Olivia's journey has been rough - to say the least. Born perfectly healthy, her declining health has always been called a mystery. Fifteen years have come and gone, with no change to the daily seizures that have held our hearts hostage..... until now. Finding HOPE and healing for our girl began with the introduction of Medicinal Cannabis - A controversial treatment for untreatable seizure disorders.

Her story briefly -

At 18-months she developed little "shaking spells" in the middle of the night. Olivia's journey has been rough - to say the least. Born perfectly healthy, her declining health has always been called a mystery. Fifteen years have come and gone, with no change to the daily seizures that have held our hearts hostage..... until now. Finding HOPE and healing for our girl began with the introduction of Medicinal Cannabis - A controversial treatment for untreatable seizure disorders.The Neurologist called them "Generalized Myoclonic Seizures". In many cases this can be the beginning of a degenerative condition, but month after month Olivia “defied” this inaccurate diagnosis by continuing to develop normally. Several months later, after a medical procedure, the little "shakes" became large jerks that would catapult her to the floor. She stopped talking, stopped responding to our voice and appeared have entered her own little world. The seizures continued to change. They soon became "drop" seizures and would come on with no warning and she would fall or crash into whatever was in front or below her. They continued to worsen into classic tonic clonic seizures that would last anywhere between 40 to 90 seconds.

Complexity was the word often used to describe Olivia's condition. We've done our due diligence.....we tried all the medications, none worked. We tried the supplement route through a well-known clinic in Chicago. We then tried the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), to which the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet is developed from. We saw such amazing results from this diet we decided to take her off the many supplements she was taking because we didn't think she needed them. Well, we were wrong, and she crashed. Apparently, the supplements were helping her --- it was not a coincidence. It made sense that to get her back (at least to the place before pulling the supplements away), we should just put her back on the supplements -- but it didn't happen that way. The complexity often used to describe her was now ten fold, any change we made "upset" her fragile hypersensitivity to change and her path became even more confusing and "crooked". The Medicinal Cannabis has finally given us a mechanism to control the extreme Neurological Inflammation racing through her little body -- something every anticonvulsant medication failed to deliver on.

Our beautiful girl

Our beautiful girl

As a parent to a severely autistic child who has daily uncontrolled seizures, the memory of her being "normal" has never been forgotten. The hope of helping, if not stopping her daily suffering has been an uphill journey. Approaching her situation from a diet perspective is not an entirely new idea. Olivia was on a version of the SCD diet in 2005 with some success because I never introduced the homemade yogurt, which is the main healing modality. The main difference between then and now is the knowledge base of Dr. McBride and her ability to share the wealth of information she personally gathered as she cured her own severely autistic child with the SCD diet.

I do respect and am thankful for the excellent emergency practices of the conventional medical institution. Their services have literally saved Olivia's life on numerous occasions. Alternative care has taught me so much about the power of your own immune system, and the tragedy that can follow when the immune system is damaged. Why these two worlds can't work together to shape and protect us all is a shame.

This blog is really about our journey over the last 15 years. Although the focus is Olivia and her recovery, I will also include how this has affected our whole family and how we have dealt with this unexpected interruption in our lives.

Hebrews 11:1 -

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Have a question or comment for me?

If you have a question or comment for me feel free to leave it under the "comments" section on the bottom of each individual post. If you would like to leave a private comment you can email me at kellynjohnson94@gmail.com.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

So long 2016 - glad to see you go.

What a year - huh? Not really what I expected but acceptance can be freeing.

These last couple months have been a roller coaster ride for our girl. Opportunities to celebrate quickly turned to obstacles, which then turned to questioning. Have you ever felt that way? I think every virus out there made itself known in Olivia's fragile system. Just as she conquered one, a new one swiftly jumped in to wreak havoc on her struggling immune system. The silver lining? She was strong enough to avoid a hospital stay, which, in my book is celebration worthy.

2016 revealed so many new pieces waiting to be placed....to be interlocked together for the bigger picture to emerge. Unfortunately, though, it's timing continues to lag. Pursuing God's wisdom for restoring Olivia became a priority for me in 2016.  That's just what happens when answers do not surface by the world's experts, and my advocating heart knows there is much more to her story. The journey alone settled my heart, quieted my mind, and defined my role so I could patiently wait for wisdom to make it's way to me.

As this frustrating year comes to a close, I reflect on the lessons it has afforded me.  I see my struggling with unrealized dreams for her progress, but see promise in the new pieces to her puzzle. I continue to learn how to increase my faith while facing signs of defeat. I am grateful she always rebounds. Olivia's health continues to ebb and flow, which is frustrating at the very least, but telling at the most. The new pieces truly tell her story.

Do me a favor.... Don't feel sorry for me that our journey hasn't yet taken off. Don't feel embarrassed for me - you know, like feeling embarrassed for someone as you watch them make a fool out of themselves.  I'm not embarrassed and there is no way I will give up now. It's always darkest before the dawn. So many people feel inspired as they put faith in science to figure out cures for so many diseases. If we can have faith in science, why is it crazy to have faith in God --- that he can point us to the cure, that he can effectively lead us out of the dark.

I love this word by A.W. Tozer:

"God wants us to trust Him in the dark.

'I will go before you, And make the crooked places[a] straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze, And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness, And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.'  Isaiah 45:2-3

It is heartening to learn how many of God's mighty deeds were done in secret, away from the prying eyes of men or angels. When God created the heavens and the earth, darkness was upon the face of the deep, when the the eternal Son became flesh, he was carried for a time in the darkness of the sweet virgin's womb, when he died for the life of the world, it was in the darkness, seen by no-one at the last. When he arose from the dead, it was the very early in the morning, no one saw him rise. It is as if God was saying, 'What I am is all that need matter to you, for there lie your hope and your peace, I will do what I will do and it will all come to light at last, but how I do it is my secret. Trust me and be not afraid.' With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?"

These words remind me that God often does his work in the dark, that his sovereignty in Olivia's life trumps my feeble attempts at "helping" him with his plans for her. In my last post I mentioned that it's like "feeling my way in the dark" when it comes to helping her. All attempts have not proven worthy. I may feel invisible, but I see the light, even if it's the size of a pin hole. It's bright enough to give me hope that He is indeed working in the dark, with his still small voice. I love this Chris Tomlin song "Winter Snow" sung by Audrey Assad. In my mind it describes how he works with us, and when we are moving a million miles a minute, like I have been for the last 16 years, we miss his gentle leading.

I feel stronger than ever as the year comes to a close. Refining and remolding has been good for me, even if they were relentless teachers. Thank you for continuing to follow our journey.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with God. 
(the African proverb version ends with "go together".)