Friday, December 31, 2010

In the beginning

We've always known that Monster Man was different. From the time he could talk, he always did things his own way. He didn't like pizza when he was younger, concerned about the pizza sauce getting on his hands (he had no problem with other foods covering him, oddly enough). He didn't like ice cream when he was little, either, choosing instead to have warmer treats than something so cold. Now, at the age of ten, he still doesn't like having milk on his cereal since he says it changes the texture. Those are just a few of the things we noticed, all centered around food, but there were many other things that have always seemed different.

Monster Man has always had an extremely active imagination. From shortly after his second birthday until well after his fifth, he believed that he was Santa. Not just believing in Santa, but truly believing that he was the man in red himself. He wore a red sweatsuit and Santa hat nearly everywhere he went, introducing himself to kids as Santa Claus. He spent hours on end 'practicing' flying his sleigh. He asked for 'real reindeer that can fly' for Christmas. He took imagination to a whole new level, so much so in fact that we often heard comments about whether or not he was normal.

Over time, we came up for a simple answer for why he did things the way that he did. "Because he's Monster Man." We used this answer for just about everything he did. Why did he have to create crazy voices and repeat lines from movies while we watched them? Why did he insist on always wearing his socks inside out? Why did he have to have his food cut just the right way, including having his PBJ cut into four triangles? Why did he get so easily upset when he couldn't get things done just right? Why was he such a perfectionist with his school work? Why did he seem so quirky? Why does he seem like such a spazz? All these questions, and probably a thousand others, were answered the same way.

Out of all three of my children, Monster Man always seemed to be the sickest. What might be a mild cold for Angel Baby would turn out to be a major illness for Monster Man. I remember waking up one morning when he was five weeks old and finding him blue. It was just the start of many respiratory problems he has faced, especially over the course of his first eighteen months of life. During that time, he spent a total of fifteen months sick, with only a few healthy days scattered here and there between illnesses. RSV, bronchitis (three times), and pneumonia (twice) plagued the poor baby, though he rarely let them bring him down. As he got older, he still continued to get extremely sick. He fought off numerous cases of strep, scarlet fever, and ear infections. He ended up with mono in kindergarten and Lyme disease at the end of second grade. It seemed like if anyone was going to get something major, it was going to be Monster Man.

Somewhere around the time that he came down with Lyme disease, Monster Man started having problems with what we thought were allergies. He blinked a lot, really forceful blinks that looked like his eyes were really bothering him. He started clearing his throat all the time, as well. We started treating him with Claritin, hoping to help ease the symptoms he was experiencing. Angel Baby has severe allergies, so it only seemed right that the symptoms Monster Man was experiencing were related to allergies as well. Unfortunately, the more we worked to get rid of the symptoms, the worse the blinking and throat clearing got.

I finally mentioned the symptoms to the pediatrician this past January, nearly two years after the first of the symptoms began. It wasn't until then that we realized that these weren't allergy symptoms at all. Instead, they were tics. He was referred to a pediatric neurologist, though his doctor told me it didn't necessarily mean that he had Tourettes. It took us nearly 10 full months to get an appointment that stuck (the appointments kept getting rescheduled by the office), and by then Monster Man had developed many other tics. In fact, we had seen a total of almost 20 tics by the time that he was finally seen and diagnosed.

And so begins my blogging journey as we experience Monster Man's struggles and triumphs with Tourettes Syndrome.

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