Recalculating….

bbb36063997_1838393646206648_5468404218702331904_nBrett and I went on a grand adventure to Service Dog Training Camp for 10 days. Instead of graduating as a Service Dog Team Brett Graduated with his amazing Dog Taylor as a Skilled Companion Team. The reason is that Brett was not able to learn everything he needs to pass the Public Access Test with Taylor independently is he has a disability. I found it painful to watch as those around us struggled to understand how to reach him and  understand exactly what Brett’s disability is. As traumatic and life threatening as Epilepsy is for Brett, his intellectual disability that his Epilepsy Syndrome caused has the greatest impact on his life and his abilities. Last time it was tested, his IQ was 46. He carries a Moderate Intellectual Disability diagnosis, that is just a number and in no way defines Brett, but does explain why he could not perfect complete control and care for Taylor in 10 days. He is after all unable to care for himself completely without assistance. As I drove the 7 hours home I had a lot of time to think and reflect on everything. When we drove there we were mostly on highways, surrounded by farmland. It was beautiful, but pretty desolate. It was boring and seemed like the same scenery the whole way. This is probably what a lecture without visual aids is like for a person with Intellectual Disability. It did not take me long to realize that we were going to be going a different way… when I heard the nice voice say “RECALCULATING….”
  I inadvertently had missed a turn and somehow by the gift of technology managed to end up on the interstate. This route would take me a little longer (more time needed to reach the same destination), had two tolls along the way (would need more investment to get to the same destination) and there were more exits along the way (more visual cues). What a perfect analogy for intellectual disability. When Brett is taught the right way, consistently for a longer period of time he will be able to perfect the commands. This brings me to my point. Intellectual Disability. Most people do not understand how difficult things are for a person with moderate intellectual disability. A Cognitive or Intellectual Disability is when a person has deficits in thinking and reasoning skills. They usually have difficulty especially with abstract reasoning, being able to apply what they learn in multiple situations and grasping cause and effect. Attention spans are shorter, they experience difficulty with staying on task and have a terrible time organizing information. In order for an intellectually disabled child to learn information it must be broken into small concrete steps and presented in a way that they can understand. Each step must be mastered before another step can be introduced, they learn best with  sequential information. Most intellectually disabled people learn best with kinesthetic methods, meaning they need to learn in a hands on way if possible. They almost always need visual aids to get information to stick in the memory bank to retrieve it later too! Brett like his brother Brynn, looks perfectly normal and most would not realize they even have a disability. This is a blessing in some ways, but other ways more damaging. People tend to “look” at the person and expect them to be able to perform according to “age” and not ability. In many ways a person with intellectual disability will get less help and accommodations than a person who looks disabled. A person with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy may “look” disabled but some are actually not intellectually disabled. The DSM-5 list Intellectual Disability as a disorder with onset during the developmental period (before age 18) that includes both intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits in conceptual, social, and practical domains. To receive a diagnosis of Intellectual Disability they person must meet the criteria deficits in intellectual functions, such as reasoning, problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning and learning from experience, and practical understanding confirmed by both clinical assessment and individualized, standardized intelligence testing. The levels of Intellectual Disability are:

*Mild = IQ 55-70

*Moderate = IQ 40-55

*Severe IQ 25-40

*Profound IQ < 25

For more information about the abilities expected with different IQ ranges see:

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/learning-and-developmental-disorders/intellectual-disability

 

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It’s been so long…

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I don’t even know where to begin! We are in a happy place, with less seizures, more smiles and lots of laughter! The Aptiom has been amazing for Brett, in addition to drastically changing his VNS settings. He has gone down to minimal seizures, with having only a few a week. Recently, he went the longest ever without a seizure for 11 days! He has done a year of PT and OT, worked really hard in both and made exceptional progress. He hasn’t used his wheelchair except for a handful of times, in almost 2 years. Initially Brett had fine motor control of a 2-4 year old. He is in range with his IQ now at 6-8 age level. He will start up OT and PT again soon and we look forward to seeing more progress. We also hope to get him into vision therapy, as he has a visual disorder that they haven’t figured out just yet. We will finally get Brett’s Service Dog in a few weeks. It has been a LONG and painful journey to get here… but it’s time. He has been through a lot and healed so much since then. I am forever grateful for the anonymous donor that donated through the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation as well as DomestiPups for this amazing miracle for Brett! 

I still can’t believe my Epilepsy Warrior Boys are 18 and 13 already!! 

24909877_10214496209856270_659568372617918225_nbrynn18

Brynnon is a handsome man now, at 18 he is still funny as ever. He still has a few seizures a week, which causes some aggression and irritability, but other than that he does relatively well. He has done well adapting to the world with his moderate intellectual disability and still loves to fix things, especially taking apart things to see how they work! 

With the time available and money needed I figured out that for me, sewing is therapy! I started the adventure wanting a quilt for Brett. When I saw the prices, I decided to make one for him. Well, that led to me making ones for all my children. I started making VNS Magnet Bracelets along the way too. Oh how I do so greatly enjoy making special needs items that will help a child feel special. I started doing vinyl decals for EMS alert, since we use them I knew other parents had a need for them as well. I got busy enough that I opened my own Shop on Etsy! Check it out! 
http://etsy.com/shop/EWB
Here are some of the items I have made for our family and other special needs families! 

Say Bye Bye to those black  plain medical bracelets that come with your VNS magnets and HELLO to having your favorite colors and your name embroidered on yours. Wear them
confidently because they are stylish, adjustable and comfortable. What are your favorite colors?
Let me make yours today!

Spinning Wheels

IMG_6778We have been in AL for almost two years now. Frightening thought, considering that I had anticipated better care for the boys here and ended up with less than they had before. To date, they have seen 4 Pediatric Neurologist, 1 Geneticist and still just spinning our wheels as far as the “why.” Currently, we are traveling longer than we were from MS to New Orleans just to see a Pediatric Neurologist who at least seems to  have the ability to think outside the box. I still would never leave MS given the chance to do that over!
I don’t think anything could have prepared me for this journey with Brett, even Brynn’s journey was so different, looking back seems less stressful and complicated in comparison. IMG_6885
Tonight, Brett had a mild seizure as he walked down the hall towards his room for bed. I stood there talking to him and when he was ready we proceeded to his room. I read their Warrior Devotional, said our prayers, kissed both my warrior boys on the cheek and headed out the room. Brett’s headphones are broken, so he wanted to listen to his music on his iPod dock. Simple, but unacceptable to Brynn who had to take an Ativan minutes before because he was slurring speech, racing thoughts just spouting out and his left arm was jerking in those familiar myoclonic twitches, all signs it was not going to be a good night. So argue they did and Brynn took the iPod from Brett and slung it to the bottom of the bed. Abigail calls out “Brett’s having a seizure.” Indeed, he is, so I get the magnet and swipe.
He IMG_6721seems to come around and I assume that’s all. I explain to Brynn that his headphones are broken and it would be nice if he could listen to K-Love to go to sleep. I find K-Love, wait for the play button and for it to load and ahhh, a lovely song is playing. All this time Brett has been tummy down on his bed with his chin on his arm on top the wood low headboard. I say “Brett, scoot down and lay right.” To which he answers, “Who’s Brett?” I ask him if he is okay and he looks at me, and I know by the look he has no clue who I am. So I find myself standing there thinking, how wrong it is that this is “normal” in my world. Nothing could have prepared me for the heart-shattering pain and fear I felt the first time I heard those words, yet here I am staring at my precious blue-eyed baby boy who just said them and I didn’t feel panic. As with any other part of our IMG_6648Epilepsy journey, and many others like us, I was not informed or prepared to ever hear those words. So many things that have happened have been exactly the same. I can’t tell you how many times I have stayed up and researched all  night something that happened just trying to make sense of it. I never heard about SUDEP until I read about Danny on Dannydid.com.  Ms. Willa who did Brynn’s first EEG told me, “It’s okay Momma, people don’t die from seizures.” The very first Pediatric Neurologist Brynn saw after his first known Tonic Clonic while sleeping said, “People don’t have seizures while sleeping, he won’t have another at night it will be during the day, if he has another, everyone is allowed one.” The second Pediatric Neurologist said, “His Cognitive challenges and seizures are not related.” I never heard nocturnal seizures, even though Brynn had his first Tonic Clonic seizure while sleeping until I researched it. Thankfully, we went for a second opinion and stayed there for a few years, long enough to be educated, eventually get Brett diagnosed as well. I have been known to say that no one gave me a book, a pamphlet or even some printouts that could explain most of what we have had to get blindsided with. I imagine it would be frightening to tell a parent, one day your child may not know their own name, how old they are and they may become afraid of you because they do not know who you are. I still feel as though if I had the proper knowledge it may have been less scary and could have saved me hours researching the medical literature available online! Hopefully, we will make some progress soon. I feel it’s important to get those answers, the why my two boys have this obviously genetic seizure disorder and where do we go from here would be nice too!
So here’s to you dear parent with a newly diagnosed with epilepsy child. 
1. There are at least a thousand things that could happen and very few are positive things. The most important advice I can give is to take it one day at a time and keep a really good seizure journal describing every detail until you figure out what type they are.
2. Epilepsy can damage the brain, but most seizures do not. If you feel that your child is showing signs of regression find a psychologist or neuropsychologist and get testing done. This will not only  give you a reference point should true regression occur, but it will likely also help you understand and strengths and weaknesses your child has.
3. Changes are going to happen. It’s rare to come across a parent who says that their child always has the same exact seizures at the same exact times. For most parents this can be the most frustrating part. You can never know when it will happen and this can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for a parent if the seizures become or remain intractable. This is also known to cause stress on marriage and friendships. It is imperative that you have a support system in place. Know the symptoms of Caregiver burnout, especially if you have other stressors in your family dynamics:
http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/caregiving-stress-and-burnout.htm
4. Please, I cannot stress enough how important it is to learn the basics of seizure types and their symptoms.  I posted about this not long ago:
https://epilepsywarriorboys.com/2016/04/04/what-does-epilepsy-look-like-anyway/
5. Find other parents! There are several groups on facebook, you can find them by searching on facebook for “Child Epilepsy,” or similar terms and you may even have a local support group. Contact your local or State Epilepsy Foundation.
6. Know when to seek a Level 3/4 Epilepsy Center. The guidelines are here:
http://www.naec-epilepsy.org/spec_care/guidelines.htm
and to locate one use this link:
http://www.naec-epilepsy.org/find.htm

Long Time No Update? Sorry!

We have had some busy weeks… We have once again moved, but this time we purchased a home. 

Brett has been on a roller coaster of seizure instability for months. We had finally gotten great control of the Atonic and Myoclonic seizures when his ammonia level went too high and his platelets too low with Depakote. We went down on his dose and they reappeared again causing several falls. So we added a supplement and went back up. This is the first time with either boy we have had this problem with ammonia and platelets. 

Unfortunately, it did not give the same result and the Atonics came back full force along with Myoclonics and sleeping 14-16 hours a day. As of now we added Onfi and halved his daytime dose for a few weeks and he has somewhat stabilized again with those seizure types. His Complex Partials have not gone into status nearly as often, but the shorter Complex and Simple Partials are about the same. His VNS has been going off the same as Brynn’s for several months now, so I would have expected to see a difference if it was going to work at reducing his seizures like I believe it did for Brynn. We are almost finished weaning Depakote and are seeing improvements in his wakefulness and less seizures. 

Brynn has been pretty stable averaging just 1-2 seizures a week for an entire year. He has only had a few daytime seizures in this time and has somewhat cognitively leveled out to where I presume he will remain. We have worked really hard on inferring and basic life skills while maintaining his Reading and other scholastic levels. I have reached out to the local fire department to see if they will let him volunteer there to give him some positive men to have an influence on his life and prepare him for adulthood.

When people ask what made the biggest difference for Brynn I have a hard time knowing what to say. I do believe the VNS has had a benefit, especially on his depression. The Vimpat has had a wakening effect on his thinking and I believe it helps with the slow processing. The Onfi made a tremendous difference giving him about 50-60% reduction in Complex Partials. The Fycompa has stopped them from generalizing into Tonic Clonics as well as removed about half his Tonic Seizures. Altogether, he has gone from 4-6 seizures a week being a good baseline to his current 1-2 seizures a week. We will take that happily. He has lost over 40 pounds through watching his eating and being back in the country! We are so proud of him!      
..

On June 25th Blue was surrendered to the Breeder the Trainer got her from. I had her accessed by a local trainer. He determined that she has an unstable temperament and should have never been placed as a Service Dog. He also said she posed a risk for biting our 5-year-old Daughter due to her temperament problems. We decided that was a risk we couldn’t take. It took Brett five days to realize that Blue was not only gone but wouldn’t be coming back. He has had a really hard time adjusting to life without Blue. The trainer agreed to let us place Blue with the Breeder, who says the Mom is a lot like Blue. It’s no surprise really that one of the four puppies did not make it as a Service Dog. I have done a lot of research and have learned a lot over the past few weeks. The most staggering fact came from a fellow Mom’s blog. Her Daughter received a Service Dog from another Service Dog Training facility and she stated that they temperament tested over 100 dogs to enter 10 into the program. There were 5 graduates.” Wow. Blue came from a litter of 8. Our trainer did not temperament test the 4 available female pups she trained until she picked them up at just past eight weeks of age. How many did she put out as Service Dogs to families like us? ALL FOUR! Not only impossible that 4 out of 4 could finish successfully as Service Dogs, but very irresponsible, just ask any trainer! She stated in an interview with NSDF, that she temperament tested the dogs before they are chosen. NSDF was our sponsor for Blue and the NSDF website states Paws-4-Seizures, the seizure and multi-service dog placement program at National Seizure Disorders Foundation, is available to any qualifying individual with  diagnosis of seizure disorder or multiple diagnoses requiring the assistance of a highly trained multi-service dog. Our Experience:
10 Month old Blue was delivered on April 9th as a Service Dog listing Brett (10) as the handler. The trainer spent four days coming to our home to show us how to handle Blue. It was on the second day that we heard Blue Growl and Bark for the first time. We passed it off as dreaming because she was sleeping on and off at the time. When the older two boys would come downstairs to leave for work she would do the same. When my husband and oldest son would come in from work she would o the same sometimes. 
When we received Blue it took a full 10 days just to get her house trained, have to give ny husband credit here he questioned her training from day one because of this fact. We all knew with the first visitor to our home we had a big problem when she had to be taken outside due to growling and barking. The second visitor (a family) proved that we had persistence, no matter who it was she was going to react the same way. Imagine the horror that the “Service Dog” would cause if she were to bark and growl at paramedics coming to help one of the boys? When she growled and barked at a grocery store manager, that’s when we knew we needed help, what use is a Service Dog when you can’t even take it in public? We did everything we could do and were heartbroken to learn that she couldn’t be “fixed” to really fit into our home even as a pet. We adopted a Basset Doxie puppy who Brynn has really taken a liking to, but Brett has not been able to bond with the puppy. We are looking into adopting a German Shepherd from a rescue. She happens to look exactly like Blue, she was malnourished and is even abnormally small like Blue. Not sure if we will get her, but that’s the direction we are going at this time to help Brett with the loss of Blue. 
 As for the trainer that trained Blue, I notified her of this problem with growling and barking on April 28th that occurred on the 27th with our realtor. She suggested good firm prong collar correction. We did that with second visitors on the 29th, again had to take her outside she would not stop. Notified her again on May 9th that she did it to the manager in the grocery and she said she would come show us some things. We decided to have her fixed, hoping that it would help to calm her down if the problem was hormonal. When Blue was spayed, the vet said that she had never been in heat and did not look to be close to having her first heat cycle. So all that time, every time something negative was happening the trainer would say “it’s preheat” definitely was not. Meanwhile, I did a lot of research. She said that she would replace Blue on June 19th, I feel that we have been getting the run around ever since. We were supposed to get a photo of the Golden Retriever she was testing on Jul. 6th and she explained on July 29th that dog wasn’t going to work because she is too mouthy for Brett. So that’s where we are in our Service Dog Journey. Sadly, I have heard from several families that have had bad experiences as well. 

Recommended Reading:
*IAADP Minimum Training Standards for Public Access:
 http://www.iaadp.org/iaadp-minimum-training-standards-for-public-access.html

*Service Dogs Training Standards
These are intended to be minimum standards for all assistance dog programs that are members or provisional members with ADI. All programs are encouraged to work at levels above the minimums:

http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/standards/assistance-dogs/standards-for-dogs/training-standards-for-service-dogs/

*How to choose your service or assistance dog program:

http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/517

*Finding a program or trainer and evaluating the one you’ve found:

http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/591

Sources:
http://nationalseizuredisordersfoundation.org/nsdf-paws-4-seizures
http://seizinghope.com/category/seizure-dog/

Year end quick wrap up!

I didn’t realize it had been so long since I have posted an update. October, November and December have proven to be just as much a Epilepsy Roller Coaster as the prior months… well years. We have seen Brynn do so much better and have just a few small                                                   bumps of loss in seizure control.

All in all, I would still say that he is better than he has been in years. Brett on the other hand seems to gain some control and in a matter of hours, days or weeks crashes again. Brynn and Brett will see a geneticist in January.                                        We are hoping that we will have some answers from that appointment instead of more questions, like the previous Epilepsy Panel. The Geneticist hopefully can answer some of  

the questions about the two unknown mutations that came back on Brett’s previous Panel. (varients of unknown signifigance are 1.) heterozygous for late onset multiple carboxylase def w/biotinidase def p.G1n88Glu 2.) lysomsomal storage disease ds aspartylglucosaminuria p.Leu146Val)
The new Neuro does believe that they have a male dominant, female carried rare genetic female carried epilepsy syndrome similar to LGS.
   We returned to the Seizure clinic this 

month, and were referred to the seating clinic to order a bath chair. I brought Brett’s wheelchair to ask for a seat belt to be ordered. What a blessing they had one and started installing it right then! Unfortunately, Brett went into a Complex Partial seizure while it was being installed. With no break in between after several minutes the Complex Partial generalized into a Tonic Clonic.

911 was called after about 5 or so minutes. The nurse estimated that the Tonic Clonic seizure lasted about 8 minutes. He went to a postictal like state for about two minutes and then his eyes popped open into another seizure he went. Second Complex Partial that also went into a Tonic Clonic. It took an hour before Brett arrived in postictal state by ambulance to the ER. ER was over filled and the hall was being used to treat immediate cases. We

stayed there until he slept it off and awakened hungry and ready to go home. I got a prescription from the ER Dr. for Nasal Versed after he asked why I didn’t have his Diastat on me. I explained that I usually do not carry Diastat when I am fairly close to home, we really do not leave the house often anyway and when we do we are going to the Dr. anyway!

In the off chance we do get to take Brett to a store or restaurant he is 10, weighs close to 100 pounds and I would rather call 911 than try to get his pants down and administer Diastat in that situation in front of so many people. In hindsight, I feel terribly guilty that I did not have any emergency medication on me. I had no idea that it could take so long for Paramedics to get to us in this big huge city either. My thinking will change, once

again and I am sure my anxiety will not get any better either about leaving home with Brett and without Brett. We were only about 10 minutes from home and it was just a quick appointment, but once again I am reminded that Epilepsy does not have rules. When we left the house he looked great, no clue that a seizure was coming until it was happening.

I certainly didn’t expect him to be in status in a matter of minutes like he was. I went ahead and placed the Seizure Alert Dog Medication Inside bag that will be clipped to Blue’s vest in my purse with preloaded Nasal Versed and Diastat and will not be leaving home with Brett without it again. Brett will be getting the bath chair and his wheelchair now has a seat belt. We were referred to an Easter

Seals program to try to locate a better wheelchair after the physical therapist saw him actually have a seizure in the chair it became evident that he needs a chair that we can recline the back in the even of a seizure for his safety. If we can’t locate a used one he will order him a new one. All the children are excited about Hanukkah coming! Hope to update soon, if not I will I will update after the Geneticist appointment. We should have some photos in January of the boys and Blue! She is coming for a practice training visit with Brynn and Brett! Of course we are all really excited about this! Blue’s balance is likely sitting around the $900 mark! We are getting so close to getting her paid! God is good, even in the midst of this Epilepsy battle, God is so good and has never left our sides!  I have taken on new responsibility at National Seizure Disorders Foundation as the Treasurer and started writing Caregivers Corner as well.  http://nationalseizuredisordersfoundation.org/nsdf-caregivers-corner/  
It has been a blessing to be a part of NSDF and I expect really great things to come in the future.   

Moved, Settled and been to the BIG city!

We have moved, settled… Been to the Biggest Children’s Hospital we have ever seen (3rd largest in the U.S.) and saw a new Epileptologist. We moved to Alabama, and have adjusted to a lot of changes pretty well so far. We are in the city, never lived in a city like this before! A big shock and change for us, having been primarily in the country for the last 20 years! Had a visit with a new Epileptologist, that was “interesting.” A bit different than what we have grown accustomed to.                           
Brynn and Brett will both be having PET scans, better MRI’s and 5-7 day Epilepsy Monitoring Unit EEG’s. Our last visit in New

Orleans, was bitter sweet. I really hated leaving the Neurologist that we all loved and we all knew he cared for the boys greatly. It will be good for the boys to have better testing done and we can only hope that through this we will get answers and prayerfully solutions. The boys were not very impressed with the new Dr., perhaps just a little sad about loosing what they were comfortable 
 with. I will remain positive and keep pushing through until the testing is done, and we feel the new facility out a little better. I did manage to get a copy of Brett’s 10 minute Complex Partial picked up in N.O.’s EMU, although it’s just the EEG and not him like I wanted.

 We successfully weaned Brynn of Zonegran and switched to Fycompa, a new drug. Brynn’s random jerks have returned, we are unsure if it is a seizure type or a side effect only the test will give that answer… He is overdue an EEG to look at activity/background , so it will be good to have another, and an extended EMU stay can catch so much more than a shorter stay too. The drawback is that it is outside their normal envirement, and sometimes that makes it harder to catch seizures.

Brynnon is still going strong, having his better than ever baseline of seizures. Not exactly sure whether to give the credit to the VNS or Onfi… or even both, but we are very grateful for the reduction! Brett, who had been doing a bit better seizure wise, developed heat intolerance and gets a fever when he goes outside. It is a side effect of Topamax so we added Lamictal and tried to wean the Topamax, only to see a return of the constant visual auras, tummy auras and the longer Complex Partials. We raised it back, but haven’t been able to get the same level of control yet. Brett is having somewhat of a good response to the medications he is currently taking. We are seeing a lot less fear involved in the seizures and they are much less dramatic. Actually, they are a lot like Brynnon’s daytime seizures now. Brett’s nighttime activity is still much better as well.
We have picked a trainer and are fund raising for a Seizure Service Dog. Her name is Blue! We were inspired to name her Blue after hearing the song Blue Does, By: Blue October.
She is a German Shepherd and will be trained by Guardian of the Night K9. She will be trained to alert for seizures, assist the boys when postictal and so many other things! We are pretty excited about Blue! We have already raised her deposit and only have $3,500 left to get her trained and home! I bet we will all sleep better with Blue in the house and finaly not feel on edge all the time! She will be an official, vested, certified ADI Service Dog and will go everywhere we go!  So, there ya go… an update! Short and sweet, just the way you like them!
As always, thanks for your Love, Prayers and Support!!
~Denise and Family



…………………….

     

Comfort through the why…

                                                          

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

At times in this Epilepsy journey, I find myself questioning WHY? Why do my boys have to suffer like this. It doesn’t seem fair that they have seizures, that they struggle to hold memories, that they struggle to learn. It doesn’t seem fair that we have to face every day, not knowing what the day will hold, not knowing at any moment when another seizure will hit. It doesn’t seem fair at all, I know it must not seem fair to them. As with most things in my life I struggle with, I think about what I would tell someone who came to me with the same struggle. The answer is simple… The Father is not going to give us all the same struggle, but every human being will struggle with something. I never imagined that we would be in this struggle. Life was so wonderful looking back, but I remember struggle then too. Of course looking back, I have to giggle at myself at the little stuff that I thought was so awful, so heavy, so overwhelming at the time. At the time it seemed like the worst, now it seems like it was no big deal. It’s about perspective. We hold the ability as humans to keep a positive or negative perspective. It’s difficult at times to keep a positive perspective, especially when you feel overwhelmed. The more you focus on the negative the bigger it seems and the greater difficulty you face in finding positive again. I am reminding myself daily, that the Father is still in control… and no matter how it looks or feels He has a plan. I look at Brynn and Brett, amazed at their strength and perseverance.

Surely, the Father has a wonderful plan for their lives. How many people will they be able to help years from now, who are struggling with seizures. They are true Warriors, Fighting Epilepsy one day and one seizure at a time. What a wonderful testimony they will have, to stand firm one day and tell their stories.
Brett received a lovely Hernando Bear to comfort him during his VNS implant surgery and healing. It was sponsored by: Angels 4 Epilepsy, TG Bears and donations by group members. He will be going in less than two weeks to meet with the neurosurgeon about his VNS implant surgery. Brynn had his implanted on Oct. 25, 2012, we believe it has helped reduce the number of seizures that generalize and perhaps even reduce his postictal lengths as well. We feel it is a good option for Brett too and should be at least somewhat beneficial. Brynn has recently had either a return  of daytime seizures or an awakening to realize they are happening, no way to know really. It’s new for him to “know and express” that he has had a seizure. He has remained somewhat stable over the past several months. Staying at the baseline of

2-4 seizures a week. Brett is still on a roller coaster, having one, two or clusters of 6 or more almost daily. Both boys now have the diagnosis of Refractory Cryptogenic Focal Epilepsy. (Meaning they have a cause that is unidentified, are resistant to medical treatment and have focus areas where the seizures start)The Courtagen Epilepsy Panel revealed no answers as to the cause of Brett and we assume Brynn’s Epilepsy cause. We obtained and are now using seizure journals from the National Seizure Disorders Foundation (the Foundation that is sponsoring Brynn & Brett’s Seizure Service Dogs fund raising). They are beautiful and make seizure journaling so much easier than our printed pages, which were hard to keep together! They can be found here, if anyone is interested:
http://nationalseizuredisordersfoundation.org/my-seizure-journal-2014/

….Back to the scripture I started with. I think people may assume that when it says comfort, that it means rescue. The Father comforts us by encouraging, strengthening you and giving you hope. When you come out on the other side you will be able to comfort others.  I hope that you will be comforted, in whatever struggle you are going through. I hope that through Brynn and Brett’s Epilepsy Journey, we will always find a way to see the good and focus on the positive. I HOPE for the day that we can comfort others in the same path, having overcame the struggle, the pain and the uncertainty of Epilepsy. We must remain steadfast in faith, that one day, videos like this one will no longer be recorded our home.   


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The Stream of Rushing Water

I have been reminded over the past few weeks of the stream of rushing water. Many years ago I heard a preacher preach about the stream. Over the years I have expanded the concept as I have deepened my understanding of my own spiritual walk as well as through helping others to understand this. It has always been a strengthening thing to think upon and always seems to help me get over the rough patches. We are all as human beings in the great big stream of life little stones. Some of us have many different jagged edges. Some of us have jagged edges of bitterness, jealousy, self pity and so on. Some of us have a few big jagged edges. Doesn’t matter which kind you have… These jagged edges prevent us from going through the stream of life as Abba Father intended. It is only through bumping into other stones (people and life lessons) that these jagged edges are broken away. It can be a painful experience to have those jagged edges knocked off, but it is for our own good! In my own life I have had

many jagged edges knocked off… at times I had to stay by the bank a while to recover from the bump that it took to knock the tougher ones away. At the bank, I saw so many other stones in recovery too. Some of those stones left the bank and jumped back to the stream before I did… others stayed when I jumped back in and I never saw many of them again. Some stones will have more bumps because we need to be smoother for the life that we are called for. Some seem to keep going, as if they never had any jagged edges… There are even stones that are going with the flow and are not really chosen for a purpose, they just keep going and will reach the final destination in the same state that they were created. Many are called but few chosen. If you are chosen, you cannot reach your destination of who you are meant to be and do what you are called to do without getting rid of those jagged edges.       

You see, when David chose 5 stones to concur Goliath, he carefully chose SMOOTH stones. He chose five, not one. He was prepared for battle, he didn’t expect it to be easy and he was prepared for the Father to help him, not do it for him. Smooth stones have more distance, accuracy and they will hit the mark. Jagged stones stray off course, fall short of the mark and seldom go where they are sent. The next time you get bumped and are hurt by the words or actions of others or the life lesson that is bringing you down remember, it is necessary and will strengthen you. It will also help you to become smooth so that you will go further, not stray from the target and will help you to fulfill your purpose. As you ponder this, think about the faith it took David to say “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45) David knew his purpose, he knew his calling and he knew beyond a shadow of doubt that a small teenage boy could defeat a huge 9 foot giant, not of his own might but with Abba Father he could do anything!
In these past few months there have been lots of changes around here. Brynn has left baseline again and had a seizure riding his bike. His neuro says no more bike riding until his seizures are better controlled. Of course this means no 4-wheeler either, and this is heart breaking. Brynn has two favorite things to do in this world, ride his bike and 4-wheeler. We will be trying to purchase a recumbent bike for him to be safer since it is low to the ground and would be more stable if he had a seizure on it. We realize it could have been so much worse falling off a two wheeled bike, even with his helmet on. We have made some med changes (increasing Onfi and Vimpat PM dose) and have seen a better trend back towards his normal seizure baseline. Abigail has turned three and is learning to read very quickly. She had a surprise visit from her favorite person… Her Gan Gan!!!!!!!!

I am feeling very blessed lately by the generosity and love that the children have received from a few special people. Honestly, I believe in the past few months the smaller children have been given more than they ever have. $25 gift cards, headphones, remote control cars, spy gear & robot bugs for the boys, Lalaloopsy DVD’s, Dolls galore and clothes for Abigail… We even were blessed to receive a $50 gift card for immediate needs at Wal Mart. I feel so blessed and cherish those special friends and family that have made a difficult time easier to bare, it means so much to us all. I am glad to have you all in the stream with us… I am thankful for all of you that have sat on the bank with me and even thankful for those few who have knocked me a time or two. Regardless of the intentions, Abba Father will make what the enemy meant for evil into good for His glory… Thank You Abba Father for using our situation for Your glory… 

                                        Don’t ever doubt it, Abba father knows all…  

Not going to be Seizure Free??

This video is Brynn in Hyper Mode…
 Brynnon has been on Vimpat for 45 days… out of the 45 days he has had 22 seizure free days. It has cut down almost all of the twitching at night in between seizures. When he started Vimpat it was like an awakening, amazing how awake and hyper he was. This effect lasted for the first two weeks, then we saw a decline… and daytime sleepiness in the third week. The fourth week he was not as hyper, but definitely more awake cognitively. This effect seems to have gone away again this past week… he’s not as slowed as he was so I can only assume it is seizure activity related. Trying to be positive, and stay focused. Last week the I called his Neurologist to update him on Brynnon’s progress. He said he is not going to be seizure free, but because he has shown improvement at this time, we will keep all medications the same as we do  not want to raise the Vimpat dose or change anything until this honeymoon is over. We don’t want to introduce more drugs at this time because we may need those drugs in the future in an emergency situation. I have said it myself, but it stung my heart when he said “He is not going to be seizure free.” Well, I went into Children’s thinking they could get him seizure free. I assumed he wasn’t going to be seizure free and we need to take full advantage of any seizure free nights/days once the 4th seizure med was introduced. We are trying to let him ride his 4-wheeler and just be a child as much as possible. The fact that he has cognitively improved surely helps his quality of life, but it also let’s us see where he really is cognitively. It will be a year since the extended seizure, that took so much of him away, in a few months. He is not the same child, he is not anywhere close to where he was in learning. It looks like he is so slow to go forward the seizures just knock him right back. I still do not know where he is going max out with his IQ and Cognitive Disorder. I will take him back next fall to the Neuropsychologist to see where he is and where he is capable of going. The Neurologist at Children’s mentioned doing testing as well. Perhaps they would do a better job of understanding exactly what is going on and what his full potential will be.      

 Yesterday we scaled back, back, back, way back with Brynn’s Spelling… He has not retained much at all over the last 8 months… Brett (7) is doing very well… he’s actually about a year ahead Brynn (12) in Spelling and Reading,  although they are not too far apart in Math and Handwriting. It was great at the beginning of the year to teach them both the same lessons. Depressing to see Brynn get left behind. 

Tera 22 Brett 7
Tera and I

Brett tells Brynn that he is pretty smart to do everything he does because he has seizures. What a blessing…

Abigail is TWO!!
Brandon (16), Janice (20), Brynn (12), Tera (22), Brett (7) & Bri (20)
Tera (22)
Abigail’s 1st skinned knee 😦

Abigail had her second birthday on the same day as Tera got her Medical Assistant Diploma. It is great to see Tera doing so well. I am so proud of her. She has a great job at a Doctor’s office and is still working at another job nights and weekends. 

Today…

 Late yesterday afternoon Brynn complained of a headache, he even asked for something for pain and was almost crying. He laid around most of the evening and was quiet for the most part, just a little whiny. He fell asleep around 11 PM, then the myoclonics came back… I thought that the Klonopin had stopped them. His right leg and upper body, arms, shoulders and head was twitching a lot all night long. Lots of nose rubbing and lip smacking/chewing… Saw him have a 1-2 minute tonic event and more clonic activity than I have ever seen in him without the typical tonic start. I don’t know if this is due to the Klonopin making him sleep so hard or if I am just not watching closely enough and am missing the tonic part or if it is a new thing. The Neuro said to call it what you want to and describe it… Well this looked like Clonic Shivering so that’s what I will call it. He’s a bit hesitant to do his school work today… Slept till after 11 this morning. Had a pretty good day, considering the night he had… 
  Brett would pick today to not cooperate at all in doing his home school… It is getting to be more than I can handle just to wake up and function with the fibro out of whack since the accident several months back and lack of sleep with Brynnon… I have not been feeling well the last few days. Maybe I am emotionally drained… 
  Abigail is growing so fast… Over 20 pounds, running… Playing and such a happy baby. Her speech is pretty good so far, I worry more with her looking back on Brynnon and knowing what I know now. Twirling in circles she goes round and round… then she sits… leans back ever so slowly and gently to the floor… and says OH NO… FALL DOWN…. She runs all through the living room and kitchen with her baby. She loves her babies, hugs her babies and kisses her babies… She is such a blessing! The light that sparkles into the darkness….
~Denise