Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What we're thankful for.

We have a lot to give thanks for this year.

We are thankful for Sadie's doctors who monitor her condition closely and take such great care of her.

We are thankful for all of the nurses who care for Sadie, both in the doctors' offices and the hospital.

We are thankful for Sadie's therapists who put in hours every week to help Sadie develop.

We are thankful to everyone who has given to Sadie's special needs trust. Your generosity is overwhelming.

We are thankful to have connected with such a wonderful group of parents through the Aicardi Foundation. Your guidance and support has been invaluable.

We are thankful to be close to friends and family who have reached out and offered support. Particularly Sadie's godmother who also serves as our fairy godmother :).

We are thankful to have a loving, strong marriage that will endure whatever comes our way.

We're thankful for YOU. Everyone reading this blog and following along with Sadie's Journey. Whether you are a close friend or family or whether we have never met. It means the world that you are following along, saying prayers, lighting candles, keeping Sadie in your thoughts.

But most of all, we're thankful to have a beautiful little girl who has changed our lives for the better, who teaches us never to take anything for granted, and who has made us better people.

Monday, November 15, 2010

For Better or Worse. Here Goes...

We're bracing for impact. What that impact is, we're not sure. After a week of various opinions, we've made a decision.

Let me start at the beginning...

Sadie saw a new neurologist last week to get a second opinion. In the meantime, her current neurologist presented Sadie's case to the team of doctors at Children's Memorial. Apparentely, the doctors do this periodically when they have difficult cases. The result was two differing opinions.

Doctor A recommended weaning a few medicines to try to determine what is and isn't working. "A" also suggested she try a few new medications. Doctor B recommended we start aggressively treating her with prenisolone, an oral steriod. Steriod treatment has always made us a little nervous, given the many side effects, including a weakened immune system. We've opted out of the most commonly used steriod for infantile spasms, ACTH, due to the high mortality rate (1 out of every 12 children), and the fact that many Aicardi parents don't think it works very well for girls with the Syndrome.

After giving ourseleves a few days and seeking out numerous opinions, we decided to forgo the steriod treatment for the time being. For better or worse, we're trying another seizure medication, Depakote.

Sadie was also at the hospital most of the day last Thursday for her Electroretinagram (ERG). We received good news and bad news. The good news is that the ERG showed Sadie to have decent vision in her left eye. The bad news was as we suspected, she most likely has no vision in her right eye....sigh. Although we had mentally prepared for this, it doesn't make the news any easier.

We've started working with two great non-profit organizations. The first is an organization called Hope's Friends. They send a home nurse to see Sadie as needed, a service that will be even more important as cold weather approaches. The nurse came out this week to check out Sadie's bowel movement issues. The ketogenic diet really stops her up :( They'll also be starting Music Therapy with Sadie this week. We'll see if we can get any Katy Perry or Beyonce in the mix, you know how Sadie loves them :) Additionally, an aromatherapist is developing aromas for Sadie to see if it will help with her bowel movements and seizure control. It's worth a try, right?

Sadie also visited the local Easter Seals chapter for a feeding evaluation. She will go back in a few weeks for a seating/positioning clinic to help determine what, if any, special equipment is needed as she gets older. Specifically, we're looking at special feeding chairs, strollers, and car seats. Both organizations have been wonderfully helpful for Sadie.

So, we brace for impact as Sadie starts what is now her third seizure medicine this week. We hope and pray that the third time's a charm.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Milestones, Shmilestones. Her own yardstick.

Comparisons are inevititable. I think mothers are particularly guilty of comparing their child to others. I remember walking into my first session of a new moms group and being envious of the mother whose 11-week-old could already hold his head up.

Comparisons are everywhere. I get increasingly frustrated with the amount of literature devoted to "milestones." Every time I pick up a piece of paper that talks about which milestones your child should have mastered by a particular age, I throw it in the trash. I've shelved "What to Expect the First Year" and unsubscribed from BabyCenter e-mails that tell me what my child should be doing.

Am I ignoring the milestones? No, they are everywhere I look - the baby in the mall playing with a toy, the friend's child who holds a gaze longer than Sadie, the child in the grocery cart who can sit in the front and not have to be toted in a car seat. Do we want her to reach these milestones? More than anything. But we're not willing to obsess about it so much that we forget to enjoy our precious 6 month old baby.

Yes, Sadie turned 6 months old this week. Her getting older is not without challenges. She still struggles with many of the gross motor skills that most children have mastered by this age. I recently asked one of Sadie's therapists how she compares developmentally to other babies her age. She wisely responded that we use "a different yardstick" for Sadie.

This six-month old has recently sprouted her two bottom teeth! She has also found her thumb and has taken to sucking on it. Sadie started solid foods on Halloween night. For the ketogenic diet, this means rice cereal and baby food mixed with butter, all measured out the the precise gram. It took her a few spoonfuls to understand what was going on, but after she realized it was food, she quickly got the hang of it. Leave it to our little girl to take to solid foods like a champ! When I fed her the next day I swear she got excited when she saw the spoon.

We received the results from her most recent EEG. While the neurologist was happy that the brain activity seemed more organized than her last EEG, she was unsure if Sadie would ever have a "normal" EEG given the damage in her brain. The good news is, the only seizures that are showing up on the EEG are those that we can see. The bad news is, she is still having quite a few seizures a day. She is hovering between 7-10 clusters of spasms a day. We're still increasing medications (topomax and vigabatrin) and tweaking the diet to see if we can gain more seizure control.

We'll also be seeing another neurologist next week to get a second opinion on Sadie's treatment. Her current neurologist has been great, but because her seizures are so hard to control, we decided it would be beneficial to get a second opinion. The new neurologist treats another Aicardi child here in Chicago, whose parents we've gotten to know quite well.

While Sadie may not yet be able to hold her head up or sit without support, she is a delightful little girl who loves social interaction, smiles at everyone, and will do her best to join in the conversation - and for now, that's good enough for us.