A blessed 2020 to you all!

A Snapshot of 2019 – Photos

Background, and 2019 Summary

My last Christmas newsletter I typed in January/February of 2017, and finally posted on February 4, 2017, not knowing it would be the last Christmas newsletter I’ll do for 3 years. I have missed it and hope that I can begin sharing them again every year. Things were rather dark and scary for a while, with a lot of issues, and we just held on for the ride, trying to just trust in the Lord and in each other.

In my last blog post, we shared that Chris was moving out of his house, and Ryan was starting a new school, and Colleen was starting to work in a new town farther away. That was my last post in October, 2018. I typed about hurricane winds. They sure were! There was more, though, that I didn’t speak of.

In Chris’s unexpected rough times that fell to us in approximately 2015 – mid 2017, we suspected perhaps he had something called PANS/PANDAS syndrome that can often be had after strep, flu, pneumonia, and other illnesses ( https://www.webmd.com/children/what-is-pandas-syndrome#1 ) but during that time we couldn’t find a doctor familiar with it, and the behavior therapies; hard work by teachers, the county, and us; and a new doctor and round of medication changes; AND the grace of God gave us our Chris back in August of 2017, as I reported in another one of my very few recent blog posts, in February of 2018. We never really followed up with the PANS/PANDAS research with Chris as he didn’t really seem to exhibit the symptoms again.

FOUR DAYS after I typed that blog post in 2018 ( https://criscollrj.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3282&action=edit ) and after Ryan had had a particularly bad cold/respiratory infection, Ryan had a very odd and scary behavior change with aggression and sometimes extreme OCD. It repeated on and off from February of 2018 into December of 2018. It was largely the reason he had to change schools. He also had to leave our home and moved in with his brother in his group home, as he had gained a county waiver, and the county believed that was the best placement for him. Obviously this was a huge change for us and was very traumatic, and it took us a while to even agree to the move.

As we watched the pattern of these behaviors, we all agreed that most of it was after illnesses, through some of the re-occurrences as we went through the central part of 2018 did not ALWAYS have an illness connected.

In October of 2018 right before Chris moved, Ryan was very ill once again and stopped eating afterwards. We did not know yet (just discovered a few months ago in my further research) that this was a sign of PAN/PANDAS syndrome. He did not eat more than a teaspoon of applesauce and several cups of chocolate milk (thank goodness!) and a few Gatorades a day until mid-January. He lost 45 pounds.

Thanks to God he finally ate some cookies at school and his new caregivers at his group home began to help him make cookies and he gradually began to eat again. Also in January a medication was finally found that helped with his aggression and OCD and he began to get back to his normal Ryan. He has regained the 40 pounds.

The medication greatly helped him, and although he would have some aggression briefly after an illness, otherwise he was doing a lot better. Then Chris & Ryan both had pneumonia in October of 2019. That was so scary! We and their team did everything we could for them and prayers went up for them, and they got better.

Ryan, however, got the most severe case of what I believe is PANS/PANDAS since his entry into the home. It lasted about 3 weeks and involved two hospital visits and finally a medication change. He has been doing better now since the end of November and we are so grateful. We all know it can come back, though, especially after a major illness. We have not yet had a definite diagnoses of PANS/PANDAS from the doctor that we found finally in May of 18, as it is a difficult diagnoses to make and involves blood tests and other issues that are difficult for Ryan to do!!! But we will all work together to be ready if he has more issues with it.

So in a nutshelll, Ryan has been attending his new school from October of 2018 to present. He will be, however, walking with his home school class in graduation ceremony in June. He misses his home school but is doing really well in his school he’s in now. Chris moved into his new apartment in November 2018, and Ryan moved in in December 2018, with the starting company that accepted both boys and found them the apartment. The prior housing Chris had would no longer accept him as they wanted payment for FOUR RENTERS. So the next option was to put the two boys together in this apartment, and they are still there. Other than the illnesses and the PANDAS Ryan had recently, both boys have done very well adjusting their new home!

Come February of 19, however, we were not as comfortable as we wished with our company, although we were EXTREMELY grateful for them reconciling the boys together (as before that Ryan had been having extreme fear of Chris for no known reason) and worked with both of them to help them adjust to their move. We did not feel welcome there, however, and wanted to be more involved with their lives. We were not welcome to work at the home and could not participate in their activities very much at all, even after repeatedly requesting to. After a demand that we move the boys to a city rather far away from our house, we decided to switch back to a company we had before, and that happened in April 2019.

This resulted in both of us being able to work with the boys again and we entered their lives back every weekend working in the home at that time!! We love it. Back to taking them to parks and swimming, being with them in the house, being a very active part of the decision making involving their care, and also having a home we can bring other family into for holidays, or just visiting. Colleen lives around the corner and can walk over with her dog. My mom and Roger’s parents can come over whenever they want, as well as other family members and friends. It is a true blessing!!!!

Other than that mind-blowing event and long-lasting list of changes and situations that I have described, our years since my last regular Christmas newsletter was full of my graduating and then getting a job as a substitute teacher, Colleen getting a job locally and getting her driver’s license (just needs the car yet!) and Roger continuing his data entry business, about to sign up for school, and starting a few other part time jobs and ventures to keep us busy!! After not going on a data entry trip since January of 2018, I resumed going in December of 2018, when we went to Huntington WVa. Cleaning and decluttering our house is also a continuing process!! My next project is to clean our basement and make it back into a functional and pretty family room!!!

Our guinea pig Peach passed away at my mom’s (as I wrote she had moved there in 2015), and she got two new ones about a year ago. Unbeknownst to her the mama was pregnant and she then had I believe four more!! She found homes for three and is still the owner of three cute guinea pigs that she loves very much.

Colleen got a dog named Axel a few years ago and just loves it. She continues to care for many other pets with her housemate. Sadly our kitty Charcoal passed in September, and Colleen did get a new calico cat named Oreo. We still have our gray Sophie who loves to lay on our lap at night and chase our stocking feet in the morning!!!

Unfortunately we had a plague in our fish pond outside, after 2-3 years of a beautiful goldfish pond. We would like to drain it and restock it in the spring, as it is a nice peaceful place to sit outside in the summer. We do still also have our axolotl Ziggy-Zorro, inside, and he is HUGE!!! Half lizard half fish 😉

Amidst all this I have a decision coming in a year or two (not mandated, just my own timing thoughts) of either getting a provisional teaching license (involving my purchase of a workshop-type course that is I believe 12-16 weeks long, and taking two tests), or alternatively going back to get my master’s degree. Either of these processes will finish in my getting my teaching license, and of course both have their pros and cons. I am not ready yet — things are still so hectic that the substitute teaching life is perfect as I still have some weeks I can only work three days where others I can work five. It also easily allows me to go on the data entry trips with Roger. However, I do see that in a few years I will really need to settle to my own classroom and build up some seniority in one job, so that eventually I can retire from it!! Prayers appreciated over this next year as I decide what to do!

In the meantime I am happy to be substitute teaching in Fairport, Riverside, Painesville City, Broadmoor, and some preschools. I also periodically work as a secretary at the Auburn ESC heping with payroll and fingerprint screenings. I enjoy all of it.

Having special time with family this Christmas season was wonderful. We are so grateful. Appreciate prayers for all to be healthy in the new year, and wish the same to you all. God’s blessings to all!

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