Our Last Puppy

I couldn't find Brandon anywhere the other morning. He woke up, walked through the kitchen, and disappeared.

He was in our house. Just in an unusual spot. Unusual for a child who has hit the ground running since the day he learned he could climb out of his crib.

Brandon was our only child born in Colorado. He was a week early, in NICU for a few days, and only nursed for 6 weeks. Something was different about Brandon from the beginning.

He had trouble making eye contact. Even with me. He was easily distracted. Which made nursing difficult. As he grew older he was just plain difficult. He didn't listen well and was extremely independent. Dangerously independent.

I didn't realize how "undisciplined" he was until kindergarten. He was one of those uncontrollable little boys. A new experience for this veteran mother. Our older kids weren't angels but they were pretty compliant in school.

During his kindergarten year I picked up a book titled "The Last Puppy."

"I was the last of momma's nine puppies," the book begins. Each day the puppy waits for someone to pick him. All of his siblings get picked and he waits. "When will my turn come?" the puppy asks. Of course he gets picked at just the right time by just the right little girl.

Brandon's kindergarten "All About Me" poster looked like this:

"I am special because _______________"

"I'm the last puppy."

By first grade his PE teacher pulled me aside. He was about to pull his hair out because of Brandon. This was 4 months after our massive exposure and our world was beginning to unravel. Brandon's uncontrollable behavior was put on the back burner. I sympathized with the teacher. I had similar feelings.

Another teacher was shocked when I told her that Brandon came home one day in tears because the kids made fun of a little girl. "I'm so glad you told me that," she said. I know she had a hard time seeing past his behavior. I did too.

If we weren't so focused on the myriad of illnesses we were experiencing we might have pursued testing for ADD or ADHD. In my mind, Brandon was a classic case.

It wasn't until I read the book "Your Guide to Mold Toxins" by Dr. James Schaller that I connected Brandon's behavior to our mold exposure. Even then I was skeptical.

When I received my Mycotoxin 101 education from Dr. Gray 4 months after we left our home, I learned that mycotoxins create noise in the brain. One reason why exposed children have a hard time sitting still.

I had renewed hope that we didn't need a parenting class. We needed to de-tox our child.

Every time we've experienced a setback, like the severe pesticide exposure, or high amounts of sugar, we've noticed Brandon relapse into "wild" behavior. Inappropriate giggling, talking incessantly, misbehavior.

Little by little over the last 10 months we've watched him change. His tutor recently commented, "He's making eye contact!"

Last week when I couldn't find him after he woke up, the last place I checked was back in his bed.

There he was. Curled up reading Charlotte's Web. He had been reading for an hour.

I can't believe how different he is.

The Brandon who lurks behind those toxic chains is emerging.

(photo by Kristen Fabry)Brandon has a ways to go. He still gets distracted. He still has trouble focusing.

That's okay. Because, even when life is hard, moments become years in the blink of an eye.

Last Puppies get picked. All too soon.