February 24, 2018

This is My Brain on Drugs

This is My Brain on DrugsHi All –

Remember that old commercial that showed an uncooked egg and said “this is my brain”. Then they cracked the egg into a frying pan and said “this is my brain on drugs”? Well that is a phrase that goes through my head almost daily. You see, my youngest (#5) was born drug addicted. Meth and cocaine rocked his body, especially his brain, the whole time he was in the womb! And so he came out addicted!

Then to add insult to injury, he was born at 24 weeks. It was like his body said “ENOUGH, get me outta here”. He weighed 1# 8 oz. Truly a miracle he lived. In fact, the first 4 days they were trying to determine if they should pull the life support. (Do NOT get me started here as the birth mom had a say in that decision, grrr!). Praisefully, a grandma prevailed with wisdom and they gave him a chance.

What does that chance look like for this now 12-year old? Physical therapy, speech therapy from 4 months on. At 18-months, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Did not crawl until 16 months or walk until 2. He has high muscle tone which gives him a decided gait when he walks. He falls frequently and has now had several rounds of Botox injections which made this mama cry because of how painful they are. They go right into the muscles. In the later stages of the treatment, we actually did outpatient surgery so he could be put under during the injections. These eventually lost their effectiveness and stopped. Next, was a spinal surgery which did amazing things for his walk (a shout out to Seattle Children’s Hospital and their amazing staff!) but the in hospital rehab time was 3 weeks, 3-4 times a week physical therapy, and a year later, we are still working on core strengthening and balance. He also had a tendon lengthening surgery. This involved 2 day hospital stay, 3 weeks in double hip to tip of toes casts, wheelchair, walker. Swim therapy is on tap for continued rehab.

Also he has Tourette’s Syndrome. He develops tics both facial and body that come on usually due to stress and can last days. Sometimes, he doesn’t even realize he is flailing his arms about. Sensory Processing Disorder comes in the form of dislike to many textures orally. He has to smell everything. When he was an infant, we would soft brush his body so he could get used to touch. This was because his brain was so overstimulated, any touch (or bright lights for a while) would undo him! And these are the visible signs.

The not so visible signs are the hardest. Because of being in the hospital for 3 months and in a lot of pain, both from the procedures to keep him alive and the withdrawal, he now suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. This is due to the brain trauma from his basic needs not being met in his early years. It manifests itself in acting out behaviors towards authority. He also has learning disabilities due to the pathways of his brain not developing properly from the drugs and survival mode as an infant. He has ADHD and sleep deprivation. When your brain is going faster than an Indy car on race day, sleep and attention just aren’t hitting on all 8!

Why am I sharing this, you ponder? Sometimes I have to remind myself how hard it is for that sweet boy to just operate on a day to day basis. I get lost in the behavior and forget that he didn’t choose to be this way and wishes it were different too! The “don’t be a victim” blog is for another day. Yesterday started out with the potential to be a bust. But thankfully in a moment of clarity, I pulled him onto my lap and held the vibrating boy for as long as he could tolerate and remembered his story. I gave him an extra hug, prayer for healing and extra patience as I sent him on to his day. Today, I can say I am glad I have the privilege of being his mama!

Chat soon ~


About the author: By

Julie is an awesome parent (along with her husband Matt) to five adopted kiddos and the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are parents of children with special challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this website have worked for us on our parenting journey.

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