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Seth and I gained courage by researching the history of lead poisoning that resulted from paint only decades earlier. The agent used to detoxify a child of lead was the same agent used to detoxify a child of mercury: DMSA or meso 2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid. It was a white viscous liquid packaged in a capped measuring syringe. Wesley would have to take one syringeful of the foul-smelling slime every four hours by mouth and around the clock, for three days at a time. The goal of this dosing schedule was to keep the chelating agent level in the blood, so that the mercury, once captured by the DMSA, did not have any opportunity to retreat and hide once again in the tissues until the cycle was complete.
For three days, we would dose Wesley with DMSA, and then for four days we would let him and his weary body rest, while replenishing his stores of zinc, iron, magnesium, and the other good metals, with supplements. Every month we would check his mineral levels and run a complete blood count and liver enzymes to make sure we were chelating him safely.
More mercury. The new test results showed a high level of mercury in Wesley’s urine. This time the line did not run off the page as it had the first, but it still extended past the reference range, and the elevated range, into the final column indicating the need for alarm. I felt compelled to document Wesley, his treatment and his results, now more than ever. I did not yet know how important this would be. Fortuitously, among pediatric patients being chelated for mercury, this blue-eyed child, whose gaze still stole hearts even through the haze of autism, was uniquely consistent. Every time the DMSA pulled a significant quantity of mercury from his tissues, the rash would appear on the backs of his knees. Every time the rash would appear, I would catch a urine sample from my son and send it for toxicology testing. Consistently, these samples showed high levels of mercury. Unlike many other parents, who did not know when their children were dumping mercury because they had no outward sign, I always knew when Wesley was because the rash would appear on the backs of his knees. Because of Wesley’s rash, the luxury of good insurance, and an amazingly supportive spouse, I amassed a comprehensive clinical record on Wesley’s poisoning.
There was no doubt that this particular cycle of chelation was worse than most. After three days of lethargy and an upset stomach for Wesley, the cycle ended. After one full day without medication, Wesley’s head finally lifted from its pillow and a hint of his sweet smile showed about the corners of his lips. The return of that enchanting smile caused tears to gather in the corners of my eyes. With my help, Wesley got up slowly and came down the stairs. It was then I knew something had changed. Instead of twofooting the stairs, allowing one foot to catch up with the other before advancing another step, my son was alternating his feet upon the stairs, one step at a time. Suddenly, my child was descending the stairs as I did, and as he never before had. He was certain of his feet, and poised with his balance, and I was dumbfounded by the change.
This first revelation was followed by a second, while Wesley and I sat on the front porch relaxing after our ordeal. Wesley loved to sit out on the rocker in the breeze, whatever the season, and so I took him there, hoping the caress of spring would soothe him. When Wesley sat down, this autistic child who had always had a bewildered look on his face seemed to gaze with clarity at the world around him, and at me. I puzzled and puzzled over what had changed, unable to discern at first what was so markedly different and yet ironically, too, so subtle. It was then that I realized: Wesley’s pupils had contracted in the bright sunlight. All of the months and years in which he had carried such a horrific amount of mercury, his eyes had registered his toxic state by their dilation, a clinical symptom of mercury-poisoning. Mercury had kept the pupils from shutting down, so that Wesley’s eyes could not limit the amount of light that entered on a bright sunny day. Is it any wonder that he would sometimes fall to the ground and scream when moving from inside to outside? At times like that, I had been powerless to stop the light from momentarily and painfully blinding Wesley.
But now, in the softness of full daylight, Wesley did not construe the sun as his enemy. Instead, the light gave impetus for his eyes to react as they always should have, and only now could, because a substantial amount of mercury had been pulled during those three long days. I guessed, and Mary would later confirm, what Wesley had regained was his depth perception. How long had it been since the world made any visual sense to my son? Did the mercury from the Rho(D) shot lodge in his brain before birth, corrupting his vision in infancy? Or did the immunizations, with their additional and excessive loads, overcome his ability to see normally while he was a toddler? Unable to answer these questions, I set my jaw, and clenched my fists in an anger that, like the mercury, was quiet yet catastrophic.
It had never occurred to me that my son was effectively blind. After all, his eyes moved intentionally. In fact, they seemed perpetually and futilely to search and seek for something indefinable. But the information they captured, when sent to the brain, was received by tissues tormented by the mercury. Depth perception had disappeared from Wesley’s field of vision. Though his eyes might see, his brain could not perceive his surroundings with any accuracy at all. The world was, for Wesley, a maniacal fun house. Worse than a hall of mirrors, what Wesley saw in his field of vision as he took each step up to this point in his illness, was precipice and abyss and blizzard. His inability to see normally, and the terrifying nature of what he did perceive, caused him to bump into walls and stumble down stairs.