Happy New Year!
Adrian and I didn’t make it till midnight, New Year’s Eve. Didn’t even try. We were in bed by 9:00 pm, in a vacation house in Park City, Utah. On New Year’s Eve, our family (1) got up late because Martin had a tough night, (2) skied, (3) met one of Adrian’s colleagues for a drink, and (4) zipped by a Whole Foods Market. From each of those four activities gives me a heading for a “Martin right now” mini-essay. I’ll post them in four installments.
New Year! (1) We got up late because Martin had a tough night.
Martin is in treatment for Lyme disease. His LLMD wants to treat with antibiotics. His MAPS doctor, on the other hand, prefers to treat Lyme anti-microbially, which she says is as effective as antibiotics without the potential negative effects for gut bacteria. The LLMD and MAPS doctors have talked to each other. For now, the LLMD is letting the MAPS doctor “quarterback”—that’s the LLMD’s word, so catchy—Martin’s Lyme treatment, and we’re going with the anti-microbials.
I think they must be working, because while Martin’s cognitive and physical functioning are smooth, his adrenal levels seem maxed out. He is full of anxiety, looking for excuses to melt down. New Year’s Day, Adrian was listening to a Frank Sinatra song when Martin started crying because he remembered that the song was recorded before his parents were born. Honestly. Martin was playing a video game, heard the song, and burst into tears. The only reason he gave was the date that Frank Sinatra recorded “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and it took several minutes of comforting to soothe him. If that’s not adrenal stress, I don’t know what is.
Autism and even, to some extent, healing cause stress. Sometimes the process of getting better means that Martin’s body hardly knows itself, or what is coming next. The body can react by producing excess adrenal hormones, like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and cortisol. The hormones cause meltdowns. The overall stress diverts blood flow away from the gut, affecting nutrient absorption, which pressures the pancreas to keep up with digestive enzymes. The stress also stimulates the liver to increase glucose production to feed the muscles—and I think you know what mayhem excess glucose can wreck in an ASD kid.
Martin is also exhibiting increased OCD symptoms, which for him accompany adrenal stress. His current obsession is making sure he sees a digital clock anytime the digits are all the same, i.e., at 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55, and 11:11.
These factors—adrenal stress and compulsions—have affected Martin’s sleep, too. In “Curse the Night,” I described how Martin couldn’t sleep Christmas Eve because of his anxiety that Santa Claus might not come. In the night between December 30 and New Year’s Eve, Martin woke from a nightmare: I think it was about skiing (see next post), because he woke exclaiming, “No, no, not so fast!” He stayed awake from 2:30 am until after 5:00 am, declaring himself simply unable to sleep, asking for me to be with him, and worrying about the time—“It’s 3:12! It’s not 3:33 yet!”—until finally I hid the clock.
Night waking has been so rare this past year that nowadays it really throws me for a loop. I just don’t have the stamina to get by without sleep anymore. I dozed off, lying on the sofa, until Adrian’s alarm sounded at 6:00 am, our usual waking time for skiing. Then I told Adrian that Martin had been up for hours and was now asleep, set my alarm for 8:00 am to call his ski instructors and say he’d be late for his 9:00 am lesson, and crawled back into bed for a couple hours. We let Martin sleep until after 9:00 am, then ate a big breakfast and finally reached his lesson at 11:00 am.
Martin remained high-strung all day, and does still as of this writing.
(I will provide more information on the Lyme disease in a subsequent post. I am almost as excited about writing that as I was for the recent informative post about mitochondrial support.)