Swimming like a mermaid

This week we’ve been down in South Florida visiting family and friends. We’ve been able to accomplish so much in such little time… like mommy getting to see not one, but THREE of her high school friends. And of course spending as much time with our family as we can. And swimming. And eating. And having dance parties. And swimming some more.

The weather has mostly been sweltering. But it hasn’t stopped this kid from picking up new skills in the water. She is doing all sorts of amazing things independently in the pool. And the ocean (with the courtesy of her swimmies). Here are a few shots from our visit.

Happy summer!

Love,

C & L

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.

Trials and Tribulations

There is so much promising research happening with Rett Syndrome right now. For this momma, it’s overwhelming to digest. There are currently 3 clinical trials that Lily is eligible to participate in and all three offer the potential to help with some of her symptoms.

Clinical trials are no joke. We participated in one a few years back and it’s a lot of work. Lots of hospital visits and monitoring. And a new medication to remember to give her every day.

I’ve done a lot of poking around, reading medical papers, have consulted with two Rett specialists, a bunch of Rett mommas and have decided that Lily will be only participating in one trial. It should be starting in late fall and I’ll be sure to send updates.

In the meantime, we’ll just be enjoying life in our little oasis on the UWS, trying to get this kiddo to gain some weight. Come and visit if you’re in town!

Love,

C & L

Aloha!!

Lily’s 8th birthday was such a success. In the lead up to her birthday (and the subsequent week), she was ecstatic. Birthday parties, Valentines Day and Hawaii? All in one month? It was almost too much.

But not really – seeing her so happy and (mostly) healthy – especially at this time of year – is such a relief.

We are day 3 into our Hawaiian adventure and this kid hasn’t stopped beaming. Thank you Make-a-Wish! Here are a few shots… leaving for Honolulu at JFK, getting a tour of the cockpit with the captain of the plane at landing, riding a limo (with Urszula), relaxing at the pool/beach and partying it up at a luau! More photos to come.

Lily’s luau birthday bash

This kid turned 8 today. Can’t begin to explain how proud I am to be her mom. In anticipation of her upcoming Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii, we celebrated with a luau!

The party was a success. It started with a ballet class taught by New York City Ballet (check out Lily independently getting her feet into 5th position in the second set of photos) and then the luau at school with pizza, cupcakes, giggles and dancing. Lots of dancing!!! After school we had a play date with her friend Xan, followed by dinner at her favorite restaurant. And then we went home, exhausted, full and happy.

Today

It’s 5:30pm on the 24th of January. And it just hit me. Today marks 5 years since d-day–Lily’s Rett diagnosis day.

What a 5 years it’s been. What a roller-coaster. But I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I’ve got the sweetest, coolest almost 8 year old I know. She is my joy, my inspiration.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. Every day I say to her when she’s having a tough moment–like trying to walk in the morning or crying uncontrollably in the middle of the night–that I can’t fix things. But that I can make them better. With love and comfort and compassion. But I can’t fix it. I can’t fix it.

That sucks. No one should ever have to see their child suffer so much. Every day. Every day. I’ll say it again: every day.

And we are so fortunate right now as Lily is going through a relatively stable period. And the ‘relatively’ is truly that. I am not trying to sugarcoat any of it: our ‘normal’ is anything but that.

So it’s been 5 years. And we’re getting closer to the ‘cure’ but it’s still not here. And every day as Lily grows and Rett continues to ravage her body, that ‘cure’ looks less and less like a cure for her. At this point I’ll take whatever it is we can get. Just to let her have the ability to breathe with ease, to wake up and not be in pain… I’ll take it.

I can’t believe she’s going to be 8 in a few weeks. I can’t believe how much she’s grown and changed. I can’t believe how much I’ve transformed because of her. And for that, I am grateful.

In so many ways, she’s such a ‘normal’ kid. She’s been putting together weekly hair menus letting me know how she wants her hair done every day. How freaking cute is that? Currently she’s all about pigtails. As you can see from the menu and hairstyle:

Her birthday is on the 8th of February. And I wish I could give you a list of things she wants as presents. But I don’t have one because she cannot tell me outright. So if you want to do something for her, consider making a donation to Rett Syndrome research. Not only will it go to her future, but the future of all her other Rett sisters and brothers.

With love,

C & L

Resolutions

I’m not generally a resolutions type gal, I prefer to use the word ‘guidelines’ when plotting out the year ahead.  For example, some of my guidelines for this year are to practice gratitude more often, learn how to do a handstand and get more sleep.

My child, on the other hand, has created a robust list of resolutions that are truly inspiring.  She’s such a funny, smart, silly kid.  And I hope that 2019 continues to be a great year for her.  And for you all.

Happy New Year!

Time flies

Dear reader,

It has been too long since I’ve written. Life has taken over lately and putting my thought to words has taken a bit of a backseat. Mainly it’s because I’m struggling with the reality of Lily getting older (she’ll be eight in February) and of what Rett Syndrome can continue to take away from her. And not having any way to stop this.

Don’t get me wrong, our lives are full of so much beauty and love and laughter. Lily is in ‘good’ health. Stephen and I are also. And we both have great jobs and live in a beautiful home and can afford to live a comfortable life. Lily goes to a nurturing school down the street where she’s got wonderful teachers and therapists. At home she’s got amazing caregivers and therapists. We’ve got a fantastic house cleaner (who Stephen thinks is one of the most important people in my life – he’s probably right!). But there is always this nagging feeling tugging at me. Worrying about Lily and her future and her health.

‘They’ are saying that in 3-5 years there will be a cure. In just a few short months, the first brave Rett girls (and their families) will be participating in the first human gene therapy trial to try to reverse Rett.

Best case scenario is that Lily will be 10 by the time a cure may be available to her. But as every day goes by, and Rett continues to do its horrific thing, what that ‘cure’ can look like becomes less and less optimistic. I try not to think about it too much.

But we just saw the Rett specialist a few weeks back and earlier this week was the Reverse Rett Gala here in NYC. And there’s been some big press about it recently. So it’s top of mind. How could it not be?

I need to find a way to push this all away and focus again on all the good that we have right here and right now.

Wish me luck.

A few random photos from the past few months (from top to bottom): Lily on her first day of 2nd grade, hiking with the mom in the Catskills, Sunday dinner at Grandma’s in Florida, Halloween (Lily is wearing my Halloween costume made by my dad almost 40 years ago, Stephen and I on a weekend getaway, making pesto with Grandma at our new apartment

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!