Friday, December 31, 2010

Trying Times. A Christmas miracle.

We've been delaying our Christmas update, as were waiting to see if there would be good news to report. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Sadie had a pretty rough holiday season. Her seizure activity began to increase a few days before Christmas. We've been slowly tapering one of her seizure meds, Topomax, in the hopes that we could get her off of one of the three medications and increase her alertness. She's been on Topomax since she was first diagnosed with Aicardi Syndrome, and we haven't been entirely convinced that it is working. Additionally Topomax is not an ideal medication in combination with the ketogenic diet as it can cause kidney stones. So, a few days before Christmas, we started to decrease her dosage. A few days later, her seizures increased 7-10 clusters of a day to 10-15 clusters a day.

We didn't want to jump to the conclusion that Topomax was working. Unfortunately in children with seizure disorders, so many other factors can play a role with seizure increases. For Sadie, it could be the change of routine with traveling, the fact that she was running a low-grade fever around Christmas, coming down with a slight cold around New Years, etc. Our New Years Eve was spent on the phone with her neurologist, and we're working on tweaking the Depakote dosage to see if we can get more seizure control while keeping Topomax at the same level for the time being. Needless to say, we're frustrated and continue to hope that someday soon we'll see an improvement in Sadie's seizures.

While experiencing trying days and nights over the past few weeks, our holidays were also interspersed with a few moments of pure Sadie happiness and joy. She had many moments where she would talk, squeal, giggle, smile...were it not for these moments, we'd be having a much harder time. Of course, our little girl was also showered with love and affection from a host of friends and family. It will take three trips to get all of her gifts and clothes back to our house! Her closet continues to expand.

In addition to the seizures, we've also been battling with some bowel movement issues with Sadie. Warning to readers who may get squirmy when hearing about poo, you may want to skip this paragraph. I feel like the topic of poop has come up way too much in our household lately. It's been about 2 months since Sadie has pooped on her own...that is, without the help of a glycerin suppository. We actually had to give her an enema last week to get her to go, after three suppositories didn't work. Talk about stress. We're not sure what to attribute it to - the ketogenic diet, which can be constipating or the fact that she is taking three sedating seizure medicines, or a combination of both. We've tried everything - miralax, milk of magnesia, prunes, senna, baby massage, reflexology. Day four after reducing her Topomax doseage, Sadie had a bm without help of a suppository. Adin called it a "Christmas Miracle."

Because of these issues, we've added yet another doctor into the mix. Sadie had her first appointment with a GI specialist at Children's Memorial. This month will be a busy one for little Sadie. She'll have another MRI to monitor her choriod plexus papilloma tumor. We also have an appointment at Easter Seals to get her fitted for a specialized stroller and potentially a special car seat.

So, we'll stay hopeful that 2011 will bring Sadie better seizure control, more moments of pure joy and happiness, and the knowledge that she is loved and adored by many people.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Very Special Gift

Another parent posted this and I wanted to share...

The Very Special Gift
By S. Guevara

Once upon a time, three angels were busily working in the miracle factory. They were responsible for wrapping up all the little miracles and sending them on their way. Normally they wrapped each one in bright, sturdy paper with big, shiny ribbons. They stamped them with a delivery date and away they would go to the parents who eagerly awaited their arrival. Things usually ran pretty smoothly.

One day, however, down the conveyor belt came a little miracle that made the angels pause. "Oh my," said the first angel "this one's uhm...well...different." "Yes, she is unique" said the second angel. "Well I think she is quite special," said the first angel "but I don't think she will quite fit our standard wrapping procedures." And the second angel added, "And we know she's special, but will everyone else?" "Not a problem," said the third angel "obliviously a special miracle deserves extra special wrapping; and of course we'll send her off with our most heartfelt blessings. Then everyone will see how special she is." "What a wonderful idea!" replied the othims. So they searched the shelves high and low for their finest paper, and their most delicate ribbons.

When they were done, they stood back and admired their work. "Beautiful!" they all agreed. "Now for our blessings," said the third angel "for it is time for her to go." "I will bless her with innocence and happiness," said the first angel. "And I will bless her with strength to face the many challenges that lie ahead" said the second angel. "And I will bless her with an inner beauty that will shine on all who look upon her" said the third angel. Before sending her off the third angel, who was very wise, gently tucked a note inside.

And it said,

"Dear Parents:

Today you have received a very special gift. It may not be what you were expecting and you may be disappointed, angry and hurt. But please know that she comes with many blessings. And, while time may be pain, she will bring you much joy. She will take you on a very difficult journey but you will meet many wonderful people. She will teach you patience and understanding and make you reach deep inside yourselves to find a source of strength and faith you never knew you had. She will enrich your lives and will touch the hearts of all who meet her. She may be fragile but she has great inner strength.

So please handle her with care. Give her lots of attention and shower her with hugs and kisses. Love her with all your heart and she will blossom before your eyes. Her spirit will shine like the brightest star for all to see and you will know that you are truly blessed."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Perspective redefined.

Shortly after Sadie was diagnosed with Aicardi Syndrome, I remember thinking that there couldn't be anything worse than this disease...daily seizures, possibility of regression, a child who may not walk/talk, and a cognitive ability of 6 months to a year of age. This assumption was challenged last week when I attended my first moms support group.

The group is for mothers who have children with rare and life-limiting conditions. One woman's story in particular stuck with me. Her daughter was diagnosed with a rare condition called Batten's Disease. It is a degenerative illness where the body gradually breaks down. Her daughter developed normally until the age of 3 1/2, and is now quickly declining.

It was the first time that I realized how lucky we are that Sadie "only" has Aicardi Syndrome. I don't spend much time feeling sorry for myself or our situation, but not a day goes by that I don't wish Sadie's prognosis was different. However, to witness your child slowly deteriorate must be the worst kind of pain. It's all about perspective.

Sadie has been on her new seizure medication, Depakote, for a few weeks now. I'm sorry to say that we haven't seen much improvement. I feel like we're fighting a battle against the seizures. Occasionally they'll retreat, but then once they learn our tactics, they come back stronger. We're still on the medication merry-go-round and hope that we will find something that works very soon.

Despite the lack of seizure control, our little girl is growing like crazy. Sadie is now 7 1/2 months old and is already growing out of her 12 month clothes! She is in the 95th percentile for height and weight. She will start speech and feeding therapy next week. We've also enrolled her in one extra session of physical therapy so she gets some additional time working on her gross motor skills.

She also had another bout of trouble with her eye. Seems she picked up a virus last week in her eye, so we're again on daily eye drops to clear it up. I joke with her Opthomologist that we should get a frequent visitors card.

Sadie is still enjoying her solid foods. She likes her fruits the best, and I swear I heard her say "YUM" while eating her bananas.

We're looking forward to the holidays and getting to enjoy some good relaxation time with friends and family.