Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Zaki and Raja in the Paper!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Jackson's
Frank, Heather, Zarek, Zaki and Raja

Heaven's Very Special Child

A meeting was held quite far from earth
"It's time again for another birth."
Said the angels to the Lord above,
"This special child will need much love."
His progress may seem very slow
Accomplishments he may not show
And he'll require extra care
From the folks he meets way down there.
He may not run or laugh or play
His thoughts may seem quite far away
In many ways he won't adapt
And he'll be known as handicapped.
So let's be careful where he's sent
We want his life to be content
Please, Lord, find the parents who
Will do a special job for you.
They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play
But with this child sent from above
Come stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they'll know the privelege given
In caring for this gift from heaven
Their precious charge, so meek and mild
Is heaven's very special child
By Edna Massimilla

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

These Two Are Going Somewhere!

In recognition of epilepsy awareness month I wanted to tell our journey with Zaki and epilepsy… I originally typed (his) epilepsy – and although he is the one with epilepsy, it is not HIS only. And with it being the eve of Thanksgiving I would also like to focus on the lessons that I have learned and things that I am thankful for.

Zaki started having seizures when he was only four months old. The first type of seizure that he had was myoclonic. This is a very quick jerk. Zaki was not sitting up yet, and I did not recognize it as a seizure, it looked like a startle response to me. I told my husband that I would mention it at the six month well baby check up. By this time, he was having over a dozen of these a day, and was beginning to sit up. They now looked like head nods, and he would often tip over. If he was holding a rattle in his hand he would drop it. He had one in the doctor’s office during his 6 month check up and he said that we needed to get him in for an EEG an Electroencephalogram. Wow!? A What? Little did I know this would be the beginning of my honorary neurology degree, and all of the medical terminology that would accompany it.

LESSON 1: One can not beat themselves up wishing they did something when they didn’t! I always wondered if I would have gotten him in right away – if that would have made a difference? The truth is that I will never know, and there is not room for regret when you are in the fight of your life! Staying in the past often disables you from moving forward and doing all you can for the present. This is why runners never look back, not if they plan on winning! It would slow them down.

We got him in quickly for an EEG. Because we were not able to get in as swiftly with the neurologist, the pediatrician called. You always know it’s bad when the doctor calls and not the nurse. He asked me to pick up a prescription for depakote, and that my son had epilepsy. He actually thought that was the end of that phone call? Baffling! I began to ask a lot of questions, that he could not answer deferring to the neurologist – yes the one that we would not be able to see for months. The next morning I went to pick up the prescription for depakote. I had ‘googled’ it the night before. Something about hepatic failure, which I also ‘googled’ – more medical terminology! And not being okay for children under 2 years old? I was definitely becoming a cyber-chondriac quickly! I asked another slew of questions when picking up the script. He again deferred me to the neurologist. Hmmmmm…. Okay, I was catching on. I did not fill the prescription, and began to call daily to the neurologist’s office for cancellations. So after testing the squeaky wheel theory, I discovered that it worked! We were in within the week.

I could go on and on about the many many doctor’s appointments that we went to, specialists seen, tests done, tears cried, Dr’s fired, medications that failed, therapy sessions attended, and prayers answered. We have even tried pretty dramatic measures to help him. Weighing the cost/benefit scenario took it’s tole on us as a family. Zaki has cataracts due to the long term use of one medication, and is unable to sweat and regulate his body temperature due to his current medication. Another causing him debilitating body cramping and insomnia. To date Zaki has had well over 500,000 seizures. There was a long period of time that Zaki had in excess of 250 seizures a day - I would stop counting. He has had just about every seizure type there is including status. This is when the seizure activity does not cease. The brain does not relieve from the excited seizure state requiring emergency measures. In fact to this date I do not travel without his emergency meds to administer in case the seizure does not stop.

Lesson 2: Always give God the glory when He pulls through for you!

What a time for this lesson right? After saying how bad things were, I come with “Thank God for it!” Let me explain. We have had many many opportunities to request prayers from our church family and see God come through. We have had to become completely reliant on Him in this situation! It is out of our hands, and the doctors are baffled. After over 6 years, they are still not able to give my son relief from daily seizures. I can not depend on them. After 6 years, my tireless research has not paid off with a silver bullet to kill the beast. So I can not depend on myself either. We have seen every specialist including random alternative treatments like an herbalist, iridologist, acupuncturist, chiropractic, cranio-sacral therapy. You name it, we have tried it. Some helped, but none worked. Our son’s prognosis is not good. It is of such that he qualifies for a special waiver program in the state of CO called the pediatric hospice waiver aka the hopeful waiver. We receive palliative services through Pikes Peak Hospice, and he qualifies for the full time care of a CNA. To qualify for the waiver, the child "May not live into adulthood" So back to Lesson 2, and how I can say Thank God and give Him the glory? Our son IS still alive! He has pulled through with the help of God so far! We are thankful for the time that we have had with him. And I fully intend to have many many more years with him making me laugh, and teaching me lessons.

Epilepsy is a thief . It does not even have the decency to steal in the night without anyone for a witness. It comes during the broad daylight boldly taking my son’s development and quality of life! I have never seen such a criminal. If I could catch him, I would hand cuff him, and beat the life out of him! But he is illusive. He has left my son with autistic tendency’s, major sensory issues, and the development of a big two year old. He is still in pull-ups, is struggling to learn and retain what he is being taught. But he is ALSO the most forgiving, loving, compassionate, and hardest fighting person I know. When you think of the qualities that mean something in a person - he is rich! In what really matters – he is miles ahead of most adults I know! If I cry, he will burst into tears. I know people who will not even comfort you, much less empathize with you! He often has the resolve to keep going when I don’t! Often only communicating that by a smile,giggle, or a "press on!" He has given my life a new perspective, and forced my life to reflect my priorities. He has helped me to learn life lessons that without him I know that I would not have gained.

Lesson 3: Life is 99% perspective! Feelings aren’t facts! I get to make a choice everyday how to perceive any given situation. And, I get the opportunity daily to teach my children that as well. Circumstances do not dictate my joy! And just because I may be feeling like throwing in the towel and giving up, does not mean we are in a hopeless situation. You may say, “That lady is just the eternal optimist, or crazy.” And to those accusations I say – “Okay” :) Maybe, no - probably! But I would rather focus on what I have than don’t have. I would rather help my son to hold in his thoughts the good things, and the things that we are thankful for. And we can ALWAYS be thankful for SOMETHING. Those things are not tangible~ they never will be! This life can be challenging! But I am glad that this is not my final resting place. I am thankful everyday that this world is not my home, or my Zaki’s. Zaki fluctuates between a dozen to 50 seizures a day right now. You are probably gasping. When I type that it really is staggering, because I view him in a pretty good place right now… and compared to where we were, he is!


And when I think of my brave bold son, I am so thankful that he is going somewhere!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Mom...Raja's bothering me!" Raja Moves In!

"Mom, Raja boddering me!" Zaki exclaims from his room! I love it! Raja has moved in full time this month, and although earlier than I was originally thinking (or wanting) it has truly been such a wonderful thing! Raja is 9 months now and in full blown adolescence. For those of you who are 'dog people' you know that this time is characterized by the dog pushing the limit and boundaries - seeing how far they can go, and acting like they have about 5 brain cells in their head, with everything being negotiable. :) Even though Raja is a VERY intellegent service dog, he is no different - he still has to travel the stages of development like all dogs do.
Zaki sitting on Linda's lap with Raja and big brother Zarek
Raja is all Zaki all the time! On alert!Raja was very concerned when his boy went under the water, and about licked him dry when he came up!

Heather and Raja passing Intermediate class
I would have to say the most exciting thing that has happened this month for our family and reinstituted normalcy to some extent is Zaki sleeping in his own room with Raja. He has been in our bed or his brother's his whole life. We made a chart for Zaki who got to go to Walmart with Raja to buy goodies for a week in his own bed!
This was also our first trip to Walmart with Raja and he did awesome!

Zaki picked out a cowboy hat, guns, and ball and chews for Raja

The boys bedding down for the night.

Other exciting developments!
Zaki gets very bad leg pain at night frequently (med related). Raja gets a very yummy treat for going "night night" with Zaki. I had gotten Zaki in his bed and given Raja his treat. Those of you who know Raja know how he is about his food:) I left to go get the "rub" and a heating blanket. Zaki was crying and rubbing his legs. When I came back in Raja had not eaten his treat, and was curled around his boy's legs. Not until Zaki calmed down and was almost asleep did Raja eat his treat and go to sleep.
He has alerted to Zaki running away 3 times!
He was super concerned and on alert when Zaki went under in the tub water. Zaki was playing, but Raja didn't know that.
Zaki has been sleeping in his own room since Raja has come to live with us.
Zaki also spent about 30 minutes on the computer at the library - which he would normally spend less than 5 minutes on. Raja curled under the table, and Zaki rubs his feet on him.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Raja Saves The Day!

You may not see what is so special about this shot unless you have attended church services with us and Zaki! Zaki is "on the go" to put it nicely and "the energizer bunny on speed" to put it bluntly. He runs, has a very difficult time sitting, tries to escape, makes loud noises and out- bursts, and is overall quite disrupting. I love my small congregation of faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, they have been very patient with us, and understand the way Zaki is.
Well this Sunday in particular, I brought Raja. I was expecting to have to call the hubby to pick up one or both of the little ones. I was not sure that Raja would make it the three hours, and was certain that Zaki wouldn't. Imagine my delight when these two settled in quite nicely!
Raja woke from his sleep to go "round up" Zaki when he tried to take off toward the door!!

Zaki was a hit with his friend Raja. All of the kids at Sunday school enjoyed the super service dog in training too!

Raja and Zaki driving! We are working on Raja during dusk and night to help a fear issue he has been having.

They are both so very talented!
The other very promising event that happened at church was while I was not paying attention (I was putting Zarek's tie on in the corridor) I had one foot on Raja's leash. I felt a tug and Raja let out one bark. My initial thought, was "Lovely! This again?!" He has been going through a fear stage and the barking has been something that the trainer has been working feverishly with, as that would obviously pose a public access issue! I turn my head to see Zaki making a mad dash out the door. Something I would have missed completely! GOOD BOY RAJA - Click, TREAT!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Raja And Zaki Are Doing Awesome Together!

Zaki and Raja hanging out in the bed

Raja enjoyed a cranio-sacral therapy session with Zaki last week. Zaki loves his sessions, and Raja did too; He snuggled right up in the bed with the boy!

" You mean we have to get back to work? Really? Cause I was thinking a 'greenie' and some more sleep would be nice! "

Raja has two cute freckles on his tongue, you can see the one in the front on this picture

Raja and the family dog Mater are getting along great too!
They love to play. We have to put Mater up so Raja will focus on Zaki, which he gladly does.

We have been working on the "go to" game with all the family members. We tell raja "go to" Daddy, and Daddy has a click and treat waiting for Raja. Then Daddy will say "go to" Zaki. And Zaki has a click and treat waiting for him. He finds this great fun, and will be great to go retrieve help when needed. Raja also accompanied Zaki to hippotherapy last week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not Doggy "stuff" But Totally Cool Nontheless!!

Zaki at the Special Rodeo!
The special rodeo kicks off the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. This is the 13th year that kids and adults with developmental disabilities have participated!!

Zarek at the fountain at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame!!

Zaki won the flag competition. He won a belt buckle, a rope, and a new cowboy hat! The picture in his hand is an autograph of the 'purty' ladies on his side!

Charles Sampson the World Champion Bull Rider took a liking to Zaki, and spent quite a bit of time with him! Thanks Charles!!

Zaki found some shade!


Charles showing Zaki how to rope...