Wild Turkeys, Curious Cows, and Playing Hooky Give an Angel Something to Talk About

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by Mary Kay |

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Little did we know what surprises were in store for the day ahead.

As the sun was rising, my husband saw that we had an unexpected guest. Underneath the bird feeder was a young tom turkey. He is a quiet visitor and runs off at the slightest movement or sound. It’s one of his survival skills.

Our daughter Jessie’s nickname is “Thunder Foot,” so she often misses the wildlife that ventures near. Good thing Dad took a video to show her.

As the morning progressed, we impulsively decided to play hooky. I had errands to run, and Jessie loves car rides. It’s a win-win situation.

After months of Zooming, our angel Jessie needed a break. Besides, learning isn’t done in isolation. Exploration is part of independent study, and it’s what breathes life into her day. That’s what I tell myself, at least, although my mother was old-school and probably would disagree. These are different times, and they’re difficult to navigate. I’m guessing we may have found an exception to the rule.

Our first stop was banking in a neighboring town. When we were one block from the main street, something caught my eye on the opposite side of the road. A teenage brown cow was headed toward us! He stopped in front of the elementary school, appeared to look both ways, and then jogged right past our car to parts unknown.

After he used the crosswalk, I called the police. Apparently, a wayward cow isn’t an unusual sighting. We weren’t the first to call 911, but it did help the police track the direction the cow was moo-ving.

The town’s wayward cow. (Photo by Mary Kay)

Several years ago, our township had an art exhibit called “The Stampede.” It’s one thing to see a painted cow, and another to see a cow up close and personal. I’m not sure which Jessie prefers, but she was amused seeing this young steer.

From there, we went shopping. When Jess holds up items that are not on our list, it’s either to ask to purchase, or she’s just showing me what interests her. I like her making her own choices. She likes having a say.

The goal of these teachable moments is to help her make good food choices. Currently, our family follows a modified ketogenic diet, meaning we don’t measure our food, but follow the guidelines as closely as we can. This has forced us to look more closely at ingredients, specifically, added sugar. Not only does the keto diet help with seizure control, but it also has helped with weight gain.

Jessie was 18 when she was weaned off all seizure meds. She’s fortunate that seizures are few and far between now. I had investigated the keto diet years ago, but it was very strict. When she was in school, I didn’t have any control over the food people gave her. No one saw any harm in giving her a piece of candy, and it was well known that she loved M&M’s. I believed we were doomed to even try the diet for seizure control.

Jessie never lost her baby belly. I had been told it was due to low muscle tone, but now I’m not so sure. By removing sugar and carbs, she doesn’t appear to be grazing all the time, and she has started to lose the weight around her middle. If her shape continues to change, she will need new clothes.

Being housebound for weeks on end has not left us with much to say. We aren’t completely bored, but our days are rather unremarkable. These outings spark Jessie’s curiosity, which prompts her to reach for her AAC device. Today, we wondered what kind of cow we had seen. When did he escape? Where was he going? How would they catch him?

Jess said he was playing hooky. I guess even curious cows need a break from their routine.

Jessie poses with “Star,” a local celebrity. (Photo by Mary Kay)

“Same routine, different day” doesn’t encourage Jess to talk. She’ll ask for what she wants, but if we want to have a real conversation with her, we need to get her out of Dodge.

Soon the shore will be calling our name, and we’ll be playing hooky again. I know I won’t have to ask Jessie twice. I bet that cow would be game, too.

To read more about our journey, visit my blog. We wouldn’t even have a story if Jessie hadn’t found her AAC voice. Also, check Angelman Syndrome News each month for future columns.


Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.


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