, if you ask me.

Anyway.  I don’t really like holidays anymore.  My favorite holiday is sleep.

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