The WHAT Bite?!

When writing about life with Aaron, I have often mentioned how he rubs his hands together.  He does this when he is excited, happy, nervous, or when deep in thought as he concentrates on a particular something that captivates him or requires him to focus.  When he is excited or happy or nervous……and even when he’s angry……his hand rubbing is usually very fast.  I wouldn’t be surprised someday to see smoke rising from his blazing hands!  But when he is deep in thought or totally focused on something, his hand rubbing is slow and calm.  It’s then that one can really see the intricate movement he makes with his fingers.  The whole process is very fascinating.

While in Houston recently visiting Andrea, she and I were able to watch Aaron as he listened to some of his favorite music.  He was totally engrossed in listening to Celtic Thunder, matching each song with the title on the back of the CD.  His head was lowered and there he was, his hands slowing rubbing together and his fingers doing their rhythmic motion……over and over and over.  I quietly picked up my phone and was able to video him without interrupting this magical moment.  You can watch the video at the link below.  Just scroll down the page to the second video.

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And now I can write about his doctor visit last November……a visit that involves his unique hand rubbing, done in “slo mo.”  You can better visualize what happened that day.  I just hope that I can also convey how hilarious that whole experience was.

Last year here in Wichita, oak mites were prolific.  These are beastly little creatures…….barely visible……that drop from oak trees and then are carried by the wind to every corner of one’s yard.  They leave nasty little bites that resemble mosquito bites, and itch like crazy.

 

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YUCK!!!

 

One day Aaron had been outside and soon enough he had several itching welts break out on his skin.  We explained oak mites to him, all of which he found fairly fascinating.  It wasn’t long, though, before he had scratched one bite on his leg to the point that it was raw and bleeding.  Fearing infection, I put some antibiotic cream on it, slapped on a round Band Aid…….and being the good mother that I am, promptly forgot about it.

In my defense, it was the time of year for cooler weather so Aaron was wearing long pants during the day and long pajama pants at night.  I couldn’t see his leg.  Out of sight, out of mind.

There.  I am absolved of any guilt.

Why the guilt, you ask?  Or not.  Anyway, one evening it was warmer and so Aaron decided to wear his pajama shorts.  We were watching Wheel of Fortune when I looked over and noticed a bright red spot on Aaron’s leg.  The bright red spot turned out to be a perfect ring around his perfect round Band Aid……the Band Aid that had been on his leg for – oh – maybe two weeks?

“Oh my goodness, Aaron!” I blurted out.  “I totally forgot about your oak mite bite and your Band Aid!!”

I jumped up from the couch, took his Band Aid off, and stood there staring at a perfect round red splotchy ring around the original bite.  My first thought was that maybe Aaron had really been bitten by a tick and now had LYME DISEASE!!!

My second thought was to wonder how on earth Aaron still had that old Band Aid on his leg if he was taking proper showers??!!

The first thought I kept to myself.

The second thought I all too gladly shared with Aaron.

“Aaron, if you were taking showers like you’re supposed to, you would NOT still have that Band Aid on your leg!!” I informed him.

“I have SO showered, Mom!!” he loudly asserted.

“Well, if you were showering correctly that Band Aid would have fallen off!” I continued.

“But I DID shower, MOM!!” he also continued.

I knew that his showering skills, or lack thereof, were not the main concern at this point but it seemed the perfect moment to drive home that point.

It didn’t work, by the way, but I must always try.

The next morning found us at McConnell Air Base, where Aaron’s primary care doctor walked in the exam room to check out Aaron’s leg.  I knew that we needed to rule out a tick bite and Lyme Disease, if possible, and maybe get an antibiotic.

Dr. Broberg walked in and greeted Aaron, which always makes Aaron feel very important.  Dr. Broberg is a civilian doctor, so he doesn’t move away.  He’s been Aaron’s doctor for a long time now and knows Aaron well.

“So what’s going on with your leg?” Dr. Broberg asked.

I started to answer, but Aaron was having none of that.

“Mom!!” he firmly said.  “I’ll tell him!”

So I hushed, sat back, and got ready to enjoy the moment.

Aaron knew he had Dr. Broberg’s full attention, so he sat up straight and began his story.  And as he began talking, he also began rubbing his hands together……ever so slowly……over and over and over…..his fingers in perfect motion between the movement of his hands.

Dr. Broberg glanced at me out of the corner of his eyes, a slight smile tugging at his lips.

Aaron began his rendition of his condition.

“Mom and I were outside taking a walk,” he began.  He paused as he rubbed his hands together.

“And……and…..while we were outside taking a walk…..”  Another pause.  His hand rubbing was nearly hypnotic.

“I got…..I got….an oak bite!!”  Long pause for effect, while Dr. Broberg’s slight smile had now turned into lip twitching as he struggled not to laugh.

“And…..and……I SHOWERED!!!!” Aaron said with great emphasis as his eyes left Dr. Broberg in order to glower at his offending mom who dared accuse him of NOT showering!!!

It was just too much.  I lowered my head and laughed, while Dr. Broberg was now in a full grin.

Aaron composed himself and continued his drawn out story, never wavering from telling every single detail of his OAK BITE.

Never once did he say oak MITE bite.

Dr. Broberg determined that Aaron probably had a fungus that grew around the Band Aid that had been on for such a long time.  It really had nothing to do with Aaron’s oak bite.  Yes, I said oak bite…..for from that time forward his bite has been classified as an oak bite.

Besides, it was fun to see the looks on people’s faces as Aaron told them all about his oak bite.  And then showed them the oak bite, complete with fungus ring.

Delightful.  Totally delightful.

Some special cream did the trick and before long the round ring rash was gone.

But not gone are my memories of yet another hilarious doctor visit with Aaron…..Aaron of oak bite fame!

 

 

Fast Forward

Sometimes one thing leads to another, and that one leads to another, and then another leads to another, and it can just be amazing to go back and look at the picture created.  This is what I’m seeing today.  I hope I can connect all the “things and anothers” as I try to show you the beautiful picture created by God.

It started yesterday evening when Aaron went with me to Dillon’s.  When we left the store and were getting into the van, the handle of my crossbody purse somehow knocked off my earring as I moved it over my head.  I found the back of the earring as it poked my skin.  Yep, it had gone down my shirt somehow.  But nowhere in sight was my earring.  I hurriedly searched for it, and so did Aaron, but we couldn’t find it.  I told him not to worry, because things like this can worry him, and off we drove to pick up some pizza for supper.

Still no earring appeared as we got out of the van at home, and I searched around some more for it.  “Oh well,” I told Aaron.  “It’ll show up when we least expect it…..or when I clean the van, sometime in the far off future.” 

We sat down to eat and Aaron asked the blessing.  His before-meal prayers, 99% of the time, contain two statements.  What he says varies depending on the day and the current events of our life, but very rarely does he say more than two things.  This prayer was no exception. 

“Dear Lord,” Aaron began.  “Thank you for the pizza.  And please help us find Mom’s earring.” 

I told Aaron it was wonderful to pray about the lost earring, and assured him that God loves to hear those requests.  And don’t you know that a short time later Gary went out to the van to conduct his own search, and he found my earring!  You should have seen Aaron’s face when I showed him that I was now wearing TWO earrings!  And then when I told him that God had answered his prayer!  Aaron’s face lit up like the sun.  It was priceless!

So the lost earring led to Aaron praying, which led to God answering in a sweet way, which led to……I trust……Aaron seeing how wonderful it is to pray about everything.

It was a good thing for Gary and I to see, as well. 

Then came today, which in comparison to what some others are enduring was really nothing.  But in the moment it was, for Aaron and for me, pretty awful.

I want to preserve Aaron’s dignity in this.  I needed to take him down to the air base to have a urine test repeated this morning.  I told him to use the bathroom when he got out of bed, and then by the time he drank his coffee and we got to the lab, he would need to go again.  I rehearsed the procedure with him as we drove to the base.  All was well.

That was short lived.  As Aaron got out of the van at the clinic, I saw that he was doing what I call “The Potty Walk.”  I was concerned, but he assured me that he could wait until he was in the lab bathroom, cup in hand. 

We walked up to the lab window, where the lone lab worker was a little harried.  I heard a door close and looked around to see that Aaron had already entered the bathroom…..NO cup in hand.  I told the harried lab worker to hold on as I scurried to the bathroom and opened the door…..to find Aaron preparing to go. 

“NO, Aaron,” I tried to whisper as I closed the door.  “Please, can you just wait until I get the cup??!!”

I rushed outside, went up to the window again, where the lone lab woman was realizing my dilemma and was trying her best to get Aaron’s info sticker onto his cup…..the cup he still wasn’t holding!  She slapped it on, and I quickly zoomed into the bathroom……to the most awful sight.

Let’s just say it appeared that the plumbing had sprung a huge leak, but the toilet and sink plumbing were fine.  Aaron’s, however, was not fine.

We got the sample somehow, but it’s probably not the best.  I wasn’t the best, either.  Such a mess!  I didn’t know what to do but to try to clean it up, mostly in an effort not to embarrass Aaron by having to tell the poor harried lab woman, in front of others, what had happened.  I had Aaron standing in the corner of the bathroom and kept telling him not to talk, because he talks so loudly that I knew everyone outside would hear.  Like they didn’t already guess what was going on in that bathroom!  “How many paper towels do they need in there?” everybody must have been wondering as they heard the automatic dispenser churn out towel after towel.

And poor Aaron.  His shorts were very obviously wet, and we had to walk out past people in the lab waiting room and in other areas as we left the clinic.  I waited for a few minutes after leaving the bathroom to see if the lab worker needed anything else from us, while Aaron hid behind the bathroom door.  Finally, we just left.  I felt like it was a walk of shame for dear Aaron.  And I was a mess of emotions…..very sorry for Aaron, and embarrassed, and just weak from all of it. 

The plan had been to take Aaron to Paradigm for his day, but instead we just drove home.  I really wanted to cry.  I stole glances at Aaron.  He was very serious, and very sorry, and very quiet.  That made me want to cry even more.

He turned on his music, of course.  It was the Zac Brown Band.  As we drove along the highway, song #4 and song #5 came on, Aaron checking the back of the CD box to confirm the title of each song as he always does.  Then came song #6, which is more of a rock song, and one I don’t like.  I was in NO mood for that today, so I used the button on the steering wheel to quickly go to song #7.  Aaron didn’t seem to notice, which was good.

Oh, but never underestimate Aaron.  It wasn’t long before he realized that song #5 had played, and now song #7 was playing.  What happened to song #6?

“Mom, did you go past song #6?” he asked.  I confessed.  He asked why, and I told him, and he was fine with that. 

As we kept heading toward home, I thought of how nice it would be if we could fast forward through parts of our life.  I would certainly have fast forwarded through this bad morning!

When we got home, Aaron showered and changed clothes.  Then he went with me to Aldi and to Dillon’s, even though I kind of wanted some time alone.  But once there, Aaron and I enjoyed the shopping, especially looking for what we needed for the lasagna he wanted for supper.  He helped bag the groceries and carry them.  He carried the heavy bag of dog food I got when we stopped at the vet, and he talked to Misha about Spiderman and about Star Trek, which always cheers Aaron up.  None of that would have happened if I hadn’t taken Aaron with me. 

Then at Dillon’s, Aaron saw one of the workers that we know as we checked out.  She stopped to talk to us before we left.  Her life is hard, always full of trouble, it seems……and today was certainly no exception as she shared some things with me.  As she talked, Aaron just stood there listening quietly to every word.  As we left, I told her that I would pray for her.

“Does she have a heartache?” Aaron asked me as we walked out the door. 

I was so surprised at his question, but more at his insight and the empathy he showed as we talked together about her. 

And then later, the best part.  We sat down to a lunch of leftover pizza, and again Aaron prayed as we held hands.

“Dear Lord, thank you for the pizza.  And help B have a good heart.”

Wow.  Just wow.

Aaron usually prays for Aaron, and on a good day he might pray about my earring.  But to pray for this friend that we really don’t deeply know……now that was touching and dear and so impacting.

That would never have happened if Aaron had not been with me…..and he would not have been with me if not for the awful lab experience earlier. 

If I had been allowed to fast forward through our terrible morning in order to preserve us from that bad time, then we would not have had this amazing and very good time.  This sweet time of Aaron genuinely listening to another person share her pain, and then genuinely caring enough to genuinely ask God to help her have a good heart.

So you see, one thing does lead to another which leads to another which leads to yet another.  Did Aaron’s answered prayer last night encourage him to pray for our friend today?  I think it did.  Then his bathroom accident allowed him to be with me to offer help today, and especially to be with me to listen to a hurting friend who needs his prayers. 

We all have those times in life when we want to skip song #6 and go right on to song #7……when we want to fast forward through the pain we’re facing and be done with it, moving on to other better things. 

But with God, His one thing that leads to another thing that leads to the other thing is what’s best for us.  It’s a good thing that He doesn’t allow us to fast forward, as hard and as terrible as some of the things are that we face.  He works all of it out for good if we let Him. 

Help all of us have a good heart, Lord. 

And help us not push the fast forward button.

 

 

Lessons From the Little Black Ant

For many I know who are carrying heavy burdens right now.

He Said What?!

Let’s face it – life isn’t easy for any of us.  God has allowed Gary and I to be in a place we never even thought about as new parents to our beautiful baby Aaron over 32 years ago.  One summer I wrote some thoughts about persevering as we carry the burdens we face.  It involves an ant:

If you had driven by my house this morning you would have seen me standing in the front yard under our maple tree, watering hose in one hand and coffee in the other, with my hair blowing crazily in our Kansas wind. And to make me even more noticeable, I’m sure, was the fact that I was staring up into our maple tree for a long time. You see, God has often used my gardening as a time to teach me. Object lessons abound and this morning was no different. So I was observing God’s lesson…

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Did God Say?

No matter the kind or the size of your garden……vegetable, flower, small, large, shady, sunny…..there is one thing that your garden will always have. 

Weeds. 

Pesky, fast growing, determined weeds.

It’s amazing how quickly they grow, even during times of drought.  We used to laugh when living in Arizona, telling each other not to pull the weeds in our yard because they were the only vegetation that was green!

Weeds themselves come in all kinds and sizes, shapes and colors. Some weeds are very obviously weeds.  One doesn’t even have to look or think twice before pulling them up, hopefully by their roots, like these weeds that were blatantly growing in our vegetable garden recently.  Lots of these weeds were either pulled or tilled over the past two days. 

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If you could take a look in our Rose of Sharon bushes, however, you would find another sort of weed.  You might have to look hard, though, to find the intruder.  Can you see it?

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The first time I noticed this plant was when I was pruning our Rose of Sharon bushes two years ago.  The Rose of Sharon bushes were growing well and blooming beautifully as I began to prune some of the dead branches away, as well as some of the growth that was in the way of the lawn mower. 

I saw the rich green and the pretty shape of these leaves.

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At first I was deceived by their beauty, thinking that they were a part of the Rose of Sharon.  But then it hit me.  Wait.  These leaves, pretty as they were, were NOT Rose of Sharon leaves. 

I investigated further, tracing the growth of this new plant, and soon discovered that this pretty plant with the lush leaves was actually a vine.  It was a vine that was curling itself around my Rose of Sharon branches.

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Two years later, I’m still fighting this same vine.  It wraps and wraps itself around each Rose of Sharon branch, insidious in it’s desire to choke out my bushes…….my flowering bushes with their pretty blooms of white, purple, and pink. 

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If I left this vine to do its crafty work, it would soon overtake my entire Rose of Sharon garden.  Every branch would eventually be choked and would die, leaving only the vine to prosper there. 

It’s my choice.  I can have Rose of Sharon bushes there, or I can have an area full of this vine. 

But this vine is a weed…..an intruder, as I said, that wants to destroy my bushes.  As pretty as the vine may be, it will only bring death to the bushes that I really want to grow.

So I continue to fight this stubborn vine.  I cut……I unwrap its tentacles from around each Rose of Sharon branch……I yank and I pull and I toss it in the trash. 

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Yet the only way to permanently do away with each new vine growth that I find is to pull it up from its roots.  I must locate the source of the growth and deal with it on that level……the roots.

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Weeds remind me a lot of sin.  Some sins are very obvious to us.  We may see certain sins in our life and have no doubt about the fact that they are wrong.  Just like the weeds among my vegetables, those sins we know need to be yanked up and thrown out of our lives. 

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But then there’s that other form of sin……the vine. 

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I think it’s interesting that the very beginning story of mankind occurred in a garden.  God designed this gorgeous place for His creation, Adam and Eve, as well as all the animals and plants that He so carefully created.  God gave Adam and Eve great freedom, along with a free will. 

We all know the tragic story, how one day Satan slithered into the picture.  He was captivating and wily, changing God’s words around ever so slightly to Eve in a way that made her doubt God. 

Satan was beautiful, and he showed Eve how beautiful the forbidden tree could be to her.  He would never have convinced her to sin if he had shown her the truth of his lies…..if he had shown her that pain and sorrow and death would follow her sin. 

We all know the tragic result, too, of this tragic story.  Look around today and we see it still, more and more as our culture continues to decline. 

Satan hasn’t changed one bit.  His method is still to deceive us by masking sin in beauty, much as my ugly weed was masked as a lush, lovely vine. 

Sin today is presented by the slick Hollywood version, all painted and desirable to those who can’t…..or won’t…..see beneath the surface, where broken lives and death prevail. 

The arguments are as old as Satan in the garden himself. 

“Did God say?” he whispers in our ear.  “God didn’t really mean it that way.  Those words may have been for a time long ago…..a culture far removed from our own…..but not for our progressive world today.”

“Did God say?” he softly hisses again.  “How hateful that sounds.  You don’t want to be known as a hater, do you?”

“Did God say?” he continues as we are lulled to sleep.  “God just doesn’t want you to be free to be you.  You should follow your heart, not those old words in that old book.”

“Did God say?” he again suggests.  “But you must find your own truth.  Your truth may not be what the Bible says.  Be who you are, without any regret.”

It’s so easy to listen to such charming words, especially when those words embody the popular ideas that are absolutely everywhere around us.  Our movies, our music, our classrooms, our books, our advertisements, are all jammed full of these world views. 

Satan has taken such a hold on our culture now that he is entwined in every area.  He has curled himself around our thought processes and our lives in such an invasive way that we hardly recognize him anymore.  It’s all so loving and so warm and so free to think this way…..to live this way…..until it’s too late. 

Satan would never want you to see the end result.  Paul told the Corinthians that Satan was an angel of light.  He comes at us with bright promises of a life lived the way we want, full of self-satisfaction and fun and acceptance.

But Jesus also said that Satan is the father of lies.  His lies sound so pleasant, so current, so loving and right.  But what he doesn’t show us is the death that always comes from sin.  Death of dreams, death of a relationship with God, death of living in God’s plan, and eternal death in hell. 

Satan and his lies must be dealt with at the root.  Go back to the source of his lies, the evil that he represents, and know that Satan hates God.  Satan hates me.  Satan hates all of us, and he wants us to die eternally.  He is a murderer.  And you and I are the ones he wants to murder.

Sin brings death, but Jesus came to bring life.  He took our sin on Himself on the cross, suffering for sins that He never committed.  Suffering so that you and I could be free….free to live in His grace and His forgiveness.

We don’t have to sin.  We don’t have to have Satan’s lies choke out the life God wants us to have.  Repent…..turn around from your sin and turn to the God Who truly loves you…..and accept His grace and salvation.  Follow Him.

And be wise to the ways of our enemy.  Lush green leaves among my Rose of Sharon were really there to kill.  So is Satan, with all his clever words and his compelling beauty. 

You might need to do some serious pruning in your life, but never will you regret the decision to let the right plant grow in your life’s garden.   

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The Yo-Yo Life

Aaron had some seizures last night.  We think he only had two.  At least that’s all we heard.  But boy, is he ever out of it today!  It’s amazing how sometimes he bounces back quickly after seizures, and at other times he’s totally wiped out for a day or two.  I can only imagine what they do to his brain……physically, mentally, emotionally.

Throw in a dash of autism, stir the pot, and BOOM!!

Poor Aaron! 

It’s amazing, too, when you look at it in pictures.  Here is Aaron on Friday when I picked him up from his day group.   

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He had seen Spiderman, but even more important to him at that moment were the Sycamore seed pods he had found and couldn’t wait to show me……and later to show Gary.  Leave it to Aaron to find what to him is most unusual, but to us is very usual, and then to make sure that we see that object through his eyes.  He’s pretty cool that way.  Just look at the delight on his face!

He makes us stop and see things his way.  Sometimes it’s great fun…..and other times, it’s greatly frustrating. 

Anyway, compare Friday to today.  He got up late this morning, dreary and slow from the seizures.  He seems to have pulled a muscle in his right arm, which was hurting him.  But he saw the Sunday morning coupons and so readied his usual coupon area for the job he always does, seizures or not.

Except this morning his body just wouldn’t cooperate.  This is how he ended up, coupons and coffee untouched.

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A couple hours later we heard him getting off the couch.  He decided to cut the coupons and drink his coffee.  I checked on him shortly and here is what I found.

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It wasn’t another seizure.  He’s just very tired today from the ones last night.

He woke up again awhile later, ready once more to try clipping coupons.  I heated his very cold coffee, which he drank while he read the Sunday comics.  Then he asked for his fuzzy blanket and his fuzzy pillow, and wondered if he could lay on the big couch.  He was only down for a few minutes before realizing that he just wasn’t sleepy anymore, so he got up and began the coupons that had been waiting all this time. 

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I tell you all of this so you can catch a glimpse into how seizures affect both Aaron and us.  Our day revolves around Aaron’s needs when things are normal, but when he is having a rough day physically then we must stop what we have planned and be here for him.  Gary and I can tag team on a weekend like this, but when it happens during the week then I must often change my plans in order to be with Aaron.  And sometimes Aaron has missed fun days, like movie days at Paradigm or other events, because of his seizures.

These days and these pictures are also an example of how Aaron’s life is full of ups and of downs, as all of us have, but which he cannot control, be it from seizures or from behaviors.  We saw it very clearly while on vacation last week, which I hope to write more about later. 

Happy moments…..angry moments……sad moments……fun moments, are all wrapped up in Aaron.  This is why I think of myself, and so many others with similar issues, as Yo-Yo Parents.  We get jerked around a lot, that’s for sure, but must always remember that God is the one in control even when we feel like things are out of control.  He orders our steps, including the ups and even the downs. 

And God comforts our hearts when we see the child we love having so many issues to overcome. 

I have so many reasons for which to be thankful, but none more than the fact that the God I know and love also knows and loves me, and Gary, and most definitely our Aaron.