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Posts from the ‘Medical’ Category

Please Consider Helping my Son


For more info on Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome and Hunter’s journey through this 1 in 10 million person condition, please visit:

CaringBridge – Hunter Crum OMS Warrior

and to possibly help us raise money for a mobility/PTSD trained dog, as well as, making our bathroom handicap accessible, you can visit:

GoFundMe – Hunter Crum OMS Warrior

Above all…..pray…..Jesus is bigger ūüôā


Morning Encouragement

After a *tough* weekend….emotionally, I had my early Monday morning chat with my sister.¬† We chit chatted about nothing and everything, then we moved into what my triggers were from the past weekend.

A statement that swirls around in my head, from another friend, that I told to Tera.¬† My friend said, “Brandi, you have to have a release.¬† You have to find someone you can trust and get this stuff off your chest and cry if you need to cry.”¬† My statement back to her was “I had that person….and she died… I don’t and I stuff stuff stuff it all down.”

Tera agreed with my friend and we talked about the stages of grief and the fact that I have had no time to truly grieve anything over the past 3 yrs.¬† I’ve gone from one hit to another, with little time to breathe and no time to grieve and release the pain and emotion from everything that has happened.

Then….she took it one step further….she said

“Brandi, its okay to have birds fly around your head (referring, of course, to grief, depression, anxiety, etc), but you can’t let them make a nest in your hair.”

I agreed….wiped my tears….got off the phone….and went to the bathroom.

Then…….this is what I saw:


I texted her and asked her to define “Nest in Hair.”

So…… birds have nested………….time for them to fly south.

Bye Bye Birdie.


Recognizing and Embracing my Triggers

There are certain things I will not do/watch/hear/etc because I know that they can be a trigger for me.

I struggle with depression/anxiety (I have many posts on this) and I know what can affect me.

Movies where people die.

TV shows that are emotionally charged (I may be the only person to refuse to watch This Is Us)

Uber sad songs.

I won’t read anything that has to do with someone taking their own life or tragedies that happen around the world…..I don’t even watch movies with Robin Williams or other celebrities who have died by suicide or freak accidents).

I have taken FB and instagram off my phone because we have recently had a HORRIFIC event happen at our local school.¬† This brought back memories of another HORRIFIC school shooting in my hometown.¬† A school that I graduated from….with kids whom I knew…my daddy was a first responder.¬† I can’t even look at a newsfeed or read an article because it affects me so terribly.

I don’t keep photos up of those whom have passed away.¬† It hurts to look at them sometimes and can send me down a dark path.¬† I have one picture of my Lady and me on my mantle.

If I keepsakes from someone (like my grandparents, or my Lady, etc), I do not display them around the house.¬† I take that back…I do have some of my granny’s dishes that I still use.¬† They make me smile, most days.¬† I keep them on in a keepsake chest my daddy made years ago.

I do not watch war movies.  Ever.

My point is… I know what affects me.¬† I am completely aware.¬† I don’t want to be rude by not knowing about something, or not watching something (my sister would LOVE for me to watch This is Us because it does such a good job on the ins and outs of adoption).¬† I struggle enough with my emotions without doing something that makes it worse.

I hope you know your triggers.  I hope you embrace them and become a student of whatever it is that you have whether it be depression, anxiety, PMS, ADHD, etc.  Do/watch/read things that bring you joy, not bring you down.


Depression and Anxiety

It is no secret that depression has plagued me since I was a little girl.¬† I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what, when I was younger.¬† I thought everyone felt the way I did.¬† I was withdrawn, sad, angry, hurting…I just thought that was normal.

I trudged through life and on and off, I struggled.¬† I kept pushing it down…making excuses for why I felt the way I felt and did my best to ignore it.¬† I think the tipping point was the year my granny died.¬† Oh.¬† That woman.¬† I cannot tell you what the thought of her does to my heart.¬† She loved me.¬† She loved me regardless of my moods.¬† She protected me.¬† She taught me.¬† She was the epitome of love.¬† When she died…I lost a piece of my heart.

Again, I ignored the pain.  I blamed it on grief.

Then Tay and Shay came to live with us at 10 mths and 2 yrs old, respectively.¬† I threw my life into caring for 5 kids and my new kids were SO sick, therefore we were all sick.¬† They left us just as quickly as they came to us.¬† It was sudden, unexpected, painful… grief mounted and my days were spent crying or in bed.¬† I could not function.¬† I could not be a parent to my other children.¬† I could not be a wife to my husband.¬† I didn’t even want to see the morning.¬† My world stopped spinning.

I remember calling the drs office.¬† He was young and new and so eager.¬† The nurse actually answered the phone and I was weeping uncontrollably.¬† I kept saying “I’m done.¬† I can’t do this anymore.¬† I’m done.¬† Do something.¬† Help me.¬† I can’t do it anymore.”¬† The next thing I knew, the dr overheard me and he got on the phone.¬† He began asking pointed questions “Do you feel like you are going to hurt yourself?¬† Do I need to send someone to get you?¬† Do you have feelings of hurting others?”¬† Those questions confused me and I remember saying “well, good grief…I’m not going to kill myself.¬† I have kids and my husband would not know how to get any stains out of the carpet!”¬† I remember that conversation like it was yesterday.

He put me on my first anti depressant and anti anxiety meds.¬† I never took the anti anxiety meds because I didn’t want too and I was afraid that I would become addicted to them.¬† I have been on anti depressants on and off since then.¬† I do believe that there is a time and a place to use medications for those who are either depressed based on situations (these times you get on the meds to help you through a slump and then, with the advice and direction of a doctor, you can wean off of them)….and then there is me. I’m considered clinically depressed.¬† A chemical imbalance in my brain.¬† My disease and use of medication is no different that my dad with diabetes.¬† I would NEVER tell him that he can fight off the diabetes on his own through diet and exercise and to not use insulin.¬† I would NEVER tell my friend that she can fight the cancer off with better thoughts and vitamins and to not use chemo.¬† Sometimes, a person who is depressed, cannot exercise/eat right/use oils/blah blah blah to get out of it.

Recently, over the last 3 yrs, I have had a REALLY tough time.¬† It has been bad.¬† Epically bad.¬† I have spent more time in hospitals with my Lady, my dad, my son, etc than I have ever in my lifetime.¬† We’ve had financial bombs, car issues, our son’s illness, marriage issues, kid issues….it has been one hit after another.¬† I can’t seem to catch my breath.¬† My phrase has been “Lord, just keep my eyes above the waves.¬† Hold on.”

God is bigger.¬† He already knew all these things would happen and He has already created the perfect provision for everything that has happened, is happening or will happen.¬† I get that He sees the bigger picture…but my stomach and nerves are all over the place because I am still flesh and bones.

A couple of weeks ago, Hunter had IVIG one day and chemo the next.¬† Our roads were COVERED with ice and snow.¬† Once you got past the backroads, the main roads were okay.¬† They weren’t great, but they were doable.¬† A 3.5 hr trip took me 5 hrs…..with a 3 yr old.¬† Good times.

Once we were admitted, I got a call from home saying that it was snowing.¬† That it had been “blizzard” type snowing all day long and there was no end in sight.¬† We ended up getting between 12-14 inches of snow on top of a couple of inches of ice.¬† I had to drive home in that….with a sick child.

The first night was fine because we were tucked away in the hospital.¬† My nerves were shot, I had not slept in 2 days.¬† I had not eaten in a couple of days and the next morning….I was sicker than a dog.¬† If I could’ve have vomited, I would have…and almost did.¬† I thought I was coming down with the flu.¬† It was horrible.¬† I was too scared to eat because I thought I would barf.¬† I bathed in oils.¬† I tried to cool myself off with cold rags.¬† I tried to sleep (have you ever tried to sleep in a hospital….yep….that didn’t happen).

We finally got out of there and I made sure that I had barf bags and wipes ready for either one of us to need.  I did okay for about 2 hrs and then the roads were getting worse.  I had to stop and get gas and their roads were covered.  There was no blacktop anywhere.  I felt my vomit rising.  I was silently crying, trying not to scare the baby.  I knew the closer I got to home, the worse it was going to be.  I had had all that I could stand.

My sister called and she told me to get off the main roads.¬† Bless….she gave me the address to the closest Wendys.¬† She talked to me the whole way there…just about anything and everything.¬† She waited until she knew I was safe, stopped, and waiting.¬† I got off the phone with her and I called Bart.¬† He never made fun of me.¬† He never yelled at me.¬† He simply called my son in law, who has a truck, and they never missed a beat.¬† They came to my rescue.¬† Ben dropped off Bart and Bart drove me and Hunter home.¬† As soon as I saw him….my stomach instantly stopped hurting.¬† I could feel my muscles relaxing, my mind stopped swirling and I was safe.

I told him how relaxed and calm I felt and that is when he asked me what I thought about talking to the dr about my anxiety.¬† He never brings up my depression or anxiety….like never ever.¬† We talked all the way home.¬† He was so kind and encouraging. I finally admitted that life is messing me all kinds of up.¬† I called my dr and we got on the same page and he prescribed me the SMALLEST amount possible of an anti anxiety med that I only take when I am all in asunder (that’s my mama’s word).¬† I sought counsel from my sisters, my husband, and my mama….most importantly my doctor.

It is what it is.¬† I’m not ashamed of who I am or how I process things.¬† I’m not ashamed of being on meds.¬† My life is not easy.¬† My son has a life altering condition.¬† I have a daughter getting married.¬† I have another daughter graduating from college.¬† I have 2 children with FASD, I have one son who has single sided deafness.¬† I have another son ready to go to college.¬† My best friend died.

I work out.¬† I eat well.¬† I am sleeping (thank you Ambien).¬† I go to church.¬† I love Jesus.¬† I take vitamins (well, sometimes).¬† I am doing all the right things, yet I’m still plagued with a load of crap.

This is my February/March schedule:

Feb. 1:  G turns 17

Feb. 4:  V has bridal shower

Feb: 13:  Hunter turns 4

Feb 15:  IVIG treatment for Hunter

Feb. 17:¬† My dad’s bday

Feb 18:  Another bridal shower for V.

Feb. 24:  Alyssa turns 20.

Feb. 28:  Hunter 3 hr therapy sessions

March 3:¬† Victoria’s Wedding

March 8:  Noah turns 17

March 15:  IVIG treatment

March 16:  Blood draw for Hunter

March 24:¬† Mom’s bday

March 28:  Hunter 3 hr therapy session

Mix regular dr appts in there, homeschooling, Bart working out of town, and life……and you can see where my head is.¬† Do not be ashamed of seeking counsel or medication to help yourself.¬† You are not alone.¬† Jesus still loves you.

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday

Make A Wish Foundation

Yesterday, my cellphone rang, and I didn’t answer it.¬† I do not answer numbers I do not recognize, as I know it is probably a telemarketer and I do not want to deal with that.¬† If it is someone that *needs* me, that is not a telemarketer, I know they will leave me a message.

Well…this time….this person left a message.

I checked my message and I realized that I truly needed to speak to this person.

I hesitantly called back because on one side…..I didn’t want to hear what she had to say.¬† On the other hand, I did want to hear what she had to say.¬† I’m sure I’m not the only person to every think/feel that.

This lady was from the MAKE A WISH foundation.  I had, on a whim, filled out the info for this foundation to see if Hunter qualified.  I remember this foundation from when I was a girl.  I remember that kids, who had cancer or where terminally ill, got to make a wish for a final trip for them an their families before Jesus called them home.

Times have changed.¬† The Make A Wish foundation still does that for terminally ill kiddoes but now (they may have always done this, but it is new to me) they extend this wish to kids who have life altering diseases.¬† I had to check my pride, my sanity, and my not admitting that he has a life altering disease to fill this paperwork out.¬† I cried through the whole thing.¬† I kept thinking maybe he isn’t has bad as I think he is.¬† Maybe this is just a “it will pass” type thing.

Then I heard the words “your son is medically fragile.”¬† I heard the words “the longer he stays symptomatic, the more permanent brain damage is done.”¬† Next was “we want to help him maintain and not lose anymore abilities.”¬† Then, when my 3 yr old son looks at me and asks for his walker because it hurts to walk or he can’t……..that just gut punches me.

I filled that paperwork out about a month ago.¬† I didn’t forget about it, but I didn’t pursue it either.¬† Then, I was facing it….the phone rang.¬† I did not answer it.¬† I listened to my voicemail.¬† I felt the warmth of tears filling my eyes.¬† I called.¬† Hunter was going to be granted a wish.¬† I am humbled.¬† I am sad.¬† I’m excited for him to be allowed to be a kid without being surrounded by medical staff.¬† I have all these emotions that I have a hard time processing.

I thanked them profusely.  I tried to explain to Hunter that we were going to see Mickey Mouse and I told my other kids, my husband, and my sister.  I should have had more excited inflection in my voice.  My kids should have been more excited.  Yet, we all knew the magnitude of his condition and that his case was reviewed and just by reading it on paper, he qualified.

We will get excited.  We (I) will plan things.  We are SO grateful for the opportunity and it will be so nice to get away for a little bit without stressing about 5000 different things.  I get to meet up with a couple of adoptive families I have come to love through facebook.  I get to see my sister in Georgia.  There are so many good things that will come out of this.

God is good.¬† I foresaw this ordeal before He created the Earth.¬† He is showing us another bit of my rainbow and I’m so thankful.


I’d rather see my son healthy then to go on a vacation….

Until then….we are heading to Disney.

Thank you Make A Wish Foundation.¬† Please know that you can donate your time, flight points, or volunteer your time for this wonderful foundation.¬† One day, when I get done raising kids…I foresee myself doing all I can to see other families, in my situation, have some joy during their hard times.


Beads of Courage

While I was roaming the halls, during Hunter’s hospital stay, I tend to look at/read every single thing on the walls.¬† Whether it is the name on someone’s office, the photos/drawings on the wall, or the bulletin board.¬† I read everything.¬† Mainly because I’m overly exhausted, my body hurts from being in 1 position for 2 days, and I’m bored out of my mind.

This time, I was reading the bulletin board.¬† My heart was breaking a bit because we were in the cancer ward, though Hunter does not have cancer (well, we are waiting on test results), he was still getting chemo…therefore, that’s where we were.

I saw a flyer for Beads of Courage.  I had heard of them a few years ago, but sort of lost track of that thought until I saw the flyer.  I went online (linked in the blue) to see what they were about and if I could buy them for Hunter.  I could not quite figure it all out (sleep deprivation and brain not functioning well was the culprit).  I did, however, find the list of what colors correspond with what beads.

Official list for Beads of Courage


I asked the nurse, when she came in, what they were for and how much it would cost if I were to buy them.  She smiled and said she would have someone come up to our room and talk to us about it.  What I found out is that Hunter was able to get his beads based on his condition (our hospital reserves beads of courage for those with cancer or chronically ill).  We went down the list and together, we figured out how many beads of each color he would have.  They also put his name on them.  She is mailing us the beads (will post a pic when they come), and we will add to it every time we go to the dr or the hospital.  This program enables kids with life altering conditions to own what is going on in their bodies and to attach a color to a procedure.  It helps them (an us) become a student of their conditions so they can own it and explain it to others, as they grow.

He is 3 (almost 4) and he will love to have these and be able to take them to the hospital and get more beads.  We will be hauling this and our Buzzy Bee to all future visits and stays.

Check out their website.  You can donate money towards these beads, as well.  It is an awesome program for kids who fight every day to maintain.


Buzzy Mini Shotblocker

Buzzy¬ģ Mini Healthcare

I am in love with this Buzzy Mini Shotblocker (also comes in a Ladybug) that I found on the FSA Store website.  It is half the price of the one on the Buzzy Website.

Hunter has to have daily shots for his condition.¬† This is not a quick type of shot….it is very thick, almost like gel, and it burns when he gets it.¬† Plus, he is 3, so giving a 3 yr old a daily shot in his thigh….I thought nothing would make that better.

He has such PTSD when it comes to ANY blood draws, IVs, shots, finger pricks…anything.¬† He can’t even hardly handle seeing a box of bandaids or the sound of a gloves snapping on a persons hands when they put them on.

Then….there was Jesus.

I was scanning through this website because Big Daddy had a flex card that we needed to use.  I had no idea this website (listed above) even existed, so I had fun just scrolling through things.  We bought a new thermometer that does not even require us to touch his head, a new blood pressure cuff, and some bandaids, as well as, a TENS machine.  Then, I found Buzzy.  My thought process is that it may not work, but what if it does.  So, we ordered it.

We got it in the mail yesterday, luckily, before his daily shot.¬† The wings have to be frozen, so we threw those in the freezer while I got his shot stuff ready.¬† We got Buzzy out and he has a button on his head that vibrates.¬† Almost feels like a massage machine.¬† The instructions said that you put the frozen wings on his back and put it on the injection site for 60 seconds (because this is a deep shot….if it was a finger prick or something, you leave it on for 30 seconds) and then you push the button to make it vibrate.

Once your time is up, you slightly move Buzzy up, so the cold is still there and the buzzing is still going on.¬† One of my kids distracted Hunter while I was rubbing the plunger end on his leg to see if he could feel it.¬† He didn’t move.¬† Before you know it, I had inserted and injected the meds and he was clueless.¬† Once I was done, I used the alcohol pad on the site and then put Buzzy back over it to massage the area out so there is little knots or bruising.

Mission accomplished.


Living in Reality Vs. Fantasy

The other night, when I was cooking supper, G came in the kitchen with 2 pages worth of notes that she wanted to discuss.¬† When she does this….it is exhausting because it is difficult to explain things to her.¬† She does not process things the way a “normal legged” person would process them.¬† If you wonder what that statement means, you can go¬†HERE¬†and I have posted on our conversation.

With her FASD, she either A) doesn’t understand what I’m saying B) doesn’t think it applies to her C) doesn’t realize the processes that have to occur C) gets her feelings REALLY hurt.¬† I don’t, personally, like any of those options.¬† We have been talking alot about her future past high school.¬† She is almost 17 and she is *just* heading into 10th grade, so she is extremely behind.¬† She caught up, some, while at¬†MILITARY SCHOOL, but still not enough to go into the 10th grade.¬† Now, this past semester, she has rocked it and I think in January we can advance.

G has some natural talents.  She is very personable.  She can talk to anyone.  She is honing her craft in hair, nails, and makup.  She is good with kids (for the most part) and she is tenacious.  She had, at one point, decided to go to cosmetology school.  That would eliminate the need for taking the ACT and she could be successful, have a career, and be able to live on her own (with some guidance).  The last little bit, though, she has declared her intent of pursuing criminal justice.  The things she is interested in (Judge, Federal Marshall, Forensics, etc) is just not in her wheelhouse.

I did not and do not want to discourage her in anyway, but I also do not want her to live in this fantasy world of hers.¬† She bases all her “knowledge” off of movies, tv shows, and books….not real life and certainly not what is required to accomplish these things.¬† So, as she named off her choices, I told her that she could go to any college, in KY, for free until she gets her bachelor’s degree….that that would not be a problem BUT in order to get into a 4 yr school (or above), she would have to take the ACT.¬† That did not register.¬† Now, for our local trade school or 2 yr school, she can take a compass test.¬† This type of test just lets the administrator’s know if she needs to be in more remedial classes or regular classes.¬† We know we have the option to have an aide (which she DOES NOT want) and the tutoring is free.¬† I explained to her all the things she could do or would be good at…none of those things mattered because she is so tunnel visioned that all she can see is a field in Forensics.

In an effort to help her understand, I pulled up an ACT prep site.¬† I read off the simple grammar questions (what is a colon, what is an apostrophe, what is a pronoun) and she did not know any of the answers.¬† She was so sad after I went through a few questions and she did not have the answers.¬† I explained what the ACT test was versus the Compass test and that one had to have a certain score and one was just a placement test.¬† This did not go over well….so she retreated to her room.¬† What I did not realize was was that she was in her room, crying.

I called her back in the dining room to see what the problem was and she burst open with sadness and anger at her birthmom for drinking while she was pregnant and now G was “reaping” the consequences of it.¬† I let her go on.¬† I let her cry.¬† I answered her questions and then I took the opportunity to talk about crutches.¬† I told her that I would let her cry for about 5 minutes and grieve the choices her mom made, but then she needed to go and wash her face.¬† I explained that she was not going to use her biological mom’s poor choices to dictate her life and that God gave her things that is easy for her (hair and good with kids) that she is genuinely talented at and could be really good at, if she allowed herself.¬† I gave her options in the medical field that she could absolutely do and be great at it.¬† She was not going to use her FASD as a “poor pitiful me” person, but she was going to count it as a strength.¬† Just because she can’t do something like be a Federal Marshall, doesn’t mean she can’t have a fulfilling and successful life.¬† I told her about some of my friends who owned their own business and how much they love their job and are so good at it.

I told her that there was not shame in having an aide or extra tutoring because that was going to help her go even further without the stresses that college can sometimes bring.¬† That by looking at her, you can’t even tell that anything is wrong with her, that she can be a success but she has to throw away the crutches, forgive her biological mom and then move on…..there is no reason to run the race of life looking backwards.¬† We only get one shot at life….there are no dress rehearsals.¬† I asked her if she wanted me to set the timer for her 5 minute pity party and she said that she didn’t need it.¬† She asked for some help in researching and that is something that we can and will do.

For now, she is at peace.¬† The enemy will not dictate her life….God has her.¬† He has a mighty plan for her.¬† I just get the privilege to sit back and watch from the side lines.

What is your crutch?


You Have One Leg Shorter Than the Other Leg

As I was cooking supper, G was asking me if I knew of a tattoo cream that could fade unwanted tattoos.¬† I said yes, but I doubted if they worked.¬† Most people get them lasered off and that is WAY more painful (so I’ve heard) then actually getting the tattoo.¬† Then she proceeded to tell me ALL the tattoos she was planning.¬† I sat.¬† I listened.¬† I cooked.¬† She talked some more.

I am not against tattoos….I have 3 and I’m planning a 4th.¬† My first tattoo is my life verse.¬† Isaiah 61:3.¬† My second is a daisy that my kids each drew a petal and they colored it in with their favorite color.¬† Bart’s initial is on the bottom.¬† My third tattoo is Ruth 1:16 in Hebrew because that was the verse that came to me during one of the most difficult times in my marriage.¬† I always say, by looking at this, it remembers me to stay married LOL.¬† My fourth will be the symbol for faith, hope, and love with a semi colon.¬† The heart will be colored in yellow….the national color of depression…..and I’m also going to somehow integrate the OMS colors, for my son fighting this disease.¬† I put A LOT of time, thought, and design in to anything I’m going to put on my body.¬† I do not do so flippantly, by any stretch of the imagination.¬† I was over 40 when I got my first one… I’m not against them.

What I am against is just randomly choosing odd things that have no meaning, no purpose, not even a good design or misspelled words….G wants barbed wire around her wrist.¬† Barbed Wire.¬† There are some other insanely ridiculous things she wants.¬† I have no doubt she will, one day, rather spend her money on a tattoo then food or shelter.¬† That is just how her brain works.¬† She also does not feel pain, at all….not even when she cut her toe off.¬† She does not feel it.

I took the opportunity to try to talk to her about choices and her decision-making skills.  This was a hard conversation because I did not want to cause her to have bad memories, which yields to bad behaviours.  I did not want her to think I have given up on her because I have not.  It is just tough.

I found this website¬†The Lifelong Effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Good Parenting Is Not Enough¬†that was written by Deborah Hage.¬† I scanned through this document….all the while nodding my head.¬† I asked G to get some paper and pencil….read the article and write down what her thoughts were and what were similar characteristics that she had.¬† She did what I asked, though 1/2 through, she said she really did not understand what she was reading.¬† That did not surprise me, so I sat down with her and I broke it down for her.

I drew her a stick figure of a person with normal legs…then I drew a stick picture of a person with one normal leg and one that was about 3 inches shorter than the other leg.¬† I explained to her that I had 2 legs and she had 2 legs.¬† We could both walk…one walks evenly and one walks sort of wonky.¬† This is where I drew her brain.¬† I showed her pictures of brains that were affected with FASD.¬† They are both brains. They both function.¬† One brain is regular size and one brain is smaller.¬† That is due to things that happened that were out of her control.

This is where the stick figures come into play.¬† When she starts thinking about something (walking wonky), ie a boy that shows interest in her (just an example)….all she sees is he loves me he loves me he loves me he loves me.¬† What I see (walking with 2 normal legs) is that he SAYS in loves her, but he is daily beating her, doing drugs, cheating, drinking, etc.¬† She doesn’t see the bad, she hyperfocuses on “he loves me he loves me he loves me.”¬† That made sense to her.¬† We talked about her love of tattoos.¬† I am not against tattoos….I have 3…..but what she hyperfocuses on the fact that she wants to be seen, be noticeable….so she wants all this art all over her person.¬† What she doesn’t see is the fact that something is misspelled or the tattoo artist is using dirty needles and she ends up getting sick.¬† This is how the brain of an FASD person works.

We talked about the things on that list, I linked to above… she is physically 16, but she does not think like a 16 yr old and she doesn’t “feel” 16.¬† She realizes she is immature for her age.¬† She does not have a phone or access to electronics (for a reason) and she does not have her license (per her request).¬† She feels more like 13 in some areas….when she is emotional…that age drops down to about 8.¬† When she is escalated we are in the 3-4 yr old range in her reactions.¬† This is typical.¬† Kids from hard places are normally chronologically an age (16), but mentally they are 1/2 that (8), and when things are bad they are 1/2 the 1/2 (4) that age.¬† I drew that out and we talked about real experiences she had that supported that.¬† She wants to be “normal”.¬† She has at desire doing and reacting like a normal 16 yr old you.¬† Again, back to the stick figures.¬† Yes, she will ALWAYS have “one leg shorter than the other” and that will never change BUT she can adapt.¬† She can make concessions….she can put a “lift” in her shoe.¬† She can ask questions, privately if it is too embarrassing, and have me explain things in a way that she can understand and she can get have a normal response because, together, we come up with that normal response.

I believe a brain can be retracked.¬† I believe that the train in her brain goes in one direction, right now, but with the proper “lifts” in her shoes and her asking questions, that train track can be slightly alternated.¬† There will be things that we have to do a bit differently.¬† She needs to be monitor more when she does have a phone (and she will) and when she does have access to the internet (as all my electronic devices have parental controls).¬† There will be some school subjects where she will be required to read the material, research out what she finds interest in, but have no tests.¬† She will not get above pre-algebra in math.¬† She will never take the ACT, but she will get a trade.¬† The subjects she excels in (reading, writing, history) she will go above and beyond and then some.¬† She has no desire to get her license but she can get her permit, if she so chooses.¬† She can’t hold a “real” job but she can work for us.¬† We can leave her alone here for a couple of hours and pay her to watch her little brothers.¬† This is not something I have ever done for my older kids but this is something that I will do for her because she needs to learn the value of money.¬† That she needs to work hard, have a bank account, be responsible and make money decisions wisely.

FASD is no joke.¬† I have 2 kids with it.¬† One kid it affects one way and the other kid it affects completely differently.¬† I do parent them differently because I have too but I will not say “well, you can’t do this because you have brain damage.”¬† Heck no.¬† I encourage all my children to try.¬† If they try 1000 and fail then to never try at all.¬† Once my kids were officially diagnosed with this, my brain track shifted.¬† I eased up on myself and I altered my expectations.¬† We have had very open conversations.¬† Before military school and a diagnosis…..she would have a response, it was bad, she would escalate HUGELY, I would escalate and it got ugly.¬† I, more times than not, am able to control my responses because in my head I am thinking “brain damage, she is not 16, she is 8 or 4….how would I respond to Hunter (he is 3)”….I simply look at her and say (sometimes through clinched teeth and REALLY close to her face) “Do you need a lift in your shoe?”¬† She immediately looks at me…usually stops in her tracks…and she listens.¬† She will go to her room and do her exercises which always cools her jets off.¬† She will step outside, I will send her and an older child for a walk.¬† I will go and wash my face or go to my room.¬† Within about 15-20, she comes back, apologizes and we talk things out or she is at a place where she will listen to me.

I can’t say this will always be the case, but for now, that is all I have to say.

God is good…..even in the short legged moments.




Military School? Good or Bad?

G is 16.¬† She has been with us since she was 6.¬† We had a 3 day honeymoon when she moved in and then BAM.¬† It was over and life was a struggle.¬† Gracious, the behaviours, the lies, the manipulation…..bad memories.¬† After several years, we had had all we could handle.¬† I could not physically do much because she may be short, but she had grown in strength and was starting to get physical.¬† We made a tough decision to send her to military school 3 1/2 hours away…..for 22 weeks.¬† We had one visit for a few days, over July 4th, weekly phone calls that lasted about 2-3 minutes, and letters/emails.

As a family, we stepped back and we began to heal.  Military school was not what we thought it was going to be.  She gained more weight while she was there because the kids found ways to get out of PT.  Her excuses ranged from she was going blind to she was lame.  I finally had to forbid her to go to the nurses station 12x a day.  The nurses also, unbeknownst to me at the time, forbade her from going because it was excessive.  She watched movies that we would NEVER allow that are 100% inappropriate for adults, much less, troubled teens.  I had to let it go.  I started looking at it as a break.  A much needed break for all of us.

We took this time to reconnect, heal, talk about things, work through some things, and focus on peace.¬† We had forgotten what peace was like.¬† The kids wrote letters/emails to each other and my prayer was that healing would begin and bridges would be built.¬† Bridges were not rebuilt.¬† My kids disclosed such painful things that they had kept to themselves.¬† It hurt my heart and frankly, I didn’t want her to come back.¬† During her time away, our baby was diagnosed with¬†OPSOCLONUS MYOCLONUS SYNDROME¬†and was hospitalized for 2 weeks.¬† There is no way I could have handled G and being 4 hrs away for 2 weeks.¬† I also had surgery and was able to recover.

When time grew closer for her to be done and come home…..I had already mentally and physically prepared it.¬† I had already set in motion a few places that she could go because I anticipated that things would not be different.¬† It broke my heart, but my other kids were afraid, the baby was not well, and I was spent.¬† I had had enough and my tolerance level was in the negative.

Bart went to go and get her….well, go to the graduation and then bring her home.¬† I was only 2 weeks out of major surgery.¬† My big girls had to work and my sister watched the baby.¬† They got home and after an hour or so, she made her way upstairs to my bedroom, where I had been resting.¬† It was not a “Little House on the Prairie” reunion.¬† It was stoic and tense.¬† I laid out the law for her.¬† I was not going to yield, I was not going to put my kids in danger, I was not going to deal with what I had been dealing with.¬† It was a one strike and you are out policy.

It has been 2 1/2 months since she has returned home.¬† In that time, I can count on 1 hand how many times I had to have a conversation with her or correct her.¬† I can count on 1 finger how many times things escalated to an almost point of no return.¬† For the most part, she has been able to self regulate.¬† She is NOT medicated.¬† She was on a lot of medication and mood stabilizers before she was gone and during most of her time at military school.¬† I took her off of two before she left and she ran out of one at the end of her time there.¬† When she came home, I was recovering, Bart didn’t know where her meds were and neither did she.¬† She has done incredibly well, shockingly enough.

I once thought she had torched those bridges and relationships with her family…like ashes and then a wind storm and it blew the ashes from here to there.¬† I now see, that she just singed them pretty well.¬† It has taken a bit of time for some of the kids to warm back up and allow forgiveness to take place, but there is still healing.¬† Her relationship with Big Daddy has gotten a bit better.¬† She accepts discipline, she self regulates, she is getting her schoolwork done, she is quick to do what is asked, and she laughs again.¬† We all do.

For a gal that is 5’1″ tall…she gained weight while she was there.¬† Since she has been home, she has been continuing her PT twice a day and we’ve thrown in a 3 mile walk several days a week.¬† She has lost 14 lbs since being home.¬† Her skin has cleared up, she is learning proper eating, she has stopped stealing food/gorging, she has cut out soda, and she has learned portion control.

All in all military school was not as disciplined as I thought it would be, but God is bigger.¬† He gave us all a time apart to gather ourselves and to realize that, somewhere deep down, there was still love.¬† Don’t get me wrong FASD still sucks.¬† RAD still sucks.¬† I have to “parent” her more than what I should, if that makes sense.¬† Chronologically, she is 16 but mentally/emotionally/physically she is between 8-13.¬† It just is what it is.¬† I’ve accepted it and she has accepted it.¬† She just asks a LOT of questions and I don’t get irritated because I think she “should” know the answers….because she doesn’t.

I feel like a huge cloud has lifted off of our family.  I know that it will not always be easy.  I know that we will have bad days, but I also know that I remember why I chose her, through adoption.  Her eyes sparkle when she smiles.  She is tenacious.  Her laugh is infectious.  She tries really hard and she is wonderful with the baby (most days).

So, this is what it is like to have 7 abnormal kids ūüôā

Maybe, I need 8 abnormal kids…..who knows…..




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