Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Better Place To Be

Recently, Adin and I were looking at a few older posts on Sadie's blog. Two years ago, Sadie was hospitalized emergently to start the Ketogenic Diet after having hundreds of seizures per day. One year ago, she was hospitalized again to start ACTH after having seizures every five minutes.  This year, she's recovered from two brain surgeries. Reading those posts was a stark reminder of everything she has been through in her short life. And how, as soon as you think you are in a better place, reality can knock you back down.

Sadie and Daddy enjoying pool time.
Now that she is finished with the Day Rehab program at Rehab Institute of Chicago (RIC), she is continuing with her regular therapy schedule, which includes weekly Physical, Occupational, Speech, Vision and Developmental Therapies. I'm pleased to say that despite recent setbacks, she continues to do well in therapy. Moving at a much slower pace than typically developing kids, obviously, but making progress nonetheless. Recently, her Physical Therapist has been working with Sadie in a Lightgait over a Treadmill, getting her to walk a few steps at a time so her body begins to understand what this feels like.

Additionally, I've been looking to enroll her in aquatic therapy. Aquatic therapy can provide valuable movement for kids who are low tone and struggle with holding up their own body weight. We tried Sadie out in a pool, and she seems to really enjoy it, so we are hopeful we can get her in aquatic therapy soon!

Sadie and Olivia contemplating
the Modern Art.
In spite of a busy therapy schedule, we have found time to do a bit of traveling this summer, as well as getting out and enjoying some Chicago sights. Sadie and her friend, Olivia, recently visited the Art Institute of Chicago to take in the new Modern Art wing. Sadie didn't quite grasp Modernism, she was much more drawn to the Impressionists - Monet, Seurat, and Van Gogh in particular.

We also recently traveled to St. Louis for the 2012 Aicardi Syndrome Family Conference. The Aicardi Syndrome Foundation holds this biennial conference for families with affected daughters. It was such a great opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones - quite a different experience than our first conference, which we attended four weeks after Sadie's diagnosis. This time, we found ourselves to be much more social with the other families, rather than just deer-in-headlights

Medically speaking, Sadie is still being fed the majority of her meals via NG tube. She is allowed a little bit of pureed food each day, which she eats with varying degrees of success. Sometimes she chews well and swallows, other days, the food sits in her mouth and she spits it out. We continue to work with her speech/feeding therapists to improve her eating skills. She was originally scheduled for a repeat swallow study in August, but we've decided to hold off until we find out the results from her recent brain surgery.
As I mentioned in my last post, the cyst fenestration surgery has a 50% change of being successful at alleviating Sadie's hydrocephalus. Sadie is scheduled for a CT scan in mid-September, which will show whether or not surgery was successful. If the fluid is building up in her brain again, she will have to get a shunt (an artificial drain) placed in her brain. We are saying lots of lots of prayers that the surgery WAS successful and she will NOT need this.

Prior to her recent surgery, had switched some of her seizure meds to see if we could gain more seizure control. She is finally completely off Dilantin (yay!), and we had begun a taper of Sabril (Vigabatrin). She also started a new medicine, Zonisimide, which we are still hopeful might provide some seizure relief. However, in light of the recent surgery, everything is on "pause."

Speaking of a better place to be, Adin and I booked our first "alone" vacation since before Sadie was born. We are looking forward to getting away for a few days and know Sadie will be in good hands with Grandma and her Aunt Megan.

We look forward with a mixture of hope and trepidation as we await the results of her brain surgery. She needs your prayers now more than ever.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where to Begin...

Sadie post surgery
I've been procrastinating writing this post because so much has occurred in the past few weeks. Where to begin...

I suppose I'll start with the biggest piece of news. In case you hadn't heard, Sadie had a second brain surgery a few weeks ago. During her 6 month post-surgery follow up appointments at Cleveland Clinic, her MRI showed water in her brain cavity that was unable to drain. This fluid-filled pocket (or cyst) was causing pressure to build up and press against her brain stem and other structures in her brain. We saw this clearly on the MRI.

The doctor was not 100% sure why this occured, he said that it is possible that scar tissue from her first surgery formed a membrane over the brain's natural drain causing a buildup of fluid. Apparently this can happen in 5-10% of patients who receive brain surgery.

The doctor spoke about a few symptoms that we might have seen. Headaches, sleepiness, loss of head control, etc. Obviously, Sadie can't tell us if she has a headache, but we hadn't noticed a change in her behavior. We did, however, notice that her head control hasn't been quite as good and she has been excessively sleepy lately - both things that we had been attributing to a recent change in seizure medicines. 

Our pager that provided updates
during Sadie's surgery.
The doctor layed out a few options for treatment. First, we could choose a cyst fenestration - which essentially is a procedure where they go into the brain to lance the cyst and create a natural hole for the brain to begin to naturally regulate the pressure. The second option he offered was a cyst fenestration and shunt. A shunt is an artificial drain which is implanted in the head and drains the spinal fluid into the belly where it is reabsorbed. The drawbacks of a shunt is the probability that it could malfunction, get infected, etc. This occurs quite often. Lastly, he mentioned that some parents may choose NOT to treat the condition and hope for the best. The obvious drawback to this choice is that this condition can be fatal.

Adin and I decided that we were not willing to give up fighting for Sadie, and we would obviously choose to treat this condition. Which left us with surgery or surgery as options - not a great choice. So, we chose to do the cyst fenestration and hope that it works to drain the fluid and create the natural circulation of fluid in her brain. Here are some articles we read which describes the procedure in more detail:

The drawback of the cyst fenestration without a shunt is there is a possibility that it might not work. The doctor told us that it has a 50% chance of working. Sadie will have a CT scan of her brain in six weeks which will show whether the surgery was a success. If the fenestration alone isn't effective, we'll have to consider a shunt.
Doors to the PICU.
I've seen these much too often.

Surgery was performed at Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Bingamin, the surgeon who performed her first surgery. Although this is not what we expected when traveling to Cleveland for follow up appointments, we knew she would be in good hands.

Unlike Sadie's first surgery, this inpatient recovery stay was relatively short. She was discharged in three days. She is now recovering at home and is doing quite well.

Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers throughout the next six weeks as we pray this surgery is successful and she will not need a shunt.

P.S. In our next blog post, I'll fill you in on all the FUN and exciting things Sadie has been doing this summer (trips to the Museum, the bienniel Aicardi Family Conference, etc.)