Time flies by so quickly and for a parent before we know it our baby is an adult. With the permission of my one and only son, I have the honor of telling two stories of his miraculous life.
I start first with that little doubt that rolls in all parents heads. It gets set off when those nauseating stories are heard when someone talks or posts pictures about how great their child is. Some parents today are so full of, or lack thereof, their own DNA pride they seem to have to prove it to the world through their children. But where did it really come from and why do some get that ‘gifted’ child, and some not? Why is a Lebron James body born in one family and a Mr. Bean in another?
A study is rolling in China on ‘Why are some people so smart’. Evidence points to IQ which is argued that it is shaped in our DNA and cannot be altered. Critics claim that life outcomes have more to do with culture and environmental circumstances than with innate intellectual ability. Will giving your daughter or son a brand new BMW for graduating from high school (I cannot believe how many pics of such happenings I see here in my area) make them successful in life or just spoiled?
All I know is for my own family is we were so fortunate to have a second child, period. Many have had the heartbreak of having no children or special needs children have made their world an extra but rewarding challenge. When we look at how our boy was brought into the world – we count our blessings.
Our awesome daughter was born 11 months after we were married and the thoughts of having that big Catholic type family seemed like our destiny. But three miscarriages later, the really awful kind happening months into the pregnancies, dampened our spirits. Something about autoimmune issues (that doctors knew little about at that time) were present. We studied deeply to find out why my wife’s body did not like the male babies she was carrying in her body. No doctor’s at the time had a solution to our problem so we gave up. We decided going through that depression bringing trauma again was not something we wanted to do. We asked God, why, and received no answers. My wife chewed on depression, I gnawed at bitterness.
The thought never departed that maybe there was a solution. Research revealed years later that some meds taken during the pregnancy could possibly prevent the immune system thingy from killing our babies. One doctor was a specialist in the area and was willing to work with us. We were very anxious about the whole idea but gave it a try. 10 months later, but after twice daily black and blue producing shots in the thigh of my poor wife, our son was born. We had a miracle child.
He has grown to be smart, witty, kind, handsome, caring, creative, insightful, and so much more. As DNA goes and maybe all that worry we carried around with us produced a great child that had a touch of shy and a lot of worry built-in. Like his Dad and Mom, he had a ton of inner anxiety, despite doing and trying every possible how not to be anxious trick, it was part of his DNA.
Of all the crazy things to happen – when he was in first grade a kid barfed in his Crocs. This must have triggered memories of when he puked in front of a group of people at a resort pool. In second grade a kid puked in his own backpack after a school bus ride. Third grade, first day of school, a kid pukes on his desk on his papers. I only recall these stories, and seriously, at least ten more incidents just like these happened, to explain what we later discovered. Who’d think a little hairball upchuck from a cat would cause a kid to run to his bedroom? We with our four cats have the orange stains on our carpets to show the many times that happened. It is no wonder he developed what later, a $100 an hour session, revealed a diagnoses for the most bizarre phobia any of us have heard of – Emetophobia – Fear of Vomit. You think I’m kidding, read all about it here.
As I sat listening to my son do a twenty-minute thesis presentation on the last day of school to his class this past week it took every bit of strength I had to not burst out in tears with a flush of pride and overwhelming relief. (funny, only after getting home, my wife told me she was sick the whole morning worrying about HIS speech. She was unable to make it to the class although she wanted to very badly). WE had made it through years of bullies picking on him in school trying to bring him to a panic stage. The days of kids making throw up noises during lunch that would cause him to not ever want to eat in a cafeteria were over. The making fun of his crawling into a shell of protection from the taunts of ‘you are a baby’, a wimp, nervous dude, and hearing ‘what is wrong with you’, were a thing of the past (all things we only found out later were said often, actually).
Before the speech he gave in front of his homeschooled cohorts, (which of course he had to be the last one to go and thus sit for two hours and ruminate about it), I could see the anxiety brewing in his mind, body, and face. On the breaks I reminded him of all the steps he and we had learned on how to overcome a panic attack. He said little, but I knew what he was thinking, especially post one of his classmates beforehand had joked about feeling like she was going to vomit.
Not only did he get through the speech, he nailed it and looked as calm as could be the whole time. Our miracle baby had grown up and made it through his tumultuous (as Websters defines tumultuous – highly agitated, as the mind or emotions; distraught; turbulent) life.
Not to us be the glory for getting him through a difficult life. Probably now you are thinking, what is so miraculous about getting through a high school grad day speech? Sure he was born when he probably shouldn’t have been for miracle one. But what is the second miracle deal?
For now, you can stop and leave out the God did something different story, and revel that it is pretty cool that anxious kids can make it through life, but big deal. Or read on if you dare to hear the other side of what we know was a miracle…
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So ‘whoopie, your kid had a little to overcome’, I recall saying even in my own thinking. How big of a deal is thinking about throw up and turning everything into a nervous anxiety issue? Because we had set aside God for several years after our miscarriages and a bad church experience, we relied on getting help from ‘experts of the mind’, and any remedy recommended. Vomit therapy, anxiety medicine trials from drug to drug, spa trips, vacations, build a relaxing waterfall (we built one at one house – people thought I was crazy to spend that kind of money, hey old neighbors now you know the real reason),
moving to the country and buying relaxing horses, and more. You think we didn’t try everything?
When all else fails turn to God, or back to God in our case, happened for us when we reached the climax of despair. Not for our son, but because our daughter had ended up in the hospital for the 3rd time with what we thought at the time was a ‘break-down’ of some kind. (We will tell her stories another time). We thought it was from her bad decisions. But only after what happened to our son the summer of 10th grade did we realize we were so very wrong about what she fought through.
The last time he went to a camp out on his own was during a tour with the boy scouts. And you guessed it, some kid puked during the campout. Going away on his own for excursions had become a battle of convincing him the odds of such a thing ever happening again were 1/1,000,000. But with his history, we weren’t even convinced ourselves. So mid-way in 9th grade we signed him up for a Christian camp and paid our church the non-refundable deposit. For months we talked about the ‘not that big of a deal’ camp coming up as we knew, this would be the turning point in his life if he went.
I remember the group prayer and loading his bags on the bus. This was going to be the life-changing event of all events for our son. And it turned out to be just that! The first night we were so excited not to get that phone call from the youth pastor that there was a problem and we needed to come and get him. We were praising God as we tossed and turned going to sleep that evening, no call, hallelujah.
But the next day it came. Mr Average Joe, there was a bit of an incident last night (the very first night of the camp!), your son’s best friend, (who just happened to be an offensive lineman size young man) is coming home. I thought well, what does that have to do with our son and us? This young man is not feeling well, probably the flu, he happened to get sick in the hotel room. I couldn’t believe it, seriously!!! The good news is though, is your son is fine, he wants to say. I also couldn’t believe that either!
Only later did we find out – he was sleeping on the floor of the hotel room because there were not enough beds for all the kids. The puker was on the bed and vomited all the snacks (a week’s worth consumed in one night) he and the rest of the gang ate, right at Zack’s feet. Only later did we find out our son ran out of the room and told the leaders, who mostly blew it off as just another little camp incident. Somehow, Z made it through the rest of the camp. Apparently without sleeping much or eating the rest of the time, but he made it.
When he arrived home, we knew something amazing had happened. Either he had a tremendous encounter with Jesus and had seen Him face to face, or something was terribly wrong. He was a totally different person. For a few days, we were talking with him and everyone at church about this amazing transformation that took place. We had lunch with some of the crew and talked about what had happened, the difficulties and this great triumph, oh what a camp to remember, it was a miracle change!
Yes, it was…. Z could not stop talking about what happened. I mean, could not stop talking about what happened non-stop. Sleep deprivation and food deprivation can cause mind-altering changes. The next couple days he could not sleep. We prayed. We talked. We researched. We called his drug doctor, what do we do? He said, give him some of that emergency anti-anxiety medicine (that we never ever want to use as it is addicting and mind-dulling) that should help get him out of the pending mania mode. We used all the methods we knew to keep him from a major anxiety attack. That night, every hour 1,2,3,4, 5a.m., he came downstairs to say he could not sleep. All signs seemed to point to some type of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) scenario. We hoped to make it short, help him out, and move on.
Being the fourth night of sleeplessness, it was becoming clear this was no ordinary situation. We knew now it not only was no encounter with Jesus, but our worst fears were also about to arrive – an encounter with hell.
To be continued…