Friday, June 30, 2006

A Final Post For A Week Or So….

Hello Hello from Newport Beach.  Last night in California.  Beautiful.  Sometimes I don’t understand why we left.  Oh yeah, great opportunity in Atlanta.  But man, it is sure nice to be back.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see any friends while back – so many are traveling right now on vacations of their own.  Too bad.

Not too much of a post here tonight. I’m tired from my event and excited to get on the road to the family vacation…which brings me to this point: I won’t be post at all until July 10th. I’m taking some time off from all things technology.  That includes blogging…but I’ll say this much: I should have a few good stories when I do.  I mean, come on, a week with the family at the beach…should be some good material to share…

Happy 4th to all of ya’ll.  Till then….

Posted by Jerry in 04:44:46 | Permalink | Comments Off

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Getting Ready For The Beach

Fam is getting ready to go to the beach!  Kim tells me they are all going to get haircuts this morning (look good for the grandparents) and start getting everything together (packing) for the trip.  Man, we get excited about the beach.  This is our third year in a row to go, and it seems that it is becoming the defacto Grasso family trip over the 4th of July – and, BTW, it is very affordable. I recommend it to anyone who is in the Gulf States, this is a great place (Gulf Shores) for a week, and it is very family friendly.  We stay at Martinique

By the way, Demetrius and Maya are asking every day now, “Do we leave now?”  They are juiced….

Posted by Jerry in 17:22:44 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Crashing

I’m listening to Dave Matthews Band’s ‘Crash’ right now.  I think it is appropriate.  I think after last week I’m crashing a bit.  It could be the lack of sleep of a couple of nights has caught up with me and that I’m a little funky having traveled out West with the time change.  Sunday night, as I was packing, Kim was standing in the bathroom and just started crying.   All that we went through with Demetrius on Wednesday night finally hit her – of she was finally in a place to let the proverbial hair down and have a good cry.  The clarity of almost a week is this: It’s not the seizure itself; it’s the not knowing what is causing it. 

And here we go with more testing.   Who knows what’s on the other side of all these tests?  Please remember the last time the boy had a battery of tests, we found out he’s autistic – not allergic to cheese.  So I know in the back of my mind that I have fears of what we’ll find out.  Is this an offshoot of the autism (as written previously) or is it something completely different?  Is it a condition that can be treated? Is it something worse?  How will it all work together?  Can he continue to take his ADHD meds, that have made such a difference in his schoolwork, and other meds?  What are the ramifications of the meds?  So many questions, and no tests yet. 

Anyway, this is a lot of rehash from a week ago. But I don’t know if I have a good cry in me right now to just let the emotions loose.  I can feel it in there, but the momentum’s not there to bring it on.  I’m sure part of this is that I’m just physically and mentally tired – I’m about to host a very large coming out event for a division of the company and this just complicates all of that – or the event complicates this…which I don’t know at this moment…Demetrius is on my mind while I’m reading emails about computer kiosks and ice chips.  I’m expending a lot of energy trying to pay attention to ice chips in a 10-12 hour day, while at the same time being shook up about the boy.  Life gets in the way of our plans, doesn’t it?  It would be best if I could be catatonic for a while, but the timing is just not right for that.

As I look out the door of a Starbucks at a Mom and daughter walk out with a coffee concoction and chocolate milk, I am reminded that all of us have our little crises and ours with Demetrius is just one of 4 billion worries today among 4 billion people.  It is miniscule.  We aren’t refugees that have been run out of our village by genocidal soldiers in Africa…no one’s Mom is dying of breast cancer…and no one is hiding a secret here that Daddy hits Mommy.  I try to relate it to these things.  When I’m able to do this, I’m not as depressed.  But I’m obviously not happy either after thinking such thoughts.

In an hour I’ll be meeting with one of the largest newspapers in America, negotiating a photo shoot of some of the company’s executives to run the morning of this big event I’ve referenced.  I should be worried about that, but today…today Demetrius’ issues are top of mind. 

This having kids thing – its tough, ain’t it? 

Posted by Jerry in 22:24:35 | Permalink | Comments Off

Time To Catch A Plane

On a plane back to California.  Gone for the whole week.  I hate these types of trips. I miss the kids big time. My flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until mid-morning, so it gave me the chance to eat breakfast with the kids and play hide and seek.  I think to myself that I’ve got to treasure these moments, because they’ll be gone soon enough, and they won’t even notice me any more than say, the wall paper or the couch.  I definitely get a bit sentimental just before I leave.

The kids were playing on the floor, Maya was pretending to be a doctor.  At this point they were playing with each other, and I started to collect my things to leave.  Maya came running in and said, “Mommy, Buddy pooped on the floor.”  We went into the other room, no poop.  Demetrius came around the corner when Mom asked him if “Buddy pooped?”  Demetrius cannot tell a lie.

“Yes.”

“Where did he poop?” (Maya points to the spot on the floor.)

“Are you telling the truth, did Buddy poop?”

“Yes.”

“Where is it is Maya?” (She looks confused.)

Demetrius: “Don’t worry, I have it.”

Demetrius was holding it in his hands.

We coaxed him into taking it into the bathroom and putting it in the toilet.  He then attempted to run off without washing his hands.

At moments like this, I realize that it is God talking to me.  He is telling me to leave now and fly across the country.  Why?  Because I am not really equipped to handle these situations.  Should I be upset at the dog? The kid touching the poop? Or be happy that’s he’s cleaning it up? I definitely don’t want a bear hug. 

I’ll be better on Friday when I get home.  I think.

Posted by Jerry in 02:59:21 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Maya’s Reaction

So imagine you go to bed, dream a little dream, and wake up the next morning and find out that members of your immediate family, spent the night at the hospital, and that one of them has a cast, or stitches, etc….you’d be surprised, scared, etc…and then imagine you are four years old.

Demetrius had his seizure long after Maya had fallen asleep.  I went and got the neighbor (she was great, she stayed at the house until we got home in the wee-hours of the morning) and we had cops, and paramedics and fire officials in the house…and she slept through it.  She got up about 7am, wandered in Mommy & Daddy’s room and saw Mommy and Demetrius snuggling.  From what I heard from the bathroom (believe it or not, I was already up and shaving…to take the dog for a run {he had no idea it was anytime but time to go for a run}) Maya made little talk, then got quiet.  She asked, “What happened to Demetrius.”  Mommy told Maya what had happened.  She, well, she acted weird..rightly so, I think, because she was trying to process all of this in her 4-year-old head.  She came in the bathroom, and she told me what had happened to Demetrius (I let her, because she needed to talk about it)….and then she sat on the corner of the bathtub and watched while I shaved.

“Daddy,”

“Yes baby…”

“Is Demetrius’ head okay?”

“Yes baby…”

“He went to the hospital in the ambulance?”

“Yes baby…”

“Was he scared?”

“I think so.”

“Daddy,”

“Yes…”

“My ear really hurts, I think I’ve got gunk in it.  It hurts really bad.”

I looked her over.  Of course she was being dramatic, but she also was trying to figure out, I think, how to process all of this.  The easiest way to get attention is to pretend to be hurt, but also relate his pain to her ‘phantom’ pain.

I’ve written before that this all – everything he will go through will be impactful in unknown ways on her.  I worry for her.  I can’t imagine what went through her head.

Maya’s best friend Emily’s mom headed over, got her, and took her to vacation bible school and then Maya spent the day over there playing.  Demetrius felt so good he went over for a while as I worked from home most of the afternoon.  That took Maya’s mind off of the issue, and she hasn’t really wanted to talk about it. So I haven’t pushed it.  But she is really interested in those stitches….

Posted by Jerry in 21:44:22 | Permalink | Comments Off

Friday, June 23, 2006

Seizures

Sorry I didn’t write to you guys yesterday.   Demetrius had a seizure on Wednesday night and cut open his eye – so he also got some stitches.  Obviously, that one was more traumatic for him, the seizure for us.

We had an initial CAT scan done at the hospital to ensure there was no fluid on the brain or mass swelling under the skull.  Thank God nothing came back abnormal…but once we get back from vacation in mid-July he’ll begin the EEGs, MRIs, etc…and he’ll get a healthy looksie from a number of specialists.

So of course, Kim and barely slept and walked around like zombies yesterday. Demetrius motored around the house like nothing happened (except for a big band aid slapped above the eye).  I watched and was glad he had no side effects or trauma from the episode. It also gave me time to quickly reflect on what had happened: no tears just worry.  Why? Well, we are developing, I think, thicker skin with these things happening to this child. He is our kid that catches everything – every cold, every bug, and this isn’t that big of a surprise.  Of course, I had trouble falling asleep once we got back from the hospital, don’t get me wrong, but I think with Demetrius you starting get used to this.

Did the seizure have anything to do with autism?  Hard to say. Obviously we have to run the gamut of tests to find out if it is, or if it is something else.  But you do connect dots on your own.  I mean, we talk about speech and occupational therapy, social skills, etc…but we forget that first and foremost that it is a medical condition affecting the brain.  So it isn’t a far stretch to get to seizures, is it?  But that’s a supposition on my part, at best.

So, all of this has made me tired and taken a year off my life (when I got to his room while he was seizing, he had foam coming out of his mouth, nose and blood in his eyes).  Needless to say, 911 was on the line pronto.  That is not anything anyone should see with their kid, period, ever. 

I’ll write more about this tomorrow. All of this happened while Maya was asleep, so imagine waking up in the morning and your brother has 5-6 stitches…

Well talk more tomorrow about that!

Posted by Jerry in 12:55:06 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Fireworks

Demetrius erupted into a discussion last night – I can only wonder if it is somewhat because he had speech therapy and was ‘on’ yesterday. We talked at length about the beach and what we were going to do there (again, he already has toys packed and is ready to go), but he really got into a discussion with Mom in bed. Afterwards, Kim had to call Grandpa and tell him about the conversation – which in turn got Grandpa psyched. As he becomes more verbal, these exchanges seem so surprising – we never knew that the fireworks at the beach were so important to him – but he just hasn’t been able to get the words out in the past. So who knew? But can you imagine how frustrating it must be for him? But he shared last night, and now we all know. And won’t it be better to watch, knowing he likes the fireworks so much? Will be for me.
Posted by Jerry in 18:26:28 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

When do you know?

Just had coffee with a work friend that has a wee-one, still pretty close to being freshly minted.  She mentioned that she’s heard so much lately about autism…and when did we first start noticing signs that Demetrius might be autistic?  Jeez, what a loaded question – and a question that isn’t an easy one to answer.

I can remember Maya being born, and Demetrius just about being two years old, and Kim and I discussing that he isn’t talking a ton – we had heard that kids sometimes ‘regress’ when a sibling is born.  I remember arguing with Kim that he was so active (he’s a runner, as I’ve stated ad naseum before) and he was just slow to develop on the talking skills (he is very laid back also, he doesn’t have, to this day, a real confrontational bone in his body)…. I remember when we did really begin to worry that we took him into his pediatrician, and she said she didn’t think there were any issues (he’s 2.5 at this point) and he was talking to her right there, damn near clear as a bell.  When we knew something was remiss, he was flapping his arms and I actually dropped silverware behind him to see how he would react – nothing (I thought he might be deaf) and he wouldn’t respond to verbal prompts.  Just before he turned 3 he began getting tested and the ‘autistic’ word began creeping into the discussion.  I said no way; he wasn’t autistic (I wasn’t aware at that time about different levels or spectrum placement) and fought a ton more with Kim. 

Finally, I remember being in our house in Roswell, GA…Kim was out doing something, Maya was asleep – I watched Demetrius just stare at a Buzz Lightyear toy.  He kept pushing the same button over and over, I moved Buzz and he would move over to it without even acknowledging I was in the room. I talked to him for about ten minutes with no response.  I made him look at me, but he wouldn’t make eye contact.  And when he finally said something he looked away, said it quietly and it was literally unrecognizable.  Some point therein – I knew Kim was right, and probably not long thereafter he was diagnosed formally (again, when he was about 3-3.5ish and he started a special needs pre-school program with Fulton County).  I think slept with him, gripping him tightly, for about two weeks straight. He loved it – he’s got tactile issues!

I remember 2003 being gray.  Gray outside all the time.  I remember Kim trying to work with Demetrius and getting nothing – and watching her cry (sometimes I got upset, sometimes I got mad at her for the tears).  I remember just waiting to find things out. Maybe it wasn’t so gray, maybe it was just in my head.  But it seemed like, obviously, it was nothing but bad news confirming that what we feared, or should I say, what Kim knew long before I came around…. was actually the case.

So what’s that, a year-and-a-half to two years before we knew?  How much of it is my fault because I wasn’t on the bandwagon I can’t tell you…and how much of it is his pediatrician saying it wasn’t an issue…and the time it takes to get an appt. with a special needs pediatrician…but what I can for sure say is – I will carry a bit of guilt to the grave with me about it.  Yes, yes I know, I was a new parent, didn’t know what I was looking for, etc…. but still.  If any of our friends with kids read this regularly…well, then, if you think there is an issue, see your doctor, but more importantly, find out from your insurance company if/when you can get qualified to meet with a special needs pediatrician.  The sooner you know, the sooner you can attack the problem head on.

Posted by Jerry in 15:27:33 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Cotton Candy Explosion and The Bible

I hope everyone had a happy fathers day.  I sure did.  Kim and the kids made me some fabulous picture pages that will go into the scrapbooks, and I also got a Team USA soccer jersey. I asked Kim to take it back before Thursday, this way, after the US doesn’t qualify to go through (they are playing terrible, even with the Italian tie) she can then repurchase it for half off that initial price – I figure half of Nike’s profit is in hype.

After doing the weekly yard work, the day really got fun.  We went to the pool, just Dad and kiddos (Mom went to an art exhibit) and I spent a good hour getting dunked.  I clearly remember how much fun I had dunking my dad and his throwing me all over the pool.  It’s a good workout.  We then went for the most interesting ice cream treat a Grasso has ever eaten. 

It was a very nice, sultry Atlanta day, and one of the ‘spots’ is a place called Brusters, which is a throw-back to an old ice cream stand you walk up to and then sit on benches outside and eat.   So lots of people milling about with cones and sundaes.  I read off the list of the twenty or so flavors (Demetrius only gets ‘pink’ or ‘white’, but today he wanted a pink milkshake) – but Maya wanted ‘Cotton Candy Explosion’.  She was very loud, and emphatic, that this was her choice…she also wanted it as a milkshake.  Now, again, she’s four years old – so the taste buds work very differently than they do for the rest of mankind and the guy in line behind me actually went, ‘Eehheckk’.  The 15 year old working the counter actually asked Maya if she was sure that would taste good.  She dug her heels – that’s what she wanted (Demetrius was getting a milkshake, so was she!).

Well, it looked normal.  We sat down on the bench and they sucked away.  Like all little ones, she bites her straw, so the pieces of cotton candy were getting stuck and nothing was getting through the tunnel.  I helped (long line, can’t immediately go get a new straw), so I bit the other sides of it to even it up, stirred it and took a sip to get it flowing…folks, I’m telling you here right now: If you are ever in Atlanta, and you go by a Brusters, stop your car.  Get out, and go get a ‘Cotton Candy Explosion’ milkshake.  It is simply the best milkshake I have ever tasted.  I then thought, “Well, I’m not much of an ice cream guy, I should compare it to Demetrius’ strawberry shake…” took a sip of his (he eyed me to make sure it was no more than a sip), and my gosh… his tasted like bathwater comparatively.  I was floored.  As I went by the guy that made yuck noice on the way to the car, he asked, “How did it go?”  I told him what had transpired.  He looked at me and said, “Next time,” as he polished off his chocolate chip ice cream.

Along with that, during the Cotton Candy Explosion milkshake awakening, I asked Maya and Demetrius if they were excited about vacation bible school starting this week.  Now, the backstory here is that Demetrius is becoming vocal about things he hates, like ‘squash’ or ‘taking Buddy for a walk’ or anything else he doesn’t want to do at that exact moment.  He’s heard it on TV, so he can give the inflection perfect to this particular statement from Nickelodeon.  Maya is excited (I can play with my friends and do crafts…), Demetrius is a typical boy, “Did you say the school word, during the summer? Oh, and it involves church? That just sounds like everything I would want to do during three months off…”  So we are sitting on the bench, sucking milkshakes and Demetrius turns to me and says at the top of his lungs with a furrowed brow, “I hate the bible!” 

Now, knowing Demetrius and the backstory, I wasn’t surprised, but really – in public, IN THE BIBLE BELT…on a SUNDAY AFTERNOON, while eating ice cream WHILE FOLKS ARE STILL WEARING THEIR SUNDAY’S FINEST…he could have picked his spot better.  Yes, we got a couple of looks.  But what do you do?  You say to Demetrius that we don’t say hate….and that there is some interesting reading in Deuteronomy that we’ll get right to it when we get home….just to pretend that we are not heathens living in the land of milk and honey. 

Really, we went home and watched Toy Story.

Posted by Jerry in 13:13:32 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sleeping

I know all of you want the dentist update. It went fine. From what the boss tells me everyone was pretty well behaved, but after a while Demetrius did start to lose his cool.  Everyone has very good teeth and excellent oral hygiene.  So when we brushed out teeth before going to bed…well, let me just say that teeth have never been brushed so well in the history toothbrushes! We were stoked cuz we got big ups from our dentist.

A lot of statements have been made about the magic of summer. But I don’t know how many there are about how the magic of summer wears the you-know-what out of the kids.  We eat dinner, and you can see in their chlorine-shot eyes that their tanks are empty.  Sure, they try to put the proverbial fight about not getting ready for bed (Maya is a pro at getting into trouble just before bed – therefore not having to go to bed) but they don’t have the chops for it.  Twice this week (and I was gone one night) Demetrius fell asleep while reading stories.  Maya just drags on up to her bed.  She is a bit of a tosser and turner (we have a few of those in the family) but she isn’t after a day with friends at the pool. 

So, I assume you must be thinking, “Well Jerry, what are you doing with that extra time each night with the kids crashing early?”  Truth be told – I’ve gone to bed early myself!  Hey, its 8:20pm, they are out cold – I can get the kitchen cleaned up and get to bed early!  Not, I can play Rummy or chat with Kim over some coffee, or even watch old Seinfeld episodes on TBS – I too shall sleep longer and better!

I’m not actually sure when I became this party animal that I am today.  But I do know this – I think it is environmental.  See, the kids sleep for like two hours – and they are recharged.  I can sleep for a good eight hours (like that ever happens) and still wake up sore and tired.  I don’t get out of bed and run to play, like they do.  So I think my body tells me to lie down and rest immediately…or the children will kill you the following day – even if I’m at work for most of it!

This is the part where I think about Kim, and having to deal with these energetic banshees each day, and come to the conclusion that she doesn’t get paid enough for this job…..

Posted by Jerry in 13:10:41 | Permalink | Comments (2)