Developments in the Physical World

Saturday morning, 2:00 a.m. Or 4:00 a.m.? Depends on the time zone we’re traversing, I suppose. I’m up all night again—this time for no reason worse than my own inability to sleep on an airplane. We’re flying for a nine-day visit to South America, including Adrian’s country of origin. I can barely see the laptop screen; it is tilted down because the seat in front of me is reclined, and it is set askance to point to glow away from Martin’s face. He’s slumbering with his head rested against my hip, his feet two seats away in Adrian’s lap.

It’s very uncomfortable, typing this way. I’m leaned so far into the aisle that anyone shuffling toward the bathroom knocks my shoulder.

Seems as good a time as any for a blog post.

The last few days have brought Martin some improvements, physically speaking.

Most prominently, he has stopped scratching. For several weeks he was clawing at his skin like a madman. His preschool sent notes about visits to the nurse for “self-inflicted scratches.” I’m not sure what caused him to feel so itchy. Most likely the yeast overgrowth, or secreting some toxins through the skin. I trimmed his fingernails extra-short, tucked in his shirt when possible. It was ugly. But as of yesterday we were down to only the occasional light scratch, the kind to be expected as the New York air turns winter-dry. The scabby welts crisscrossing his belly and thighs are healing.

The lethargy has faded, too. Martin’s lethargy is distinguishable from simple end-of-day tiredness (i.e., crabbiness) or had-a-bad-night exhaustion (also crabbiness, combined with hyperactivity and self-stimming). When Martin is lethargic, he shows interest in playing or interacting, then ends up lying on the floor or even atop our coffee table, fiddling with a toy. He also sits in W formation, as if he were sitting on his knees, except with feet and ankles splayed to his sides. I’ve tried sitting that way, as compared to on my knees or legs outstretched. The W takes less energy. It’s laziest. I guess that’s why it’s Martin’s go-to sitting position in times of lethargy.  I’ve witnessed only one W since Wednesday.

He’s thrusting his lower jaw forward less. That’s a habit that comes and goes. Possible sources include adrenal stress, self-stimming, or inflammation, either systemic or specific to the TMJ. Whatever the cause was, the behavior has disappeared again. Scrunching his features and squinting his eyes appears to be on the way out, as well. And he’s “big-boy walking,” heel-to-toe instead of tippy-toe.

I’m pleased with these developments. At the same time, I don’t want to sound the bugle too loudly, because Martin’s attention and language are still lagging where they were this summer. My hope is that the physical changes herald other, non-physical changes to come, that they signify a nascent shift back toward where we were—and then onto new achievements beyond.

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