Last year was full of trials and tribulations. We made it through another year and I'm so grateful that it ended the best way it could possibly end. The story CNN published by Wayne Drash was named one of the best narratives of 2013 by the Nieman Foundation. Click link and scroll to ONLINE and you will see it. http://www.niemanstoryboard.org/2013/12/30/best-of-narrative-2013/ That is pretty awesome.
I just wanted to give updates on a few things that occurred during the year.
1. Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer July 2, 2012. She had surgery January 29, 2013 and all her cancer was successfully removed. She was clear for a good 3 months. May 26, 2013, while I was in New York, my sister called me and said mom was now diagnosed with brain cancer. She had multiple lesions and we didn't know what was going to happen. Mom's health was declining after her diagnosis was made. First dose of a brand new chemo pretty much put her on her death bed. It was very difficult for me, my sisters and my brother to see our mother decline so fast. She lived with me and dealing with her illness and Daniel's illness was becoming more than I could handle. While she was having seizures, my son would run out of the house having his own melt downs and anxiety attacks at the same time. It was very trying for me and luckily my younger sister was there to help. I had to two full time jobs. My night shift job as a nurse and then my day time job taking care of mom. There were days where I would not sleep for 32 or so hours. Between mom's hospitalizations and Daniel's, I'm surprised I didn't end up in the hospital myself. We had a beautiful birthday party where my mom's brothers, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and grandchildren came to see her unsure if it would be the last time. It was also the first time my sisters, me and my brother were actually all together. It was such a happy day for mom. I had over 100 people in my home, all family.
UPDATE: We decided mom would best benefit from just living her life without chemo. She receives antibodies every 3 weeks and so far it is shrinking her lesions. She is living back home with my step-dad and is functioning better. She moves slowly and has to use a cane or a walker but the good thing is she is better now. I truly believe the power of prayer has helped mom get where she is now. I hope she continues on the path she is on.
2. While mom was living with us, Daniel thought it was his responsibility to take care of her. Mom was also relying on him and that made things very stressful for all of us but mostly for Daniel. He started to believe he could save her and thought he would be able to find a cure for his grandma. This brought on a lot of episodes. The stress levels were an all time high. He was hospitalized multiple times and then when school started it was worse.
UPDATE: Since mom returned home, Daniel's stress level has toned down a bit. School has always been a factor but after things calmed down with mom. He decided he would approach school in a different way. He started to pay more attentions in class, he participates more and his grades are better than they have been in the last few years. Since the story has been published. He has this new attitude and he can finally say his mental illness doesn't define him anymore. He is more positive and realizes that he may have helped a lot of people with his story.
3. "My Son Is Mentally Ill, So Listen Up" this was a story in the making from day one. From the moment, he got that first initial diagnosis of ADHD combined type. The day after his first hospitalization, I told myself that one day I would be telling people his story to help others like us. I never imagined that it was going to happen this past year. It has been an amazing experience. I know I keep harking about it but you have no idea what a huge accomplishment this is for us.
UPDATE: Things are better than ever. Daniel is on a good path right now and I pray to God that he continues. I don't remember his last episode. That's a good thing because it means it has been a long time since the last one. The support has been amazing and I hope you continue to support what we are doing. This year is going to be a good year. I am in the process of making Saving Daniel into a foundation and I will be collaborating with some people in the mental health community to reach out to the school districts and present an interactive presentation about mental health to their student bodies. Hopefully changing the way mental health is viewed in schools, because those of us that are parents of a child with mental illness know that school is a huge trigger for most episodes. I will keep you all updated on that.
Well I'm done with the updates for now. I want to wish each and every one of you a happy new year and I wish you happiness, love, laughter, positive thoughts and wonderful new adventures....
Let's keep telling our stories and help stop the stigma.
Mental Illness is the celebrity here, I'm just the manager trying to make it famous.--Stephanie Escamilla