Christian Taylor Buchanan

Christian Taylor Buchanan

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Gift in Every Tragedy - Our Dog Just Lost His Left Eye

Many of you know that we are Boston Terrier lovers! We have two males, Steel and Kal, who are litter mates. We have had them for about 2 years now and got them as puppies. About a month ago, we noticed that Kal was holding his left eye closed a lot. Boston's are known for their bulgy eyes, so this wasn't the first time the dogs had gotten too rough and hurt an eye. Steel and Kal fight like brothers. Ugh!

An old pic I have of these 3!
This is rare because they never
hold still! haha! 
For about a day, we watched it and wiped it with a warm cloth, figuring it was probably sore and would be fine in a day or two. We got up the next morning and Kal was holding his eye open more, which we thought was a good sign, but we noticed that it had a blue haze over it. The haze reminded me of my dog I had when I was a kid living at home with my parents. Ginger lived to be 13, 14, 15 years old (we aren't exactly sure because we found her and picked her up as a stray) and she developed blue, hazy eyes and low vision in her old age.

Kal's blue hazy eye concerned us, so we decided to go ahead and take him to the vet and let them just take a look at him. The vet called me later that day to let me know that Kal had suffered a pretty massive injury to his eye and it was on the verge of rupturing. She gave us two different meds to put in his eye 3 times a day, and said that we might still not be able to save it. She made it clear that it was pretty bad.

So for three weeks we put medicine in Kal's eye and slowly but surely it began to heal. Kal was in less pain and the blue haze began to go away.

Then, last Thursday, I took all the boys, kids and dogs, outside to stretch their legs in the back yard fenced in area. We hadn't been outside to play since before Kal got hurt and it was a nice day. As soon as we got out to the fence, I turned just in time see Steel jump Kal and hear Kal yelp. I immediately checked Kal's eye and didn't see anything except that it was watering, so I put Kal inside and let the boys play continue playing.

Sweet Kal and his toothy smile before his eye injury.


I checked on him again after lunch and put his meds in his eye that were due. His eye was still watering, but I couldn't tell much else.  It looked okay. I took the boys to their grandparent's house that evening until Chris got home from work, and when Chris came home, he checked on Kal and noticed that something wasn't right.

Chris knew immediately that his eye had ruptured, but I won't go into the details because just thinking about it makes me want to gag. I did not choose a job in the medical field for a reason.

So, off to the vet the next morning we went, per a facebook conversation with our vet who was nice enough to facebook chat me at 9pm, and Kal had to have his eye removed.

Steel (left) and Kal (right)
Brothers around age 1
We were heartbroken for our pup. We had tried so hard to save his eye, and still we couldn't. We felt like we had failed him, but also we were worried about how he would get along losing an eye. We already know what it's like for Christian, and it was painful to see a once healthy eye just be gone that quickly.

We couldn't pick Kal up until Saturday morning and I was so worried about what the kids would think. Surprisingly, they still haven't noticed almost a week later. They haven't said a word about it! Of course, Christian can't touch the eye to feel it, but Chandler is pretty perceptive and Christian listens to EVERYTHING, and I just knew Chandler would say something and then put Christian on alert that Kal's eye was gone. I was nervous because I worried how Christian would relate Kal losing an eye to him not having his eyes. Although he doesn't fully understand his condition, he does understand that it affects his eyes. I was also worried that Chandler might find it gross or scary to see Kal suddenly missing an eye, and say something that would hurt Christian's feelings if he was able to associate that to himself.

I was really just worried that Christian would associate Kal losing his eye with something bad sch as doctors, getting hurt, etc, and I'm sure he heard us talking about how sad it made us for Kal to lose his eyes, so I just didn't want him to think that it somehow related to him and his eyes being "bad." I also didn't want Chandler to fear losing his eyes. Chandler gets things in his head and he will obsessively fear it for months. There is no talking him through it or explaining it away. He will wake up at 3am having panic attacks about the thing he is most afraid of right now. We have been going through this police officer fear for several months and I can't tell you how many times I've reassured him that police officers will not get him when he misbehaves.

So, all that to say, I had all these fears already thought through, and none of them played out. Kal is doing well. He has adjusted to having less vision and isn't running into things nearly as much as he was his first few days home. So, I guess you could say best case scenario played out with something that is definitely not best case scenario.

Kal Kal  riding home from one of our
many vet visits trying to save his eye.
I'm sure someone will think it's tasteless of me to mention this, but whenever I am faced with something hard, I often make jokes about it as a way to cope. As a family, we laugh at the funny things that happen as a result of Christian being blind or having his feeding tube (like the time the nurse accidentally squirted his food all over our ceiling from a syringe and the stain is still there. We joke that we don't paint over it so we can leave a reminder of the occasion. Or the time Christian accidentally almost ran Baby Chandler over in a power wheels car because he couldn't see him, but we aren't really sure it was an accident at all.  lol!)

So, I told the vet when I picked Kal up that we were sort of experienced in people in our home not having all their eyes, so I wasn't too worried about taking care of Kal, and that there would no more folks in our home losing eyes because two was more than enough. We laughed about it, because it is kind of ironic, isn't it?

We are the proud owners of a one-eyed dog, and we are the proud parents of a no-eyed boy. Both circumstances suck on some level. Not that we get to be Kal's dog parents or Christian's mom and dad. But just that Christian and Kal both have had to suffer unfair losses that make life a little harder. That is not what we would've chosen for Christian or Kal. We would give them their eyes if we could, but in both cases, we have also managed to see the gift.

Losing eyes is not a gift, so don't hear me say that; and I don't think God takes people's eyes or limbs or senses and says "Look at this gift I've bestowed on you!" But I do think that in every tragedy, like losing an eye, there is a gift, because that's just how God operates. He can take even the worst things and make something good out of it. He can take even the ugliest clay and shape a beautiful piece of pottery.

So, Chris and I were talking tonight about the gift within the tragedy. We are still sad about Kal losing his eye and still learning to cope and adjust to it, but now Christian isn't going to be the only one in our family without eyes. Christian won't have to feel like he is alone, like the odd ball out, in his struggle at this young age. When Christian asks questions, which he is doing more and more now, we have someone right in our own home to show Christian that some people (or animals) are like him and some people are not, and that it's all okay. When Christian wonders if anyone understands, we can point to the furry ball of energy that sleeps in our living room; and when Christian wants to know why he is different, I hope having Kal can bring him some comfort to know that even though he isn't exactly like Mommy and Daddy and Chandler, he is exactly who he is supposed to be.

Every good and perfect gift is from above. Sometimes the gifts are less obvious and sometimes they don't look like gifts at first, but if we are vigilant in looking for them, we will find them.



Home from the vet after eye removal.
Poor bud. He has been in good spirits! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My Social Media Hiatus

Many of you know that I recently decided to take a break from social media. For several reasons, I thought it would be healthy for me to step back for a little bit, but I also feel like God was calling me to a time of "fasting." I felt God calling me to set aside some of the distractions that life has been throwing at me so that I could hear His voice better.

I didn't know at first what I would be fasting from, I just knew that I needed to. So, I prayed and waited to hear from God. Social media was the obvious choice fairly quickly. Even just being on Facebook recently has really been difficult for me, as some of you may know. There has been an influx of negative and hateful comments on pretty much every single thing I post. I always joke that I could post "I love chocolate chip cookies" on Facebook and someone would be highly offended and tell me how terrible of a person I am. It has always been a joke but what makes it funny is that tinge of truth running through it.

It's almost scary to hear people talk so nasty to strangers over seemingly nothing. I just wonder how our world got into such a shape that hate consumes so many people so deeply. Then I get sad to think about how miserable a person must be to have so much hate within them that they simply can't contain it and lash out any chance they get. It must be a miserable existence to have to carry that.

I really did have some sympathy for these folks after I stepped back from the situation and didn't let my anger get the best of me. But that was just it for me; It was emotionally taxing to have to be the person that was getting unloaded on. It was exhausting to have to deal with other folk's issues because they couldn't or wouldn't handle them for themselves. It was exhausting to have to constantly field comments and block people and no matter how many I blocked, someone else would just take their place. I was walking up in the morning and just avoiding even looking at my phone for a bit because I knew once I did, I was going to have to deal with some miserable person who wasn't able to deal with themselves. I was getting to the point of misery myself, opening my phone every single day to see someone who didn't even know me calling me names, telling me I was a terrible parent to the child they literally knew nothing about, and even having strong opinions on Christian's medical care, of which they knew nothing of his medical condition or history. I have been told more times than I can count by strangers what I should do for Christian medically, upwards to and including putting him through 30 or 40 surgeries by age 6, or just killing him because he must be so miserable.

Some days, it's just hard to absorb the blows. I was getting bitter and angry and way too upset to be able to deal with these folks in a healthy way or in a way God would expect of me.

So, after I decided that I would do a social media hiatus, I needed to figure out what it would look like. This fast isn't about getting away from people. It's about getting away from the mindless dribble that was just consuming me. So, I decided that I would continue to use Facebook Messenger. I have many friends who I only talk to through messenger, or that is the only way they know to contact me. So, I decided to keep that and check messages there and on Christian's fan page. I still wanted to be connected to people.

I did decide that I would not, even once, pick up my phone and mindlessly scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, and I also would not be posting any updates at all. Then I remembered that I have some obligations that I do have to make posts for, including the Cleft Strong 5k in San Antonio, Texas in October that my whole family will be attending. (Cleftstrong5k.com). Promotion of events that I am invited to is just part of it, so I knew I would need to post those. I also decided that I would be posting about some good friends of mine who are going through a difficult time right now with their husband and father battling a brain tumor. I started a GoFundMe and Meal Train to help them out and have been posting about that as well, because I want to help them. I also decided to keep posting my blog, obviously, and sharing my heart here, because it is therapy for me. I truly love my blog and love updating it, but I promised myself I wouldn't read any comments that were made on it. Just post, and leave it at that. Other than that, I decided to post nothing. No cute photos of the kids or the adventures we've had. Nothing.

I also decided that I would not get on any of my other social media at all. No SnapChat. No Twitter except to share my blog link. No Instagram. No YouTube. Nothing.  I needed all the noise to go away. It was simply getting too loud and drowning out what was important.

It's been a week today since I decided I would do this and it's been amazing. I removed the Facebook app from my homescreen on my phone so that I wouldn't be tempted to click on it, and it's crazy how many times in those first few days that I opened my phone without thinking and went to click on that little blank spot where my app was. It was my time killer, my five minute break in the middle of the day when I just needed to get away from the demands of life, my end of day wind down before I went to sleep. I would just turn my phone on and scroll, mindlessly. Now that I type it all out, it sounds absurd.

I think God knew exactly what I needed when He called me to this fast.

I don't know how long this will last, but I know that it won't be forever. I do think, though, that when this is all said and done, I will spend less time reading comments and scrolling through facebook. I love sharing our lives with everyone and I am always amazed to see the people who really come to understand the message we share, and I won't stop doing that just because some people are miserable. I won't let them ruin it for me because I know God called me to share the message I am sharing. But, I am glad that I took a step back and am spending some time reevaluating what I am doing and how I am doing it. I am glad that I am spending less time trying to numb out the world and more time being in it. I am especially happy that I am spending time listening to God and what He has to say to me. Drawing closer to Him is always accompanied by a peace and hope that I can't find anywhere else.

So, thanks for bearing with me through this hiatus, and thanks for being patient with me as I figure this all out. <3

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yes, We Are Homeschooling

1st day of school! 
I'm sure many of you have already seen some social media posts about it, but I wanted to take some time to really dive in and address Christian's upcoming school year and what it's looking like so that you guys would all know what's going on. For all of our friends who keep up with Christian and his progress, I figured you would be interested and concerned to know, and I am happy to share. :)  I also wanted to answer some questions about it that I thought you guys might have, because it is something new to us and foreign to most people. The majority of folks do public school, so this isn't the traditional route.

Sooo....

YES! We are homeschooling!

So, the obvious first question is "Why?"

Well, there are a couple of reasons that I chose to homeschool Christian this year. Probably the most compelling reason was how bad Christian's last school year ended up being. We were driving 2 hours each way to get him to school, leaving home at 6am. That itself was exhausting, but we were hopeful that it would be worth the sacrifice.

1st day of school!
Nursing was completely unstable during this time as well. We started having issues where we didn't have nurses some days so Christian couldn't go to school when he was supposed to. He has to have someone who is able to feed him and use his gtube at school or he just can't go. He has to eat.  So because he was dependent on someone else to be able to attend with him, there were times when he just couldn't go. Some days I had to choose between sending Christian to school alone with a nurse I was uncomfortable sending him alone with, or someone who was brand new and didn't know how to care for him yet, or just not having him go to school at all. His school was not always thrilled that I chose not to send him when I wasn't comfortable with who he'd be with, and understandably so, because he was missing instruction time; but I simply couldn't send him if I wasn't confident he as safe and would be well taken care of.

He also lost his kindergarten teacher mid school year and got a new one. Both were very good teachers, but emotionally, it was hard on Christian to suddenly and abruptly say goodbye to a teacher he had grown to trust and love and had already built a relationship with. Making such a huge switch in the middle of the year was really difficult for him. I was often encouraged to make Christian a resident student, which always felt a little abrasive and never sat right on my stomach. It just about wore a sore spot on me, because not many people seemed to realize my hesitation in sending my medically complex five year old off to live away from home with people I didn't know and him be unable to reach me if something went wrong or he needed me because he has no clue how to use a cell phone. What seemed so obvious to me was foreign and strange to others. I wasn't about to give up my child just so he could go to school there. Christian needs an education, but he also needs his family. Not to mention, I have suspicions that some folks (not school personnel) were not being very nice to Christian while he was at school, and he is simply unable to tell me whether or not it actually happened.

Christian didn't do well at school, his progress was minimal, and it simply ended up not being worth the time, effort, money, or stress it was costing us to get him to school. So, I decided that we wouldn't be trying that again in the near future. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he attend there again in the future, but for now, it just isn't the best choice for him.

So, option number two was our local school system. Here we run into the issue of living in a poor county. Just calling a duck a duck. Our school system simply can't offer him all that he needs as a child with a visual impairment. It's not that they don't want to. The people we have worked with there in the past would have no problem getting every teacher and piece of equipment Christian would need...if they had the resources to get it. But reality is, they don't, and I fear that much of Christian's time, rather than being inclusive, would be spent with him not really understanding or knowing what was going on, because he would be in a classroom designed for kids who can see, and his teachers would be trained to teach kids who can see, with little to no experience about vision impairments or how to make the classroom accessible.

So, option number three, homeschool. It just makes practical sense. I have a graduate professional degree, I have been working with a blind child for six years, I am well equipped to teach Christian the things he needs to know at his age, and I can do this. If this was high school lessons I was having to teach, I might be more worried, but I can teach kindergarten and first grade level things to Christian. I know I can.

"But won't he need socialization? To be around other kids?" Yes! He sure will! We will have so many opportunities to  be around other kids, and not just kids who are blind. Every Sunday, Christian joins other kids at our church for Bible lessons, games, and worship. We have also joined The Honeybee Christian Co-op (https://honeybeechristiancoop.org/) where Christian and Chandler both will attend weekly classes with other kids, all taught by the moms! This semester Christian will be doing a creative writing class, a lego building class, and a United States geography class, just to name a few of the things he will get immersed in. The co-op takes field trips often as well.
The co-op is such an amazing opportunity to break up the monotony of  just doing home instruction, and offers the boys things that I might not think to teach them, or can't teach them. They will need to have some independence from me and be able to listen other adults who are instructing them. They will also need to learn to socialize with lots of other kids of different ages and backgrounds. It's a well organized group and the moms/teachers are fantastic at what they do!






First Day of  HoneyBee Christian Co-op! 



Homeschooling also frees up some time for us as opposed to the schedule we had last year driving four hours a day, so we have already been meeting up with some of Christian's friends! Really, Christian will get a more realistic socialization by being around lots of peers of different ages and abilities rather than a class room of only typical six year olds or only blind six year olds. I'm pretty excited about it!

So, what will homeschooing look like? For us, we will attend co-op every week, and we will continue Christian's private therapies at Special Kids. We will also be picking up therapies at our local school for drop in services. Christian will go in to do therapy and then leave. Finally, we will have instructional time at home, field trips that I plan, and as much intentional play time as I can squeeze in! I have several Braille curriculum to get Christian started on reading and literature. I have a Braille math curriculum as well. Other things that we do will be unit lessons that I adapt so that both boys can enjoy the lessons together.

I already have a science unit study planned out about outer space, and am working on one on bees and another on the human body. All things the boys have shown interest in and want to learn more about, so I am adapting lessons to things they want to learn about to spark their creativity and desire to learn.

Christian's creation from his lego class at co-op!
He was learning to follow instructions and listen! 
The reading lessons are Braille specific, so right now Christian is learning to read each letter of the alphabet and is honing in on his skills of "same and different" so that he can more easily and proficiently read once he starts reading more.

The math lessons are building on sorting, counting, and simple addition and subtraction right now. Christian really has a math oriented mind (which he did NOT get from me, by the way) and it's amazing to see how easily he understands the concepts and how quickly they make sense. He is a smart cookie and it's fun to watch him learn and grow!

So, we will spend our days filled with lots of activities, and hopefully, fun! I want this year to really ignite a passion for learning in the boys and to teach them to apply themselves and work hard. I also want them to enjoy it. I want them to have fun. I want the pursuit of knowledge to be enjoyable, invited, welcomed, longed for. I hope to establish that with them this year! I am optimistic that we can make it happen!




***Side note! I am still on my social media hiatus, so I won't be reading any comments or responding to questions about this blog until I return. I'm not sure when that will be, but when I return, I will try to get caught up! Thanks for your patience!

If you have enjoyed this blog, please subscribe! <3

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I Won't Hide Christian's Face To Make You Comfortable

I've received a few comments recently on Facebook that are....thought provoking. One proclaimed, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" The commentor was referring to Christian's face and how I could be so bold as to post his photo for other people to see. She literally demanded that I explain to her why I hadn't had Christian's eyes sewed shut, and informed me, which is news to me, that I was exposing Christian to infection and putting him in danger. Then she accused me of withholding surgeries from Christian so as to create a "shock value" of his appearance. It's amazing how much strangers think they know about another stranger's medical condition and health, but it happens.


This isn't the first and only comment I've received along those lines, and I'm sure I'll hear it a few more times in my life.  Obviously people like this are uncomfortable with Christian's disability, or disabilities in general, or maybe just differences among the human race. Despite their discomfort, I refuse to hide Christian away like some quasimodo so they can feel more comfortable. It isn't Christian who needs to change, anyways. It's them.

Honestly, no matter how much I know in my head that the opinions of those people don't mean diddly, and no matter how much I know that they are wrong, I can't help but be insulted and hurt it. And it doesn't get any easier the more times I hear it. While I realize that I am choosing to post photos of Christian on social media and that opens us up to this type of thing, it doesn't make it less painful to deal with and it certainly doesn't make the people saying these things right by any stretch of the imagination I really think that my posting photos of Christian on Facebook doesn't give people freedom to be nasty or rude. It is exhausting to deal with random strangers using social media as an opportunity to say things that they would never say to a person if they were face to face.

This is why I fear so much for Christian. As he becomes more aware of what people say, it bothers me that adults could think such nasty thoughts about a child anyways, but it's even more shocking that they can't seem to hold their tongue, and so their nasty thoughts become nasty words. I also fear the day that Christian truly understands the nastiness, and knows that it's directed at him. I fear that he won't realize that their nastiness is a reflection of them and has nothing to do with him.

 I've just decided that it's useless to try to argue with people like this. They don't talk to discuss. They talk to be heard. They talk to make noise. They talk because they believe they are so right in their assertion that they can boldly, tastelessly, and loudly proclaim their rightness in such a manner than any challenge to it will be ignored. I would be happy to talk with people, to explain what's going on, that Christian is medically taken care of and that I post his photos on Facebook just like any doting mother would, but such people don't usually want to listen. They don't want to hear that they just might be wrong about that thing they have no experience with or knowledge or.

So, I just don't see a point in wasting my time trying to argue with people who want to argue. Now, debate, I am all about some debate. I'm an attorney. It's what I do! But arguing isn't for me. I debate to spread understanding and to learn some things, too.

So, instead of wasting my energy arguing, I decided to come over to my blog and blow off my steam by writing. Getting to just spill my thoughts and share my heart here is a therapy of sorts for me. So, here we are! Warning: The rest of this post is going to be dripping with sarcasm. You've been warned! haha!

This whole incident reminds me of something I hear often from people on social media who want to challenge me as a parent (why, though?) Every so often, I hear this argument come up against me. (I find it crazy, by the way, that folks who don't know anything about Christian or myself have an opinion and actually verbalize it on our lives, but I digress.) The argument goes something like "That kid (they never say his name, it's too personal when you are throwing insults at a little kid I suppose) will be bullied his whole life, and therefore you should have..." then they conclude with some crazy assertion that they say I should have done. It's always something crazy such as, I should have aborted him, literally ended his life, or I shouldn't post photos of him online, ya know, hide him away from the real world, or I shouldn't let him out in public. You know, all those things people usually say about a six year old child. Oh, wait... Kid you not guys. People actually have told me to 1. seclude my child or 2. kill my child because he will get bullied.

I would post that Kevin Hart photo again, but you get the idea.

So...let me get this straight. Christian will probably get bullied because of his disability. I can agree with that. They're right. He probably will. Because there are some real jerks (sorry to be blunt, but it's the truth) out there, and they somehow enjoy hurting others. Have we not all known people like this?


But here's where I can't agree. So, because Christian will probably get bullied, I should never let him out the front door of his home, or I should have killed him? I should punish Christian because other people are idiots? That is really what I've been told. The statistics are that one in four kids gets bullied. Chances are my other child, Chandler, will get bullied too, just for existing. I was bullied as a kid. Not because I have a disability, but because someone had issues that they dealt with my being mean to other people. So they found something about me to target and used it to bully me. Should I have been kept in my home or killed?

OOOOORRRRRRR!!!!!! What about this! This is revolutionary, so get ready. What if we deal with bullies by confronting them, calling their behavior unacceptable, teaching them to act better, and having consequences for when they don't. Novel, I know, but for some reason, the thought of punishing victims rather than perpetrators just doesn't sit right with me.

Someone who falls victim to a bully isn't the issue.  They are not at fault. A person who decides to treat another human being terribly is the issue. Let's just be clear on that. If and when Christian ever falls victim to a bully, it won't be because something is wrong with Christian. Anyone who could bully another person, and in my opinion, especially because they have a disability, needs some serious help.

I'm tired of hearing the same old song here. I have heard it well more than once or twice at this point. How could I? How could I give Christian life knowing he would get picked on? I think the real question is this:

How could you be someone or raise
 someone who would ever decide it was acceptable to mistreat or bully another human being?


What I have done for Christian and what I do for him, is give him a happy, high quality life where he is loved beyond a shadow of a doubt, where he has everything he could possible need and much of what he wants. I give him a life where he is doted on constantly, told how wonderful he is, and is given the opportunity to be the normal little boy he is. I give him a life where his medical issues are well managed by me so that he doesn't have to worry about them or let them interfere with his life. I give him a life where literally hundreds of thousands of people follow his progress and send encouragement and love to him from all over the world on a daily basis. There are perfectly healthy kids out there whose parents don't care if they live or die. Christian is not the one we should be taking pity on. What I do for Christian is more than what some parents do, unfortunately. Honestly, every child deserves to be loved the way Christian is loved. That's what I give him.

So, how could I?  How could I love my child so much? It's easy! Christian is easy to love. I am his mama and he is my world. That's what mama's do. They love their child beyond their looks, beyond their faults, beyond reason. How could I? It's easy because Christian is easy to love!