A Review Of “Getting Adam Back: A Mother’s Triumph Over Epilepsy and Autism”

By Kelly Fowler

They say there is no love like a mother’s, but can a mother’s love be life saving? Can her hope and belief in a better life be enough to combat physical illness and ongoing medical setbacks?

If you’re Adam Martell, and your mother is Arlene Martell, the answer is a resounding “yes.” And in her new book, “Getting Adam Back: A Mother’s Triumph Over Epilepsy and Autism,” Arlene details the unbelievable journey she and her family took after they learned their bouncing 2-year-old toddler, Adam, suffered from epilepsy and autism.

Despite the fact that trusted medical specialists continued to shatter any hope the family had, and despite the fact that young Adam was put on countless medications and endured horrific side effects, and despite the fact this family was literally terrorized by Adam’s escalating erratic behavior, Arlene’s hope never wavered.

Instead, Arlene’s hope grew with each setback, and given the number of these that Adam and the entire Martell family endured, her hope eventually became insurmountable and is to be credited for saving his life, her life and the life of her husband and children.

But it was no easy task. Arlene battled conventional medicine and spent countless hours reading, researching and determining alternative treatment plans for Adam.

Today, the young boy who was once too disruptive to stay in school and too combative to have friends, has graduated from high school and works in his hometown. More importantly, he is happy, healthy and enjoying a wonderful life.

Additionally, Adam no longer takes any medication and has been seizure free for a miraculous six years!

All of this is detailed, along with the unbelievable roadblocks this family faced together during what was undoubtedly their toughest years, as they fought valiantly for Adam and for each other, in “Getting Adam Back: A Mother’s Triumph Over Epilepsy and Autism.”

Arlene wrote the book to share her “roadmap” for the miraculous success they finally achieved and shares it completely with other parents in this same plight, showing that hope and determination can go further then conventional medicine.

And, although she is the first to admit that what worked for Adam cannot be expected to work for all other children, she is honest about the ups-and-downs her son faced and provides detailed information and resources that are sure to help every parent walking in those heavy shoes.

In short, the book is a story of hope. It is the story of a family caught in the whirlwind of tragic illness and of a young boy and a mother who persevered and how other parents and their ailing children can, too.

The book is about accepting what life gives – good and bad, and about determination, about challenges, and about a real-life struggle that may not have had to happen at all.

In accomplishing all of this, the book is an outstanding, yet emotional, read. In one sitting, you may not absorb all of the information, but you are sure to push through to the end. It’s just that good.

And the information a parent needs to help their child is laid out in the easiest of terms, with links and resources that can be used to cement the valuable information Arlene provides in “Getting Adam Back: A Mother’s Triumph Over Epilepsy and Autism.”

Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical, simply because the title uses the word “triumph” and it’s hard for me (and anyone else who places blind faith in traditional medicine and healthcare) to believe that triumph is achievable when battling epilepsy and autism.

Thankfully, “Getting Adam Back: A Mother’s Triumph Over Epilepsy and Autism,” changed my mind, but more importantly it opened it me up to see possibilities, something day-to-day life and blind faith often takes away from us.

Arlene expertly relies on Adam’s medical records to give a very accurate accounting of all that transpired – and this alone is enough to convince parent’s in her position to fight, to not give up hope, to know there is another way.

I marvel at Arlene’s dedication, for while driving Adam an hour each way to weekly appointments, reading, researching and working diligently to help her son while his medications made him swing from dangerous and unpredictable to lethargic and unable to even find his own bedroom. She was also mother to three-year-old Justin and one-year-old Shelby and wife to husband, James.

On one hand, this book shows the strength that lies within a family to love, protect and even heal one of its own, and on another, it shows the emotional rollercoaster and constant turmoil a family faces when a child’s illness is always foremost on everyone’s minds.

Like when Adam started kindergarten, Arlene was hopeful this would be a positive outlet for her son, yet it was at this time that she began to notice his difficulties in performing simple tasks. He had difficulty finding his classroom and he was very, very easily distracted. Adam’s teacher expressed concern over Adam’s excessive tiredness and he obviously had difficulty comprehending speech and verbal instructions.

Not a typical happy Kindergarten year by any stretch.

By this time, Adam would also lose track of what was going on around him. And while the doctor explained this as “lapses,” saying they may be behavioral responses or sub clinical seizures.

And, as the behavioral issues became more prevalent, teachers lost control of young Adam and eventually the school sent a letter indicating that they were unable to successfully cope with him in the classroom setting.

Adam was also on a baseball team. He had poor coordination and was often disoriented on the field, his reaction time was slow and he was very forgetful. Thankfully the team coach recognized this for what it was and worked to make the experience a positive one for Adam, frequently standing behind Adam and helped him bat so that he could hit the ball once in a while.

Arlene says in the book that Adam struck out most of the time, “but I remember one momentous occasion when Adam actually hit the ball. Well, he ran straight to third base and made it all the way to first base before they tagged him out. The parents were ecstatic, screaming and cheering him on. The other team was freaking out and yelling because he was running the wrong way, but Adam had a grin on his face from ear to ear!”

But, at home, things were deteriorating rapidly. Adam could no longer follow simple instructions such as “go to your room and put on some clean socks”. In fact, he couldn’t find his room or the drawer he was looking for. “One day when I asked him to get dressed, he came out with his underwear on over his pants. On another occasion he put on his little brothers shirt, which was clearly too small,” Arlene recalls.

Adam also stopped playing with complex toys and resorted to playing with simple ones. His speech was deteriorating, as well, and he began to repeat sentences throughout the day and would not carry on a full conversation. Adam became much quieter than normal and he continued to have daily staring “spells.”

It seemed as though the medications Adam was taking were only making his life (and his family’s) much worse. In fact, on one medication Adam became instantly aggressive and irrational. His personality changed and he became an angry little boy.

During this time, Arlene recalls fearing for the other children’s safety. And, growing weary with the adverse side effects of the medications and the regression she witnessed almost daily, she made a decision that would ultimately save her son’s life.

Arlene fought back. If a medicine or treatment did not help, she asked questions and demanded answers. She researched relentlessly and, over time and through ongoing trial and error, she found what worked for her son.

But why had she not been made aware of these alternative treatments and this life-saving information?

It is this question that led Arlene to write “Getting Adam Back: A Mother’s Triumph Over Epilepsy and Autism.” As she says in the opening of the book, no child, parent or family should have to endure such devastating struggles.

“As a mom, it is our instinct to nurture and protect our children. As a mom, I would do anything for my children. Now that I can tell my story – I feel like I failed Adam in not making him better sooner. I was supposed to have the magic kiss that makes things all better.”

“Instead, I did what most parents do – I went to the doctors and hospital for treatment and things seemed to snowball out of control,” she says “What I learned through this experience often shocked me and I hope that by reading my story you will be moved to action for your own child’s sake.”

“Life is busy and we’re often overwhelmed with just the responsibilities that our day-to-day lives bring, never mind adding a special needs child into the mix.”

Unfortunately this was Arlene’s “mix.” It was Adam’s “mix,” and it was her families’ “mix.” But, this book makes sure it does not have to be your “mix,” your child’s “mix, or your family’s “mix.”

“Getting Adam Back: A Mother’s Triumph Over Epilepsy and Autism” gives hope and pairs it with the information needed to fight back against epilepsy and autism and win!

“I write this book to encourage you and bring you hope,” Arlene says. “Adam’s story is about a brave battle that was won because a mother’s love cannot be measured. Together we found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and I want to share that.

I can look at Adam’s baby pictures now, shed a tear, say a prayer and be thankful that this happened to our family – not because we deserved it – because God gave us this opportunity to help other families who need encouragement.”