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The Island of Misfit Toys

The Island of Misfit Toys

January 10, 2024 | By Tabitha Orth, IAES Co-Founder and President

Our son, Matthew is watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer tonight. It triggered the memory of a wise, insightful observation he had given me several years ago when I was recovering from a brain injury caused by autoimmune encephalitis.

My executive functions had taken a long vacay. They were MIA.  I rarely did something right. My memory took the hardest hit, especially my short-term memory. I needed a lot of help. That said, I was still “ME”. I was just – making a lot of mistakes. Matthew put his arm around me and tucked me into his side. This is a rare action of giving comfort for Matthew which made its impact more deeply felt. He said, “Mom, you are just like one of the toys on the Island of the Misfit Toys.” Love, acceptance, compassion, and comfort washed over me at the beauty of his words. Reassuring me that although I am a ‘broken’ Mom, I am deeply loved and he will always accept, support, and help me.

Those of you who know my son, know how engaging, honest, and forthright a man he is. You also know how much his autism impacts his life. A visual learner, Matthew has learned language from movies and cartoons. Social graces and social norms on all sides of the spectrum are gleamed through family film entertainment. So much of his understanding of the world, nature, history, science, and the like comes from documentaries on a wide range of topics. He saw I was ‘Mom’ and his Mom had “a brain problem” is how he described it. He told me it wasn’t my fault I “got a brain problem”.  I had been broken and his love never wavered.

Being reminded of the Island of the Misfit toys, had me searching the internet to look it up. I came across this article, We Are All on the Island of Misfit Toys, and it transfixed me. Yes. The author has this right.

The Island of the Misfit Toys Is a scene from the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. If you don’t remember the story, the Island of Misfit Toys is where we find a Jack-in-the-Box named Charlie, a spotted toy elephant, a water pistol that shoots jelly, and all of the other weird toys that nobody wants to play with. The ruler of the Island–a kindly flying lion named King Moonracer is like Santa Claus in reverse–every night except Christmas, he goes all over the world looking for weird and unloved toys. Then he brings them back to the island where they form a community of the unlovely, unloved, and un-played-with. Eventually, the Moonracer promises them, he will find a little boy or girl who wants nothing more than a Jack-in-the-Box named Charlie.

As the article below explains, the inhabitants of the Island of the Misfit toys are splotchity. Synonyms for “splotchity” might include “irregular,” “unpredictable,” “uneven,” or even “messy.” But none of these work as well as “splotchity.” 

The author goes on to explain that the opposite of splotchiness is uniformity: factory-produced items that all look alike, tract homes in a new subdivision, things that are perfect, uniform, balanced, symmetrical, and even. Such uniformity does not occur in nature; it is the product of human enterprise. Human beings equate beauty with uniformity and go to great lengths to eliminate splotchitiness.

If God stamps each person with a uniqueness that signals his love, then those who believe in a higher power have a responsibility, not merely to tolerate what makes people unique, but to glory in its divinity. We are unique, and therefore splotchity, in many different ways, all of them divine. We are all misfit toys—because that is what beautiful looks like to God.

Note:

The term executive function (EF) is an “umbrella term” which encompasses a range of cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties which often occur after injury to the frontal lobes of the brain. Impairment of executive functions is common after brain injury and has a profound effect on many aspects of everyday life. Planning, problem-solving, self-monitoring, organization, divided attention, shifting or mental flexibility, and initiation of behaviors are often included under the term executive functions.

Attention and working memory are also sometimes listed as executive functions. The development of executive functions (EFs) is considered to be important because they are necessary for purposeful, planned, organized behaviors such as goal setting and attainment. Most of us take these abilities for granted and we effortlessly perform extremely complex tasks all the time in our everyday lives. Brain injury, Brain damage or active autoimmune encephalitis are all reasons that an individual may have difficulty with executive functions.

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https://bycommonconsent.com/2020/12/04/we-are-all-on-the-island-of-misfit-toys/

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Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - The Island of Misfit ToysOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

 

 

 

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - The Island of Misfit Toys

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - The Island of Misfit Toys

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - The Island of Misfit Toys 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

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The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

September 27, 2023 | By Amanda Wells

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

The staff at IAES is proud to present to you the heart wrenching AE story of Hannah Wells written by her biggest fan and advocate, her mom! This journey travels a very long and bumpy road but also is one of resilience, never ever giving up and, mostly, this is a story of love!

——-

Have you ever noticed how many people, when they are encouraging you, will say, ‘Oh, don’t worry you’ll get there’ but what if you no longer remember where ‘there’ is?

When my youngest daughter Hannah was born, she was 6 weeks premature. On Christmas day of 1983, the paediatrician called and said, ‘If she doesn’t fight, we will lose her, it’s now up to her’! New Year’s Day 1984 he called again, ‘Come and pick her up, take her home, she is a real little fighter, she did it!’ That day when she came home in our arms, we had no idea how that little fighter would have to dig very deep, again, and fight for her life 35 years later!

Hannah was our social butterfly, she was popular with everyone, and everyone seemed to know her! Once she started to talk, she never stopped. Her Grade 1 teacher said to her, ‘Hannah if you can stop talking in class for a whole day, I will give you $20.’ Hannah couldn’t stop talking so the $20 was left wanting!

At age 35 she had been working as a Practice Manager in a Dental Surgery for 10 years. She was amazing at her job. Dentists and patients alike loved her. She was chatty, never took a sick day, and was always organized. Hannah would call me every day from work just to fill me in on what was happening and to touch base.

Around the end of April/ May 2018, Hannah got the flu. She was suffering from headaches and became deaf in her right ear. She went to a general practitioner, and he said, on the third visit, to see a psychologist, he did not believe her headaches were real!

Then one day, in early June, my husband (who was still alive) and I had just been to IKEA and were on our way home when my mobile phone rang. It was Hannah. She had called me the night before to say goodnight and was fine, but this call was anything BUT fine. She was paranoid, delusional, and hearing voices. She had made up some unbelievable story of what was happening next door. I got off the phone and remember feeling ice in my veins, my husband, Hannah’s dad, and I looked at each other and said, ‘What alien has stolen our daughter?’

The days that followed that fateful June day were horrendous. Hannah was in full-blown psychosis. She would call me up to 30 times all night long, as she had insomnia. Her thoughts were disorganized, she could no longer work, and she couldn’t remember how to turn a computer on, copy and paste or even how to unlock a door. She couldn’t change her clothes because she couldn’t remember what clothes went where. She had no idea what day it was or even who our Prime Minister was. She would take off in the car and we didn’t know where she was. She didn’t even know where she was. The internal trauma and also one of her symptoms were now causing unimaginable rage.

When this all began Hannah developed dyskinesia or involuntary and jerking movements. She lost an extreme amount of weight and was now 35 kgs (between 75-80 pounds). Her anxiety was through the roof, and she had become aggressive. Her hair was falling out in spots, and she had tremors in her hands. Hannah knew something wasn’t right but by now had no idea how to articulate it. She was living in a mental prison that was terrorizing her. She knew, in all this chaos, something was wrong in her brain but had almost stopped talking. When she did talk, she would repeat the same sentence for hours, therefore she was unable to articulate how she was feeling.

She/we needed help, this was not our daughter, and I was desperate.

I took her to a nearby hospital emergency department hoping they could help her, but sadly this is where the nightmare really began. Not one test was done except a blood test for drugs. The on-call psychiatrist took me aside to ask what happened. I told her, ‘Hannah has never taken drugs, doesn’t drink, has no past or present trauma, and no mental health in the family. I said this happened, literally, overnight’. I will never forget her reply, ‘That means absolutely nothing.’

Hannah was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and put into the psych ward. The only test done was daily drug testing, no neurological testing was ever done or even suggested. The psych wards in our state are still lock-up wards. She was started on Risperidone, but Hannah refused to take it and would spit it out, as she told us much later, it was making her feel worse.

After getting her released from that psych unit, we decided to take her to one of our large teaching hospitals. They took her from me, and I had no further contact with her. I wasn’t asked what led to our decision to bring her there. They placed Hannah in a room with no water, bathroom, or blanket and took her phone away from her for 12 hours, no one checked on her. They then sectioned her under the Mental Health Act again.

I was trying to speak to a doctor and when I finally did, he told me she had been on drugs, ICE, and that’s why the dyskinesia in her face and weight loss. I asked if he had her chart in front of him and the blood test to confirm this. He admitted he didn’t! Again, no tests were done on Hannah, we couldn’t get information about her from the staff, and by now we were desperately trying to get her out of that hospital and under a private doctor’s care.

To this day I have no idea how my husband got her out of there and got her an urgent appointment with a private psychiatrist, but somehow, he did! She was immediately admitted to a private psych hospital. They did an ECG (on her heart!!!) tested her blood for drugs and that was it. They put Hannah into 2 weeks of CBT, cognitive behavioral training for someone, who cognitively, was a mess! Her short-term memory was non-existent. She was unable to read, write or comprehend 2/ 3 sentences. They also prescribed new antipsychotics! Hannah’s memory and executive functioning abilities were in total chaos, but not one person suggested a neurological workup! As her Mum, I had never felt so hopeless in my life. My daughter was there on the outside, but on the inside, it was like she had left us permanently.

By the end of September and Hannah’s initial psychosis was at last dissipating. There were still the outbursts of rage, strange seizures where she would seem to be frozen, dyskinesia, and limited speech that was often slurred. She would still repeat a phrase or thought for hours, we called it her hamster wheel.

2018 turned into 2019. Trying to get through 2019 was difficult, to say the least. Not only had the disease traumatized her but the auditory hallucinations and repeated hospitalizations had bullied her. She was still very sick, and the doctors had no answers at all!

In 2020 I decided to take her to my dermatologist to check the alopecia (hair loss) that had begun back in 2018 when this all first began. She did a blood test and told Hannah she needed an endocrinologist immediately. She felt she had a thyroid problem. Her blood samples showed abnormal levels. The endocrinologist who treated my husband for osteoporosis, treated Hannah for Graves’ disease, but soon realized this was not her thyroid, there was something else going on and as she said, ‘it was above her pay grade.’ She sent Hannah to her brother who is an infectious and rare disease doctor.

During this time, I went with Hannah back to her psychiatrist who still insisted on seeing her monthly. I was stunned when we told him about the blood tests and the endocrinologists’ findings. He said, ‘I believe this is just a false positive and she just has anxiety and stress.’ 

By November 2020 we now had seen the rare diseases doctor who flagged her for Autoimmune Encephalitis, but he was stumped and believed she needed a neurologist. We found a neurologist who knew about AE and waited 6 weeks for an appointment.

During all this, my husband, Hannah’s dad passed away a few days before Christmas 2020. I had been caring for him for the last year and for Hannah also. I was exhausted!

Hannah and I were now both grieving the loss of a great husband, an incredible dad, and for Hannah, and the life that she once had.

It was 2021 by the time we saw the neurologist. He ordered an MRI, lumbar puncture (LP), and EEG. He told us the MRI came back normal, as did the LP, but the EEG indicated slowing in the temporal lobes, He said he believed she had Autoimmune Encephalitis. He put her on high-dose steroids tapering down for 3 months. There was some improvement after 3 months, so he repeated the high-dose steroids.  He then put her on Cellcept and steroids. He told her to come back if she needed him.

In April 2021 Hannah had a horrific reaction to Cellcept. The neurologist discontinued Cellcept, but she remained on steroids. He said he felt it was now probably too late to treat her! During this time, Hannah began to have breathing issues, but a CT scan did not reveal anything amiss. I was very concerned about Hannah’s bones with all the steroids and told her neurologist, as osteoporosis runs in the family.

April/ May 2022 Hannah seemed to be in a relapse. The only answer they had was more high-dose steroids. Hannah’s GP (general practitioner) was concerned and referred her to another neurologist for a 2ndopinion. This new neurologist, also, said it was Autoimmune Encephalitis and put Hannah back on another round of high-dose steroids and wanted Hannah to have full cognitive testing.

This journey was beginning to feel like one big roundabout that had no exit. Trying to get any proper treatment was almost impossible.

Her cognitive testing showed deficits with her executive functioning, word processing, short-term memory, and visual abilities were all very badly affected. Hannah was told she needed brain rehab immediately. The report said that this was caused by Autoimmune Encephalitis and damage to the temporal lobe.

The neurologist then said I will see you in 6 months and since it had been 4 years since this all began it is too late to treat Hannah. Her MRI showed a small amount of inflammation, but again ‘It’s too late to treat her now.’

At this point in this long terrifying journey, I was ready to scream. Hannah was now traumatized by the very system that is supposed to heal and help you navigate through a rare disease.

Exactly one week and one day after the neurologist sent us on our way for 6 months to Rehab which was possibly never going to happen because of the long wait list, Hannah ended up in a Private hospital Emergency Dept on her birthday, she was extremely sick. They suggested we go back to her endocrinologist. I was so frustrated we were back at the beginning again!  Hannah was devastated. She lost her career, her friends, her life! This disease is harrowing and traumatic, and you have to walk the road to somewhere …… alone!

I was able to obtain Hannah’s complete medical chart that included all prior testing and information. I was beyond incredulous at what I was looking at. Her breathing issues back in 2021 when they said the testing showed nothing amiss was a rib fracture. I was right, this looked like osteoporosis! All her blood tests showed inflammatory markers through the roof since her relapse in May 2022. Her GP couldn’t believe how sick she was. She was now having around 4/5 seizures a day. Her dyskinesia had returned, and anxiety and OCD through the roof. The GP prescribed Azathioprine and steroids, and seizure medication.

 I asked for a bone density and her bones were a mess, at 39 she now had osteoporosis!

I thoroughly researched all possible doctors we could contact and turn to review Hannah’s case. I found 2 immunologists; one was a neuroimmunologist whose interest was in Autoimmune Encephalitis. Both had 12-month waits. I wrote to both doctors a letter pleading for help and succinctly outlining Hannah’s case history and her present-day symptoms. Her endocrinologist was stunned she was back where she started 4 ½ years ago, she even contacted the immunologists. Both immunologists denied her an appointment. Their reasoning? She was too complicated and was in the system for too long.

 Then out of the blue Dr Martin Newman, the neuro immunologist with experience in AE had a change of heart and called wanting to see her in three days. Her medical file had almost 100 pages (and this was missing most of the beginning files!) and after 5 minutes he said to her, ‘So have they treated you with IVIG or Rituximab?’ Hannah said, ‘No.’ His response was ‘Why not’! Hannah cried, as she sat before someone who just maybe would now help her come back from the brink of the darkness of shame, guilt, isolation, and feeling lost, and she asked him, ‘Will you be able to help me?’ His answer was, “I certainly will Hannah.’ He started Hannah on IVIG in early May 2023 followed by two Ritux infusions. She will most likely be on both for the foreseeable future. Hannah is now, also, in weekly Brain Injury Rehab.

It is now 5 years since Hannah stood on the edge of insanity and a harrowing nightmare. Hannah had almost forgotten who she was and what it’s like to be ‘normal’ and healthy.

I am so thankful to Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of IAES and the IAES family. They were always there, whether I needed a rant or information, their resources seemed limitless. I had no choice but to learn everything I could about Autoimmune Encephalitis. I realized, for an advocate, knowledge is power! I am so thankful for IAES who gave me so much knowledge so as to keep advocating for my daughter.

After 4 months we have seen great improvement. She is mentally and physically up and down. Each day can be different, which we were told to expect, but her progress especially cognitively has amazed all those caring for her medically.

IVIG dealt with a lot of her physical problems. Rituximab kicked in around 9 weeks and she was amazed at some of the improvements cognitively.  Where almost ‘there,’ even though ‘there’ is different from what I had expected, but ‘there’ is more than OK. One of the remaining issues with AE is loss of identity and confidence. Hannah’s motto through all this is: ‘I was enough before and I’m enough now!’

After 5 harrowing and terrifying years, we have learned a lot. If you are an advocate/caregiver or even a patient trying to advocate for yourself, don’t give up! There will be someone out there who has a small beacon of light, a life raft for you to jump in, and most of all hope to give you the strength to keep going. IAES and their personal care held a torch for me to see and guided me to the tugboat whose name was ‘DON’T QUIT!’

Just find that light and keep your eye on it!

IMG 0082 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

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Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That isOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

 

 

 

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - The Long Road to Somewhere …. Wherever That is 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

A Mighty Miracle

A Mighty Miracle

July 26, 2023 | By Rebecca Jablon

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

It is our honor and pleasure to bring to you the story of a young boy’s journey into the uncertain and terrifying world of being diagnosed with  Autoimmune Encephalitis from the heart of a mother. A mother who thru faith, resilience, determination and, above all, love found help across the miles and a fierce desire to assist others and raise awareness!

——-

Whether you are a parent or grandparent to a child who has been thrown into the world of autoimmune encephalitis, or into the world of rare disabilities ( or a physician, therapist, special education teacher, or social worker…) I was moved to publish my story “To Add a Miracle” to provide you with further insight and strength.  I wrote with absolute candor and honesty, sprinkled with a bit of humor, in an attempt to accurately portray the emotional rollercoaster that we have experienced.

Our son, Yehuda’s, steep fall into the world of autoimmune encephalitis began just days after the holiday of Hanukkah, the Holiday of Miracles, four- years ago, at the age of five.   He was born just days before the Holiday of Hanukkah.  As I approached the Hanukkah season this year and Yehuda’s ninth birthday, I suddenly felt a strong drive to sit down.  And to write.  And to write more.  Perhaps this is not a coincidence.

At the beginning of our journey/ FALL into the unknown, the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society stood as one of the lights illuminating our absolute confusion and darkness.  The brave volunteers, often facing current or past struggles of their own, held out lights of information, direction, medical advice, and most importantly glimmers of hope, for a family struggling far away in Israel, where knowledge of autoimmune encephalitis in the medical world is even more limited.  At the time, I was able to connect with only one mother living here in Israel, who was able to hold my hand and guide me on our journey.   I gathered additional armor and strength from the mothers whom I could reach out to through the AE website.   I was ready to grab onto anything and anyone who understood. I was desperate.  Who or What had overnight stolen our son’s words, skills, and identity?

How can a mother accept an unknown or rare diagnosis?

How can she grapple with an experimental and even further unknown treatment plan? 

How can a mother not throw up her hands in total despair when top neurologists eventually throw up their hands?

How can she survive when she screams out, yet no one can answer,

“What suddenly happened to my five- year old son?”

While many books have been written highlighting the challenges of raising a child with disabilities, as you all are painfully aware, autoimmune encephalitis is a recently discovered and often misunderstood illness with a shocking onset.  My writing of To Add a Miracle was fueled by my intense desire to spread awareness and hope, to strengthen mothers, fathers, and families, as they bravely journey toward recovery or increased acceptance and strength.

I will never forget when my then five-year-old Yehuda  desperately called out to me as I left his bedroom one night, marking the beginning of our descent into the unknown,

“Imma (Hebrew for Mother), my brain is broken.  If I die, will you…”

Total confusion, darkness, and piles of despair.  I wish that at the sudden onset of Yehuda’s illness, I had known about, and did not have to wait to discover the collective voices of the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society, to call out to me, and to hear my cries… to help me to not feel totally alone in my struggles. 

It is my hope and prayer that my book will provide you with an additional dose of strength in order to navigate the bumpy ride, that is our lives with special needs children.  It is my dream to be able to continue to help other parents, using all of the tools, both medical and sometimes emotional, that I have gathered upon our journey with Yehuda.  As I describe in the book, there is nothing that gives me more comfort than seeing another child and family progress and advance, even if that particular treatment did not advance Yehuda. 

Someone recently asked me, “So what do you mean by adding a miracle?”  Please order and delve into my book to find out.   There is no quick answer.

Thank you to all of the administrators and volunteers of the International  Autoimmune Encephalitis Society, for allowing me to take part in their holy work in my attempt to spread awareness of autoimmune encephalitis, through the writing of my book.

To Add A Miracle 333x500 - A Mighty Miracle

Book Description:

To Add A Miracle details with raw honesty, sprinkled with moments of humor and laughter, the dark and light shadows of the Jablon family’s journey; the story also highlights the tremendous strength of Yehuda’s siblings and selected “messengers of miracles” along the way.

With no filters, the story tells the author’s emotional journey as a mother in distress, facing piles of despair, culminating in a greater acceptance of the unacceptable, and a powerful recognition of the miracles that Yehuda has added to her family’s life.

While many books have been written highlighting the challenges of raising a child with disabilities, autoimmune encephalitis is a recently discovered and often misunderstood illness with a shocking onset.

The writing of To Add A Miracle was fueled by the author’s intense desire to spread awareness and hope, to strengthen mothers, fathers, families, and medical practitioners, as they bravely journey toward recovery or increased acceptance and strength.

Rebecca Jablon, the author of To Add A Miracle, tells the story of her sudden and dramatic fall into the world of autoimmune encephalitis, and resulting diagnosis of autism for her son, Yehuda.

  • How can a mother accept an unknown or rare diagnosis?
  • How can she grapple with an experimental and even further unknown treatment plan?
  • How can a mother not throw up her hands in total despair when top neurologists eventually throw up their hands?
  • How can she survive when she screams out, yet no one can answer, “What suddenly happened, overnight, to my five-year-old son?!!”

No stranger to the world of rare illnesses, Yehuda’s sudden overnight descent into the unknown rocked the author’s family. Who or What had stolen her son’s words, skills, and identity?

Click here or the image below to subscribe to our mailing list :

subscribe - A Mighty Miracle

Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - A Mighty MiracleOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - A Mighty Miracle

 

 Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - A Mighty Miracle

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - A Mighty Miracle 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege

You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege

June 28, 2023 | By M Ledferd

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

The staff at IAES brings to you the inspirational thoughts and feelings of a mighty AE Warrior shortly after his AE journey began. M Ledferd has put into words with heartfelt elegance the way we have all felt at one point or another on our journey. His gift with prose has brought to life our deepest feelings and resonated with our hearts and minds. We hope you enjoy this as much as we have! Thank you M!

——-

For those AE survivors, let gratitude carry us. For the caretakers, bless you. For those still struggling, please keep fighting the good fight. We are all here for you.

When I first awoke in the hospital, I felt like a 90-year-old man. A weak, tired old man with no autonomy. A man that could barely move or speak. A man at the end of his life.

Coming in and out of consciousness, I had a lot to think about. (Because I had nothing else to do.)

I realized that people generally saw their lives in stages: a beginning, middle and end. With a middle age that seemed to go on forever. That’s because we have no idea when the end is near. It’s hard to gauge and probably doesn’t even exist in most people’s minds. We simply can’t fathom it. It’s so unknown and far away. But as sure as the sky is blue it eventually reaches us all.

We’re all so different yet all the same. We go from rambunctious, fearless little kids with endless curiosities, to busy, hard-working adults, generating income so that hopefully one day we can retire, where the hours stretch on for days (just like it did when we were little kids).

In retirement, we are sold that we can do anything we want. From reading books to painting, to just chilling on the beach, or seeing the world by cruise ship, or just slow swinging on a porch with an old cat in our lap. I dunno, it’s different for everyone. What I do know is that I had obviously miscalculated a long middle for a short end. Crazy how that happens.

Laying there, motionless, with the chirps and beeps of hospital equipment, the days and nights blurred together. I didn’t know what day it was. But it didn’t matter as time had no relevance. I realized I has spent so much of my life working hard and saving up for a future that would never come. I felt stupid. Decades of grinding, all for what.

I tried to stay positive. To look on the bright side of things. To reflect. I had my fair share of adventures and vacations. My fair share of accomplishments, of friendships. I once took a 3-month solo motorcycle trip across the USA (remember that?). Damn, that was cool.

I got to see the world and was even beginning a new family with my wonderful spouse. I regretted not being able to raise my daughter until she was at least 20. Let me live another 20 years, I said, so I can instill in her self-reliance, self-discipline, curiosity, and grit. To let her know that anything is possible. But I knew that all would eventually be ok. My wife is a warrior with a great big supportive family. And I mean, there’s nothing I can do about it now.

I had a lot of feelings but above all I was calm and grateful. I was grateful I got to experience most of what life had to offer. The exciting parts. The sad parts. The whole gamut of human experience from birth to baby—which is more than anyone is guaranteed. Being in that dark, desolate place in my mind. That place where I had no external voice, I still had gratitude. But it was a resigned gratitude. One with plenty of I-couldas, I-wouldas, and I shouldas.

Coming back into consciousness, hearing the same high-pitched, rhythmic beeping from the heart-monitoring machine, I knew I had been there for a very long time. I felt like I wasn’t getting any better. Every day was just like the last. Groundhog Day.  I felt like, maybe, I would be in the hospital forever in that state. Even if I hadn’t died I felt like a ghost. To be seen but not to see. To be touched but not to touch. A fly on the wall of a busy hospital with ears instead of eyes. A vegetable frozen in time, with tubes and wires coming out of everywhere.

Then just like that, like some kind of reverse “Benjamin Button” disease, I was blasted back into reality, back to my 40-year-old body. I had aches and pains all over, shed a lot of tears, but, damn, it felt good to sit up on my own, to just breathe again. It had been 23 days, with 16 of them in the ICU. I would spend the next 11 days relearning everything. How to walk. How old my daughter was. How to use my phone. But I was back.

Today (April 12, 2023) marks the 100th day of leaving the hospital. Though I’ve been back probably half a dozen times since, they have all been for check-ups, bone density scans, MRI’s, physical therapy, and all ending with my favorite part—going home.

I am not sure what the point of this post is. I guess it’s for you to envision yourself where I was. A dead man with no future, with the woulda, coulda, shouldas. To put yourself there and see if you would change anything when you were granted your wish. To realize that most everything that stresses you out right now probably doesn’t even matter.

You’re alive, you’re breathing, and growing older is a privilege. Don’t waste it with your head down.

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