A Blessing in Disguise

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise” ~ Oscar Wilde

Have you ever been given life-changing news?  Something upsetting?  Something that would threaten to change your entire lifestyle?

2 weeks ago it happened to Marcus.  He was devastated.  We were in shock.  But today as I reflect, I see how this was actually a blessing in disguise.

Marcus has severe ADHD.  Let me define that for you:  severe Always (attempting to) Drive (the) Humans (in our home) un-Doubtedly (crazy)!

Many naysayers say ADHD isn’t real.  They say it’s an excuse for parents who “spoil” their “undisciplined children”.

{Steps onto soapbox} – It is real!

ADHD can be difficult.  And sometimes rewarding.  But often times it’s mostly difficult, especially if left uncontrolled without medication or natural methods.  Over the years, I’ve joined several online ADHD support communities and one thing I often observe is how many of these children have several other conditions as well.  Marcus is no exception.  Currently, he’s up to 5 diagnoses and sees 4 specialists every 3 months.

He’s a WONDERFUL child.  He’s compassionate, kind, loving, helpful, a natural-born leader, and strong-willed.  Sometimes ADHD can mask these great qualities, and the lack of self control and overwhelming hyperactivity takes over.  He has a difficult time sleeping at night.  His body craves carbohydrates and starches, and if we forget to lock the pantry, he’ll have it cleared out my morning.  The downfall is that whereas most people can handle these types of foods, Marcus’s behavior becomes much worse the days following a carb and starch binge.  We tried limiting these types of foods – didn’t work.  We tried eliminating them completely – didn’t work.  We tried locking the pantry – didn’t work.  For many reasons, which were mainly our (the parents) fault, it didn’t work!  Every step forward we made with his diet, we ended up eventually taking 10 steps back.

Then June of 2017 arrived.  He began having strange physical symptoms and his behavior had become worse.  The doctor did some basic testing but nothing definitive came back.  Fast forward to August, and with symptoms increasing the doctor decided to do some further testing.  We got the call with the results on a Saturday morning, while I lazily sipped coffee and played Uno with the kids.

“This is the nurse.  The doctor wanted us to call and tell you that Marcus’s results came back, and unfortunately he is allergic to:

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Nuts (peanuts, walnuts, and almonds to be specific)
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish
  • Fish

…we have prescribed him an Epi-pen that you’ll need to pick up ASAP.  Even though he hasn’t had a severe reaction yet, he could at any moment.  This is just a basic list and he’ll need to see a specialist to rule out any further allergies.”

…….um…..okay.  My brain is trying to process this….

  • First thought:  So he can’t eat anything except lettuce?
  • Second thought:  Hasn’t this poor child been through enough?
  • Third thought:  This is my fault.
  • Fourth thought:  Is he going to have a reaction?  Like right now?
  • Fifth thought:  Please God, heal him.  Take it from him and give it to me.

 

FAMILY MEETING

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Our family is well-known for  “family meetings”.  We have them for everything.  We get everyone together, discuss whatever the topic is, make decisions together, and go about our way.  This family meeting was a difficult one because I had to break the news to Marcus.  We all agreed that we would start this special diet together and he wouldn’t have to do this alone.  He was devastated, or at least that’s what I thought by his reaction.  However, his response tells a different story.

“Wow mom, you really scared me with that news.  So basically Jesus has been protecting me for all these years while I’ve eaten those foods.”

Do you see the blessing in disguise yet?  I didn’t.  The rest of that day was spent searching for recipes and making lists.  Later that day Marcus and I went grocery shopping together and scoured every aisle and read every label searching for things he could eat.  When we got home, we reorganized the pantry and refrigerator, threw things away, and had deep discussion about the potential consequences to his health if he were to continue to “sneak” food at night as he had done so often before.

He was strong.  I was secretly a wreck.  As his mom, I didn’t want him to hurt, be jealous, or feel left out if he sees his siblings eating things he can’t.  I was scared of what could potentially happen.  I was concerned about the other 4 children.  How would I continue to allow them to eat normally while making sure Marcus’s lack of self control doesn’t get the best of him?  So many questions, and seemingly no answers.

 

A BLESSING IN DISGUISE

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Fast forward to today, August 28th, 2017.  As I have taken time to reflect on the chaos of the past 2 weeks, I’ve come to the realization that this diagnosis was a blessing in disguise.  Marcus hasn’t tried to “sneak” food since our family meeting.  When we pray together he thanks God for being alive and for his protection over him.  By my own observation and opinion, his “severe” ADHD has been down-graded to simply ADHD.  I see changes that I’ve never seen before.  Not only changes in him, but in all of us.  We are all eating healthier.  We take the time to make things homemade instead of buying pre-packaged foods for a quick meal.  We are all more conscious of what we buy, and always make sure the pantry is locked to avoid him being tempted.

It definitely isn’t the ideal situation, but I’ve realized this was the kick-start we needed to provide him better health, a better life, and strengthen our family unit.  We still fear the chance of a negative reaction, and I’m sure we’ll face lots of challenges – like what to order in a restaurant, or how he’ll react at birthday parties seeing other children eating cake (his favorite) – but he isn’t alone.  We are a family who supports each other and does things together, and therefore he won’t have to face it alone.

Dear Lord, thank you for blessings in disguise.  Even though we don’t always understand the reason for the trials we go through, we trust and believe that all things work together for good and for Your glory, as You said in Your Word.  I pray for Your protection over Marcus ALL the days of his life.  Many have said since his birth that You have a GREAT plan for him, and we believe these trials will only bring him closer to achieving his purpose and bring Glory to You in ALL he does.  Protect his health I pray.  Protect him from the dangers of these allergens to his body.  In Your name we pray.  Amen. 

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise” ~ Oscar Wilde

 

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