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

 

Got Patience?

What is patience? 

“The quality of being patient, as 

the bearing of provocation, 

annoyance, misfortune, or pain, 

without complaint, loss of temper, 

irritation, or the like.” 

My Momma use to tell me I had the 

patience of a saint… I never really knew 


what she meant, but I sure do now….  

I have had many lessons in patience. I was born graced with more patience than most people I know. Also like most people I know, I find as I get older my patience gets a little thinner.  I have had to practice a lot of patience in my life. I have to admit though, I often feel that I have had more than my fair share of the testing of my patience. I can say for certain that I have grown and learned many lessons from practicing being patient. One of my favorite sayings is, “The longer you wait the better it is.” I often use this when speaking to others about patience. I know in my life, the things I have really longed for, really prayed for and anxiously awaited for in anticipation… Those are the things that I really appreciated, really enjoyed and really cherished. These past few months I have seen a glimpse of a few of those things I had been patient for…  Blue, our Seizure Service Dog’s name being chosen and at last a dream came true was put in motion. 

A dear friend who I met on Craigslist, of all places, gave a wonderful miraculous gift of $1,000 to get Blue’s deposit paid so she could start training! When I think back of how we met and how we became closer than most people I have in my life…

I just have to chuckle and just shake my head in awe of it all. It was after all during the breast cancer scare while pregnant with Abigail that we met.  We actually met for the first time in the hospital parking lot. She had responded to an ad I placed on craigslist looking to buy a baby swing. She had the very swing I wanted and also gave me lots of

burping clothes, a bouncy seat, bibs and other items as well. It was a dream come true, the very “cradle swing” I had oohhed and aahhed over! Over the next few weeks we chatted on facebook and became online friends. Eventually, we exchanged phone numbers and became the greatest “night owl” phone friends ever! I was blessed to have her family

come for a visit recently. Indeed, this was only the second time we actually “saw” each other. Over that four year period we had formed a friendship that was stronger than most of my lifelong friendships. It was as if we had known each other our whole lives… Our entire families gelled together like long lost cousins. It was amazing, to look back and know that this one of a kind friendship has to be a “God thing!” 

Just before her visit Brynn had a seizure that caused him to fall. He injured his knee so I took him to the ER. The ER referred him to an orthopedic surgeon who said he needed an MRI. After a week of trying to figure out how to do this with the VNS, it was determined that he can only have a MRI at Children’s Hospital. The VNS has to be turned off for any MRI. His Daddy took him to Children’s to see another Orthopedic Surgeon who took better X-Rays and determined that he does have a torn ligament and his kneecap is also out 

of place. He has it braced now and does daily excersises to try to get the kneecap back where it belongs. If it doesn’t he will have to have surgery. The week Prior to her visit and the week of her visit the boys had their PET scans and MRI test done. Brett developed Petechiae a day or two after each test was done only on his forearms. I couldn’t get answers from the Hospital nurses or Radiology staff and took him to two Doctors seeking answers.

We never did get a definitive answer as to why, except that it may be his med combo causing his capillaries to be weakened and make him prone to bruising. The boys will both go soon for a 5-7 day EMU stay. We hope that we will get some answers from these new test at the new hospital. Brynn has done relatively well the past several months. He has experienced a seizure decline over all, and when he does have them they are generally less dramatic. He is also somewhat stable cognitively, compared to how he has been in the past. We

hope that this will continue! Brett has had a lot less Complex Partial Seizures that spread into his Temporal Lobe causing the extreme euphoria and fear. It is much easier to deal with the seizures when they are not scary for everyone else in the house. We have seen a decrease in daytime seizures overall, but they still tend to cluster when they do appear in

multiples of 2-4 a day. His visual auras/Simple Partials are persistent and no longer seem to respond to the Topamax. We did initially try to wean the Topamax due to Heat Intolerance, but quickly discovered that it caused his vision to become so poor with flipping images/double vision he couldn’t really

see at all. After increasing it back, he never fully regained control of that seizure type again for more than a few hours at a time. Just this week we finally were blessed with the amazing gift of love that we have wanted for two years now! The SAMi Monitors are here! 

They were given to the boys through the Chelsea Hutshison Foundation. I donated what we had left of the money raised with bracelet sales. I hope to be able to donate more soon. It is a wonderful foundation that is helping so many children with seizure disorders! I knew within two 

hours of the SAMi’s being on that this is a miracle, when it actually alarmed to a Tonic Seizure Brynn had while taking a nap. Such a wonderful feeling of peace, knowing that the SAMi’s are watching the boys too while they sleep! Now, back to that patience thing… 
Most people when talking about patience think it just means waiting. It’s not really about just

waiting, it is waiting while not exhibiting complaining and showing your frustration with not having what you want NOW. I know full well what Momma was talking about at this point in my life. It is seldom easy to wait for something that you need at this moment and not

get frustrated and complain. Especially when it is something that your child needs, like answers to medical problems or just a matter of being set free from something that is hurting them. In this seizure journey, my patience has been tested almost daily. I recently was thinking about patience and Momma saying I had the patience of a saint. I think I too had fallen prey to the

overwhelming desire to complain about how unfair things are in my life. How unfair it is that the boys have Epilepsy, that medications are not making them seizure free… and that is when I realized that I had become like the children in the wilderness… bickering and complaining… It’s very difficult to watch your child have seizures and practice being patient. All too easy to become frustrated with

not getting answers and the solutions to make these seizures stop. It was then that I realized, it’s not just waiting… It’s waiting knowing that it may never come. It’s waiting, believing and hoping that it will come… and knowing that our Father is in control and at the right time, perhaps it too will come! Until then, I will keep practicing being patient and like Abigail… Just keep smiling and singing joyfully, knowing that it will come! When I feel the temptation to become inpatient, I think about the children of Israel. They were right there and bickered and complained so much they just stretched out their time waiting… I am amazed when I think about how far we have come. A year ago, I never would have thought we would have a Seizure Service Dog in training and Two SAMi Monitors! GOD IS GOOD!

Please find is at Facebook.com/EpilepsyWarriorBoys to help being Blue home to help Brynn and Brett fight this Epilepsy Battle…  We do not own or claim to own the song used. The song is Blue Does By: Blue October. It is the inspiration that gave Blue her name! Please help being Blue home!!!! Donations cane be made here:
http://youcaring.com/EpilepsyWarriorBoys

Or for tax exempt donations through our sponsor, NSDF, a  501(c)3 non-profit Here:
http://nationalseizuredisordersfoundation.org/brothers-winning-the-battle-of-seizure-disorder/
*Please be sure to note that the donation is for the “Epilepsy Warrior Boys” and let us know you donated!

Hebrews 6:11-12 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Children’s New Orleans Update

  It was a great trip to New Orleans for the Children’s Hospital appointment last week. Spent some time Thursday with Family and Brian’s first boss and our Church of the Nazarene friend Leo, on Friday after the appointment. One of these trips we need to save up and actually visit the Zoo or the Aquarium! Abigail did great until she realized we were sleeping in the Hotel. She said she wanted to go home! It was nice to get away and spend time together the day before and nice after to visit too. Brynnon’s appointment went well. Doctor has upped the Zonegran dose to 300 Mgs. and requested the Name Brand as being Medically Necessary. Of course the insurance wants us to finish the Generic off first. Once he is on the increased dose and the Doctor has lab results back the plan is to move up on the Depakene next, he is already taking 1250 Mgs. a day. I am a bit nervous about that decision, as his blood levels a few months back were 96 for the Depakene… but it does seem to be the best to keep the extended Tonic Clonics at bay. The Tonic Clonic’s he is having are quick at the moment, and we don’t want that to change, but he is still averaging 4-6 clear obvious seizures a week… Not to mention the questionable Seizures or the ones I do not exactly know how to classify. I was not surprised when I read his EEG report and saw that there were 2 events each night that looked like clear seizures to the Epileptologist that did not read as seizures on the EEG. EEG did confirm he does have Seizures with no clinical signs, as the Neuropsychologist questioned also. I took home a copy of the report, wish I knew what it all meant.   
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Abnormal Electroencephalogram due to the presence of:
1. Persistent focal slowing over left occiput.
2. Intermittent to focal slowing over the left centroparietal head region.
3. Intermittent bursty slowing over the left anterior quadrant in sleep.
4. Frequent epileptiform discharges over the right centrotemporal head region.
5. Infrequent epileptiform discharges embedded in the left centrparietal slowing.
6. Infrequent epileptiform spikes over the left occiput.
7. Three electroclinical seizures that apparently arise from the left anterior quadrant.
Clinical Correlation: These findings are consistent with multifocal  areas of potentially epileptogenic cerebral dysfunction including an area of persistent slowing raising the question of underlying structural abnormalities in the occipital head region…. 
 At the visit the Neurologist mentioned the term “Epileptic Encephalopathy.” He did say it’s not Dravet when I asked about Genetic Testing, which I knew from my research. He said we will increase the Depakene and Zonegran one at a time as they are helping, keeping the Trazadone and Klonopin where they are. He wants to bring him in when he gets to a new baseline in seizure control or lack of and do a better MRI with finer cuts to look at the area in the left back that seems to be a hot spot. 
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 

 We came back home Friday night and have had friends from North Carolina here since Sunday. We have had a wonderful week. The boys got to go fishing on Eric’s boat, they had a blast! Caught some Catfish, kept some to give to the non-Kosher eating neighbors! Brandon and Eric got to go to the Bay and into the Gulf of Mexico today. Fishing is planned for all the men and boys tomorrow afternoon also. Abigail, Debbie and I will be going to have Dinner and perhaps we can find something else to get into too! Eric announced this evening that he is giving us his boat and trailer. What a blessing! I suppose if you are stuck in Cajun Land surrounded by water you really do need a boat! I see fishing in the future… Going to be focusing on making fun memories, especially now. It’s all any of us can do really… Make the best out of what you have, remembering that each day is a beautiful gift given from our Creator to do with it the best you can. There are certainly more smiles around since we got Brynnon his 4-wheeler. I know the boat will bring even more. Such a blessing!! So that’s where we are… have no idea where we are going… but I do know one thing for certain… Our Father is with us…

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (Lamentations 3:21-25)