Once The "Miracle" Birth Was Out Of The Way, The Real Fun Began
Movies teach you that crises get more and more dire until, through courage and determination, you finally emerge on the other side, stronger and better. Real life is more like a slasher movie franchise, where they have to keep finding excuses to plunge the heroes back into the nightmare, over and over.
First, Joe manifested symptoms of an epic case of colic -- sudden, inexplicable, ear-piercing shrieking at random times. Colic is a controversial subject, with pharmacies happily willing to sell you all manner of mysterious witch's-cauldron-sounding concoctions with names like "gripe water" to cure it. But at least this was a relatively normal phenomenon, and the passage of time eventually ended the constant howling.
In the next few years, though, Joey would be diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder -- you can guess the symptoms from the name). Those two things in combination lead to a child who is extremely hard to teach and discipline without exacerbating the problem. So did these diagnoses have anything to do with the gauntlet of near-fatal disasters he faced in the womb? Was it some as yet undiscovered side effect of surviving a misoprostol murder attempt? Nobody knew. The problem with being a rare medical case is that there isn't much data to go by.
Then neurological issues started to appear. As Joe exited the toddler stage, he began to have severe headaches -- ones so bad that doctors began to suspect they were the actual source of the ADHD/ODD issues. Luckily, we were close to one of the best hospitals in the world, and spent some quality time with electrodes attached to Joey's head in a high-tech tower built with sheikh money. After a week of that unpleasantness, they were able to determine ... nothing.
Suspicions of things like frontal lobe seizures didn't pan out after the batteries of EEGs, MRIs, and CT scans, leading one of the doctors to suggest, "Hmm, maybe this is all just behavioral." Which seemed dubious, considering the headaches were making Joe's eyes wander in different directions like a lizard and causing him to become unresponsive. There's uncertainty about whether your kid will get better, and then there's the unique uncertainty of the best minds in the field saying, "Beats me, maybe he's just like this?"
Related: 5 Terrible Ways Nature Turns Pregnancy Into A Horror Movie
Stress Like This Is Brutal On Your Body, And Marriage
Joey is five now. We've spent the last few years trying different cocktails of pain relief and psychiatric drugs and seeing which gets him to as close to normal as possible. We're actually at a pretty good place at the moment, having eliminated the combination that led to him channeling the voice of Satan and threatening to take our lives with a hammer. As for how his parents are holding up ...