Monday, December 27, 2010

Keto Update: 3 1/2 Months

Sorry for the terrible delay in this update. I think I kept waiting for things to settle down with the diet and Soren's seizures, but since they don't seem to be, I better do an update on the current state of things!

Soren is doing fine on the diet, but his seizures have increased compared to that wonderful 2 weeks without any activity. He's having 1-2 a day, ranging from very mild to big whompers. Still, it's less than he was having prior to the diet, so that is good. And he seems to recover quicker than before, which is also good.

And while we don't have the seizure control we'd been hoping for, Soren continues to be much more happy and alert. He's making lots of interesting noises, really making use of his voice. We get more little smiles and he is taking fewer cat naps. So we still feel that the benefits of the diet are outweighing the inconvenience.

I think the trickiest factor in full seizure control is making sure Soren eats and drinks every bit of the diet. There are days where he'll eat just fine, but then he won't drink the cream at the end of his meal. Without drinking this, he isn't getting a fully balanced Ketogenic meal. And without this, seizures are more likely to occur (which is what we are witnessing).

However, there are two ways to get a fully balanced keto meal into him. Through the KetoCal shakes and through a special Egg Nog recipe (heavy cream, egg beaters, and vanilla). Whether he drinks one drop or the whole bottle, eat sip is Ketogenically balanced. So, since Soren is on Winter Break from school, I've decided to try an experiment. I'm going to put Soren on an all-liquid, fully balanced Keto Diet to see if we get better seizure control.

The only hitch I can see with this is that Soren will get bored with these two meals of Keto shakes and Egg Nog. The good thing about the shakes is that I mix them with Powerade Zero, which has many flavors for variety. So we'll see if Soren is hip to this and if it decreases his seizures.

I will report the findings of this latest experiment as soon as I have them!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Keto Update: 2 Months

Two months in, I have to say, Soren is still doing remarkably well on this diet. Our total number of seizures from October 11-November 11 was 16! Considering Soren could previously have 16 seizures in a day, that's flippin' awesome!

This low number is because we have a GREAT 2 weeks of seizure freedom. It was amazing to see how much more alert and vocal Soren was during this weeks. We started seeing more hits of smiles and laughs. He was interactive and happy.

And it wasn't only Soren who felt this way. All of us were so much happier. Suddenly we all realized that we didn't tense up every time Soren made a suspicious sound. We didn't have to run over to Soren when we heard him seizing. We didn't have to make hash-marks on the seizure calendar. It like we could all breathe a little easier.

Then he caught a cold and with the cold came the seizures. Still, even though his defenses were down and the seizures returned, there were significantly fewer than prior to the diet.

The bummer was that after the cold, the seizures didn't immediately go away, which is what I was hoping. They did, however, taper down. But the hard thing was that we had that sadness back. He'd have a seizure and our hearts would sink. And we had something wonderful to compare this feeling to because of those 2 weeks.

BUT, we have now had 2 days without seizures. So we're crossing our fingers that this streak will continue and that we can all find that happy place again.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Keto Update: 1 Month

We are at the 1 month mark on the Keto Diet and I am happy to say that things are going well! It took a bit of adjustment for everyone. Soren was not accustomed to the new flavors of his Keto Cal vanilla formula beverages. I was not used to having to give him fluids after school (and frankly, he was a little thrown by it as well). Getting temperatures right on the drinks was tricky--not too hot or too cold. Realizing that when I prepare meals in advance and stick them in the fridge, the butter in the meal hardens up so I have to give it some "softening time" before feeding Soren.

But we're adjusting well and the results are really positive. Week 1, Soren had 38 seizures (ugh). Week 2, 19 seizures (hmmmm). Week 3, 17 seizures (is this worth it?). Week 4, 9 seizures! In fact, I didn't see any seizures for 4 days! He had two very quick ones this morning and bounced back from them really fast.

Also, Soren's energy level has increased and he's "chatting" more. Because the meals are so small, he begins insisting on them when it's meal time and wolfs them down. He wakes up bright eyed.

The only hitch we've run into is that he's gaining weight! Despite the heavy fat content, this is NOT supposed to happen because he's in ketosis, which burns the fat. And gaining weight (as long as it's not growth related) can impeded seizure control.

But the dude has a belly now! And, his PT has noticed that he's not standing as well as he was prior to the diet. It's as if his muscles can't handle this new weight gain.

So we met with the dietitian today and I'm going to try and cut 100 calories from his snack. I honestly don't know if this will fly. Soren comes home from school HUNGRY. I mix the Keto Cal with very warm water and Powerade Zero. So now, it will just be warm water and Powerade! Ugh.

But, if it works, good things will most likely come from it. First, the weight loss. Second, he could go even deeper into ketosis. And because of those two, he could get even better seizure control!

Wish us luck on this next "adjustment!"


Monday, September 27, 2010

Keto Update: Two Weeks

It's been 2 weeks since we started the diet and, after some rough going, things have leveled out.

The hardest adjustment for me has been fluid intake. Soren still drinks from a bottle. But he doesn't hold the bottle. So I have to hold him and hold the bottle for him. And while this can be a very sweet time for us, the boy is now 7 years old and keeps on growing! However, I stopped growing many years ago so he's beginning to swamp me. Because of this situation, I would give Soren a bottle of milk in the morning and in the evening. Thus, I knew that Soren was getting 16 oz. of fluids into him a day.

This is not a lot of fluid. I know this. I would try now and again to get a bottle into him after school, but this was hit and miss depending on what therapies he had on any given day. But, in starting the diet, Soren's nutritionist feared (rightly so) that Soren was rather dehydrated. So she wanted me to DOUBLE his fluids.

That meant 2 more bottles. That meant 2 more times I would have to find in the day to sit down and hold him while he drank. Now, Soren can do this in 10 minutes or he can be a pill and take 45 minutes. So the thought of doing this made me incredibly anxious. It would be like having a newborn again.

Plus, one of these bottles HAD to be at lunch time. Now, this is all well and good on the weekends when Soren is with me. But on the weekdays when he's at school? How was that going to work? Soren is REALLY picky about who he allows to give him his bottle. I feared I would have to drive up to school every day for lunch for this, which would really cut into my already packed days.

Fortunately for me, Soren goes to a great school where they love him to pieces. I told his teacher our predicament and she said that his aid would gladly give him a bottle at lunch. I breathed a sigh of relief. Could this possibly work?

Well, the first week of the diet was definitely the roughest. After our 2 1/2 days in the hospital, Soren and were both beat. That night, I was trying to get his last bottle into him, and Soren would not drink. I broke down in tears, wanting to give up then and there. But then Aaron held Soren for an hour while Soren slept on him, out cold. When Soren woke up, he was refreshed and ready to drink and did so lickety split.

The next day, when he went back to school, I showed up to see how Soren was doing with the bottle. He was NOT drinking. So I sat down with him and fed him 80% of the bottle. I then handed him back to his aid and Soren drank the rest down for her. Now that we did that "transition," he's doing a great job for her.

So now Soren is a great job at eating the food and, for the most part, drinking his drinks. He's much more alert, which could be from the diet or the added hydration--or both. He is still having daily seizures, but they are fewer. Only 1-3 a day versus 10-20 a day.

We are going to give the diet a full 3 months and assess the situation then, deciding if the benefits are worth the work. We aren't going to mess with his meds in any way so that we will know, as well as we can, if and good or bad stuff is connected to the diet.

But I will continue to keep you posted on the progress or set-backs we encounter.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Other Advantages from the Diet

Since the beginning of Soren having seizures at 6 months old, the goal has obviously been to get seizure control. With that control, Soren's development and cognition could hopefully proceed. Not that he would necessarily become a typical kid. But without seizure storms attacking his brain, things would have to at least get better. This is all we've ever wanted. Yet, despite all our efforts, it's been impossible for us to achieve.

From what I have gathered of the kids on the Keto Diet, 1/3 get seizure control, 1/3 get a decrease in seizures, and 1/3 have no improvements and stop the diet.

But my Fellow-Roommate Mom in the hospital had a friend who visited whose daughter has been on the diet for a year now. And while her daughter hasn't gotten any seizure control and has actually had to increase meds, she has had great cognitive gains. This little girl went from not being able to read prior to the diet to being able to read since starting.

This is something I had never heard. Progress with seizures? Wow! Now, don't get me wrong. I want these flippin' seizures to stop! Soren turns 7 next week. A decrease or stopping of seizures would be a pretty sweet birthday present. But if he can start making gains despite the seizures, I will be quite thrilled.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Keto Diet: Hospital Day 2

I have been told that Day 2 of the Keto Diet is supposed to very hard. The fat starts hitting the system, which can make the child nauseated. Also, because of the lack of carbs, the blood sugar drops and the child can become lethargic.

Well, Soren's blood sugar is actually higher than they expected but he's been sleeping all day. Now this could be because he was a party-boy last night, chatting until the wee hours. It could also be that he's annoyed with this whole situation and has decided to shut down (a common response for Soren).

Either way, while Day 2 hasn't been horribly hard (thank goodness), it hasn't been easy because Soren is so sleepy he's not eating and has been dribbling out a lot of his fluids. The upshot is a frustrated Mommy.

Soren has had some seizures today, which is to be expected. But they are fewer and less intense than usual.

Now if he would just wake up to eat and drink!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Keto Diet: Hospital Day 1

Our first day started super rough. At home, Soren had to start the fast and start drinking a special Keto Shake made up of KetoCal (this vanilla-flavored powder stuff), Applejuice, and Water. Despite telling Soren about it and that he would be drinking a different drink from his usual whole milk, he was clearly not pleased.

Soren is still bottle fed. I popped some of his morning meds in his mouth as usual (he's really good about swallowing these down) and put the bottle nipple in his mouth. Some of the fluid flowed in his mouth and he then chomped his front teeth down on the nipple. This is NEVER a good sign. He always gets a mildly annoyed, devilish look in his eye as if to say, "What the hell is this crap?!"

And then he held it in the back of his mouth. Just waiting. Letting the pills dissolve. Giving me a look like, "I can hold out longer than you, Mom!" Then he began dribbling it out the sides. Remember, I'm supposed to get every drop in the boy. And especially today, because this is all the hydration he's getting!

So I took the nipple out and we continued out stand off. And then Soren did something he's NEVER done to me before. He peed on me getting my lap and his side soaked. Now, granted, this had to do with the angle of his body and that his diaper was gapping. But it seemed like such defiance!

Then he sneezed. Fortunately, it wasn't a spray sneeze. And at the end of his sneeze, he swallowed all that was left in his mouth. That was the BEST thing that could have happened. Suddenly he realized that I wasn't feeding him poison. In fact, the look he gave me told me that he kind of liked it. He then proceeded to drink the rest of the bottle down without incident and I got all his meds in. Whew!

Granted, I then had to bathe him and hose myself off a bit. But we survived.

Since then, all has been running smoothly. Soren has sucked down his past 2 shakes with no problem. We have snuggled and all is forgiven. And we only 3 more shakes to go today!

We are now in Huntington, checked into a very large room we're sharing with another family starting the Keto Diet. This is actually rather nice, since the other boy's Mom knows WAY more than me (she's done the diet before). As usual, I'm learning off other people's experience!

Soren is about to get hooked up to the EEG/Telemetry to monitor his seizures and we will really be on our way!


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Keto Diet Step 3: Calculating and Measuring

The next step was for me to get trained in the Keto Diet. And the first part of this was buying a scale that measures by the gram. Every morning when I turn this on, I have to calibrate the scale to make sure that it weighting properly.

Next, I needed to make up Ketogenic Diet menus for Soren. Thankfully, I am working with a lovely dietitian at the Epilepsy and Brain Mapping Program in Pasadena who led me to the Ketocalculator site where she had done a number of these for me already and taught me how to do it myself.

And it's kinda fun. You choose a category--protein, fat, carbs--and punch in the what goes in recipe--egg, butter, avocado, lime juice, salsa. Then you put in how many grams of each you think you might need to get the correct ratio.

Soren is going on a 4:1 ratio. Now if I'm understanding this right, the 4 in this is the amount of fat to the 1 which is the amount of protein and the carbs added together. And I would try to describe the next part of the calculations, but frankly it baffles me. Basically I sit there clicking numbers up and down until everything adds up correctly.

Here's a sample menu for Tilapia Avocado

5 grams of lime juice
21 grams of tilapia
18 grams of butter
24 grams of avocado
60 grams of heavy cream (to drink, not to mix in the food)

So the next step is for me to measure this out on the scale. And I must do this EXACTLY. Don't go up to 21.1 grams of tilapia! But this part is kind of fun too (at least right now) which is a surprise since I am the LEAST scientific person I know!

Last, I mash up all that deliciousness and get Soren to eat EVERY BIT!!! As in scrape the bottom of the bowl and get every morsel in you can. And this has to be done at THAT DESIGNATED meal time. If he doesn't eat the whole thing, I can't feed it to him later. The "good" thing is that the meals are so small, Soren will probably wolf it down in seconds. The bad thing is I'm afraid he'll be hungry (though being in ketosis is supposed to curb your appetite).

Next up...Soren goes into the hospital for his controlled fasting into the land of Ketosis.

Keto Diet Step 2: Learning About the Diet

So with Soren having passed the blood test, I bought the Ketogenic Diet book and started reading up.

The main question on my mind was, "Why does the diet work?"

Simple answer: They don't know.

The longer answer is that fasting has been used since biblical times. I guess Jesus didn't actually heal the boy with epilepsy, he just didn't feed him. "No loaves and fishes for you!"

But seriously folks, fasting has been used for a LONG time. Many years later, the doctors at Johns Hopkins worked on doing it in a controlled fashion. One of the key parts of that is going into ketosis. Now, when you're in ketosis (which is what happens on the Atkins diet), your body THINKS you're fasting and starts feeding on your fat. But on the Atkins diet you're eating WAY less fat, thus you burn your stored fat and lose weight. On the Keto Diet, you're eating a VERY HIGH amount of fat. And for some reason, in some people, this can help control seizures.

Early on, there was only one version of the Ketogenic Diet. But now there are variations. There's a modified Atkins Keto Diet and a Low-glycemic-index Keto Diet. These versions are WAY less restrictive than the real Keto Diet. However, the problem is that if you don't get seizure control using either of these versions, it doesn't mean that you wouldn't get control on the real Keto Diet. However, if you don't succeed on the real Keto Diet, than no other versions of it will work.

So we could have inched into the whole Keto Diet experience, doing either the Atkins or Low-glycemic-index versions. But that seemed silly. So instead, we're jumping right into the deep end and doing the full-on Keto Diet.

Next up, more on actually performing the diet.


Friday, September 03, 2010

Keto Diet Step 1: Blood Work

People have been asking how Soren is doing on the Keto Diet and I realized I should do an update. He actually hasn't started the diet yet because there are some steps you have to go through beforehand and the first of these is blood work.

They basically have to check and make sure what Soren's levels are on various things so they have a baseline. Plus, they check if he has any metabolic disorders which would prevent him from being a candidate for the diet.

Now getting blood work sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. The amount of blood for all these tests was just crazy. The lab said they would have to do them in-house so they wouldn't have to draw as much from his little body.

Because we were getting blood work done for both the Keto Diet and to check his med levels, Soren had to be fasting and not had his morning meds. So back in July, Aaron took Soren in to get this done. It went smoothly, Soren was a trooper, blood was drawn.

But that was just the beginning. They also needed a fasting/med-free urine sample. Now, Soren doesn't just pee in a cup like you and me. Instead, we have to put this goofy urine collection condom thing over his penis and wait for him to be inspired. The lab didn't have these things at this location. So the next week, I had to drive to their other lab in Azusa to get this. Oy!

Long story short, they gave me 2 baggies, I tried two mornings, Soren was not in the mood to pee. So then I had to get another from his pediatrician's office (just a short drive to Pasadena). I delivered the pee and figured all was good.

But then I got a call from the lab saying that they didn't draw enough blood for all the tests. We we needed to go, yet again, with Soren food and med free. We arrive only to be told by the lab tech that they don't have the kit for one of the blood draws. What the...?

Well, now that's all been resolved and Soren is signed up to start the Keto Diet on September 13th.

But in August, I started my Keto Diet training, which I will fill you in on in my next entry.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


For the past year (maybe longer) Soren has been having a really hard time with seizures. Currently he has anywhere from 2 tonic seizures to a cluster of 26 seizures a day. Sometimes even a combo of both.

We've been playing with meds. We never wanted Soren on more than 3 meds. Currently he's on 4. I'm weaning him off one so he'll be back at three. Ideally, he'd only be on 2. Well, ideally he'd be on none.

Which leads me to the Ketogenic Diet. The Keto Diet--where you put the body into a state of ketosis as in the Atkins diet--works really well for certain kids with seizures. We almost did it about back in 2005, but then we started Lamictal and Soren had a really good, almost seizure-free year. It was amazing!

So we put off the diet. For 5 years. And we've avoided it because all we've heard from parents is what a HUGE challenge it is. You have to weigh EVERYTHING. You have to get every bit of food into your child. I just wasn't up for it.

But after this year, with the encouragement of our new doctor, we've decided to give it a try. I mean, weighing food may be a pain, but watching Soren seize like this daily is far worse. Plus, since Soren only eats what we give him, the only "hard" part will be the food prep.

So now I'm trying out high-fat, low-carb foods on him. Giving him heaving whipping cream to drink. Adding sour cream to his avocado. Mixing ground bacon into his eggs cooked in butter.

After we figure out foods he likes, I'll learn to weigh them properly. And after I master that, Soren gets checked into the hospital for a 3-day detox off carbs.

If this works, his seizures will decrease! If it really works, he'll be seizure-free. If it works for a while, we will hopefully be able to decrease his meds. Some kids are just on the diet, seizure-free, and completely med-free. That would be amazing! Soren has been on AEDs since he was 6 months old!

But for now, I'm playing with the foods and asking, "Would you like some extra fat with that fat?" and answering, "Why, yes, I would!"


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Update on Senate Bill 1051

Thanks to the outpouring of support from all of you, the Diastat bill (SB 1051) has passed through the Senate Education and Health Committees.

Unfortunately, this past week, Senate Leadership put the bill in the "suspense" file, placing it on hold due to STRONG UNION OPPOSITION. Both the California Teachers Association and the California Nurses Association oppose this bill. And while I LOVE TEACHERS and NURSES, their unions opposing this bill only hurts our kids with epilepsy.

But, there is still hope because Senate Leadership has the power to free this bill from the Appropriations Committee. And YOU can make the difference!

Please help kids like Soren by taking less than two minutes to call Senate Leadership urging them to free the bill and protect the 63,000 California school children with epilepsy.

Contact Information:
Senator Steinberg (Senate Pro Tem President): (916) 651-4006
Senator Christine Kehoe (Senate Appropriations Committee Chair): (916) 651-4039

I am calling to support SB 1051.

If they ask for more specifics, say ask them to please release this bill from Appropriations and protect children with epilepsy.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Support Senate Bill 1051

Hello everyone,

Today I have something very important to tell you about.

Senate Bill 1051.

This bill would allow for VOLUNTARY training for non-medical school staff to administer Diastat, a life saving drug, for seizure emergencies.

What is Diastat? Diastat is a safe and easy to use medication, FDA approved for use by non-medical caregivers such as parents, teachers, babysitters and the like.

Why is this bill important? Well, if a child with Epilepsy is in school and begins having non-stop seizures (also known as Status Epilepticus or just Status) Diastat can be administered via rectal syringe to stop the seizures.

However, under the current rules, only a medical professional is allowed to administer this. Now Soren is lucky in that his school has a full time nurse.

But as we know, many school do not have school nurses on site full time. So in the event of a seizure, they have to call 911. For our kids, by the time the ambulance has shown up, the seizures will have gone on WAY too long and done WAY too much damage. Thus, children with severe seizure disorders, like Soren's friend Camille, cannot go to public school because of this "only nurses" rule.

With the passing of this bill, non-medical staff can volunteer to be trained to give this medicine in school.

Now the nurses union wants folks to believe that only nurses have the skills to administer this. But this is totally bogus! I--who have no medical background--have been "trained." Meaning I read the directions, gloved up, got some lube, and put the syringe up Soren's rectum!

And there is no way to give the incorrect amount because the syringe is set to the appropriate dosage for the child. Frankly, it couldn't be easier!

But to pass this bill, I need your help!

The bill is up for a vote in Appropriations tomorrow (5/27), following difficult, but successful votes in Education & Health. Hundreds of letters from supporters helped lend courage to our elected officials in the face of formidable union opposition.

But now YOU can help by taking less than two minutes to call the Senate President (Darrell Steinberg) and the Appropriations committee chair (Senator Kehoe) to log your support. They will ask for your name, your city and your position on the bill.

I just did it and it was super easy. I called to say I wanted to state my support of Senate Bill 1051. They asked for my name, my city, and my position on the bill.

If YOU are in support, PLEASE call TODAY:
- Senator Darrell Steinberg (916-651-4006)
- Senator Christine Kehoe 916-651-4039

This bill does not impose a fiscal burden on the state and without the passage of SB 1051, thousands of children will be placed at risk of brain damage and death.

There is overwhelming support from the medical community (CA Medical Assoc, Assoc of CA Neurologists, UCLA, USC, Stanford, etc), as well as parents and teachers and nurses who work directly with children in the schools.

If we are successful tomorrow, the bill will go to the Senate Floor for a full vote and then hopefully to the State Assembly.

If you want to learn more, Steve Lopez wrote an article (in LA Times today) which discusses the issue and mentions Soren's two good friends Clayton and Camille.

  • LA Times Article

  • Please help children like Soren get this life-saving medicine available in the schools!



    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Still Struggling

    Despite our best efforts, Soren has been having a rough time this past month with his seizures. We thought we were seeing some progress. We brought back Lamictal and started hearing him laugh again.

    But they laughs are gone again. At least for us. I hear that he laughs at school. Hmmmm.

    And his seizures, though brief Tonics, are WHOMPERS! I wouldn't be laughing if these things hit me either! They actually elicit a vocal "HUH!" out of him they hit so hard. It's like he got socked in the gut. Which I actually think it might feel like because his stomach muscles contract and his arms and legs stick straight out.

    He also seems to know they are coming sometimes. Sometimes he's fussy. Sometimes he "talks" more. There's clearly more awareness. I just wish I knew what he was experiencing.

    There are dogs that can sense seizures coming on in people. I wish I had that sense! Or that Aaron and Mo weren't allergic to dogs. Or that I didn't have enough on my hands without adding a dog to the mix. Or that they gave those dogs to people as disabled as Soren. Unfortunately, none of those wishes are going to come true. So we just have to be there for Soren when the seizures hit.

    Clearly we need to work on the meds some more. Hopefully we can decrease these seizures. Hopefully we can get that laugh back.


    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    New Neurologist, New Results

    Soren has been with the same neurologist since he was 9 months old and started having Infantile Spasms. His doctor is one of the top in this field, dealing with many chi;dren who have hard to control seizures. During our time with this doctor, Soren has had many changes in his seizure type and we have juggled medicines trying to get control.

    But this wonderful doctor is retiring so Soren got passed to a younger neurologist. I didn't feel she had the experience to deal with Soren's seizures. As much as she tried, she didn't seem to be able to think outside the box. And Soren is WAY outside the regular seizure box.

    So we made a change. At Soren's pediatrician's recommendation, we went to a new neurologist. And I have a really good feeling about her. She sat down with me and Soren and went over my 22 page history of him point by point. She marked-up this history, noting med changes. I could see her brain trying to figure out the puzzle that is Soren. She told me drug side-effects that I didn't know about that have been contributing to his recent struggles.

    She then laid out a plan for his meds. Decreasing things here, adding things there. And then she wanted to see us back in one month--also noting that I could call her nurse any time if we had troubles.

    The great thing is that these changes are having a wonderful effect on Soren. While he's still have a seizure now and then, I haven't seen them everyday like before. He's also much happier. We hadn't seen smiles or heard laughs from Soren for a year. This past month we've gotten both and it's like getting our sunshine back. He's much more alert, eating better, talking more. It's amazing.

    It's good to know that even when you have a kid with seizures as tough to control as Soren's, hope is still out there!


    Sunday, February 07, 2010

    One More Word on One of My Least Favorite Words

    The word "Retarded" and "Retard" continue to be in the news thanks to that charm-boy, right-wing icon Rush Limbaugh.

    And what's sad is that Sarah Palin--a supposed "comrade-in-arms" for children with special needs, the woman who asked for the FIRING of Rahm Emanuel for the use of this same word, says that Limbaugh's use of the word "retard" while "demeaning and crude" was also "SATIRE."

    First of all, here's what Limbaugh said...

    "Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards. I mean these people, these liberal activists are kooks. They are loony tunes. (Amy note: I guess if you redefine "retarded" as "crazy" it's not a slam against people with learning disabilities. Just people with mental illness. THAT's okay, right?) Limbaugh continues, "And I’m not going to apologize for it, I’m just quoting Emanuel. It’s in the news. I think their big news is he’s out there calling Obama’s number one supporters f’ing retards."

    "So now there’s going to be a meeting. There’s going to be a retard summit at the White House. Much like the beer summit between Obama and Gates and that cop in Cambridge."

    When asked about this quote, Palin defended Limbaugh saying he was using "Satire" because he was quoting Emanuel's use of the word.

    But I think this is a load of crap. Yes, Limbaugh was using the word because Emanuel used it. But Limbaugh's comments were not satirical. They weren't even the asinine, off-the-cuff comments of Emanuel.

    Limbaugh's use of the word "Retard" was exactly what Palin is SUPPOSEDLY against.

    Limbaugh used it NOT as a poorly chosen adjective to replace "stupid" as Emanuel did. Limbaugh used it to be MEAN. He used it, in my personal interpretation, specifically and purposely calling these liberals retards. His goal was to insult these people by comparing them to people with with developmental disabilities. It was supposedly meant as a, "Ha, ha! Those guys really ARE retarded." Well, you know what, they're not! And just because you supposedly mean it as a joke doesn't make it any more acceptable.

    He then called Emanuel's meeting with a group of advocates for the disabled a "retard summit." Okay, what is satirical about that? That was PURPOSEFULLY cruel against advocates of people with special needs. He used it EXACTLY the way Palin ACCUSED Emanuel of using it (which he didn't). He used it like the "N-word."

    It was NOT satirical. It was purposeful. Purposefully mean. He tried to couch it, changing the definition to be "kooky" and "loony tunes." But that is NOT what was intended in the use of that word. And Sarah Palin KNOWS it.

    Unfortunately, I think that her speaking out against Emanuel originally about this word was really just a convenient political move. Now that she has to speak against a hugely popular conservative, she can't be as FIRED up about the use of that previously heinous word.

    And now, more reports of conservatives using this word are coming out. David Carney, a campaign adviser to Rick Perry, was recently quoted using the word. And Sarah was quoted with a similar soft-pedaling admonishment once again merely calling the use of the word "crude and demeaning." Guess she can't stand behind her convictions for her child quite as strongly when it interferes with her political agenda and her own party uses the word. Sad.

    But the point is, LOTS of people use this word. Liberals hot-heads like Rahm, conservative hot-heads like Rush, women in the hair salon, children on the playground, and even at one time, me.

    But we shouldn't.

    And maybe I, as a parent with NO political agenda, can ask that whenever you have the instinct to say that word, stop and think of Soren.

    When you want to say, "that's so retarded" or "what a retard" realize that to ME, you are saying that my son, who has been BRANDED by this word, is stupid. That he is dumb. That he is worthless. And, thus, worth less.

    Think of this boy. This boy who, sadly, doesn't have the words to defend himself. But he has me. I will speak for him. I will always speak for him. Even when-and especially when--those who SHOULD won't!


    Wednesday, February 03, 2010

    Sarah, Rahm, and "Retarded"

    I'm sure lots of you have been hearing about Rahm Emanuel using the word "retarded" recently and Sarah Palin's Facebook response. If not, you're hearing about it here.

    Let me say upfront that I am not a fan of Sarah Palin. Though I'm not sure that I'm really a fan of Rahm Emanuel either.

    But politics aside, Sarah is a mom of a child with special needs, so her perspective in this situation cannot be denied. Having a child with developmental delays myself, I understand Sarah taking offense to Rahm's use of this word. And I actually appreciate her speaking up about this misuse.

    However, in all honesty, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that prior to the birth of her son, at some time in her adult life, Sarah used the word "retarded" in much the same way. Why am I willing to make such a bold wager? Well, because I used to use this word this way!

    I've written about this before but it's buried deep in this blog. So let me state it again. Before Soren was born, "retarded" was part of my vocabulary as an adjective used in place of "stupid" or "dumb." For me, "retarded" had more "Zing!" so to speak. It seemed like more of a rebellious word. And I'm quite the rebel.

    Then, after Soren's delays became known, I actually CONTINUED to use it! With some defiance, I must say. I was, like, "You're not taking that word from me just because my son has developmental delays!"

    Guess I was the one who really had a lot to learn.

    As Soren's delays continued and I became more immersed in the special needs community, I began to accept how inappropriate and hurtful this word is, even when folks say it casually like I used to. For those of us combating the diagnosis of "Mental Retardation," or "MR" as it's commonly referred to, this word has deep resonance. And its misuse is like a knife in the gut.

    Most people I know merely use the word the way Rahm did. As an adjective. But because I used to say, "That's so retarded" for years, when I hear others say it now, I just let it slide.

    But then there are the times it's used as a noun, as in, "What a retard." Now that one REALLY gets me. It's really hard NOT to say something.

    But it's also almost impossible for me TO say something. My fear is making people feel uncomfortable or awkward about my situation. Or making them self-conscious when they speak around me. I was actually in the hair salon today writing this and overheard a woman say it! But I said nothing. I just took the hit and let the wound heal.

    And while I agree with Sarah speaking out about this, I disagree with her comparing "Retarded" to the "N-word." Now this is a personal issue, so maybe that's REALLY how she feels. But I don't really think so. I think her comparing "Retarded" to the "N-word" just guaranteed it to stand out more when the press picked up the story.

    For me, the two words incomparable. In my life, the "N-word" was always meant as a slur. It always meant as mean and hateful. But "Retarded" has had more of an evolution into its current "inappropriate" status.

    I liken "Retarded" to the word "Gay." Now when I was young, lots of people, including me, said, "That's so gay." And it was, obviously, meant as an insult. Well, as the years passed, people began to realize that the gay community takes offense at using this word this way! And rightly so! Thus people in general have stopped using "Gay" in this manner.

    So, yes, I am glad that Sarah Palin spoke up about this. Awareness must be raised that the casual use of this word can be very hurtful to people. Maybe this is a step in that direction.


    Monday, February 01, 2010

    Disneyland with Soren

    Aaron and I have always loved Disneyland. That love was easy to pass along to Moira. Soren always comes along, but we're not always sure how much he enjoys it. It's bright, it's noisy, it's overwhelming! But yesterday, he really seemed to like it all, staying awake for the majority of our visit.

    He's a big fan of the dark rides: Peter Pan, Pirates, Alice, and the Tiki Room. He LOVES the Tiki Room. Always has. Yesterday, he was actually taking his one nap right before we went in. But once the lights dimmed and the birds started talking, Soren peeked his eyes open. And when the music began, his eyes were wide open and he was kicking, talking, and watching. Watching him enjoy it makes it my favorite.

    We also did Buzz Lightyear, which we've done before. Usually we go to the special wheelchair transfer area and unload Soren, sitting him on our lap for the ride. But this time, the Cast Member asked if I wanted Soren to stay in his chair. The Buzz ride has ONE car that has a ramp to roll a chair into and a little seat next to it for the other person. And as luck would have it, it came by right when we arrived.

    Always eager NOT to lift Soren, I wheeled his chair in and sat beside him. It was SO awesome! Soren was much more comfortable and got a way better view of the ride. This time he was really looking around at all the amazing colors. He was a little annoyed with me helping him fire the blaster, but oh well.

    But the BEST thing that happened was on the Haunted Mansion. This has always been one of my favorite rides. I remember riding it over and over again as a teen one time when there were no lines at Disneyland. But I always wanted to see where the "Doom Buggies" went after you hop out onto that conveyor belt/people walk thing. I used to imagine jumping back into it, hoping the Disney folks wouldn't notice (which of course they would and then I would have gotten in big trouble).

    Well, because of the kids, I hadn't been on the Haunted Mansion for about 10 years. Moira wasn't ready for it until this year. So we decided to brave it. But we had no idea how it all worked with the wheelchair. I mean, you leave out a different area than were you start in the Doom Buggies.

    The first part was completely the same, going down in the room with "no windows and no doors." Then when it was time to load into our Doom Buggy, they slowed the conveyor down a bit so we could get Soren out of his chair. (NOTE: I now know that one of the reasons the Doom Buggies stop during the ride is because of this!) So we rode to the end, where we usually get out. But this time they stopped the ride and told us to stay in our Buggies.

    Then my childhood dream came true. They started the ride again and we got to go "behind the scenes" in our Buggies! It was such a simple, silly thing, but it made me so happy! And just so you know, the Buggies just loop around and come back out to pick up people.

    And as if that wasn't enough to give me my dork-fix, we got a bonus! To get to ground level and out of the ride, we rode the elevator back up! So we got to see the paintings go from stretched back to normal. It was so cool!

    I've gotten quite an education since Soren came into my life. And yesterday it was a fun education, Disneyland-style.


    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Hungry Boy

    It's been a little be of a rough start of the new year for Soren. During Christmas break, he caught a cold that led to an ear infection. So he had a little delay returning to school. But now he's back to his chatty, hungry self.

    Which leads me to the funny thing that happened yesterday. I send Soren's lunch with him to school every day. Monday morning a prepared avocado and salmon and put it in the fridge. When the bus came, I put the container in his lunchbox and sent him off.

    When Soren came home, I had to give him a snack to get his antibiotic in. Before I got the food ready, every time I walked by Soren, he opened his mouth hoping for food. I thought this was odd since he had such a big lunch. So I fed him his snack, which he devoured.

    That evening, I was preparing Soren's dinner and looked in the fridge for some squash I'd cooked. It was just a tiny bit of squash that I was going to mix up with some egg. But, for the life of me, I couldn't find it. But I DID find the avocado and salmon that I'd made that morning.

    Poor little boy. I sent him to school with about 5 bites of squash for lunch. No wonder he was opening his mouth like a baby bird after school. He was starving!

    Needless to say, he wolfed down his dinner really fast. But I felt so bad. Soren doesn't have any words to tell me he's hungry, but was giving me the only sign he knew--an open mouth--to clue me in. Good thing I had to give him his antibiotic!