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!! 

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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!

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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.   

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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It’s been a while!

It has been a while since I have taken the time to update here. We have been busy with home school and a few other things. Brynn has finally tested at a 1st Grade level in all areas of Reading. We have worked really hard on Inferring, Context Clues and Reading Comprehension.

This has made a bigger impact than he has experienced to date in his learning. It is a beautiful thing to see he figure out a word based on context and his confidence has grown so much that he does not hesitate to guess a new word or one he can not decode. He seems to have lost some decoding ability along the way, so we will have to figure out how to get that balanced.  Brynn received a Hernando Bear, sponsored through Angels 4 Epilepsy and TG Bears. He loves his Hernando and sleeps with him. He is a good companion and as Brynn says he is his Epilepsy Fighting Bear. He was promised a bear through another organization months before his VNS surgery. He never got it, so I bought him another bear. He said he didn’t want to take it to surgery because it was not an Epilepsy Fighting Bear. Hernando is so special to him… Monica, the beautiful woman who hand makes the bears, said she put extra fight in his Hernandos stuffing! He cut out the sticker from the box he came in and proudly displayed it on his memory shelf. That shelf is full of beautiful memories… 


  Seizure wise Brynn has experienced an awakening cognitively since the introduction of Onfi stopping a lot of the little seizures that you can not see. The bigger seizures are still there, just not as often, which has made a difference in our lives! He is spending a lot more time talking and has had spontaneous laughter more and more. Silly boy, we have really enjoyed having more of the real Brynn back these past few weeks. Just before his Children’s visit last week, we saw a decline cognitively and an increase

in seizures. He had a runny nose, headache and was declining so quickly cognitively, I took him to the ER. It was decided there that it was an increase in seizures and allergies due to the high pollen count. We went to Children’s Monday. His neuro increased the Onfi from 10 mg to 15mg 2X Daily. This has already made a difference, and we will not start the daytime dose until Monday! We also agreed it was time to l et go of the Klonopin, since he does not need to be on 2 Benzo type drugs regularly. He was only on .5 before bed and it has been two years since he started it. I haven’t noticed a difference, except perhaps a little clustering, which seems to have been helped by the Onfi increase. I expect once we increase the daytime dose we will level out again. We also were able to attain the Zonegran Brand Name Medically Necessary again. I do wonder if he may have done better with the brand name when he started the Onfi. It was such a dramatic difference… I guess time will tell. This time when his VNS was adjusted he had no change in is voice, no hoarseness and no coughing at all. I kind of missed the robot voice all the way home… but I us am happy that he seems to have gotten use to the device. His VNS is set to 1.25 cycle and 1.5 magnet. Speaking of the VNS,

we bought this custom made band for his VNS Magnet from Kimberly’s Crafts on Facebook. It’s just what he needed as it fits his ankle instead of his wrist. The magnet will destrtoy any electronic devices, credit cards and so on that it comes in contact with. So we needed one for his ankle, when I could not find one I contacted her to make it! It came out great! His neuro once again said that we will likely not see seizure freedom with Brynnon, and that our goal is to keep seizures at a minimum for him while not affecting his cognitive ability negatively. I am anxiously awaiting seizure freedom, I will not loose hope that he will one day be seizure free. We are still only 6 months out with the VNS, perhaps before this honeymoon phase ends we will notice a difference. We will likely discuss trying to wean Vimpat next, as we are not sure what impact this medication has on his seizures either. No matter what we will not touch the Zonegran, having the month of August as a permanent reminder of just how much he needs that medication.
 

Brett is doing great with the Alpha Omega Life Pacs. It was a good decision to place him in that curriculum to allow more one on one time with Brynn, since Brett has the ability to work independently.
 

Abigail has begun to want to home school. We are working slowly on the Starfall books and preschool workbooks. Hard to believe she will be 3 in just two weeks. 


We had a wonderful day on Epilepsy Awareness day! Everyone wore PURPLE and it made Brynn feel so special that it was his day! So here are a few pictures of our lovely purple day!

Surgery & all moved in, back to MS!!


Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (Psalms 34:14)

 
Whew, what a ride!  

Look at that smile! 🙂 Day 3 after surgery.
Creek…

The children & I are settling in, back in.. the Mississippi woods!                 What an adventure it has been! Packing for weeks, Brynn’s surgery and two U-Hauls later and here we are! Was crying out for Shalom in the home for a very long time in LA, well we got it! There is even a beautiful creek along side the rental property. What a gorgeous view! Brynn has had so much fun exploring and is looking forward to many days on the creek once he is healed all up! Love the peace we are feeling… absolutely wonderful! Who doesn‘t move to another state and have a few hiccups… I am just glad that the move is complete, well almost. There are still a few things in LA that we have to get here to MS.

In Recovery…

On Oct. 25th Brynnon had the VNS Implant  Surgery. The surgery went well, no complications during surgery. After surgery, well things could have been better. He had a difficult time waking up, had a seizure upon waking and threw up until just before midnight. After that, things have gone uphill. He is healing well, feeling good... Incisions are looking good so far, and he is eating well too!

http://old.epilepsyfoundation.org/about/treatment/vns/vnssurgery.cfm#.UJH_vIUhxq4
 
The children are having fun, getting a break from major Home School work last week and this one. We will prayerfully be back on a better schedule next week, these past few weeks have been so busy and rough! Most of the unpacking is complete, pictures are up… and even staying caught up on dishes and laundry! Ah, the PEACE!   

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:24-27)

 

Seizures are back to the 4 a week (30 sec. or greater) baseline, mostly Complex Partial, some Tonic and a few Tonic Clonic… Praying that this VNS will help him, but fully aware that this is going to take some time, lots of time if it does help before we see it. Starting to see the little ones return causing the absence type and the little cognitive ones that cause stuttering and slurs when he is talking… The Zonegran increase really helped those, not sure if the return is due to the stress on his body from surgery or if the increase of Zonegran is wearing off. Not too worried, as long as the bigger ones stay at 4 or less a week. Least that is tolerable and so much better than the seizure monster we saw in August… 

\0/ How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; \0/ that bringeth good tidings of good, \0/ that publisheth salvation; \0/ that saith unto Zion, \0/ Thy God reigneth! \0/ Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; \0/ with the voice together shall they sing: \0/ for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. \0/ Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. \0/ The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean [thing]; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. (Isaiah 52:7-11)


  Don’t Forget!!
NOVEMBER IS EPILEPSY AWARENESS MONTH… 

Horrible Month…


Wow, this while month has been completely stressful in every area of our lives. The month of August was terrible for Brynnon, not counting the small seizures (Absence) his total for the month was 65. He suffered 38 Complex Partials, 23 Tonic and 4 Tonic Clonic. This all started with 7 Tonics in a cluster on July 31st. His average was 4 per week in the months of April-July. On July 13th we completed the wean of Zonegran to try to help his cognitive function. He was at MedCamp the following week. He did have a Tonic Clonic on 7/25 that was 1 1/2 minutes. I considered it all to be stress, especially since my Husband was offered a job in NC. So off to NC my Hubby Flew to talk about this wonderful opportunity.  Before he even landed our cash buyer on our property backed out! Argh…   Our 2 year old Daughter took off running from us with a pencil and fell lacerating her eyelid. If that wasn’t horrifying enough the ER left a pencil shred in her eye. Lots of other little stress inducers… I assumed it was stress… 
All assumptions came to a crashing halt when I went back over all the video and filled in the seizure calendar. I was horrified at the amount of seizures. Horrified even more that I let anyone convince me that 4 seizures a week was okay. Horrified that I had let my guard down and let this go on… 

  It’s one thing that I was giving that extra Klonopin for clusters several times a week…..



When I saw that it didn’t seem to be working and worse this didn’t seem to end. I made the call to his Neuro. He started him on Ativan to break the clusters up. It took three nights to see any effect, but gradually it did work and broke the clusters up. The assumption was made that it was taking the Zonegran away. Looking at the calendar it makes sense. So we started the Zonegran again. 100 mgs for 4 days, then 200, then 300. Finally on the 3rd night of the full dose everything has calmed down. Not quite where he was before August, but certainly much better. Brynnon has always completely detested Zonegran. It’s a capsule and he cannot swallow it, so we put it in pudding. We will go back to Children’s on 9/11 and we will be talking about the VNS implant. His Neuro says it’s best to think of it like a medicine. Some do not see results at all, some receive seizure freedom.He feels Brynnon has about a 33% change of receiving a 50% reduction of seizures with it, but it will take at least 6 months to see this result. I have already decided it is worth the risk based on the assumption that it could help him in the event of another status seizure and it would be wonderful if he could be one of those that it stops all seizures! He also mentioned Onfi… Knowing how great Klonopin worked for so long and after seeing the Ativan kick in and get control of those clusters, well I think Onfi is worth a try with it being in the Benzo family. I just don’t know where they will fit it in. We will surely be talking this over next week. After going through these past weeks, I know one thing for sure… FOUR SEIZURES A WEEK IS BETTER THAN 13 or 14 A WEEK, BUT HE NEEDS TO HAVE ZERO. So, praying that September will be a better month for Brynnon and our family.

My sweet Brandon will be 17 on 9/5. I just cannot believe that time has passed so quickly. I have always reffed to him as a “Dear Child” after hearing a sermon years ago. The Pastor said a dear child was one that was after the Father’s heart, obedient to his parents and full of love for others. That Brandon has always been. He only lied to me once in his lifetime, about whether he completed his home school work. I do  not remember ever having to discipline him. All he ever needed was to be told, sometimes firmly, but that was enough… 
 


Brynn had a wonderful time at Camp Alabama provided by Med Camps of Louisiana! For 5 days at Camp Shining Stars for children with Seizure Disorders. He was able to ride a horse, swim, shoot arrows, enjoy nature and he even danced! What a blessing it is to have him have so much fun with children just like him. Priceless, you just cannot put a price on his tremendously happy smile and knowing he feels like he belongs somewhere. Please visit http://www.medcamps.com/ to learn more about MedCamps. They provide Camp experience in a medically supervised environment at no cost for children who other wise would never know a Camp experience. 


They have a wish list for musical instruments, archery arrows, soccer nets, bedding for twin size beds, pillows, art supplies, golf carts, puzzles, costumes, board games, Gift Cards, beds, (Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes), Paint balls and CO2 cartridges. They also have an “Adopt-A-Camper” Program. The program covers 9 wonderful Camping programs for children with Spina Bifida and Orthopedic Conditions, Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Disabilities, Asthma, Autism, Sickle Cell, Hearing/Speech/Vision Impairments, Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder and Asthma.  
                                                

  We got the 21 hour Video EEG results back while Brynn was away at Camp. No seizures were captured on the 21 hour recording! He of course does still have the same areas of dysfunction as well as the Epileptic Spikes. At this time, he does not appear to be in a state of Encephalopathy. We will keep the three medications exactly as they are and will only change anything if he starts a downward spiral again. I will be getting him in to the Neuropsychologist soon to see where he is cognitively. I would guess he is about where he was last August, perhaps making strides in a few areas, but perhaps falling back in a few also. I am looking forward to moving soon… More about that another time! 🙂 Brynn did get approved for SSI last week too. I expected to have to fight for it and he would be closer to 18 before he got approved, but they approved him the first time. Such a relief knowing that if anything happens to either my Husband or I or us both, he will be taken care of. Here in LA there is a 5-6 year waiting list for Waiver services for MR children/adults. I have already picked one of his siblings and discussed with them all that someone will have to take care of him, he is blessed to have 3 older and 2 younger siblings. So it’s only natural to look forward… with praise and thanksgiving that the Father got us this far… and knowing that He and He alone holds the future… With that I look forward with great anticipation, praying for His will to be done, now and always… ~Denise