Two-and-a-half years ago, we switched biomed doctors. Our first biomed doctor moved her practice from the Chicago area (where Martin and I had flown to visit her every two months or so) to Northern California, and the doctor and I decided, collaboratively, that Northern California was too far for Martin and I to travel from New York. The stress of regular cross-country flights, combined with the missed school days, meant that we would be better off with an East Coast physician instead. We started seeing a Connecticut doctor, less than two hours’ drive from home.
It went fine. With a new practitioner come new approaches. Martin made progress. Not as much progress as I wanted—but then, when does Martin ever make as much progress as I want, and fast enough?
We’ve been doing biomed since February 2011, more than four years. Martin has come a long way during that time, and I’ve come a long way, too. Some of the changes I’ve blogged: the way my perspective has expanded in terms of alternative treatments, for example, or how I finally understand recovery as a process that may never have an endpoint, or my feeling secure enough to admit we do biomed.
Some of the changes I haven’t blogged, at least not specifically. I judge less than I once did. I know—you find that hard to believe. It’s true. When we started Martin’s recovery, I paid lip service to the families who don’t address their ASD kids’ medical issues, while at the same time thinking, “Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t you want to get your kids healthy?” I’ve become less cynical. I suppose my view of autism recovery has become more like my view of faith. When it comes to faith, I’m evangelical insofar as I’m tickled pink to talk about my being a Christian, and specifically a Protestant Christian. That being said, I believe the best way to make other folks want to be Christians is to go about my business with an honest air of gratitude and openness. The only way to do that is to accept others where they are, for whatever path they’re on, culminating whatever experiences they’ve had. If I thumb my nose at a nonbeliever (whether I do so physically, or psychically), I’ve lost my chance to connect. The same goes for biomed and autism recovery. If I’m condemning in my head, how can I connect, empathize, influence, or even learn anything about myself?
Hey! you’re saying, if you read this blog often. Didn’t I admit just recently that I still judge the parents who do nothing to address autism, who advocate “neurodiversity” and leave it at that? Touché. I did. I’m not perfect. I, too, am on a journey.
When we started biomed, I believed that medical interventions come first, and everything else—muscle and physical therapies, social-skills assistance, speech pathology—comes second. With regard to traditional physical therapy and occupational therapy and speech therapy, I suppose I still believe that. On the other hand, I’ve come to recognize that non-medical assistance with macular and muscular development, and even brain plasticity, have an equal place at the table. My current view, broadly stated, is that biomed and homeopathy heal, and non-medical interventions can help the recovering child “catch up,” for on this journey he has lost many years.
You know that I don’t science. I really don’t. I’ve never scienced. In the midst of an otherwise solid undergraduate education, I fulfilled my core science requirement with a course called “Chemistry for Non-Science Majors.” Nevertheless, in four years of dealing with doctors and trying to understand supplements and reading what I can, including participating in online biomed parenting groups, I’ve learned. Kicking and screaming, I’ve scienced. I stand in awe of the biomed moms who truly, truly understand methylation, glutathione, and the implications of MTHFR mutation. I don’t truly, truly understand. But I know a little. With every passing day, I know more, and I begin to trust my own instincts and to understand what’s going on with my son. I’ve become a more active participant in guiding his recovery—“PANDAS? No, I don’t think so. On the other hand, I’m concerned that his myto cocktail isn’t getting to the underlying causes of low muscle tone, and looking into some ways to address that. What do you think about…?”
Two-and-a-half years ago, we switched biomed doctors. This year, we switched back. That’s right. Martin and I, residing in the greater New York City area, fly all the way to Northern California to visit his biomed doctor. To be sure, there are many fine MAPS practitioners on the East Coast, including the doctor with whom we spent the last two years. But after four years of recovering my son through biomed, I pretty much know what I want. I approached Adrian with the idea of switching back, and argued these points:
- Our first biomed doctor has something about her. Call it instinct, or call it preternatural Spidey-sense; she feels what’s going on with Martin. Our interim practitioner always asked me what I was seeing with Martin before any given appointment. Our first biomed doctor took one look at Martin and told me what I’d been seeing before any given appointment.
- Our first biomedical doctor stays abreast the latest developments in autism recovery in a way that, as far as I can tell, almost no one else does. Our interim practitioner, sometimes, responded to my questions with, “I haven’t heard of that,” or, “In my experience, I don’t think that is effective.” Our first doctor doesn’t trust her own experience. By the time I ever asked about a treatment, she’d already attended a roundtable addressing that treatment, and collected the experiences of other luminaries;
- Our first biomed doctor holds degrees from two Ivy League universities. That doesn’t mean everything, of course. Still, I’m a red-blooded American who believes in meritocracy, that making it to the top means something. (Adrian, though an immigrant, is probably yet more confident in meritocracy than I am.) I trust smarts. Combine those smarts with instinct, and well, I’m practically goggle-eyed; and
- When our first biomed doctor and I decided, two-and-a-half years ago, that traveling to California for appointments would be too hard on Martin, it was under the assumption that we would continue to come every six-to-eight weeks. I’ve grown since then. Martin has grown. We don’t need to show up in person so often anymore. We could switch back on the assumption that he and I will travel to Northern California two or three times a year. That’s not so bad. We have plenty friends in Northern California. We can take a short journey to Orange County and spend a few days with my brother Rudy. It works.
Following my presentation, Adrian agreed that Martin and I would switch back to the first doctor. Of course he did. When it comes to Martin’s recovery, Adrian is a sanity-check, but one who realizes that I am the parent who’s researched the issues and who navigates the thick of the journey. If I say, “This is best,” he asks the pertinent questions, and unless a red flag smacks him in the face, he agrees.
We’ve been back with the first doctor three months now, including one visit in-person and some email traffic. The reversion has been everything I hoped. By the time we arrived for our visit in-person, the doctor had reviewed all of Martin’s records from the last two years. She said, “I’m looking at these test results and what you’re telling me, and I think there is a parasite issue here that you still haven’t addressed.” She put Martin on a parasite protocol, and he’s had an amazing spring. Amazing. The doctor and I have just decided to extend that protocol.
Is our first biomed doctor some kind of autism-recovery genius, or am I getting better at partnering with our medical professionals? Who knows? Who cares? The journey feels pretty good right now.
Epilogue: Guess who else is in Northern California? It’s George, our cat who needed to be rehomed when he became aggressive toward the other cats. Martin is so excited to visit George on our next trip to Northern California. “Even though he doesn’t live with us anymore,” Martin says, “we still love George!”
George, and you, my son. George, and you.