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!! 

24909877_10214496209856270_659568372617918225_nbrynn18

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

Fast Forward Realities…

It is with a heavy heart that I sit to write this blog update.  A lot has happened since my last post so I will try to catch up with pictures as I give the most recent update on Brett.

                                               

We had a wonderful Hanukkah! Abigail really enjoyed it this year and even helped light the candles. The Boys both enjoyed the Epilepsy Awareness in Disneyland bears and T-shirts that I got them! They both love their new cool beanie helmets I got them!  Last year at this time I was seeing cognitive decline in Brett, behaviors similar to Brynnon’s in Brett. I saw an increase in what I could only describe as extreme emotional outburst for no known reason and he

couldn’t explain it either. He would say things like he couldn’t see the words while Reading or he didn’t know how to borrow or carry in Math. A bright boy since birth, Brett was struggling to work at grade level when a year prior he was a year ahead. I tried to see it for what it wasn’t as long as I could. I had been catching events that looked like seizures in Brett for a few years while recording Brynn.

After being told by the Pediatrician he was faking seizures and peeing himself for attention, it eventually became easier to believe her, than to even think it really was seizures. One night while watching a movie Brett fell asleep. He got up and was completely blank looking. He stood and was making hand motions like he was touching something. I watched, tried to talk to him with no response and thought, well whatever that is it’s not normal. I researched… and I finally came to the conclusion it could be seizures and that Dr. was wrong or it could be Parasomnias. Ah, yeah

Parasomnias make more sense and the cognitive decline likely just the effects of having so much go on in his sleep. I took him to a local Family Physician showed her a few videos and said I am not saying these are seizures, but they are similar to what Brynn does, maybe they are Parasomnias. She agreed and thankfully Brett was referred to Children’s. We went for the first visit and I think I may have been the only person who saw the video there that was convinced that it was Parasomnias. He had a sleep deprived video EEG and was diagnosed with Epilepsy in September. He started Keppra, which caused horrible rage and anger. 

We switched to Trileptal and over time it did seem to help his daytime become a little better. I did not see much change in his nighttime. We went to his first visit with Brynn’s neuro Oct. 1st, and at that visit he said he would not wait until he is maxed out on five drugs to consider Epilepsy Surgery and that he was concerned about genetics.

All of a sudden, just when I got comfortable a few weeks later, he became very verbal about what was happening to him visually. All those crazy symptoms he had complained about blurred vision, altered perception of what he was seeing, altered sizes of things, his vision moving…

The more questions I asked, the clearer the picture became. I reported these things to the Neuro. It was decided that he needed another medication added, so we added Topamax. The dose was to be 25 mg AM & 100 mg PM to avoid any further problems in his schooling. It was great at first, he slept soundly and peacefully more nights.                                                                                                         

His daytime seemed much better… but over the next few weeks my life became a whirlwind. Brett started having bigger daytime events that terrorized him and everyone who saw it. I did not know if he was loosing contact with reality or having symptoms of a terrible mental disorder… 
but he started having something happen after the Complex Partials that I did not know could happen.

TERROR, Irrational Fear, Screaming, Wandering and if being restrained or stopped RUNNING. We started recording the events on the third day. Something was happening that never happened before. I called the Neuro to report these events after I researched and figured out that the fear could be part of the Complex Partials. I suggested that perhaps the daytime dose being so much lower wasn’t protecting him well enough in the daytime, because now his nighttime events had disappeared. The neuro agreed and we doubled the daytime dose. After a few days it was evident it was helping some. I called again and was told to go ahead and get the doses even. It spaced out the events for several days.

Then as if nothing had changed it went back to every day. I decided the best action I could take was to request the neuro watch the videos. After he viewed them, it was decided that we needed to take action and have him go in for an extended EEG to see if he could be a possible brain surgery candidate. We returned home yesterday from Brett’s first Children’s Hospital admission. Brett had a seizure while being hooked up to the EEG leads, which made me think that may be a wasted visit. I did have the nurse that helped keep him on the table as well as the EEG Tech witness what happened, but I knew without it being on EEG it wasn’t enough.

That first day while hooked up he had a few auras that I didn’t push the button for. That night he was a teeny bit restless but not anything to push the button for. The next morning he got his breakfast tray and was not excited about that bagel he asked for once he saw it. He picked at the bagel and the rest of his tray. A bit later he asked when is lunch… at 10:30 lunch is a bit far away for a growing boy, so I offered to go buy him one of those Red Baron personal pizzas out the machine downstairs. After asking him if he was sure he didnt have the vision thing or feel like he was going to have a seizure, I asked his nurse if she could

keep an eye on him and she agreed. I waited for a while for the elevator, and eventually made it down. I anxiously looked for it… the shiny package that he wanted… Cheesy goodness, there it was! The machine wouldn’t take my debit card so I scrounged up a few bucks from my wallet. I grabbed a Green Tea for myself and was out of there… a guy called Ma’am your change! I grabbed that and again was on my way. Made it back up… and found the Nurse next to Brett in an obvious seizure… tears in running down his face… I spoke to him and he had that fearful look…

My little boy was lost,  completely lost. Didn’t know where he was or even who I was. I told the nurse he is having a seizure, pushed the button… Dr. M came in soon after and asked if that was a typical seizure. I didn’t see onset, but knew by the last part I saw it likely was, other than he didn’t try to get out the bed or take the wires off. So she said she would look it over and if it was enough, we may be able to leave.It seemed like forever before she came back. When she did she said you never want a neurologist to say your child is fascinating, but his seizures are very fascinating. He appears to be a good brain surgery candidate based on that seizure and it was such a good example she

will be using it in the future. She totally got how it was diagnosed as “Night Terrors” and how it was confusing to me that it could be a seizure, because his awareness comes and goes. It’s an unusual etiology and the progression of the seizure was very unusual. With the amount of Auras he was having she suggested that we stay the extra night and try to capture more.

I was done, and felt like I needed to go home. So I opted to do just that. So… all those crazy visual symptoms are Simple Partial seizures confirmed by EEG, as well as the Complex Partial seizures confirmed. She confirmed as well that a seizure he had a few days prior with jerking in both legs that eventually became whole body jerking was indeed a Tonic Clonic. He had the Right side only jerking every now and again at night and eventually during the day. When the seizure focus goes off it in the Occipital Lobe it moves to the Left Visual Assoc. Cortex causing the crazy Visual symptoms. At that point it is considered a Simple Partial seizure. It it keeps going and shoots through his Temporal Lobe causing the fear, euphoria and

more obvious Complex Partial it is considered an Aura. An Aura is a sign that a bigger seizure in coming experienced by much of the people with Temporal Lobe seizures. When his right side starts jerking it has spread through to the Motor strip and that time it was both sides jerking it had generalized (spread to the other side of the brain) into a Tonic Clonic. It is a good thing to have answers and know that there are options. I still have a lot of questions before Brett will be having Brain Surgery. The main question is Genetics. I cannot

think that it is “bad luck” as she put it. It’s too much like Brynnon. Both boys have the same genetic makeup, you can see it by looking at them, by the seizure type and progression and by so many other signs.  I think it would be very traumatic to have Brett go through Brain Surgery, and it is a step I am not willing to even consider without genetic testing. Brynn only had one Focal area at one time, now he has three. So in my mind, why would you go through that kind of trauma and hope for seizure freedom if eventually it will return and what if it is worse?

I don’t think I have the courage to even explore the surgical option without knowing a whole lot more. Whatever happens, I know without a doubt that our Abba Father is in control. No matter how it looks or feels, I have full confidence that Abba Father has Brynn and Brett in his hands and they are perfectly made.

The beanie Helmets I got the boys are from:
http://crasche.com/

The Cute bear Brett has with him at the hospital was a gift from CeCe Cares:
https://www.cececares.org/

The wonderful totes, bears and awesome T-Shirts came from:
http://www.epilepsyawarenessday.org/

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