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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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

Ones Mountain is anothers Molehill…

 Being Brynns Momma has brought me to many support pages, so many blogs and many places reading about some really special children. Across the Special Needs community, even the Epilepsy support groups there are as many varied parents as there are children. Some parents tend to take it all with stride, on the outside it appears that they have it so together it makes you wonder just how they do everything they do. Others are so fragile, you pray that the next moment will be met with relief as you just feel that they cannot possibly handle another thing. I tend to be somewhere in the middle, at least I would like to think I am.
 

 I remember when Brett was 2 and I found out that his “never-ending sickness and reoccurring respiratory infections” was actually asthma. I remember how traumatic it was for me to watch as they pricked his little back 25 times to do the allergy test. For me as a parent, before that moment even with four older children at that time, that was the most traumatic thing I had ever experienced with my children. The first time he had to be rushed to the ER because he couldn’t breath despite the treatments at home was more than I thought I could bare… Not because I couldn’t handle it, but because to me it was the worst thing ever. My reality, my world and my perception was shaken and changed forever in under 15 minutes…

It was as if the whole world stopped….. In one split second.

In S L O W M O T I O N….
I watched in horror as he laid on the floor jerking, foaming at the mouth…. His Daddy with him talking to him, calling his name… 
Brynnon, Brynnon…. Oh GOD please help him… I think it’s a seizure… 
He’s not breathing… I am screaming to the operator… 
Flagstaff Street…. F L A G S T A F F Street… 

Oh my God, please Abba Father…
Please help him breath… What is happening…. Oh God please make it stop……. Flagstaff is on the left…… Oh God please hurry…… 

He is breathing…… He stopped Jerking……… He won’t wake up…….

Thank God the ambulance is here…

 A
h, now this was different territory than I had ever experienced. To see your child with eyes rolled back, turning blue, shaking and not knowing what is happening… that is by far the scariest thing I had ever experienced. My perception of the event in that moment was a billion times worse than it was. Simply because I had never experienced anything like that in anyone, or my child.


Brynnon….. Brynnon….. Oh GOD Please No…….
Screaming for help, no one can hear me…. 

He’s not breathing….
HELP…. Okay, I can do this… Turn him on his side….
His Daddy comes… Gets on the bed with him… Holding him……
Time always seems to go so S L O W L Y….
911… My Son he is having a Seizure….  
He is not breathing……..
He will be 11 tomorrow…


Over  the years, my perception has changed some… I am still terrified when I see a Tonic Clonic seizure, but as long as it stops before that 5 minute mark I can handle it pretty well. Once it reaches over 5 minutes my adrenalin runs wild and I am scared to death that he will not come back to us. The Complex Partial and other seizures I can handle a bit more, those too scare me after the first minute or so. I guess because I have seen so many, your tolerance grows as with any other thing. So when you come across a Mom, a blog, a support site and you are tempted to think that person is making a mountain out of a molehill… remember that everyone’s mountain is different.


I think Brynn is having a seizure… The words echoed in my mind…. 

Handing Abigail to somebody…  I can do this…
TIME… What Time Is It?????? 1:39 AM…. 

Oh GOD he is not breathing… Call 911, we are supposed to wait…

TIME??? 5 Minutes…. He is still not breathing…

His lips are blue… His chin is BLUE… CALL 911….
He’s not breathing…….  I am Suctioning his mouth… 

He’s still not breathing…. Oh Father please let him Breath…

Okay time he is breathing and lightly jerking…. Time…. 12 minutes….
He is going into another seizure I think… Okay, Brynnon stay with me… 

He is having another seizure I think… and another…
Fire Department is here… Ambulance is here… 
A shirt…
I can’t believe I forgot his shoes….

I have had people express that they don’t know how I do all I do, when I feel like it will never be enough.
I too have had a family member look me straight in the eye and say “There is not a GD thing wrong with that boy.” and another say “He’s not retarded, if you keep treating him like something is wrong your gonna make him retarded.”  Ignorance abounds in every area of the world. In our families, in the grocery store, in schools, even in the very Special Needs Communities that are supposed to help and support hurting parents. Some people think that all children affected with Cerebral Palsy are severely intellectually disabled. Some people think that all children that are Autistic are completely non-verbal. Some people think that all persons with Epilepsy will be intellectually disabled. Some people, even physicians, think you cannot have seizures while sleeping.  Some people think there is only one degree of intellectual disability. Some people just do not think. They assume that they know what they are talking about, refuse to take the time to learn anything… because to them your mountain is just a molehill. Nothing you could ever say to them will change that… 

 So let the tears of that hurt roll off that mountain and eventually, it will create the most beautiful garden for you and your child to sit in and explore all the beautiful flowers that the Father has created in His awesome wonder and perfection

Each and every one of those special children whether disabled or seen by the world as perfect are indeed perfect. God does not make mistakes… and even if you feel like you cannot handle the mountain in your life. I can tell you with all certainty, that God knows your mountain and He would never give you more than you are able to bare. Every parent has their own mountain to deal with on a daily basis. Some more scary, some more life threatening, some more stressful, some more life altering than others… but never forget… all are traumatic to that parent. Yes, your mountain may be a Molehill to someone else and even more shocking your Molehill may be a Mountain to someone too… Just remember…
“I can do all things through Christ (Messiah) who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
 


 


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
 
    

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 

iPad’s and Children With Special Needs

  If you have a child with Special Needs, you simply must visit this link! While researching teaching methods for Brynnon a while back I read again and again how great an iPad is for Special Needs kids and that there are so many apps for them as well. The website above has videos to show you what the app looks like before you buy it! They are also giving iPads to schools and children with Special Needs in each State. They are excepting donations to get this done from the app makers, businesses  and people like us too! There are also free apps as well. I know when I spoke with the Neuropsychologist that did Brynnon’s testing about it, he said that Brynnon would benefit from one as he is a visual learner and learns best when a picture or chart is used to teach. The only problem I have in getting an iPad for Brynnon is the cost $500+ which I am sure that most parents would struggle with. I have sent a description of Brynnon to this site, although I think the giveaway’s are already assigned. I know Brynnon would do well with it as he has made a lot of progress since we started using  Time4Learning.
Which I highly recommend for those that home school! This is a flash based program so it will only work on a computer, and will not work on the iPad. Which is best for Brynnon anyway, as they would be separate activities helping his cognitive & attention difficulties.
  Not too much going on here… I have done some soul searching and praying… and I feel better about Brynnon’s situation. It was one thing to point out his symptoms do not match Rolandic Epilepsy… A completely different thing to hear Frontal Lobe Epilepsy, Cerebral Cortex Malformation and can become Retractable in Children Like Him within an hour of meeting a fantastic Pediatric Neurologist who has probably seen it all… I realize that the future could become bleak and I accept that. I also realize that it can be just as wonderful if not better than I ever imagined and that is what I hope for. We are not there yet and have a long way to go, so for now I simply will take it one day at a time… Through much prayer and with a lot of faith we will go forward… I will try to stay positive! In the meantime, we have painted the bathroom, hall and living room… Hopefully tomorrow we will paint the kitchen. Something about painting always makes me feel better. I suppose it is an outward sign of the inward change that is happening. I am forever grateful for all the blessing I have in my life and Brynnon is indeed a special child. I am thankful that the Father thought enough of me to place him in my arms… I don’t have a problem with having him stay a child longer than usual, I love children… if I didn’t I would not have had six of them!  

~Denise

Brynnon (12) and Abigail (1)