I loved it this morning when Joshua came down the stairs, looked at me and said “I love you mommy”. It has not always been like this and we have worked hard to get here. Has it been worth it? Every single minute of the time spent in therapies or giving supplements, IVIG, etc. has definitely been worth it. To give you a glimpse of our lives over the past twelve years since Joshua’s official diagnosis I’d like to share a couple of fun Joshua stories with you.
When Joshua was around 5 and was just beginning to talk we did a lot of guessing about what he wanted, how he was feeling, and even what he was doing. We noticed we were buying a lot bananas, not organic back then, and they kept disappearing off the counter. With three other boys in the house you might not think that was very unusual except that none of the boys were eating the bananas. We just could not figure it out. One day Mark, our third son, was looking for a toy that he figured Josh had taken (a charming habit of Josh’s was to take a toy or action figure that caught his attention and hide it somewhere in his room). As part of his investigation, Mark checked the awesome busy box that my dad had made for Josh. This box is the kind of box every boy loves; it has all sorts of latches, doors, and even a secret compartment. Mark stuck his hand into the secret compartment and pulled it out with a yell! Inside of the secret compartment of the box were old, rotting banana peels from a lot of bananas!! Poor Mark was so grossed out! We could not help laughing, even back then. This strange incident and Josh’s unusual desire for these bananas led us to discover that bananas may be sprayed with ethylene gas to induce ripening. Some kids can have unusual reactions to the spray. Our sweet little Josh was eating bananas and getting high off of them! He was completely addicted. Thankfully, that is no longer a problem, and now we get organic bananas for him to eat.
So much has changed over these years for both Josh and the world of autism. We have pretty much tried every treatment, supplement, and therapy you can imagine on Joshua. We have even tried some things more than once. Some of the therapies and treatments did not necessarily help Josh. We’ve certainly learned that treatments may not work for your child even ifthey might have really helped someone else. No matter what, each year we continue to live our lives to the fullest. As parents, we sometimes may deal with depression, anxiety, sadness and so many other emotions but we continue to love our children and enjoy the good times the best we can. We continue to work to help Josh wherever he might need it and to make his life the best it can be.
A few months ago while we were still in the process of moving to our new office, I had the pleasure of bringing home all of our supplement business. That meant finding a place for all of our stock to sit in our house. I cleared off all of our bookshelves downstairs and boxed up the books that normally occupied the shelves and put them anywhere I could find room. I also had 12 years worth of scrapbook albums that I made room for on a shelf outside of Josh’s room. These albums pretty much cover our lives ever since Jerry and I were married. I enjoy doing scrapbooking and it is good to remember the past. One night we found Josh up in his room on his bed perusing album after album. When we “caught” him, he started naming people and places that were in the albums! He was really enjoying looking at them and seeing his brothers, grandparents, and himself when he was a baby. There was pure joy on his face! We might think of certain times as really tough for us, but for Josh these albums represented the special times in his life. He couldn’t see the struggles that we might have been dealing with that year or the sadness we’ve gone through or how sick he was feeling back when we took the pictures. He just sees good memories and people who love him and who he loves.
Since Josh’s diagnosis, we have had many things to cry and be angry about, but also to laugh and be joyous about. I try to focus on the positive things even when it gets tough. Today, try to find one thing that will make you smile or laugh. I think you will be surprised at how many there are.