I am praying for you! Honestly, that's all I have right now.

That and Margaret and Amy are rock stars who somehow found me and call me and give my sorry butt encouragement when I need it. I thank them both from the bottom of my hearts.

I'm going to bed. Apparently pushing 7 and 8 year old children in an abandoned shopping cart throughout my neighborhood on a windy eve to see Christmas lights can make a mama tired. Who knew?

Thinking and loving you all. Andrea
 

Therapy

11/29/2011

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I'm not ashamed to admit that I go to therapy. I used to go once a week, but now I'm up to once every six weeks. It helps me realize that I'm not crazy, but sometimes there's just a lot of craziness in my life. And sometimes, what I think of as "craziness" is just my over zealous emotional reaction to normal said life stuff. Sam makes me laugh and calls me on my crap. I like my therapist, Sam.

I admit, also, that paying Sam to listen to me and give me advice, or perhaps just hand me a pat on the back and take my money that, quite frankly, could be a heck of a lot more than it is due to insurance, is a problem everyone should have.

And yet, given that I live in a pretty fractured place called Los Angeles - where friends are scatterd, family tends to be formal and private, and my husband works an awful lot of hours - I'll take the therapy when I need it. When one of you readers invites me to live in your compound and promises to cook gluten free/caesin free with me on a budget and serve me coffee cake while we laugh over the laundry, I'll give Sam his walking papers. But not until then.
 
Therapy hasn't changed T.S..  It hasn't changed that sometimes family dynamics change and my babies are growing up. But it gives me perspective and peace. I'm grateful for it.

Wondering if you go to therapy? If so, has it helped? If you haven't gone, is it due to stigma? (Where I live in Los Angeles, it's almost a stigma if you don't go. But I digress.)

Here's some closing free therapy advice for you: you don't have to be perfect to be human. You have to be perfectly human. This goes for your T.S. kid as well as for you.

Now, which if you lives on a compound and wants a six one house guest who can rhyme off the top of her head?

I'll make you laugh
I'll make you cry
I'll blog untl the day I die
I promise to cook gluten free
Oh who will who will who'll take ME????

And good night.
 
 
Hi, lest you all think I write for Brain Balance, I do not! (Not yet, anyway. I'd love to profile them in a 12-week, 3 day/week blog here at Life Happins in exchange for tuition to their program, but that's a long shot.) I

n the meantime, though, while I save toward their program, I wanted to share this link I just saw on Tourettes, ADD and OCD. This mom, only 4 weeks into the program, swears her son is a different child.
 
http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/2011/11/brain-balance-parent-success/

You know, I tend to believe her. Everything about this program speaks my language. It just doesn't speak to my pocketbook.

But if I heard from more of you moms out there, not just the Brain Balance Center itself, that this program was a success, I'd certainly do whatever it took to enroll my son.

On another note, I'm off to Topanga T's to hang out. I need some down time after a very hectic Thanksgiving weekend. I'd like to encourage all you tired mamas out there to take a breath and do something nice for yourself! You deserve it.

Until tomorrow... Andrea
 
 
On a bit of a different subject from T.S., do any of you get the holiday blues? If so, is it a new thing?

My dad died on Thanksgiving seven years ago, so I get a bit nostalgic at the beginning of our winter season. But I always remind myself that my wonderful childhood memories are going to be transferred to my kids.

For that reason, we decorated the day after Thanksgiving. Today we got a tree. Tonight we decorated.

As I sit with Rex in front of our seven foot Douglas Fir (a notch down from a Noble due to the fact that my kids insisted on buying a Charlie Brown "baby" tree for their room) I remember my dad and how things have changed. Can you say "We're hosting Christmas this year for 500?".  But I smile at knowing we're creating some pretty cool traditions for the kids.

So, your turn. How are you doing this holiday season? And, as promised, here is your encouragement for the day: Twinkle lights did NOT cause your kid to eye roll today! You can take that worry off the table now!

Love you all.
 
 
I heard once that it's simply impossible to have fear if you have faith. Makes sense, but then again, how does one go about having faith if their world is being rocked?

For that, one needs courage. Which leads me to the next point: Having courage does not mean feeling okay about your life. I'm pretty sure Rosa Parks didn't decide to hold onto her bus seat with a big smile and thoughts of a Starbuck's latte in her future. She was likely trembling but held tight to her resolve anyway.

This is real courage: Forging ahead with what you know is right even if you are freaking out on the inside.

I've needed a little bit of that this weekend. Maybe you did, too? How about we check in with each other every day just to remind each other that we're going to be okay?



If you have faith in nothing else, start by placing your trust in this silly little website - that for the next week, you have my word I'll drop you an encouraging line.

And hey, it wouldn't suck if you dropped me on back. I have faith you will.

* Photo of my little dude after a whole lot of delicious but off-diet food. You can tell in his eyes that gluten and he don't get along. And now, we can tell in his tics. But they will calm down in a week or so once his body has a chance to detox.


 
 
How do all you newbies like that title? If I were you, I'd reach through the computer and bitchslap me. I wouldn't have felt that way in your shoes five years ago.

Heck, I wouldn't feel that way one year ago.

And some days, I don't feel that way still.

But gratitude is a choice. So every day I choose acceptance combined with openness to try new things.

One of those things is Brain Balance. (See a few posts below.) I finally got the results of Stink's cognitive and motor tests yesterday. I do feel Brain Balance could help even out his left and right hemispheres and we could get all around improvements without drugs.

Shock of all shocks, even my husband agrees!

The negative side to this is the cost. Six grand is nothing to sneeze out. I've said it before, but I'm likely going to go back to work and then embark on this journey for Stink. I just need to have something in place before I sign the papers.

On other notes, Stink had strep yet again this week. A visiting doctor asked if he was ever tested as a carrier for strep. "No, I don't think so," was my honest answer. But I will say this: When my kid is on antibiotics, his tics practically disappear. What's up with that? And is life long pennicillian the answer for this? Doubtful.

In closing, I'd like to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for joining me on this journey. Many of you write to me saying that my blogs help you cope with a scary diagnosis, but I can whole heartedly admit that having you on my side makes all the difference in my life.

This week, for example, I was a bit more down than I've been in a while. Why? Thanksgiving prep? Stink's illness? A dying ex-husband or thoughts of a new job? Perhaps. But more than that, it was not writing. Focusing on you all, rather than ruminating on things I can't control, make all the difference.
I hope this Thanksgiving you can focus on all you can be to your son or daughter, not what you can't change about T.S..

What are your plans this year for Thanksgiving? I'm hosting my in-laws, my mom and my brother. Topanga T, God bless her, is coming over tonight to cook my side dishes for me. She's bought the food and is bringing a bottle of wine. Her hubby is making us crab cakes. I am, indeed, a blessed person. Go friendship!
 
 
I love writing, and for 5 years I was pretty fortunate to write columns from home for Baby Center and Good Housekeeping. The pay was great and I could do it around my own schedule.

For the past six months, though, I've been doing my own thing. I've been Ebaying, writing my own book, keeping my blog here going, but I haven't had a steady pay check. If I decide to do Brain Balance, I'm going to need one.

But what to do?

* Go back to temping?
* Get a part time gig at a store for the holidays?
* Get a full time job working in an office?
* Start hitting up magazines or television shows for freelance work?
* Hit up online magazines for another column?
* Work on Ebay more consistently? (I love shopping for retro clothes and selling them. It's not a bad market.)

Like addressing tics, there's a lot I can do, but I need to zone in on something specfic to see any results - good or bad.

What about you? Do you work? If so, what do you do? Do you do it for love, pay or both? Let me learn a bit about you all!

Andrea

PS: I'm contributing a few times a week to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome's parental support blog. There's some really neat contributors over there and it could be yet another source of support for you.
 
 
Someone from my private Tourettes group was kind enough to email me a link from a well known blogger who has some pretty unpleasant things to say about Brain Balance. She seems very very convinced that it is nothing but "pseudo science" and the owners are full of crap, off to make a mint from parents like me who are "desperate" for a cure.

I see her point.

But I don't 100% buy it.


I don't feel fearful. I love my son. I think he could use some therapy for focus. A diminishment of tics would be awesome also. I've seen how all the things Brain Balance proposes works since I've utilized much of it over the past five years, namely diet and supplements.

What I have not done was any sort of "brain rewiring" that you get with specific exercises at the clinic. To me, if we can rewire a muscle in our legs through training at a gym, why can't we rewire an understimulated portion of the brain? To me this makes so much sense.

But speaking of "cents", yes, it's a lot of money. It's something I have to be very very careful about as, well, I don't have that kind of cash laying around.

I also don't have the kind of anti-alternative sentiments the above blogger has laying around, either. To me, this program seems like a really great option and one worth considering.

I'll know more when we get the results back from Stink's 2 hour motor skill and 2 hour academic intake. The director says that these exercises targeted 1200 areas of Stink's brain. I also spoke to a neurologist - one who happens to own the franchise. To the blogger above's point, the neurologist's opinion was clearly swayed because that was his business. But then again, if you talk to an owner of an icecream store, they're going to tell you how fabulous sweets are because they have seen the results of very happy families in and out their doors. I'm willing to give any business owner the benefit of the doubt that they are not just after my wallet but they are doing something they are inspired to do because it works.

Back to the cognitive and motor report:  From the outcome of these in depth tests, we'll be able to see where he's most lacking, as often the academic reports match up to the motor skills portion. (For the record, they used the same Brown and DSM scales that a psychologist would use to determine ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, etc. I did not feel they were a sham in the least, but instead, very comprehensive.)

The assessment cost me $245. That wasn't cheap either! But at least after this report, I'll have a good sense of what is going on in Stink's brain and I can decide if I want to continue with the program, head back to UCLA for drugs, or continue as needed.



In closing, I am not a sales person for Brain Balance. I am not a fearful idiot who will do anything to change my child. I am a mother who will do what is best for her child whether or not some snarky blogger thinks an organization is a sham. People think Christianity is stupid, also, and so far, I'm more peaceful than I've been in my entire life. I think I can live with a differing opinion from someone.

I'll keep you posted.
 
 
...on some days.

But I've come a long long way with a plan of action.

The problem with a plan for T.S. is it's kind of like having a plan for fighting a forest fire. You never know what direction the wind is going to blow. You don't know if you'll be dealing with a small flame, an explosion of fire that is easily contained, or something medium that burns 20 miles of nature over the course of a week.

That said, you have to have a flexible plan. You have to know that yes, you want the TICS TO END THIS MINUTE, but it might take a while, so commit to something for a month and try it. (Seriously, no cheating on the gluten at all. Be prepared for the kids to cry, scream and whine. Be prepared for your husband to think you are losing your marbles. Too bad! You have a plan! You are sticking to it.)

Give yourself the flexibility to say, "Hey, this isn't working, I will need to try something new." It's not a failure. It's life.

You will all be sooooooooo sick of me saying this, but the truth is this: You can't fix the tics sometimes, but you can fix an unrealistic expectation of your child's "perfect" life which includes any number of fantasies you might have in your brain. Mine included:

* All teachers will think he's smart and funny
* Everyone will want to be his friend
* He'll be charming but not obnoxious
* He will be artistic but organized

Those are just a few of the fantasies I had for Stink. Guess what? Those fantasies wouldn't be happening even if he didn't have T.S.. I don't love Tourettes., but I love love LOVE that I had the gift early on to wrestle, fight, scream and, reluctantly, embrace the idea that our kids are not ours to program like little Gap Models whose rooms look like the cover of Land of Nod. (Oh, why couldn't that last little wish come true for me? Oh, well. Tinkerbell must not have heard me that day at Disneyland. Damn that sparkly fake flying gnat!) 

I cannot take away Stink's horrible condition.

Oh, but guess what? Stink doesn't have a horrible condition! He's alive and well! That was just my early diagnosis fear talking! And also, even more astonishing, Stink doesn't think it's horrible either! Why? Because I decided pretty early on that even if I was dying inside, I wouldn't let him know. I'd focus on what he's amazing at, and then fight like hell to advocate for him at school and any place else needed.

Some of you have stronger cases of T.S. going on, so I'm not minimizing that, nor am I minimizing your fear. Nor do I think I was a perfect parent. I have backslided on many occasions. I WAS A BASKETCASE ALSO! But when I faltered, I got right back in the game. 

I have also learned, in the past five years, that worrying about what something could be doesn't change our kids' futures. What does set our kids up for success and self-reliance?

* Telling them we love them every day
* Working through any challenges they are facing (not ones that we think they might be facing... let them lead you!)
* Doing something that we, as strong women, love every day
* Getting our kids to engage in things they are great at
* Not letting them off the hook for wonky behavior because we feel sorry for them. A, there is nothing to feel sorry for. Tics happen. B, good folk in the world aren't put off by tics. Most don't even notice them. (It's true!) But good folk are put off by bad behavior.

This was supposed to be a post about T.S. and education in schools. But I'll save that for another day. After a few emails from some of you, I thought I'd take the time to address this!

Be strong, mamas. And when you're not, fake it. This might be the first time you ever were faced with something you couldn't completely control and that sucks. But guess what - we weren't really in control of everything before anyway. It was just dumb luck. Our tickers will have challenges, but they will also have the amazing gift of knowing that nothing is ideal in life. Nothing. It's a hard reality, but true.

I close with reminding you that during this season of Thankfulness there is so much to be grateful for. I encourage you to mourn and grieve, but I then encourage you to find something, anything, that you can be hopeful for. Because believe me, there's a lot there.

Thinking of you all.

Andrea


* photo of Stink at Disneyland around the time of his diagnosis. He was 4 and I distinctly remember obsessing over, "Oh, no, will the excitement make him eye roll more? We can't do the corndogs because of the nitrates! We are at the Happiest Place on Earth and I'm freaking the f out!" And then, on a few occasions, I had so much fun I forgot to worry. And then it came back. Wash, rinse, repeat for the next 5 years. It's draining. I got stronger. And you will, too. And hopefully, it won't take 5 years! I'm writing the blog no one wrote for me. I hope it's helping? Call me your tic whisperer.
 
 


It's one of those nights where the moon is yellow and it's nipping of Fall.

My daughter just completed her Tarzan swing practice off the bed of Papa's truck thanks to an overgrown willow tree.

My son is 95% on the mend and embarking on some reading.

I've got a sheppard's pie in the oven and the smells of potato and meat are wafting through the house.

My husband is happily tinkering with his Rx7 - a fixer upper he bought when he sold a fancier SUV for something more practical. (Thank GOD.)

While I sit and count my blessings, my ex-husband rests in a hospital with an inoperable tumor in his brain. He can't talk. His FaceBook updates are mostly gibberish.

We're not really in touch much anymore, save a few holiday greetings and arms length email exchanges. It was nothing personal, we just weren't a match. When I was 21, I wouldn't have been a match for Prince Charming.

His mother has kept in touch all these years, so I was shocked to say the least when she emailed me last month to tell me that Jim had just fainted and was in the hospital. What appeared to be a stroke, upon deeper investigation, turned out to be an aggressive cancer the surgeon could not remove. Jim has maybe a year to live, but likely much less.

He is 41 and will leave behind an 8 year old boy.

I married this man during a very confusing time of my life. It wasn't just my fault - it takes two to get pregnant - but I lived with the regrets of this forced union and quickie divorce for the past 20 years. 

To be honest, I was relieved when, at 4 months along all those years ago, the baby inside me didn't make it. I didn't abort, and I saw this as a second chance at freedom. I'd forever be more careful.

Jim is not so lucky with his life right now. I never grieved that child inside of me. I can't say the same for Jim's parents who are going to have to say goodbye to him in as little as a few weeks.

It kind of puts T.S. into perspective, my friends.

Hang tight and kiss your tickers today.