Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sadie the fashionista. Status quo.

A few times a week, Sadie and I put her clothes away in her closet. As I hang each outfit, I hold it up to ask her if she likes it. This is also my way of checking if the clothes still fit, as she tends to grow out of them very quickly. Although she can't verbalize it, I think she really enjoys this time, and will often smile as I show her certain outfits. Thanks to her fashion-forward aunts, as well as friends hand-me-downs, she has more clothes in her closet than Mommy!

In other news, Sadie's seizures are still on the high end. She is now having between 7-9 clusters of seizures a day, mostly occurring right after she awakens from sleep or a nap. We continue to work with her neurologist to tweak medications and diet ratios to see if we can gain more control of the seizures, but so far nothing seems to be working. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to see no improvement.

We also saw a new ocularist this week, who fitted Sadie for her third (yes, third) conformer. He taught us how to put the conformer in her eye, as well as take it out. It is challenging to put a prosthetic in our baby's eye every day, but we're getting the hang of it!

We close on the new house this week, and are very excited to finally be settled. We'll also get to unpack all of our boxes that have been packed up since the move out of our home in Charlotte. It will be like Christmas...almost.

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and good thoughts. Keep them coming!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Shortly after Sadie was diagnosed, my mom gave me a poem that expresses many of our feelings about having a daughter with a disability. Working for many years in the arts, I know that sometimes a song, a theatre performance or a piece of poetry can express much more about your feelings than words alone.

WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No news is bad news. The roller coaster.

I've found that its much easier to update the blog when there is good news to share. Unfortunately, the past few weeks have been quite trying for little Sadie.

Last Monday we made a second trip to the ER. When Sadie was up all Sunday night crying, we figured something was up. We drove her, again, to the ER at Children's Memorial who found that the corneal ulcer was irritated again. We've increased her eye drops and it seems to be healing up fine. Ugh...

Sadie's seizure activity had been decreasing, then last week, for no apparant reason, she started to have more clusters. We've been speaking to the neurologist and dietician, but we can't seem to pinpoint the issue. We're again increasing medications and talking about adding additional meds. At this point, Sadie is on two different seizure medications (Topomax and Vigabatrin) as well as three other medicines to deal with various side effects of the seizure meds. With medicines, special powdered formula, a gram scale - our kitchen counter looks like a pharmacy...or a meth lab.

In the midst of special diets, seizure meds, and eye drops - our little girl is developing quite the personality. She prefers Beyonce to nursery rhymes (Halo is her favorite). She also has developed a liking to Katy Perry's "California Girls." She talks up a storm and moves her mouth trying to talk when she looks at us.

All of her therapies are now in full swing. Sadie has Physical Therapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT), and Vision Therapy (VT), once a week. She also meets with a Developmental Therapist once a month to get an overall assessment on how she is developing. We've been working with her OT to get her left hand caught up with her right. Due to the damage on the right side of her brain, the left side tends not to function as well. Last week, she discovered that she can move her left hand to her mouth and will grasp both hands in front of her!

Sadie has a full schedule this week. Her four month appointment with her pediatrician was on Monday. She meets with all of her therapists this week. On Thursday, we'll be at Children's Memorial for an MRI of her brain as well as an appointment with her opthomologist to get an update on how the corneal ulcer is healing and what the next step is for the conformer. The MRI is to monitor her choroid plexus papilloma, a tumor in her brain that can cause a buildup of spinal fluid in her brain. She will get periodic MRIs to monitor the growth of the tumor.

The doctors continue to monitor her progress closely. Our moods are predicated on how well Sadie is doing. If she has a bad day, we have a bad day. If she has a good day, we also do. We had heard from other Aicardi families that the first year is the most difficult. It's a roller coaster of emotions. We just wish that the dips on this coaster weren't so low.