It Affects Us All

Day 18 of Guest Blogging for TSC Awareness Month

By guest blogger Tina Carver   (Eureka, California)

Please check out Tina’s blog at http://captainjacktastic.wordpress.com

Jackson and Tina.
Jackson and Tina.

Prior to April 2009, all that I knew about Tuberous Sclerosis Complex would fit on the head of an angel dancing on the head of a pin.
In other words:
NOTHING.
Never heard of it. AT ALL.

Once I met Jack, all of that changed.
I became Jack’s stepmom in September of 2010, and shortly thereafter, his birth mother left the area, leaving us with sole custody.

Now, I have to be honest.  The hardest part of Jack’s TSC  had already happened.  The in vitro diagnosis.  The debilitating and never ending febrile seizures.  The rounds and rounds of various seizure meds.  The brain surgery.

That all happened BEFORE.

In the TSC community I feel a bit adrift — I get asked questions about the specifics of his disease — the types of tumors, etc– and I cannot answer them.

My life with TSC is all about moving forward and making Jack’s life the best it can be in the here and now.  It is also about dealing with how the disease affects US: myself, my husband, my daughter.

Our life revolves around “what if’s”.  Every plan that we have has a back up- “just in case”.  We have emergency seizure meds in each of our cars, Jack’s backpack, the home.  We plan and plot ANY trip to make sure we are near hospitals.  My husband and I get THREE WHOLE hours a week to be adults outside the house.  My daughter knows that any school function most likely means only ONE OF US will be there (respite is a harsh mistress). Tuberous Sclerosis may have had its way with Jack, but it also has the rest of us in its grip EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Jackson and Dad.
Jackson and Dad.

But there are days……lovely days like last Sunday when all of us were in the backyard.  My daughter running fully clothed through the sprinklers, much to the delight of Jack who had his favorite spot on what he calls the bouncepoline.  The sky was clear and sunny.  There was laughter from all.  And it’s for these moments that we continue on.  THAT is what makes it worth it all.  We forge ahead because these moments make life worthwhile.  These moments balance those tense moments in the ER, the sedation for MRIs, and the uncertainty of the future.

Now, to be honest, how Tuberous Sclerosis has had its way with Jack has NOT been kind-

Febrile seizures have left permanent damage.
There is a thick scar that crosses his scalp from brain surgery.
There are developmental delays.  There are physical issues.
There are over 30 tumors in his brain.

But over the past few years we have seen progress.
We have speech and communication.
We have staid the growth of the tumors.
We have found the right cocktail of meds to keep away the seizures.
And Jackson the boy is blossoming……

SO what else can I say about this disease that I have come to know and loathe?
That it took away one boy and left us another.
One that I love just the same.

Jackson hanging out in Darrah's room.
Jackson hanging out in Darrah’s room.

JACKSON The Poem

In my dreams

I constantly see

You

Your smile so bright

and beautiful

A mischievous grin

to match the

glint in  those

bright blue

Eyes

You run

Untroubled

Carefree

with an easy

and natural

gait.

Laughter unfettered

Musical

And there are

no tumors

no damage

Or delays.

There is only a boy

who is

Not You.

Jack loves the number 9.
Jack loves the number 9.
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One thought on “It Affects Us All”

  1. Hi Tina,

    Your story told simply is, well, simply amazing. Your concise statements about respite care, rescue meds, trip planning… it sounds like a paraphrase of our life in a way. I can’t go anywhere without thinking about ‘what if’ with our daughter. Though 2 brain surgeries have tempered that constant feeling of being on edge, it doesn’t take it away. We have come to fight the enemy (seizures) by different roads but we can relate to your story.

    Thank you for sharing and God Bless,

    -ken

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