When a Nurse’s Quick Thinking Helped My Son as He Melted Down

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When I found out my son’s tonsils needed to be removed because they were blocking his airway, I was filled with dread. Everyone kept telling me it was a simple procedure, and there was nothing to worry about. That may be true for most children but not my son. He’s 2 years old and has autism and a moderate language delay. I knew the whole ordeal was going to be anything but simple.

Things went fairly smoothly until he came out of surgery. I had made a special request to be allowed into the recovery room before he came out of the anesthetic, but my request was denied. He awoke to a team of doctors and nurses hovering over him. Unfamiliar faces in an unfamiliar environment. To say he was terrified was an understatement.

I arrived in recovery to find him kicking and punching the nurses. He was pulling their hair and screaming louder than I had ever heard him scream before. The louder he got, the more staff rushed over to assist, which, of course, only aggravated the situation. They didn’t want me to go near him. They wanted to isolate him since they believed he was a danger to the staff and even to me. I was stunned and at a loss for words. My beautiful little boy wasn’t dangerous! He just needed a little bit of understanding.

I was close to tears when the most amazing nurse came along. She quickly assessed the situation and ushered everyone out of the room. She asked me what my son’s favorite song was and began singing it to him as she handed him to me. Gradually, he calmed down and fell asleep, exhausted.

Her kindness and compassion didn’t stop there. She arranged a private room for us in the ward, so he would feel more comfortable in such a strange environment. She contacted the head nurse and demanded my son’s special needs be considered for the duration of our stay. IV medications were ordered since my son refuses to take medication orally. A note was put on his chart that nurses were only to enter our room if absolutely necessary. And she even offered to do a double shift to give him some consistency.

I’d like to be able to say all the nurses we encountered after her were just as understanding, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. However, the kindness of that one nurse gave me the strength to help my son during his days in hospital and the courage to be his advocate.

I wish I knew the nurse’s name. She was an angel who appeared at just the right moment. Perhaps one day she will read this article. I hope she does, because on behalf of myself and my son, I would like to say a giant thank you. Any child who ends up in your care while at the hospital is truly blessed.

Alexis Nooyen the mighty.2-001

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Woman Records Her Dog Caring for Her During a Seizure

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Sometimes, a dog is so much more than a pet.

In the video below, a seizure assistance dog named Poppy appears to look over her owner Shannon, who begins to have a seizure. According to the 4-minute clip’s YouTube description, Poppy had alerted Shannon she would have a seizure 15 minutes before it began. This gave Shannon time to get to a safe place, where she then set up a camera to record. When Shannon begins to seize, Poppy licks her face. According to the video’s description, this action helps Shannon “come around quicker” as well as get rid of “excess saliva to help prevent choking.”

Seizure assistance dogs can be trained to respond to their owners’ needs in different ways. Some dogs seem to be able to sense oncoming seizures and then alert their owners to prepare, according to Canine Partners for Life, a service dog organization. Some dogs are trained to bark to alert people nearby when their owner is already seizing, while others are trained to activate alarm systems, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Dogs can also be trained to lie down next to their owners to help prevent injury.

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My Philosophy of Autism as a Mom to a Child on the Spectrum

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When my daughter, Caroline, was first diagnosed with autism, it was a surprise. I had been told countless times that Caroline was not on the spectrum — she was too social, made eye contact, did not engage in repetitive behaviors — so when she was diagnosed, I was completely unprepared. I didn’t know about sensory integration issues or joint attention; I surely didn’t think Sweet Caroline could permanently scar me or purposely hurt herself; I thought elopement was when you ran away to get married. I knew I had so much to learn.

I didn’t realize in order to learn about autism, I would have to develop a philosophy of autism. The sheer amount of conflicting information about autism forces parents of recently diagnosed kids to quickly develop a philosophy of autism, almost unwittingly.

My Philosophy of Autism:

I vaccinate because I believe science knows more than Jenny McCarthy.

I never anticipated that autism would be part of my life’s journey, but I love my tour guide.

In good times and bad, Caroline has autism. It’s part of who she is. I’m not interested in a cure, but I am interested in therapies and interventions that help manage Caroline’s challenging behaviors associated with autism and improve her quality of life.

Autism is a family condition in that it impacts every member of the family. Every single member of my family is different because Caroline is on the spectrum. Nearly every aspect of every day of each of our lives is impacted by Caroline’s autism.

I support early intervention and believe that insurance companies and the government have a big part to play in funding these interventions.

I first support research that improves the lives of those living with autism, and then I support the search for a cause of autism. By finding the cause of autism, I believe the medical community will have a greater understanding of autism and potential therapies. I wouldn’t trade Caroline for the world, but I would trade the toll her care has taken on my family’s health, careers and finances.

I don’t think awareness is enough. I want people to accept Caroline for all that she is and all that she has to offer.

Being a parent to child with autism is hard; it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But parenting is one of the hardest things most any parent does. There are days my typically developing child (Vivian) tries my patience in ways Caroline couldn’t dream of — but people never say to me about Vivian, “I don’t know how you do it.”

Caroline’s happiness is not enough; she deserves to feel accomplished and challenged by things in life beyond her autism.

If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism. I know Caroline. She is not one in 68 — she is one in a billion. Caroline is capable of the unthinkable (good and bad). She is different, but that should be celebrated, not mourned. And she is my hero, not because she has autism but because of how she handles it — with a smile of her face and a joke on her NOVA chat.

Follow this journey on Failure to Thrive or Ability to Overcome?

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Why I Stare at People With Special Needs

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I stare at people with special needs. I do. Maybe you don’t notice – I hope not! I try to be stealthy about it. My family has been stared at a lot over the years, and it always made me feel self-conscious. Still, I find myself looking anyway. Because I know how it feels to be stared at, I try to watch you without you noticing.

You see, my son, David, who had a whole bunch of special issues, died earlier this year. He had uncontrollable sub-clinical seizures that accumulated brain damage for more than three years until he passed away at 8 years old. For years, we would take him out in public and get stared at. Years of tube-feeding, diaper-changing, wheelchair-pushing, wiping drool, managing babbling, sign language lessons, medications, seizures, ambulance rides, balancing sibling needs and all of the stuff you have now. We got stared at.

Carin Bockelman the mighty.2-001

We had really positive experiences with some of the people who stared at us. We were able to educate those who just wanted to know David or better understand his issues. Sometimes we made friends. We met a lot of people who shared stories of loved ones with issues and needs similar to David’s, and those were usually really encouraging and uplifting experiences.

But we also had negative experiences. Sometimes just getting caught staring made people uncomfortable. Parents would scold their children and turn their backs on us. (For the record, I prefer parents to walk over with their children and introduce themselves, so they’re teaching their children how to interact with someone with special needs rather than teach their children how to shun them.) We had a few times when we got unhappy looks, and I often wondered which issue offended them. Was it the drooling? The interracial adoption? That we had the audacity to bring our son with us to a restaurant?

So please forgive me, but sometimes I watch you and your family. I know it might be more polite to come over and introduce myself, but I’m just not ready to talk casually about David yet. It may sound unfathomable, but I miss all the stress and the complications that went into taking care of David. I miss David. And when I see you and your family, I watch with nostalgia and sadness. I watch with empathy and love and little jealousy. I hope, if you notice me watching, it’s the empathy and love you see.

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Police Officers Fulfill the Last Wish of a Mom With Terminal Cancer

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August 22 was a day that Jazmine Delgado and her mother won’t soon forget.

Jazmine’s mother has terminal brain cancer, and although the family couldn’t afford it, her dying wish was to see 14-year-old Jazmine have a quinceañera, NBC reported. A quinceañera is a coming of age party typically celebrated on a girl’s 15th birthday.

When gang enforcement officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division met the mother and daughter at a community event and learned about their situation, they stepped in to help. Officers, together with local businesses, organized the party, which took place on Saturday in East LA.

There was even a uniformed LAPD officer serenading guests with a mariachi band.

And Jazmine got the princess treatment complete with a pink sequined dress.

Jazmine’s mother had her wish come true and even got to share a special dance with her daughter during the evening, all thanks to these kind officers.

Watching Jazmine and how happy she is and how energetic and just ecstatic she is about today, that’s the reward for all of us,” LAPD Sgt. Janet Kim told NBC.

Get more on the story from the video below: 

h/t Reddit Uplifting 

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Please Stop Asking If Eating Disorders Are a ‘Choice’

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There’s been media attention on whether eating disorders are a lifestyle choice, and the ever-present media sensationalism about dieting and the obesity epidemic only fuels the fire.

Advocates say arguing that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice blames victims and prevents treatment, whereas opponents would talk up personal responsibility and argue that, if people with eating disorders are victims, they are victims only of their own choices.

Frankly, I couldn’t care less whether a person living with an eating disorder chose it or not. Instead, I believe this debate is completely irrelevant. The person who chose the eating disorder would be just as deserving of help as the person who did not choose it. In fact, anyone who experiences psychological or physical distress is worthy of timely and effective treatment. The same is true of the homeless or those living with drug, alcohol or gambling addiction.

We might be tempted to think by arguing for eating disorders as a lifestyle choice, we’re giving people with eating disorders the presumption they have control over their own actions — just like we would any other person. Any consequences of that choice, therefore, is that person’s to deal with and theirs alone. This view is largely due to ignorance.

Eating disorders are a grab-bag of distorted beliefs about weight and shape; lack of self-esteem and over-emphasis of the importance of shape and weight to self-worth… And these are just the obvious indicators. People with eating disorders are known to show abnormalities in attention, impulse control and cognitive flexibility. They show biases in which pieces of information they attend to in their environment, and symptoms often resemble those seen in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Evidence is beginning to accrue to suggest that eating disorders have a genetic basis.

How do I know this? Well, I’m a PhD student so am capable of surveying the relevant peer-reviewed literature. I’m also a person who has recovered from an eating disorder. I was hospitalized with anorexia at 18 years old. I heard voices that encouraged me to believe it was better to die than to eat food. Now 24, happy and healthy, I’ve thought long and hard about the causes of my eating disorder and have come to the not-so-profound conclusion: It just happened.

But, let’s say I did choose the eating disorder, that I chose to feel so fatigued I was forced to quit my job, chose to spend hours exercising when I was at risk of going into cardiac arrest, chose to constantly ruminate on how unloved I would always be. The choice is irrelevant because, eventually, I no longer had control. I couldn’t choose to eat food — the voice in my head wouldn’t let me. It told me I needed to stick to my strict schedule or else. As a result, I couldn’t control my weight. I couldn’t control my physical health and I certainly couldn’t control my mental health. I could only stand back and watch them deteriorate.

It started, like many others, innocently enough with a desire to be healthier. A stressful event then took place, and it turned into an eating disorder. Not once did I look at pro-anorexia websites or want to be “anorexic.” My eating disorder was a sane response to coping with extraordinary circumstances happening in my life as a young woman. I’m grateful that my family and (some) health professionals took the time to see me as more than a young woman obsessed with vanity and, instead, see me as a young woman who was very, very ill.

The bottom line is this: Asking whether mental illness is a choice is no more relevant to the mentally ill than asking whether Tuesdays are better than Wednesdays to the non-mentally ill. Above all, asking whether mental illness is a choice does harm. It sees individuals as victims of their own (apparently) senseless choices rather than a product of extraordinary circumstances largely outside one’s own control. Most of all, it stigmatizes rather than humanizes the individual, and so hinders early intervention and the implementation of timely and effective treatment.

When you next ask, “Is it a choice?” when talking about eating disorders, ask instead, “What happened?” That is, try to understand what happened to make the person feel and act the way they do. Talk to a person experiencing mental illness, if you can. Talk to me. Whatever you do, don’t deny someone the opportunity for help because you brazenly believe they’re at fault.

This post originally appeared on Bronwyn’s website

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