Posted in Emotions

My own journey

8th January 2018

Look at this girl and analyse what you are seeing. A happy young mom holding her sleeping baby posing for her husband to take a photo… but that’s not whats really happening here.

It was my first day back at work after almost a year off. I woke up early, did my hair and make up to plaster over the cracks of how I was truly feeling.

I remember feeling relief as I left the house; like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I could finally be away from William. My job has always been a constant in my life, since I was 17 so I felt like I was going back to do something I was really good at and since that wasn’t how I felt about being a mom, it made me really happy.

Only it wasn’t a relief, things had changed and people had left and I couldn’t focus on any one task. I was now part time and there weren’t enough hours in a day. I was constantly chasing my own tail. I remember coming home and faking excited to see William… I should have missed him. I held him close whilst he nodded off and had a little cry because ‘I missed him’ only I cried because I didnt. I cried for me. Not for him.

‘Take a picture Dave’ I don’t have many pictures of William and I over his first 2 years purely because I was alway the one behind the camera (This made post separation purging a nightmare🤣) I felt it was important to take a picture and prove that I was OK. That I was happy. Its silly isn’t it, that’s what this social media age has done to us. I think that’s why on here I try to be as honest and open as possible.

I’m not ashamed to say I was I was spiralling down a very dark hole and ended up at a stage I couldn’t see the light. I worried about my family dying when there was nothing wrong with them but the thought consumed me and kept me awake at night, I couldn’t cope with the changes is my career and found myself struggling to do the most simple of tasks but faking it with a smile and a cheery attitude. William was missing his milestones and I thought it was my fault, did I do something wrong during pregnancy? Was it because I didn’t love him enough? I began focusing on the fact that he might be taken away from me, social services would somehow get involved and take one look at me and know that it was my fault.

William was 18 months old and I had reached a point in which I felt like things would be better if I wasn’t around anymore by the time I sought help. I spoke to the doctor and just sobbed, I don’t know how he could possibly understand what I was saying but he listened and offered me help and I personally chose to be medicated, Sertraline to help with my depression and Propranolol for anxiety. It was hard, really hard and I came off them early and I wasn’t ready and soon spiraled back down that hole but I knew… I knew I wasn’t ready and went straight back to the doctor and this time when I thought I was ready, we slowly weaned off them and it worked.

For two years I have been off all medication and coping well. I have embraced that darkness I felt and can happily share my story. William is my word and the love I have for him was always there but was hidden by the storm clouds in my head. It didn’t flood in immediately but bit by bit as the clouds cleared, just like the sun does… it creeped through.

I know that Williams delays and medical issues are not my fault, that I did everything right when pregnant and that I loved him unconditionally from the moment I saw him on my scan and that even though I didn’t feel it, he did. He knew I loved him and still knows now.

There are days, even now in which I feel a darkness but speaking to people and being open about it really helps. This blog saved me as did all of you who read it, whether its ever post or just one. Each of you help me overcome every hurdle, every obstacle just by allowing me a platform to rant and cry about how I feel. Sometimes about myself or sometimes about the system that fails us.

Thank you and if anyone needs to talk please get in touch, with me, with a friend, a doctor. Don’t keep it to yourself. Darkness isn’t as lonely if you have someone by your side.🥰

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Posted in Autism In The News

Death by ignorance?

I have written previously about death by indifference in a previous post, check that out here but if you don’t want to read it in full here is a little summary.
It details the deaths of 6 people who had special needs and how failures in the care system surrounding vulnerable patients (particularly non verbal one) lead to their early deaths.

Today I want to talk about Betty Wattenbarger and Coco Rose Bradford, two very young girls with autism who sadly died after seeking medical treatment.

Coco was 6 years old was admitted to The Royal Cornwall Hospital in summer 2017 with stomach problems, It shouldn’t have had any effect on the treatment she received but Coco was autistic. She was vomiting, had bloody loose stools and couldn’t take in any fluids. A quick look on WebMD and it tells me that fluids are most definitely needed based on the symptoms, no matter the cause.

It also to me (no medical training at all) seems like common sense but this didn’t happen, she was sent home only to be brought back to hospital the following day despite the hospital staff telling her parents she was ok. The staff missed several opportunities over the course of 8 days to establish what was wrong with her and save little Coco’s life, but they didn’t.
After Coco died it was discovered she had an E-Coli infection and Haemolytic uremic syndrome, the doctors and staff on duty said they found Coco uncooperative and non-compliant when questioned about the little girl’s death. As a child I was terrified of hospitals, doctors, needles and would fight my mom if she tried to give me medicine or clean a wound (this is why I had a piece of glass stuck in my knee for over a year 😳) imagine being autistic and having those feeling plus a million more running around in your head without been able to tell anyone what is wrong. Just like most parents of autistic children Coco’s parents knew something was not right and spoke on her behalf imploring the hospital staff to help her but it fell on deaf ears. The NHS has admitted key failures in Coco’s care following a report.

Sadly Bettys story is very similar, she was 7 years old, she had autism and was nonverbal, in 2019 she was struck by a fever in which was severe enough for her parents to seek emergency medical treatment in which they were advised by a nurse practitioner that it was just the flu and sent home with pain relief. No testing was carried out despite her father displaying concerns about her breathing. Sadly, she died the following day. He dad described the moment she was gone as the light leaving is house.

Her family believe that had it not been for a misdiagnosis she would still be alive today, if they had seen a doctor she would be alive today and if she had been able to tell them how much pain she was in the she would have received the correct level of care and not have died. The Texas medical board have refused to confirm if they are carrying out an investigation.

I speak from experience that when your child cant tell you what is wrong it can be difficult but you learn to know your child like no other and the thought of those that are supposed to help them refuse to listen is terrifying. We are naturally protective over our children but what if no one listens? What power do we have to get those that should be helping to listen to us? It is a terrifying thought. These deaths are becoming more and more frequent. Is it death by indifference? Or death by ignorance? How can a 6-year-old not be treated because she was uncooperative? What 6-year-old on this planet is happy to be poked and prodded by strangers when poorly?

We need to keep talking about Autism. We need to educate teachers, doctors, and nurses. We need to normalize it. It is not a taboo subject, 1 in every 100 people in the UK is diagnosed as autistic. It is not uncommon. Why aren’t we teaching about it in schools?

I work in an office (pre Covid) and often have to have to catch up on new systems and safety procedures so why aren’t medical professionals being made to educate themselves on developments in diagnosis’?