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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Catching up!

 










 

There are a few of you who follow this blog of my sporadic at best ramblings who are not involved in social media, so sorry for the long span without an update. We have been on this Epilepsy journey since 2009, starting with Brynn. Never did I consider it was even possible for any of our other children to develop epilepsy. There are a few people that say things like “Your so strong.” I hate that because I am not at all strong. Without God’s grace and help, I would have never been strong enough to get through the stress and trauma I have seen in my life and surely this epilepsy monster would have put me over the top. I have likely done more research than the six neurologist, too many pediatricians, Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, two epileptologist’s and the geneticist combined trying to figure my boys condition and cause of it, what we are dealing with and how to help them. I have still not given up, like everything else in my life I am geared to over obsess over problems until I to let it go because I start to loose my mind or until I reach the answer, whichever comes first. Unless you have a child with intractable refractory epilepsy it’s impossible to comprehend the roller coaster that we live on. Every day, you wake up and brace for the unknown. Seizures seem to constantly change and evolve either for the better or worse, but nothing stays the same long. We have been blessed to see weeks without a single seizure and we have struggled when we watched the twinkle in their eyes disappear as seizures took over and stole their precious memories, learning, endurance, laughter and fight away. At least, that is how our journey has been. Plans? We don’t often get to make plans. It is much easier to live spur of the moment. We have left seizure clinic in a wheelchair half the times we have been to see the neuro and once in an ambulance for status just getting a seat belt in the wheelchair. I have forgotten to bring shoes to the ER, forgotten what medications they take, even given the wrong age and date of birth to paramedics. I am lucky I remember my own name in an emergency. I have zero sense of direction, and just so you know, I couldn’t find my own home without a GPS if I go too far from home! I am far from being smart, I know all you e-moms think I am. Trust me, I have read thousands of studies and articles about epilepsy, regions of the brain, genes, seizure types and anything else I can get my eyes on. The better I understand things the better I deal with them. Regardless of the situation, I am not the “take two of these and call the doctor if you have a problem” kind of gal. Nah, I gotta know what to call this thing we are treating, research all I can about it, know what caused it and the name and every detail about that drug the Dr. just wrote on his script pad before I put in down any one’s throat! Epilepsy has been my weakness, I don’t know why it’s happening and in spite of the years of research. I still don’t know how to fix it or even what caused it. Brett’s journey has been much worse than Brynn’s. He has had months of sleeping 16-19 hours a day and even on good days he sleeps 12-14. His seizure counts in the last six months average 3 a day. He has a large variety: Tonic Clonic, Atonic, Complex Partial and Simple Partial/Aura’s. We still do not count any seizures that are shorter than a minute, unless they come in a cluster and count that as one. When his seizure counts were lowest, his quality of life poorer. Seizure counts higher and he lost endurance, balance, cognitive function and his laughter disappeared. Since his ammonia level and platelet level scare, we never have been able to find balance again. We lowered Depakote and saw an increase, went back up added Carnitine to try to help his ammonia level stay down that helped until a few weeks later he crashed again. We added Onfi, and I assumed that he would do well on it since Brynn has and hopefully get off one or more of the other meds. That didn’t happen. What a mess! His ammonia went back up and platelets down, so we weaned Depakote. All this while Brynn started having an increase of nocturnal seizures, the Tonics came back as did the myoclonic jerks. Saw a new neurologist who is a lot like the old one the boys favorite (Dr. D). He’s almost 3 hours away, but smart and no BS kind of guy. He increased both their VNS settings and put them on rapid cycling. He also increased Brett’s Onfi and Vimpat to see a small break and watch the counts rise again.  We decided to keep things as they are with Brynn, offsetting any meds may cause him to go back to where he was. It’s likely best to just stay where we are and appreciate where he is, less is best! He has stayed on the same doses of Fycompa, Vimpat and Onfi for two years now. Brynn has maintained his 40+ pound weight loss well. His confidence is up and he is staying active happily living back in the country again. He is 16 now, so we are awaiting his new IQ test results to have him placed in a transition program that will lead to special job training.  We all really like the new house and have been doing a lot of projects around with the really huge Hickory tree we had to have cut down! We are still heartbroken over the horrible service dog experience. Brett has been affected in many ways. Just the mention of Blue can throw him into a seizure. We adopted two dogs to try to help (Flash and Daisy) and while they are fun, they still do not make up for the loss of Blue due to her unstable temperament and aggressive tendency towards men. We put a complaint in with the BBB Here: http://www.bbb.org/atlanta/business-reviews/guard-dogs/guardian-of-the-night-k9-in-locust-grove-ga-27470394/complaints and the trainer didn’t even respond. We have given up on the service dog completely. Honestly, I don’t think Brett could handle the process again and I have doubts that he could bond with another dog like he did with Blue again. It’s a really horrible thing to have gone through, but we will do all we can to make sure this does not happen to anyone else. $5,800 is a lot of money to watch turn into nothing and there isn’t much you can do about it except sue, and loose better than half the money anyway. The Service Dog industry needs to be regulated and laws need to be made to make these deceptive “Trainers” accountable for what they are doing to families. It should be illegal for anyone who has not been through training and received certification to sell a service dog. We are not the only ones, I have been contacted by so many people who have had failed service dogs. I just wish they would have contacted us before I signed that contract! When you have done all you can do just stand and wait… We have gotten this far with God, and with Him all things are possible!

~Denise