I remember the cat jumping up on the table next to me. I felt a combination of delight and desperation when I started petting the curious tabby. With Dermot on my lap, having just carried him in from the van where I was greeted by a man resembling Uncle Jesse from Dukes of Hazzard who was busy under the hood of a piece of shit Dodge minivan from 1984.
"Are you Mr. Wood?" I asked, trying not to sound terrified that he was going to abduct Dermot and I and we would never be found again.
"Nah." the uncle Jesse look alike replied. "He's in the house. Go on up".
Gulp. I was not expecting this at all. This man had a website, all the information on his profession checked out, plus I even had two friends refer me to him. But as I turned off on to the dirt road and traveled for a mile or two while passing farms and vacated houses, my fear crept in.
I unbuckled Dermot from his car seat and lifted him on my left hip. Being only two years old he was still light enough to carry, even up a steep grassy hill to Mr. Wood's deck. The sliding glass door was open a few inches so I called "hello?" to see if he was, in fact inside.
"Hi, is this Dermot?" he asked.
I answered yes and he invited me inside. I walked carefully around the piles of old magazines and books that covered the floor, to a kitchen table only a bachelor could stand to own. On the table were around a hundred tiny brown bottles with eye droppers, labeled with masking tape.
As he asked me questions about Dermot's condition he started pulling a few specific bottles from his collection. Then he placed a couple of drops from each one on Dermot's arm and rubbed them in.
"There, you see? He took a nice deep breath. It's working" proclaimed Mr. Wood.
I was less than convinced, as the cat jumped up on the table. I wanted to exit the premises immediately. I concurred with his thoughts and politely pushed the kitty off Dermot's leg.
Mr. Wood wrote down his prescriptions for the plant extracts, three in all that were going to help the seizures and his breathing. All for $75, cash.
I couldn't have got out of there faster. No time to even say goodbye to the white haired mechanic in the front yard.
As I drove home I remember crying a bit. The feeling of desperation, of wanting to help my child any way I could was overwhelming. I was testing my distrust of Western medicine and I felt ashamed. My judgments of Mr. Wood's surroundings and business practices told me to never try anything that wasn't tried and tested ever again.
It stayed that way for almost four years. I was adamantly uninvolved when my husband brought Dermot to the hyperbaric Oxygen treatment every day for a month. We brought Dermot to the best neurologist, pulmonologist, physiatrist, cardiologist, pediatrician, ophthalmologist, orthopedic surgeon and a handful of physical and occupational therapists. But one thing I realized with all of these doctors, they are all trained to treat the symptoms.
Drugs for the seizures, braces for the malformations, glasses for the blindness, Botox for the tight muscles and oxygen for the breathing. No one was treating the Dermot as a whole person with a mitochondrial disease. No one was in charge of what was causing all of the other issues. Just me.
I walked Dermot into the therapy center on a dark Saturday evening a few weeks ago. The same room where he gets weekly face massages to help with his reflexive bite and drooling. The lady with the magic hands wore a bright teal sweater vest and sported a very short spiky hairdo.
"Who do we have here?" She asked joyfully in a strong Russian accent.
"This is Dermot." I answered.
"Okay, let's get to it." She said.
As she told me how things were going to work during the evaluation I was overcome. Perhaps a spiritual experience, or just gratitude. Teary eyed, I watched carefully, listened intently and witnessed as she was able to move Dermot's arms above his head with ease. Another "push of a button" and he stopped fisting his tiny little hands. Open fingers and arms above his head was huge progress for this little boy. She explained how all the problems Dermot is experiencing are interconnected and our goal now will be to retrain his brain.
"His brain is stuck in a traumatic state. We can help him out of that." She stated.
She continued for another hour and a half and sent me home with a program to practice with him. Finally something practical I could do to make a difference. I can help make Dermot more flexible, release his spasicity and calm his fears. Without hurting him or adding one more piece of equipment to his body.
Now this treatment is far from conventional, and she isn't covered by insurance but because of my disenchantment with western medicine, I'm willing to try again. But this time without judgment.
The new treatment we are using is: The Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration - MNRI ® Method