Seven Lessons I’ve Learned From Rett Syndrome

I know what you’re thinking… you’ve not heard from me in ages and then within 24 hours, I post three things.

Well they say that all (good or bad? I can’t remember the saying) things come in three so this will likely be my last one for a while. And it’s really just a repost of what another wise momma wrote. It resonated with me so much that I wanted to share it here.

Thank you momma-warrior Joanne for sharing your insights,  specifically the ones on bizarre symptoms and respite.  She has nailed it with her commentary on what Rett Syndrome has taught her.  Like I said in my earlier post, it’s a hell of a disorder.

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At school earlier today playing with bubbles!

 

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A hell of a disorder

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday she could barely stand. Today she walked to school all smiles.

She was super wobbly when she woke (unfortunately this is quite common most days) and she only had a few tiny sips of smoothie this morning. But once I started talking to her about her day (school with friends, and then summer camp), she perked up.

I’m grateful for these mornings when she can walk to school. And it’s in these moments that I remind myself how lucky we are.

We have a few big doctors appointments coming up. Next week we are checking in with the nephrologist about the pee situation (which is still a pretty big issue). And then in August we are seeing the GI doctor. This appointment is the one I’m dreading the most. You see, Lily has lost 3.5 pounds since February. This is a lot of weight loss for her tiny frame. We will be discussing whether she needs a feeding tube. Her eating has not returned to the levels needed and it is concerning (to say the least).

I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, we will continue to make the most out of this summer.  This may just be my kids favorite season. And damned if we’re going to let Rett Syndrome get in the way of our fun.

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Someone’s having a fun summer

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Finally!  Her kindergarten headshots.  Lily chose her overalls instead of her sparkly dress.

The days are slipping by. I keep meaning to post but by the time I get to even thinking about it, I’m too tired. This kid has been keeping me busy!  Lily’s been enjoying summer school, summer camp (an after school program for kids who use communication devices), weekends in the country and outdoor dining. Here are some fun photos from the past few weeks.

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Backstage at Mary Poppins at the Paper Mill Playhouse with the Salerno-Abrahams!  Dream come true for Lily Poppins.

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Boston Corners weekend fun!

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Performing at her school’s moving up ceremony with her classmates and getting her certificate of achievement

Looks from strangers

IMG_7090Whether we’re walking down the street together or I’m pushing her in her adaptive stroller, we get stared at.  Some people are sly about it – they look out of the corner of their eye.  Others are overtly staring – gaping mouthed – at us.  Some days I can ignore it.  Other days, I stare right back at them.  It really depends on how much sleep I get the night before.  This issue has been a BIG topic of discussion on one of the many amazing special needs parent groups that support me and Lily along this journey of ours.

One mom (shout out to Jackie from Queens!) piped up some awesome suggestions which I want to share with parents who are on a similar journey and also for our friends/family who want to better understand just one of the many micro-annoyances that are a part of our day-to-day lives.

1) You have to stop caring what other people think. Completely. Unequivocally. From the bottom of your heart, stop caring about other people’s opinions relating to your child or your parenting. YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST AND YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB! (how do I know? because we are all trying our best – that’s why we’re here on the chat board) The rest of the world just has no clue, and it is unreasonable for you to expect them to. The rest of the world is NEVER going to understand what our lives are like – it would be impossible to convey the mountains of information relating to our kiddos and we each have a different story.

2) You should keep in mind that (even if it seems like they are really really not) those other judgy, nosy, know-it-all people are doing their best too! Their best just sucks, but it’s not really their fault – no one taught them good manners or how to behave. They don’t have good tools to share suggestions in a helpful way. People often don’t think things through, they just act.

3) If you can’t beat em – join em! LOL!!!! I am a big fan of dealing with other’s inappropriate interventions with passive-aggressive techniques! If I’m on the subway and actually feel like bothering to address the people who are glaring at me and my 6 y.o. who is having a melt down I will LOUDLY remind my daughter that I’m not going to give in to her meltdown, that doing so would teach her that she will get what she wants by throwing a temper tantrum, that it would be unfair for me to not provide consistency and stick with consequences that have been pre-determined (if you keep hitting your brother I am going to put you in the stroller, etc), and that when she has a calm quiet voice and body I am looking forward to helping her and addressing what ever is causing her to feel so upset. My daughter can’t hear any of this, of course; when she’s melting down she’s in full-on fight-or-flight mode and has lost connection to the outside world temporarily. .. but the rest of the glaring people can hear me 😉 and honestly, I think they know I am talking to them, not my daughter.

Someone who intrudes upon your life is small and petty and not worth one second of anxiety. They don’t have the right to cause you stress!!!! I do understand your anxiety, I used to feel it ALL the time, and then I just let go … one day I stopped and looked at the big picture and realized that I was so hard on myself, being critical b/c I knew my kids were disruptive and annoying to others – but I thought about what advice I would give to a friend with unruly kids and I realized that I was just not being very understanding or nice to myself. Be as understanding and caring and supportive of yourself as you would be to your dearest friend. What we do it SO HARD! Give yourself credit and take care of your self and don’t worry about what other people think.

I’m hoping that one day I can completely ‘let it go’ like this wise momma has done. Until then, I’m going to pray for as much sleep as possible.

 

Anxiety

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Adventures with mommy! Pete the cat book launch followed by lunch at 5 Napkins and a stroll in the park (mom had to do minimal carrying of child)

I know these photos don’t depict a child struggling with severe anxiety but she is.

Screaming and crying for hours at night, unable to be consoled in any way, it’s been heartbreaking. And exhausting.

I’ve been in touch with her specialist. We are considering changing her sleep medication. She’s only on one medication for sleep. Clonidine. And am so grateful that we’ve been able to keep the drugs to a minimum so far. Most girls with Rett syndrome are on upwards of half a dozen medications.

Clonidine obviously hasn’t been working so great lately. But I may have found something that has – continuos release melatonin. It never worked for her in the past, but the past two nights she’s been sleeping. Is it luck? Is it melatonin? I don’t know. But I hope we continue with this streak.

My superhero

Even though last night was a tough one (she may have had a seizure and it made her very upset), today Lily was excited about going to school as it’s ‘superhero’ day.

This kid is MY superhero.  Every day.  She smiles in the face of adversity.  She has fierce determination.  She is silly.  She is smart.  She never gives up.  And she rocks a jumpsuit.

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Superheroes live in the hearts of little kids fighting big battles.  #reverserett

Tellin’ time

orange watchA few weeks ago, Lily lost a tooth and got $5 from the tooth fairy.  She told me and Elaine (her speech therapist) exactly what she wanted to do with this money: buy an orange watch!  You see, she’s learning to tell time, something that she told us that she wanted to do, of her own volition.  A watch is the perfect accompaniment to this activity, no?  She’s so proud of this orange watch.

Earlier today, I got this text from Elaine and it made my heart burst with pride:

It was the most amazing thing watching [Lily] yesterday try and figure out on her own what the clock said… she kept looking at the analogue clock I brought, checking a cheat sheet I made for her and then making selections on the Tobii…  it was so exciting to see!

We are so lucky to have not only the Tobii, but also Elaine – the SLP/AT extraordinaire – to help us communicate with, and challenge this kiddo!