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

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Blessings and update on Brynn and Brett

We visited the new neurologist yesterday. My head is still swimming with all the information that we were given in just one visit. Abigail and I went to to the back pretty quickly for her EEG and Brandon, Brynn and Brett waited in the waiting room. Not long after being back there with her, a nurse came to tell me that Brett was having seizures. He apparently had a cluster of Complex Partial seizures.

 I waited for Abigail’s EEG to get started good and asked if I could go check on Brett. I found him with several people, nurses and people that worked there. They were sitting next to him, standing by him and talking to him. I later learned that they didn’t just sit by him and talk to him. They snapped their fingers and clapped loudly in his face to be sure that he was not conscious. This is important in partial seizure as a Simple Partial you are aware and a

Complex Partial you are not aware. Other than being in the hospital or home, no one had ever assisted us before during a seizure. I am sure it was a good learning experience for all the people that were there and saw it. By the time Abigail’s EEG was completed they had put Brett in a wheel chair and brought them to meet us to get weight, measured and talk to the nutritionist. We then gathered in a large room with the Doctor, 4 Nurses, the EEG Tech, Abigail, Brandon, Brynn, Brett and I. Brett was first and it was obvious that he needed some changes since he had the cluster there. We talked about Brett’s hospital admission to the EMU for 6 days. I told him that I felt that Dr. made him worse by messing with his medications. He has not been the same since he crashed the night before discharge. He slept 10 hours his last night there. Slept through discharge, including having the wires removed and had to get to the vehicle by wheelchair because he could not walk at all. He slept four hours after on the way home.

He started having a new seizure type after he got home, was having tons of little seizures that would only stop with Ativan and would return. His stomach aura was much worse and he was generally off balance and completely not with us most of the time for a few weeks. In the six weeks since he was discharged he was a lot worse than he was in the six weeks before he went. He really felt that the Lamictal could actually be causing the Topamax to not work

as effectively or that the Lamictal may not be a good drug choice for Brett. So we decided to add Depakote, since Brynn had a good response on it for so long. We talked about how Brynn and Brett respond so well to Benzo’s and even how odd it is that Brynn and Brett both tend to not get sleepy after given a Benzo. He asked curiously how Brynn responded after he started Vimpat.I told him I have a video, that Brynn was so awake and alert after starting Vimpat that we were amazed! Turns out that people that respond like they do to Benzos often have the same response from Vimpat. It has to do with brain chemistry and Vimpat is likely going to be really good for Brett like it was for Brynn. 

He even talked about the extreme Keppra rage Brett experienced and said that people with their kind of brain chemistry actually are the ones to usually have that effect from Keppra, just so much hyper aware that it has a very negative impact of their functioning. So right off the bat I got an answer to a question I had pondered so many times! So of course we decided to try adding Vimpat instead of Depakote for Brett and we agreed that Onfi should be next. We talked about Brett’s Left eye and how it often kicks out

and gets stuck before and after seizures. He was very educated about what could be the cause of this and he called the eyes bouncing up and down and side to side Nystagmus and said that he also has ataxia. He went in to great detail (a lot of it was over my head) after I came home I did research the words he used and figured it out, Cerebellar Ataxia. I realized after researching that the Nystagmus is actually a symptom of

 it, so is double vision. Boom, another mystery answered! Abigail was next, her EEG was normal and we decided that if I became concerned I could contact him and request a 24 hour or longer study. He felt strongly that whatever we are dealing with is a rare syndrome passed on from me to the boys. He said that the video of Abigail really could be parasomnias. 

I felt that since she was not wetting herself like the boys did and since I had not seen any real evidence of activity while awake I would just keep watching her. Brynn was next, we talked about Brynnon’s history and we talked about how Brynnon has been doing so well, having an average of only 1-3 seizures a week is so great for him considering his past history. 

I stressed that I wanted to leave things exactly as they are and he agreed. As we were finishing up with Brynn Brett bounced back a bit from the seizure cluster and started to play, rolling around in the wheel chair. We both smiled and I said, see… now that his postictal phase is almost over you get to see the real Brett! He shook his head and said that is really shocking that he can function so well on that high a dose of Topamax. So all in all, that was the best visit we have had in a long time. My heart is in New Orleans with their prior Neuro, but considering where Brett is on the seizure journey and the 5 hour drive for care… my head says it is safe enough to stick with this one. So, that is what we will do! 

  So after this really neat experience, I must say that is our closest experience to “The Village” that we have ever experienced. I recently read this book by Lowel Evans. I realized as I was reading it that “The Village” is what has been missing in our lives. You know it’s sad in this day and time, people rarely take time to call, write or contact people in any way. Even families have so much less contact than previous generations. Epilepsy is a stigmatized, unknown and misunderstood condition to begin with. If you take a family like mine and throw epilepsy in, well you end up feeling like you are all alone!

Since my Mother was murdered in 91′, we homeschool and we moved for work so many times our children have missed out on a lot. We haven’t really had the “family” like most people do for most of my children’s lives. I have six children and I can count on one hand the times that my children have had birthday parties where people attended. I can also count on two fingers how many times the boys were hospitalized and someone visited them. The Village concept is one that people reach out and help each other. Not

necessarily with money but just general support when people are going through hard times or trials. The Village is the community that the character in the story lives in and when he is targeted for having Epilepsy at his job, the village all comes together and helps him not only get through the hard time in his life but they help him feel loved and wanted. You can read about the book and get a copy  here:   http://thevillageiscoming.blogspot.com/

  So, The Village book got me thinking how much it is needed for the Epilepsy Community to reach the outsiders to educate them and the outsiders to reach them to support them. We started seeing some of this concept in our own lives when a friend donated to make Blue’s deposit possible. Through the small donations given by a few people we kept the hope.

Through the donation from a Rowan Company of $500 we were amazed! Blue’s balance dropped to $2,500 after that generous donation! KONG sending the boys a box filled with goodies for Blue, People sending messages to check on the boys, my sweet friend and her husband praying for the boys and donating, finding out that the Church you use to attend 20 years ago has taken up donations for Blue… All of this is The Village

concept in real life. I can’t describe what a blessing it is to know that people want to reach out to Brynn and Brett. I just wanted to say how grateful we are to those that have helped us get closer to getting Blue home! It means so much to Brynn, Brett and our family! She will likely be ready around February, and we believe that the funds will come… that the village will come together and get Blue home!

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~Colossians 3:15-20 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  
~Ephesians 1:16-18 – Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…