Curse the Night

Christmas Day, 1:30 am.

I lie, awake, next to Martin, in his bed. He too is awake. Christmas Eve he went to bed about 8:30 pm, eager to get to sleep so that Santa could come, and dropped off immediately. Adrian was seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my father and brothers, so I had time to finish wrapping gifts and even bake some ginger spice cookies, which turned out terrific. I thought about updating my Facebook status with some ditty about the peace and tranquility of Christmas Eve.

At 11:40 pm, just as Adrian and I had gone to bed, Martin woke. Night waking, like bedwetting, is so rare nowadays that I can’t remember the last time it happened. Martin can still take a while to fall asleep, but once he does, he’s out till morning. Tonight, he called out, saying he thought he saw it getting light outside, and asking whether Santa had come. I told him that it wasn’t even midnight yet, and that he could go back to sleep.

He hasn’t gone back to sleep. He is so concerned with getting back to sleep for Santa Claus that he’s worked himself into an anxiety attack, crying and wheezing. Adrian spent some time trying to comfort him, to no avail. Since 1:15 am, I’ve been here, in Martin’s bed, soothing him, hoping for sleep of my own, wondering what Christmas Day will be like when I’m exhausted.

Here’s the thing about being awake in the middle of the night: When I’m lying in the darkness, all my fears grow. Every single fear. From work deadlines to household finances to body image—they get worse. Problems loom insurmountable. I think about this issue and that issue, this concern and that concern, until finally I crash into the unmentionable fear: that if Martin never recovers fully, this will be my life forever. Autism will be my life forever. There will never be a time when my child achieves independence. There will never be a time when I can turn back to my non-Martin goals, to what I want to achieve for me.

Why do I call that fear “unmentionable”? Because it is selfish. Because it borders on blaming Martin for my own shortcomings. Because it affixes my personal journey to factors that depend on Martin but over which he has no control. Because my official position is that Martin will recover fully, and it’s only in the wee hours that doubt makes inroads. It’s only when I want to be sleeping, or reading, or writing, or even working, or anything other than lying next to a boy who can’t stop fidgeting, crying, laughing—only then do I think, “What if he’s done getting better? What if this is as good as it gets?”

It’s just better not to mention it.

Christmas Day, noon.

I must have dozed off, in Martin’s bed, sometime after 2:00 am. I woke at 3:50 am to find him asleep, finally, and then I returned to my own bed.

I woke again at 7:45 am, to the breathtaking melody of Martin, down the hall, conversing with my father, who is visiting. (Yes. Conversing. Answering questions and asking them in turn. How old are you, Poppa? That’s old. I’m seven. What year was it when you were seven? Grandma was already born then. Are you older than Grandma?) We had left one special gift unwrapped by the tree, and Martin played with that until everyone was up and ready to open gifts. Once all the gifts were unwrapped, Martin asked:

“Is there another gift to me from Santa?”

I realized right away what he wanted. The trombone. When he’d made his Christmas list, he’d included a trombone. At the time, the trombone seemed no more desired than the other gifts, most of which he received. In the day or two before Christmas, long after all gifts had been purchased, the trombone acquired new gravitas. Martin began to speak frequently of the trombone Santa was bringing him, and how he planned to learn to play the trombone, and how he would become good enough to play in a marching band by high school. Trombone, trombone, trombone. But seriously, I was not going to interrupt all other plans to procure a toy trombone.

“No, honey. I think that’s all that Santa brought you.”

Martin started to cry. “‘You get what you get?’ You just get what you get?” He was quoting our pastor, who upon assigning parts for the Christmas pageant had told the kids, “No complaining. You get what you get.”

I conveyed to Adrian why Martin was upset—I mimed playing the trombone—and Adrian moved in to comfort him, explaining that Santa might have thought that he is still too young to learn the trombone and needs to wait another year.

And then—Martin pulled it together. He was still upset, but he stopped the tears and moved to pouting and whining instead. No full-blown meltdown. No screaming. He asked, “Santa thinks I’m too young? Maybe next year?” All in all, the response seemed more age-appropriate than autism-indicative.

It’s noon now. Everyone has eaten a special Christmas breakfast, which was gluten-free French toast with cranberry compote. Martin played with his new gifts (he’s favoring a set of Beatles figures, and also a “play the trombone” app I downloaded hastily to his iPad) and then accompanied Adrian to the gym. My brothers are playing backgammon. My father is napping. The house is quiet. I’m starting to prepare Christmas dinner: cannellini-bean latkes, roasted Brussels sprouts leaves, and quinoa pilaf. Last night’s fears are last night’s fears.

I’m thinking about updating my Facebook status with some ditty about the peace and tranquility of Christmas Day.

I Promised an Informative Post About Mitochondrial Support. Sigh

I tell myself often that I should be writing less about Martin’s breakthrough performances and more about the process of biomedical recovery and homeopathy: what his blood and urine test results show, which supplements we’re using, how antimicrobials are affecting chronic Lyme disease, how I’m tweaking his diet and why.

Recall the correspondence I had with Martin’s biomed doctor about the hyperactivity Martin was experiencing. I guessed that the culprit might be a yeast resurgence. The doctor thought we were too quickly increasing borrelogen and banderol—hose are antimicrobial herbs we use treat Lyme disease and bartonella, a common Lyme co-infection—without enough time for Martin’s body to adjust. She suggested that we go off banderol temporarily, and that we build the borrelogen more slowly. Relevant to this post, she also wrote, “Please start the other mitochondrial support as we discussed, as the supplements should help not only ‘floppiness’ but also his ability to handle the anti-microbial herbs.” (She was responding with my terminology. I’m pretty sure that “floppiness” is not a real medical term.)

At the time, Martin had been off target mitochondrial support for a few weeks; we use MitoSpectra, and I was unhappy that our supply of pills had gone bad. I looked into MitoSynergy but decided against it, because its components did not seem to be in bioavailable form, e.g., it has standard B6 instead of p-5-p, and folic acid instead of 5-methyl folate or folinic. I also thought about giving Martin the mito-support elements separately: levocarnatine, CoQ10, B-complex. On the other hand, Martin takes so many pills and drops already. Where possible, it reduces the protocol burden to use combined forms, even if the combined forms tend to be more expensive. And blah blah blah. Meanwhile, Martin was off mito support while I mulled all this.

MitoSpectra’s customer support offered to replace the spoiled pills and told me to keep the next batch refrigerated to prevent them from going bad. After speaking with the biomed doctor, I decided to put Martin back on MitoSpectra. I expected that the mito support would improve Martin’s “floppiness.” I was less certain why the doctor thought that it would help with hyperactivity and overload from the antimicrobials.

It did. Immediately after speaking with the doctor, I took Martin off banderol and reduced borrelogan to just one drop, to start building again from there. That helped. Slight hyperactivity lingered, as did trouble falling asleep, and I worried about starting to build borrelogan again, however slowly. Then the new MitoSpectra arrived, and within a day Martin’s behavior leveled off.

Why? Even after five years of biomed, during which I’ve known that Martin has mito processing issues, I still don’t fully understand how the mitochondria fit into all aspects of Martin’s health. I associate Martin’s mito issues with his lack of energy and low muscle tone; in the earliest days, before biomed, Martin spent continuous hours lying on the floor, usually on his side, usually pushing a toy back and forth or engaging in some other repetitive behavior. We’ve remedied that, and made progress on floppiness and exhaustion. Yet mito issues continue sprinkling their special mischief over Martin’s progress.

Mitochondria organelles are the power plants of human cells. Their job is to turn oxygen and sugar into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy that powers the cells to do their assigned jobs. Mitochondrial disorders, as I understand them, can be extraordinarily serious and can result in complications ranging from undergrowth and developmental delays to seizures. Conventional medical wisdom holds that mitochondrial disease, in the true form, is genetic and incurable, though treatable in ways that may assuage its effects.

According to the CDC, “More research is needed to find out how common it is for people to have autism and a mitochondrial disorder. Right now, it seems rare.” The CDC’s page, I note, has relatively little information about mitochondrial disorder, and much of that limited space is devoted to autism (and, you guessed it, vaccines). The CDC’s need to deny an autism-mitochondria connection makes me suspect that the question is being asked often, and a link in fact is suspected. TACA calls the role of mitochondrial function “[o]ne of the most exciting areas of research in autism spectrum disorder.” Even Autism Speaks (hardly cutting-edge science, in my opinion) offers: “Over the last decade, there has been great interest in the possibility that mitochondrial disorders may underlie some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Currently we believe that around 5 to 10 percent of children with autism have mitochondrial dysfunction as the underlying cause of their symptoms.”

Martin has mito dysfunction. That is diagnosed. No question there. So what is the mito dysfunction doing? Why would it cause increased hyperactivity when he’s dealing with antimicrobial Lyme treatment? Maybe cells without a power supply can’t fight the antimicrobial effects like they should. Maybe mito dysfunction keeps the entire system in such precariousness that what should be a mole hill—launching the battle against Lyme—morphs into a mountain. Maybe Martin, even after he functionally recovers, will still need mito support. Maybe he won’t.

The reason I shy from writing about the process of recovering Martin, instead of the victories and setbacks, is fear of admitting how little I understand about that process. (Also, it hardly makes for exciting writing.) I am a humanities-type mom wading through science-y stuff. When I try to write the science, I perceive my own shortcomings.

As of today, Martin is off banderol and rebuilding borrelogen slowly. The hyperactivity has dropped, considerably. Emotional dysregulation, on the other hand, is substantial. Martin is anxious, and having meltdowns.

Despite the mitochondrial support.

Because—who knows?

The Way He Talks Now—It’s Just Really Cute

Yesterday in the car, during a Bon Jovi song on the ’80s on 8 station—

Martin: “Apparently we’re going to hear some Phil Collins soon.”


Me: “How do you know that?”

Martin: “The announcer just said it, on the radio.”

I’d heard, vaguely, the announcer say something before Bon Jovi.

Me: “Oh, really? I guess you were listening better than I was.”

Martin: “I guess I was.”

I once had a child whose only language was echolalia, who could not independently string two or three words together. Can you imagine the joy in a moment like this?

Two songs later: Phil Collins.

Clapping. Whispering. Not Simultaneously

I planned to write an informative blog post about the role of mitochondrial support, and how going back on MitoSpectra has helped Martin since last week. But now I’m excited by events at church and want to write about them instead. That other, more informative post will just have to wait. Sorry not sorry.

At children’s time this Sunday—after the Gospel, before the choir anthem—the kids were invited to come sit in the front pew, which was empty, because, well, it’s church. Martin dawdled, of course, and by the time he arrived, the other kids had packed the pew. Martin exclaimed, “I don’t fit!” The congregation laughed. We got him seated. The substitute pastor gave a talk that was too long for little kids, and kind of boring. Still, other than making some funny noises with his mouth, which is a stim he has when his adrenals are stressed (I think), Martin did okay, looking around and enjoying the front pew. Then, after the too-long talk, the substitute pastor asked the kids to stay put for the choir anthem. I got worried; music excites Martin, and I thought he might call out.

He didn’t. He listened as the choir sang “Soon and Very Soon,” a song he knows. It was the Andraé Crouch version, in a setting by Jack Schrader, and in the last stanza the choir began a slow clap. For me (I was tragically born without a sense of rhythm), it wasn’t an intuitive clap: not every beat, hard to hit just right.

Martin began to clap. Not to clap randomly—he started to clap along with the choir, exactly right, exactly keeping time with their slow, challenging clap. I was blown away. It’s long been a challenge to get Martin to keep time with anyone, whether walking, or talking, or running, or playing. Evidently, not anymore. Only one or two other kids clapped, so Martin had to watch the choir and take their cues. He succeeded.

That was enough to make my day. Later in the service, however, Martin delivered even more. His next feat came after communion. He’d already gone downstairs to Sunday school and come back up, carrying a picture. He’d drawn a marching band (that’s a favorite motif) passing in front of the church, and he wanted to point out the details. “This is a trombone, and look, here is the pastor watching them.” The time that Martin picked for his exposition was also announcement time, when the substitute pastor was recognizing birthdays and reminding everyone about the men’s breakfast group and charity gift drive, so I put my index finger to my lips and shhh!ed Martin.

Martin kept talking (predictable) but switched to a whisper. Martin has never whispered unprompted before, and he’s never been able to sustain a whisper more than a few words. Now he switched to a whisper and kept it going, sentence after sentence. The drummer was carrying his drum set, he showed me, and there was a tuba player, and here were all the people standing on the sidewalk applauding. Whisper, whisper, whisper. I didn’t try to shush him again. I ignored the church announcements and whispered back. We whispered an entire conversation.

Before the final song, Martin asked to take his snack and go to the common room, where we have coffee hour. I let him. After a minute he jogged back into the sanctuary. The choir was exiting, down the center aisle. Martin stood just inside the doorway, across the sanctuary from where I was, and caught my eye. I motioned for him to come to me. In days past, Martin would have ignored that and called to me from across the sanctuary, regardless of what was going on. This week, instead of calling out, he came. He jogged, ducking around the choir robes, to my seat and asked quietly, “Um, may I please start eating my snack?” I figured that an adult must have seen him in the common room and, knowing he follows a restricted diet, told him to go ask his mom whether it was okay to eat the snack. (Understanding and conscientious parents? Very patient parishioners? We are so blessed.) “Yes,” I said. “Go ahead.” And he disappeared again.

Later, when I had made my own way to coffee hour, I was approached by a woman I don’t know. She introduced herself and said she’s been coordinating the Christmas pageant this year. (Martin has been cast as “Shepherd No. 2.” He has two lines, which he has memorized.) “I just wanted to tell you,” the woman said, “your son is a joy. He is an absolute joy to work with.”

Boo-yah. Can you see why I decided to leave mitochondrial support for tomorrow?


Last weekend at church, an older woman asked whether I know anything about selective mutism. Actually, she first asked me whether I know anything about “selection mutation.” Getting to the actual inquiry took some clarification.

“Not too much,” I replied. “Some. From what I understand it’s a type of anxiety disorder.”

The woman said her granddaughter, in Maine, has selective mutism, and she worries that her daughter isn’t doing enough to treat the condition. Is it like autism? she asked. Martin is making so much progress. Can selective mutism be treated like we treat Martin’s autism?

I answered, “From what I know, many of the disorders we think of as behavioral or psychological have a health component, at least when there isn’t an obvious other cause like abuse or overwhelming life circumstances.” Actually, I probably didn’t say it that pretty, but I made the point. “So I would guess you might be able treat selective mutism biomedically.”

“I knew it!” the woman said. “I knew there must be a medication she could be taking!”

Completely not what I meant, I said, as kindly as I could, and then explained some of the fundamentals of our biomedical approach: the restricted diet, everything organic and homemade; the supplementation; the antimicrobial herbs; the homeopathy; neuroplasticity and home-based therapies.

Though I kept the discussion as simple as possible, the woman’s attention waned with each word I spoke. There were no follow-up questions.

That’s the way we’re headed, as a society: Isn’t there a pill to remedy this? Isn’t there a shot to prevent that?

Easy fixes.

I’m Going to Need to Explain It Better

Well, this was bound to happen, sooner or later.

Over Thanksgiving, I brought Martin supplements as he was playing in his bedroom. He swallowed them without liquid, as he does for all pills other than Li-Zyme Forte, which he calls his “hard-to-swallow pill.” I don’t usually deliver supplements to Martin’s bedroom; we do them in the kitchen, preferably with meals. On this occasion, with my family visiting for the holiday, I was trying to get a jump on the evening protocol and make dinner a more normalized affair.

Without looking at me, still drawing a picture on his easel, Martin asked, “Why do you give me these pills?”

Ooooo. Okay. I said, “Remember when we talked about your tummy having troubles, and how when your tummy has troubles, it can make it hard to pay attention?”


“These pills are meant to help your tummy work a little better.”

“Do my friends take pills?”

“I’m not sure about all your friends. Bobby does, and so do Z and Jackson.” Those are friends whose families treat their autism and other challenges biomedically.

“Some of my friends take pills, but not all of my friends?”

“I think that sounds right.”

“Okay,” Martin said. “I’m drawing a picture of the Beatles.”

“I like it,” I said, relieved that he’d changed the topic.

The conversation left me with two take-aways:

  1. Martin is bound to ask the questions again, and probably won’t let me off so easy. I’m going to have to think carefully about how to respond.
  1. One of these days, I’m going to get hit with the bomb. Martin is going to ask, “Do I have autism?” We came close once already. We were out to dinner with friends when Martin, who took especial interest in street signs around the time, asked, “Mommy, what’s a ‘Child With Autism Area’?” I responded that a sign like that means that drivers should be extra careful because a child who lives nearby might not realize how dangerous it is to be in the street. Then Martin asked what autism is. As Andrés and our dinner guests listened in silence, I responded, “Autism is a condition that can make it difficult to pay attention to what’s going on around them, or difficult to talk to other people.” I waited, mildly panicked, for Martin to ask whether he has autism. But he didn’t. He changed the topic. Bomb dodged.

Guessing Game

Drafted in the morning, on the train, on my way to work:

Let’s conduct an experiment: How well do I understand Martin’s health these days? Can I predict what his super-knowledgable biomed doctor will say?

Martin is in a difficult place right now and has been for a month, ever since we last visited his biomed doctor in California, which was one month ago. Especially at bedtime, but also in spurts throughout the day, he’s beset by so much hyperactivity as to be nearly uncontrollable. The agitation and need for movement are affecting his ability to fall asleep; until nearly 10 o’clock yesterday evening, he was kicking his feet in bed, calling out, springing up to jog down the hall and return to bed. Daytimes, I’ve observed him engaging in his lone remaining repetitive behavior, which is to skip three steps pad-a-bump, run across the room, turn, stop and think (or ponder, or get lost in his own self for a few seconds), and repeat: pad-a-bump, run, turn, stop. Tuesday he did this even in our local coffee shop, pad-a-bump from the cash register to the front door, pad-a-bump back to the cash register. He’s giggly. He’s interrupting and talking over others, without regard for his surroundings. He has some increased sensitivity to sound. He’s so itchy.

Yet, as is often the case, the symptomatic behaviors seem superficial, and perhaps there is a deeper level of healing going on. He is more conversational than ever, answering questions and telling me what happens at school with minimal perseveration. His handwriting has improved dramatically; instead of gargantuan, unsteady strokes, he’s penning tight letters that actually fit on the paper lines. He’s attempting to make jokes, albeit nonsensical, unfunny ones. “I think Daddy’s going to take his hair off his head. Isn’t that funny? I’m just kidding.” He’s bargaining. “Santa Claus knows I didn’t finish my soup? That’s okay. I think Santa looks at the whole year, and I’ve had more good days than bad.” (What does he want from Santa Claus, you ask? Adele tickets. Martin has selected the most phenomenally in-demand tickets on earth and decided that’s what he wants for Christmas.)

Except for the itchiness, which predated our last visit to California, the hyperactivity, repetitive behaviors, and other symptoms began, as near as I can reckon, right when we returned from that trip, one month ago. The sequence was like this: Thursday afternoon we flew from New York to California. The flight was delayed, and Martin wasn’t in bed until 11:00 pm PST, or 2:00 am EST. He managed to sleep until 9:00 am PST, or noon EST. We spent Friday afternoon at the doctor’s and, as part of that appointment, Martin had an LED treatment. Friday evening we met friends (a father and his son, Martin’s age) for dinner, which went well. Martin fell asleep around 10:00 pm PST Friday night and slept well. Saturday was a packed day. We went out to breakfast, and then to see my friend’s new house, and then we drove inland an hour, to spend the afternoon with the same friend’s mother and to visit George the cat, who now resides on the West Coast. It was 6:30 pm when Martin and I returned to our hotel.

That night, Saturday night, our placid California weekend went awry. Martin knew we had to get up early (3:45 am) to drive 40 minutes to the airport, return our rental car, and catch the 7:00 am flight to New York. He was excited about getting up so early. Too excited. He went to bed giddy around 8:00 pm and—I don’t have a better way to put this—worked himself into a frenzy, calling out, laughing, asking whether it was time to get up. Around 9:30 pm, anxiety took over. Mommy! Mommy! Something is wrong! Mommy! I don’t know what’s going on. Mommy, where are you? [I was in the same hotel suite, using my iPad, where he could hear me and see the light I was using.] Mommy, help! Help me! His agitation mushroomed until he was sobbing and even shrieking. In an effort to calm him, I said, unthinkingly, “Martin, you have to stop. You have to stop screaming. We are in a hotel. Someone could think I’m hurting you and call the police!” That foolish statement became a target for his previously unspecific anxiety. Are the police coming? Are the police here? Will the police take me away? No! No! Mommy, tell the police not to come! I don’t want the police to come!

My poor little man was terrified and out of control. At last I took him to my bed, climbed in, and squeezed him until he began to calm. Once the sobbing reduced to whimpers, I released him and rubbed his head instead. Within two minutes from that point, he was sound asleep and I had quiet time to wonder what the hell had just happened.

When I woke Martin at 3:45 am, after just five hours’ sleep, he sprang from bed, evidently cheerful to be getting up at such a special time. I saw no trace of anxiety or giddiness. That day, Sunday, as we traveled home, he seemed restless and uncomfortable, which I chalked up to lack of sleep, but otherwise unremarkable. Sunday evening, however, he became hyperactive and had trouble getting to sleep.

Since that Sunday evening, we’ve endured the hyperactivity, some inappropriate laughing, continued itchiness, and lack of focus. Charcoal tablets help, but not always. We’ve started a new protocol of supplements, antimicrobials, homeopathic remedies, and yeast fighters; I’ve introduced the new elements slowly, and haven’t tied a specific reaction to any. Last week for Heilkunst we cleared a DTaP vaccine, again without a specific reaction, only the same hyperactivity. The hyperactivity is uniformly worst at bedtime, and Martin continues having trouble getting to sleep. He’s woken early a few times but generally sleeps through the night.

So what is going on here?

I have scheduled a short call with the doctor this afternoon. I’m going to write what I think is happening, and then, after I speak with the doctor, I will give her thoughts. I’m eager to see whether we agree.

My own theories: First, I think yeast is at work. I said, even before we went to California, that I believed Martin was suffering a yeast flare. The poor kid is so itchy. He’s scratched his legs and belly bloody. He’s giggly and “drunk.” Second, I wonder whether the LED he had in California might have kicked up some toxins that Martin is having trouble clearing. Maybe?

Drafted the next day, after I spoke with the doctor:

The doctor disagreed with my guesses. While yeast might be a subsidiary issue, she said, Martin’s hyperactivity makes it unlikely that yeast is the primary issue. Hyperactivity has not been a hallmark of Martin’s previous yeast flares, she pointed out. As to the LED, she said that any effects would have emerged during the 25 hours immediately following the treatment. Saturday night, when Martin experienced the anxiety attack that launched this hyperactive period, some 30 hours already had passed.

She admitted that it’s tough to know exactly what’s going on. Her theory: Banderol and borrelogen, the antimicrobials that Martin has been taking in incrementally increasing doses to treat chronic Lyme, are too strong. His sensitive system needs time to adjust. She reminded me that, when we used banderol three years ago, as well as when we used the antimicrobial takuna, we had to increase the dose extremely slowly—sometimes by not more than one additional drop per week. This go-round I’ve been building banderol and borrelogen by about a drop per day each. She asked me to hold the antimicrobials for 48 hours (or four doses, as we dose them twice daily) and she if Martin’s hyperactivity decreases.

I was going to post this blog entry after taking to the doctor. Now I feel like it’s worth waiting another couple days to announce the results of our 48-hour experiment.

Drafted two-and-a-half days after I spoke with the doctor:

Better. Around 6:20 am I messaged the doctor:

I think you nailed the issue. Since we spoke on Thursday, I have withheld banderol and borrelogen (so five doses withheld so far: Thursday evening, Friday morning and evening, Saturday morning and evening). We have seen a perceptible, marked decrease in Martin’s hyperactivity, and Friday night he was able to go right to sleep for the first time in weeks. Yesterday afternoon I took Martin into the infrared sauna for a detox cycle. Going in the sauna really, really agitated him. For an hour or so, the hyperactivity was back, full-force, and then we had some emotional dysregulation. On the other hand, last night Martin went right to sleep again, his pre-bedtime meltdown notwithstanding. What do you suggest? BTW, we have continued during this time with four drops Clovanol daily. Thank you!

Pretty intense, right? And I didn’t even tell her that he had flat-out refused to watch Pride and Prejudice with me on the sauna video screen. “Turn it away from me!” he said. “I don’t want to see it!” That evening, I messaged the doctor again:

An additional note: Today (Sunday) the hyperactivity was back up again, though not as bad as before. We haven’t restarted banderol or borrelogen. Today Martin also was “floppy” (this could be the lack of MitoSpectra) and emotionally volatile—he had a meltdown over where we chose to have Sunday dinner, and was not able to recover for quite some time. He’s in bed now, making noise instead of going to sleep. I’m wondering if yesterday’s sauna has lingering effects.

She responded by advising me to continue holding banderol and to restart borrelogen from one drop per day, or even one drop every other day, and build even more slowly than before. She also suggested that I keep Martin out of the infrared sauna for a while, as it may be too intense and also stirring up metals. Regarding the floppiness, she advised putting Martin back on mitochondrial support immediately, and said that might also help him better handle the antimicrobial herbs.

Drafted four days after I spoke with the doctor:

Hyperactivity is reduced again. Unfortunately, emotional dysregulation is taking hyperactivity’s place. (That’s a kind way to say that Martin is moving less but melting down more.) Also, Martin is distracted. This could be simply a result of the changes in his antimicrobials, and the fact that his new MitoSpectra hasn’t yet arrived. Here’s hoping that he evens out soon.

Note for careful readers:

Are you wondering why Martin has been off MitoSpectra? I knew it. You are very careful readers. The last two bottles of MitoSpectra I purchased went bad; the pills changed color and developed a fishy smell. I became nervous about continuing to use the product. But I do like MitroSpectra and believe it’s been helpful to Martin. After talking with a representative of the company, I’ve decided to give I decided to give it another shot. Help us, MitroSpectra!

I Feel Ya. No, I Don’t. I Get That. No, I Don’t

The day after Thanksgiving, my stepfather and brother and husband—a/k/a Grandpa and Uncle Rudy and Daddy—took Martin to see The Good Dinosaur. Martin, who had seen the movie promoted on Disney Channel and been asking to go, came home all smiles from the theatre.

“Hi, Martin!” I greeted him. “How was the movie?”

“It was good!” he said.

“Did you enjoy yourself?”


“What was your favorite part of the movie?” I asked.

Martin didn’t hesitate. “My favorite part was when the dinosaur boy’s dad died,” he said, laughing.

“When his dad died? Wasn’t that very sad?”

“Yes!” Martin said, still laughing. “It was sad!”

Confronted with what must have been a tear-jerking scene for the other movie patrons, Martin seemed unable to suppress his glee.

Last month I lost a friend. We weren’t close; we’d known each other in junior high school, and reconnected a few years ago via Facebook, and discovered that we shared interests in fitness, real food, and faith. By the time we reconnected, Jenny was already fighting her second bout with breast cancer. I knew that she was in and out of chemotherapy and making frequent doctor visits. Yet, to me, her cancer never seemed present or imminent, because I never saw her in person and because her Facebook posts were always upbeat.

One night, just before I went to bed (alone; Adrian was away on business), I checked Facebook and saw that another user had just tagged Jenny in a post something like, “Pray for Jenny. She’s gone into the hospital and isn’t doing well.” I prayed for Jenny that night. I didn’t worry too much. She’d been in the hospital before and gone home quickly. Besides, her status updates that week had been banal: She loved her new juicer. She was considering seeing a doctor a few towns away and wondered whether anyone would like to share the ride. Everyday stuff.

Jenny must have been on my mind overnight, because when I woke around 5:30 a.m. I checked Facebook again immediately. During the early morning hours, a different user had posted, on Jenny’s wall, something like, “Jenny’s been taken off the ventilator. Her husband asks for prayers that she passes in peace and they can grieve.”

Only days earlier, on-line, Jenny had seemed vibrant and untroubled. I decided that “taken off the ventilator” must mean that the doctors wanted to give her the chance to pull through on her own, and she would.

At 7:15 a.m., Jenny’s aunt posted something like, “R.I.P. my beautiful niece. You fought hard.” By that time, Martin was seated at the table eating breakfast, so I set down my iPhone, left the kitchen, and started to speak with Jenny, in case she could listen. I’m glad we found each other through Facebook, and I’m sorry I didn’t realize how advanced your cancer was. I wish I’d realized. I would have said more to you. I would have talked about sleeping over at your house in seventh grade, and some of the crazy afternoons we had in your family’s swimming pool. Remember?

When I returned to the kitchen to finish giving Martin his supplements, I was crying. He noticed (that’s encouraging) and asked me why.

“I just lost a friend. My friend died. My friend died, and it’s making me very, very sad that I won’t see her again, or talk to her.”

“Oh,” Martin said. Then he smiled, giggled, and said, “Your friend died!”

“That’s not a funny thing. It’s something that’s making me sad.”

Martin said, “Okay,” and kept giggling.

It was, fair to say, one of our more—ahem—challenging moments. I stood in the kitchen, still crying, and my son had no response other than to laugh at my grief.

Here’s one whopper of a reason I stick with biomed, with trying to heal Martin from the inside out: You can teach a lot of things. You can teach eye contact. You can teach small talk and germane responses. You can even teach how to mimic emotion. But you can’t teach empathy.

At least not any way that I know how.