We just got back from a Johnson family trip to the wild wild west - New Mexico - to see a Chinese Dr. named Dr. Jason Hao.
Dr. Hao is one of the only Chinese doctors in the United States who practices an acupuncture method called Scalp Acupuncture. We did a lot of research on it and read many stories of people with severe brain injuries who, after just a few treatments, recovered. Paralyzed people started walking. When we spoke to Dr. Hao on the phone he was very confident he could help Josie. When asked what percent of his patients respond, he said "I'd like to say 100%, but most people don't believe that, so I'll say 99%." Music to my ears. He explained that it sounds like the neurotransmitters in Josie's brains aren't connecting and with Scalp Acupuncture he can get them to ignite.
We decided to make it a family vacation and make it as exciting as possible for Tanner. I told him it's the start of our mission to visit all 50 United States. We decided we'll get a snow globe in each state; he thought that was cool.
So off we went. Dr. Hao has an office in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We booked two appointments in each city during our stay in NM, which is what he recommended. The first day, he placed four needles in Josie's head. Tanner couldn't watch and Josie wasn't happy. We had her trying to take some steps while we held her and she did actually take some steps. This was encouraging, and although she has taken steps while being held before, she seemed to be bearing more weight on her legs and pushing them up by herself. After about 30 minutes, he took out the needles. We weren't sure if an actual miracle occurred in that treatment, but we had 3 more to go.
Dr. Hao said usually, patients do show some response after one treatment, but she might need more before she responds.
I asked him what he thinks is wrong with her and he said "it's no question it's brain damage". He concurs with Dr. Palevsky that if there was any lack of oxygen to her brain either in utero or sometime shortly after, it could cause brain damage that could not be detected on an MRI. He said if the nerves in her brain are not connecting, it will affect everything we're seeing: her eyes, her coordination, her ability to gain weight, her muscle tone.
In between treatments we enjoyed a New Mexican gastronomic tour, beautiful desert mountain views, seeing old churches, driving 15 miles up to the peak of the Santa Fe mountain, and some stargazing. And despite all the culture and the trip to the Albuquerque Zoo, Tanner's favorite part was when we went to Target and he got some new toys. True story.
Visit #2 in Santa Fe: Dr. Hao added two more needles to what he said was for her eyes. We didn't see any changes from this treatment.
Treatment #3: Dr. Hao introduced us to another Chinese Dr. he works with whom he is discussing Josie's case with. Again, he placed 6 needles on Josie's scalp. We didn't notice anything after.
Visit #4: the final visit, the other Dr. showed me how to give Josie an acupressure massage to help ignite the nerves along her spine and recommends I do it every day twice a day. Will do. Dr. Hao used 6 needles again and again we didn't really see a difference. His thoughts are that it could still happen, the treatments could be accumulative and we might see subtle improvements. And if we do see improvements he recommends we come back in 3 months. He said if we really don't see anything, then she's just not responding to it and we should move on.
We won't say nothing happened. Her trunk seems a little stronger; she is pulling her upper body forward when leaning back, which is something new. He also saw that her pupils started being less dilated by the 4th treatment, which indicates her brain is connecting with her eyes. Before, her eyes would stay dilated, which probably has something to do with her light sensitivity.
So the hope is that we'll start to see Josie connecting more over the next week or so. We talked about it being "a light switch that just needs to be turned on." While I was hoping to come home from NM with the switch flipped up, maybe it's actually a dimmer and these treatments helped inch that dimmer up a notch. She wants to do everything a 16 month old should be doing so badly. I know that for sure. She wants to crawl, she wants to sit up and play, and she really wants to talk!
Our motto is "every little bit helps."
*And like Bob Dylan's song, (the music reference in the title) There is nothing that I wouldn't do, to make you feel my love.
Me and Tanner all cozy by the fireplace on the patio of our hotel room. We loved the Four Seasons in Santa Fe!
This came on the radio when we left the first appointment. Coincidence?? Well, probably :)
Jojo never looks "disconnected" when looking at her daddy.