Fearless

Hanging out at mom’s office in midtown Manhattan after a harrowing experience.

Lily’s fearlessness is something I always intuitively recognized, but it came to the forefront a few weeks back when I was packing up the taxi to take her to my office for the day.  Her hand slipped from my grip for a split second and she darted out into the middle of Amsterdam Avenue as the stoplight was just about to turn green.  I was able to grab her before anything bad happened but I was completely rattled.  She, on the other hand, was not.

Maybe fearless isn’t the right term – it’s more of a lack of understanding of consequences when engaging in certain activities.  Lily is learning to read and write and do math and all the other things that a typical 7-year old would be learning in school.  She’s really smart.  But there’s this missing filter that I find to be quite baffling.

When I’m baffled by something, I turn to research, which includes reaching out to other Rett parents to hear their experiences.  Turns out that this missing fear filter is all too common for ambulatory Rett girls.  I received over 40 comments on the Rett family support group from parents telling me stories of their ambulatory kiddos darting off in the middle of busy airports or fleeing playgrounds or even worse.

Fearlessness isn’t necessarily something that would spring to mind when thinking of a child with Rett Syndrome, is it?  But from what I’ve experienced – and heard from other parents – this is a Rett symptom that is VERY REAL.  I’ve not read about it in any literature or in any research papers.  There are so many other crazy symptoms to keep an eye out for, this is one that’s just been overlooked.

So how am I managing this?  Well, other than taking a healthy dose of Xanax to calm my nerves,  I’ve spoken to school about my concerns and they are adding goals to her IEP about helping her better understand dangerous activities and why she should not be engaging in them.

Also, we’ve found an outlet for her fearlessness: rock climbing!  For the past two weeks Lily’s dad has taken her to Brooklyn Boulders, an indoor rock climbing gym, where she scales the walls.  Literally!  Yesterday this kid rang the bell twice, which in rock-climbing lingo means she climbed to the tippy top of the wall.

On one hand, I’m eternally grateful that I have a child with Rett Syndrome who rock climbs fearlessly.  I know too many Rett moms who would be overjoyed with seeing their sweetie take a few steps.  So I don’t take my child’s abilities lightly.  However, managing her lack of a fear filter – especially as she gets older – is something that her nannies, therapists, teachers, relatives, friends and parents will ALL have to stay on top of.  So, I thank you all in advance for helping us navigate this dangerous and little known Rett symptom.

With love and gratitude,

C & L

       Rock climbing with her dad in Brooklyn!

 

Advertisements

And… we’re moving again!

Tomorrow the movers are coming to pack up and gather all of our stuff and then on Friday we’re in our new home. It all sounds so simple!

Regardless of the general moving stress, we are all super excited. This is a big change for me and Lily though we’ll still be staying on the UWS. It’s been just the two of us for the past six years. But we are both really excited to start this new chapter, combining homes with Stephen into a beautiful new place which is conveniently located right next to Lily’s school. I kid you not.

Lily is beaming and giggling and talking about her new bedroom and what she wants it to look like. Every time anyone speaks to her about it she just lights up. This kid is just amazing. So open-minded and invested in this new adventure. It’s almost exceeding the buildup to Christmas.

She independently navigated this page the other day when talking to Elaine, her speech therapist. (FYI this is a complex sentence to structure using Tobii/PODD so it’s pretty mind blowing.)

And then this is what she said she wants for the color of her room:

Consider it done kid!

Faith in humanity

This morning Lily, Urzsula (one of her beloved caregivers) and I met our cousins the Darlings at the Children’s Museum. We had a blast, especially at the dance party!

Everyone at the museum was super accommodating to Lily; they even let us choose most of the dance music. Watching Lily run around with a big smile on her face – enjoying the music, the people, the mirrors – was such a relief. You see, Rett Syndrome has been very unkind to her lately. In the mornings, she can barely walk. And she wakes up screaming and shaking and scared multiple times throughout the night.

At the museum today it was nice to have a flash of an ‘almost normal’ existence – for both of us. I don’t take these good days for granted.

Afterwards we went around the corner to Fred’s restaurant for lunch. It was a busy day on the streets of Manhattan and people were overflowing onto the sidewalk waiting for a table. The host (who we learned later has a son with Downs Syndrome) saw the six of us coming and said ‘we’ve got a table inside for you’. They ushered us in and we had a fun and tasty lunch. When I asked for the check, I got this instead:

I saw your family altogether in the Children’s Museum and was so touched by the love and affection and energy you all have. I have a cousin with a daughter with similar difficulties and know what effort it takes and the constant worries you must have.

I hope it all goes well for you. Have a great Sunday!

I have no idea who this kind stranger was. All the adults around the table (especially me) were floored. What a beautiful and thoughtful note. And what an amazing and generous gesture.

 

Celebrating

Lily had such an amazing birthday. The entire school was excited for her birthday. Even the janitor wished her a happy birthday when we walked through the front door that morning. She had the best day ever – dancing and eating cake with her friends, teachers, therapists and parents.

When she got home from school, we opened her awesome presents and then went to dinner at one of her favorite places – Playa Betty, with Mommy, Shamekia and Stephen!

The next day I took her for another birthday present – a haircut! She’s been obsessing over bangs and medium length hair so we went to Marco down in Soho for a new look!!!

It was only fitting given the recent poem she wrote about her birthday…

AND we raised close to $6500 for Rett Syndrome Research!!! Thank you to all who donated and helped make my kids birthday so very special.

Lily’s turning seven!

On February 8th, Lily is going to be seven years old.  In honor of her upcoming birthday and my unwavering desire to obliterate Rett Syndrome, I am launching our second annual fundraising campaign. A generous (and anonymous) donor and I have committed to matching up to a total of $1500 raised on her RettGive.org page between today and the 8th.

I’m so proud of this kid – she literally smiles in the face of adversity. I see it every day when she’s struggling to stand, walk or breathe.  I see how hard she works to do – well – almost anything.  I pray for the day when Rett Syndrome will be just a painful memory.

For those who have already donated… from the bottom of my heart, thank you! Your support and love is palpable.  For those who’ve not gotten around to it yet, or don’t feel that giving $10 or $20 will make a difference, believe me when I say that every dollar counts.

Lily is the bravest, sweetest, smartest, hardest working almost 7 year old that I know. And I know that one day in the near future she, and her Rett sisters and brothers, will be cured.  But without funding, it will remain a pipedream.

Until that day happens, I will continue to fundraise and advocate and fight. For her.

Heartening news on the research front

For those of you who have donated to Rett Syndrome Research Trust and wondered where your dollars are going, read this heartening article about two pioneering scientists who have just joined our mission to obliterate Rett Syndrome – BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU.
And as a reminder….”Rett is not neurodegenerative and preclinical research has shown that the disorder is dramatically reversible once protein levels are restored. Thus, therapeutics … have the potential to provide profound benefit and potentially cure Rett Syndrome.”
For those who haven’t yet donated, click here to support groundbreaking scientific research so that Lily and her Rett sisters can be rid of this shitty disorder.
Thank you.
Lily crimp

Fiercely determined, and beautiful.