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Standing on the Precipice (or, Hoping for Chicken Feet for Dinner)

July 23, 2017










Before my son Max was diagnosed with PANDAS this past year, I had come to believe that this was my Max. This anxiety and OCD and restricted eating and insomnia and meltdowns. I did not realize he was in the belly of the Bear.


I had made myself forget who Max really was, the Max that was taken from us eight years ago. I told myself a story that surely he had always been this way. This was who he was, who he'd always been and always would be (an anxious PANDAS world without end, Amen).


He would learn strategies to deal with the anxiety and distraction and hyperactivity and sensory issues. We would try to find the right medication for his insomnia. We would somehow slowly expand his food choices with the various techniques the various books and therapists taught us (none of it had ever helped, but it would. It would have to. Somehow). We'd work with what we got and help him find happiness despite all of it.


We'd tried so many things and they never cured him. I'd come to accept we never would. But we'd make the best of it. Acceptance is important. It's healthy. So, I tried.


I tried to forget what Max had been. My husband didn't know him before the PANDAS. He and I had met a year into the overtaking of the Bear. His dad said he didn't know what I meant when I talked about how different Max had once been. Max had been in the belly of the Bear for so long, we'd all forgotten who he really was.


And then came the diagnosis. He fit the picture of how PANDAS kids are after onset, but the diagnosis requires a history of symptoms having come on rapidly. I began to question the story we'd all been telling ourselves for so long. When did Max become this way?