Day one of x???

Wild times. Unprecedented times. For everyone.

And I hope you are all taking the necessary precautions. We are. Yesterday we drove up to our house in Connecticut packed with food, clothes, books, computers. Spent the day settling in. It is truly beautiful up here. And to be able to go out, smell the fresh air and see nothing but nature, that is a real gift.

These photos from yesterday depict one of joy and calm. And during some parts of the day, it was true. For others, not so much. Lily really misses school and her friends. I miss going to work, as does Stephen. We were trying to juggle it all yesterday, and without any support. It did not all run smoothly.

I have two immediate concerns – the first is that it has been years since I’ve not had daily support for Lily. She needs a lot of supervision and guidance. She can’t run around unaccompanied or sit there and play with her dolls, or play a game on her iPad or whatever it is that typical 9 year olds do. The other is also related to Lily. It’s been years since she’s not had intensive, consistent therapy. In a typical week she has at least 20 hours of direct treatment – occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech, etc…

To sum it up: I’m most worried about my capacity to care for her WHILE ensuring that she maintains the skills she currently has. And working full time.

Thankfully we’ve got Stephen. We are very lucky girls. And I know that he and I will create a new norm – one that will work for us all. It is not going to be easy. Nor will it always go well. But together we will do our best.

Oh, and then there’s this whole pandemic thing. Health risks, massive disruptions to the community. As someone who has spent the last 8 years living in a state of near-constant panic, who has fought for basic rights, who knows that each day can bring a terribly scary turn of events, I’m empathetic to everyone who is now dealing with these feelings. It is not fun.

But we will get through it.

Sending health and peace of mind and abundance to you all.

Love,

C & L & S

Highlights from a very interesting day in the country…

Another year, another trial

Happy (belated) New Year. 

This kid never ceases to amaze me. She went through so much last year and yet these are the smiles that we get. (See above photo for reference).

Last year she struggled with so many things such as: increased breathing issues, weight and height issues, mobility issues, challenges with her classroom setting and massive dental issues.  The last two problems thankfully were something that were relatively straightforward and remedied. The others, not so much. 

Regardless – when I look back at last year, I see it as a success. We had so many amazing adventures – from going on a Make-a-Wish trip to Hawaii to visiting our family in Florida to buying a weekend home (that has a pool!!!) to having the support that we need to manage our day to day (which is much more than one could imagine) and many other big and small wonderful things in between. 

Another important milestone she hit last year: Lily finally broke the 40 pound mark. She had been stuck at 37 lbs for over 3 years. We still have a ways to go to get her to a better weight, and we may never get there. But I’m learning to make peace with it as best I can. She doesn’t seem to mind. 

This year we have so many things to look forward to and be hopeful about. This kid is loving school, embracing her after-school therapies and is becoming much more vocal. We are seeing a lot of monosyllabic words shouted at the right times, often in cheeky manner. She’s been using her right hand relatively consistently to give a gentle pat or a hug (which is absolutely heart-melting if you happen to be the recipient).

And she’s starting one of three trials that are happening for kiddos with Rett this year. It will mean a lot more hospital visits and tests, but we are hopeful that this medicine provides her with some much needed relief. Even if I see a 5% reduction in her tension, anxiety, breathing issues, I’ll be happy with the outcome. 

And she is going to be 9 in less than a month. How is this possible? I had hoped that by this age, there would be a big breakthrough to ease the god-awful things that Rett Syndrome brings.  But we’ve not had any success. Yet.

I will never give up hope that things can get (even marginally) better for her.  If you were considering a birthday gift, the best present you could give her would be to support RSRT which is working towards helping kiddos with Rett. So if you are so inclined, you can donate here.  It all goes to the same place. Thank you in advance.  Love and peace and giggles.

THE CUTEST!!!!!

It takes a village

It takes a village – literally – to get this kid places. Trick-or-treating is just one example. Below are a few photos of behind the scenes efforts, and a few cute ones of her thrown in for good measure.  

Lily wanted to love Halloween, and we did get a few smiles from this cool cat. But there was also tears and exhaustion and not having the energy to walk at times.

We are both so lucky to have so many angels on earth helping us, and they came out in droves on Halloween!

So we went trick-or-treating New York City style, up and down the streets of Columbus Avenue and through the cross streets that go all out with decorations (west 68th and 69th Street FYI). It was an exhausting, but mostly fun time and we got entirely too much candy. Come over and help us eat it before we turn to sugar cubes! 

Never-ending attempts for normalcy and fun memories

Advocate like a mother

When so many things are going wrong for my kid, it’s not easy staying positive. Every institution that has been (supposedly) set up to help my kid is failing miserably.  Everything is a battle. Every day there is someone to call or email or visit. Some days I write dozens of emails and scan just as many documents to move things forward for Lily.  Inching forward is more like it.

Thankfully I am not alone. I have an army of people helping me along this battle – from Stephen to Lily’s therapists and doctors, and the other special needs moms – who are in the trenches with me, fighting similar battles, sharing their knowledge, their love and support. But we are outnumbered.

Yet we move forward. With determination and hope. Because we are fighting the good fight, trying to get the most basic of needs for our children met.

The absurdity of the situation (like so many other things going on in this world) baffles me. Here is one such example: We recently saw Lily’s neurologist as she is starting to have episodes that look like seizures. The doctor prescribed a 48-72 hour EEG. While trying to schedule it, I learn that my insurance company will not pay for a prolonged EEG without putting her first through an in-office 30 minute EEG. It is a foregone conclusion that we will not get any answers from this short study; Lily has these episodes maybe once a day. What I do know is that this 30 minute EEG will cause a significant amount of stress for my kid and we’ll have to do it all again a few days later.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what an EEG entails, here is a quick overview:

  1. Walk into a small, claustrophobic room filled with medical machines and a hospital bed.
  2. Get the kid to lay still while the technician glues 20+ leads on her scalp and then wraps head, which takes about an hour. (Many of you know Lily so you could imagine the herculean effort it takes to keep her still.)
  3. Sit there for 30 minutes to 3 days hooked up to a machine.
  4. The technician (who is often slurping on a smoothie or munching on chips throughout the process and sometimes smells bad) removes the 20+ leads and we go home.
  5. The parent then spends 2-5 hours getting the glue out of the kids scalp.

Could you imagine putting your kid (and yourself) through this twice? The first time for no reason other than to tick a box for the insurance company.  So I’m fighting back, knowing it is unlikely that I will win this battle.

So, I am angry.  And scared.  Because Lily may now be having seizures which is why we are doing an EEG in the first place.

But I am also hopeful.  And proud.  Because through it all, my child shines.  She is not easily deterred. And neither am I.  And I know that – given all these crappy circumstances – we have a lot of great in our life.   And some days, I’m actually able to focus on this and suspend my worries about her future.

One of those days to be grateful for… picking flowers, veggies and picnicking with friends at our country house.

 

Summertime, and the living is busy

This kiddo was super excited to start her summer program today. Did you know that kids with Rett Syndrome, or mostly any disability for that matter, need year-round therapies so they don’t regress? So it will be a busy summer of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, reading, spelling, math and her favorite: hydrotherapy.

And it will most definitely be a summer filled with blueberries and giggles, and lots of wonderful memories.

Excited for her first day of the summer program

First day of second grade v last day of second grade

Better and different

Last Friday was a pretty big day for us girls. You already caught a glimpse of Wonder Woman and heard that she was having a tough morning. But so many other things happened on Friday.  Even though this kid was feeling like crap in the a.m., she still made it to a dentist appointment.  She was brave, but man she hates going to the dentist.  Who doesn’t?

Then it was to school for super hero day, then PT and afterwards, I took her for a haircut.

She’s been wanting, and needing one for some time. And a few weeks back we had an appointment, but that was the day Lily fell at school and had to get 4 staples to hold her scalp together. Oh, that was a fun day indeed. However, I digress…

As many of you may know her hair is quite a topic of interest. We have had many conversations and even more debates about what she wants to do with it. For a while we were creating a weekly hair menu where she would plot out every hairstyle for each day of the week (see below).

But the debates about her haircut were always the most interesting. She would tell me, incessantly, that she wants bangs and short hair. To which I would reply, ‘short hair in the summer isn’t a great idea’ and wax on as to why. Her response was always quite diplomatic, ‘I can see your point’ she would navigate to on her Tobii (completely independently I must add); not that she agreed with me, but that she understood my reasons why.

In the end, she won. Mainly because the person cutting her hair cut it much shorter than was discussed. But Lily has been so pleased with the result.  She told her teacher yesterday that her hair is ‘better and different’. Why yes it is, smart, sweet, stylish child of mine.

Wonder Woman

I can’t stand the cuteness!! Today was Superhero Day at school and Lily was Wonder Woman (costume courtesy of Uncle Carl and Auntie Alina). She loved her outfit so much she didn’t want to take it off, even for her after school physical therapy session (see bottom right photo of her rocking out on the stairs with her PT).

You wouldn’t believe it by these pictures but she was barely able to walk and was feeling emotional and uncomfortable earlier. She’s been extra lethargic these past few weeks, especially in the mornings. And this morning, the damned rash on her face came back with a vengeance. We have no idea what is causing it and it seems to come and go with no correlation to anything. And it’s super painful and itchy for her. Cortisone, bacitracin, even anti-fungal cream doesn’t do much to alleviate it. So far, what works best is a cold compress.

It seems like every day brings about some new, weird and random Rett symptom. It is a relentless and ruthless disorder. And through it all, my kid handles it with such grace and determination. She’s truly a Wonder Woman.