Parties and Brains and Zombies…oh my!

We’re having a quiet day here at home.  It’s raining outside and the mom’s say that makes people sleepy, plus I think I have this other tooth coming through and it’s making me slightly miserable.  I’m thinking about having another nap, but at the same time it’s kind of fun to watch the mom’s get so amused by me refusing to sleep and then fall asleep on the living room floor in a few hours.

It’s been a busy week for our little family.  Last weekend the mom’s threw a really big party  for me.  Originally it was called “Lily’s One Year of Ass Kicking” party, but then someone shortened it to just my “Re-Birthday” party (which frankly sounds nicer because I’m little and technically not aloud to swear yet).  We had an amazing time at MeMa’s house – swimming in the pool, playing Bocce ball in the backyard, eating delicious food and just hanging out with all of the people who were so supportive to the mom’s when I was so sick last year.  People were tricky though and brought presents, which was totally against the rules because it wasn’t technically a birthday party (don’t people follow rules anymore, geesh, kids today) but it was really kind of them.  I even heard a rumour that there were sparklers at the end of the night but someone fell asleep and missed out (okay, I’ll admit it, I fell asleep.  I’m so embarrassed).

After the party this week, I also had to go see my neurologist at Sick Kids to check and see how my brain is doing.  We got there bright and early and got my head all hooked up so they could take pictures of my brain activity while I was resting to see if I’m having any seizures.  And the happy news is, after waiting so long for me to fall asleep and then visiting my nurse Jane and getting weighed (I’m finally bigger than 20 pounds!!), I finally got to see Dr. W and she said that I look amazing! She said that my brain activity looks amazing for a kid who had infantile spasms! She said that we’ll switch to a safer medication for 1 year and then I can start to come off of it.  Fingers crossed everyone that my brain will keep being as healthy for the next year!

Lastly, I just wanted to show off my incredible new talent.  I’m getting really good at impressions – this is my version of Zombie Lily.  I’m tucking it away until next Hallowe’en…

Merrily We Roll Along

The mom’s and I are doing really well these days at just rolling with the punches.  When we were first getting used to all my little quirks, it was easy for the mom’s to become overwhelmed when I hit a little bump in the road, but lately I’ve noticed that they seem to be better at watching how things unfold before they start to get really worried.

For instance, last week the mom’s noticed that I started having small seizures again.  They were the same kind as last time, little muscle contractions that I can’t seem to control.  There weren’t many, but since the mom’s have seizure eagle-eyes now they were able to spot them pretty quickly.   They got an appointment with our pediatrician who managed to get in touch with my neurologist and they worked out a plan to change the dose of my seizure medication because I’ve grown.  The doctor’s also let the mom’s know that if my body is fighting any kind of virus, even if I’m not showing any symptoms yet,  my seizures become harder to control, so we need to go back to being very very careful about being around other kids and adults who may be sick.  The mom’s took all of this with stride and have just spent the weekend keeping a pretty close eye on me.  I don’t think that I’ve had any more seizures, but we’re going to see the neurologist again, just in case.  Either way, I’m pretty proud of the mom’s – they’re really growing.

Otherwise, I’ve had a really great week! Last weekend, I got to meet 2 new cousins (well, Mama C says they’re not new, they’re just new to me!), Melissa and Brittany.  They came all the way from BC just to see me!! (Mama C says that they actually came to visit my Aunt Bev, but I obviously know better).  We had a nice afternoon at Gramma and Pa’s house, with the two of them and Aunt Bev.  Auntie CC, Uncle Rico, Thor and Baby Ollie were there too and we had so much fun together! I thought that maybe I would be a little jealous that there is this new baby to take over my spotlight, but it turns out that being the only girl does have some advantages.  Luckily Baby Ollie is super duper cute, so I don’t mind sharing the attention with him at all (and especially because Mama C like to cuddle with him a lot).

Then, the next day, Mommy and I decided to have a group date with my other two friends Thano and Jack and we went to the Zoo.  We let their mom’s, Rita and Irene, come along too but mostly because they can drive.  We saw the brand new baby polar bear, but my favourite were the penguins! Mama C was sad that she couldn’t go too, but said that if she goes on strike then we can go to the zoo all of the time.  I don’t know what “going on strike” means, but it’s sounding great to me…I just wish I could figure out why the mom’s don’t look so happy about it.

The most exciting part of my week though was going to Sick Kids to see my OT Lisa! I hadn’t been to visit her since I was in the hospital in August and she was shocked to see how much I had grown and how great I was doing.  To my great surprise we were there because everyone thinks that I’m ready to really start eating! This was the best day! I got to sit in a high chair and Lisa fed me all kinds of great things! Thickened formula, apple sauce, cookies…even cheesies! I got to start drinking from a cup (Mama C was helping me and she looked really nervous!).  Lisa told the mom’s that I can have anything that I want now! She said to try lots of different things so that I get used to different textures and tastes – like ice cream and yogurt and fruit and pasta.  I have to work pretty hard at it because I have no teeth, but so far I really like this eating business.

Lastly, on Friday (and then again on Sunday), I got to see my Jacquie! Now that she’s not my adoption worker we don’t get to see her as often so the mom’s made a special date so that we could all hang out.  We had a great afternoon (even if Mama C hogged me and Jacquie barely got to hold me at all) but when Jacquie left, she forgot her sunglasses.  So then on Sunday we drove to her house and dropped them off.  We even got to say hello to her family who were all very wonderful – mostly because they thought I was so cute, especially the dog Gracie.

Really, when you look at it, there are way more good things happening then not so great ones.  I’ll take that.

Rubber Ball Life

If I have learned one thing in my short but dramatic life, it’s that life really does work like a rubber ball – it bounces up and down between happy things and sad things before you can even realize what’s going on.  I know the mom’s are wishing lately that there would either be a few more happy things or even just that the sad things would be spaced out a little more so they could at least take a breath in between bounces.

I had a new dog.  His name was Otis and he was tiny like me, and funny like me and almost as adorable as me.  Mama C was really sad about Ellie not being around anymore so Mommy decided to surprise her and found a new puppy for us.  Otis came home to us on the Friday night after Ellie went away and we had a really good weekend.  But then by Monday he was really sick and the veterinarian told the mom’s that he had something called Parvo, which is very contagious in puppies and means that they can’t live anymore.  So, the mom’s had to put him down like Ellie, because by the end he was too sick to even move.  The mom’s were surprised at how fast it happened and felt really bad that they weren’t able to do anything else, but knew that it was for the best.  Either way, I miss my friend Otis.  I actually really liked him – he was very gentle with me (after the first day when he used my foot as a chew toy) and he just scampered around the house making everyone laugh.  Poor Otis.

So, that was the sad thing.  The problem was it was just one more sad thing on top of a whole lot of other sad things in a short period.  Between Grandma dying, me having seizures, Ellie dying and then Otis dying, it has been a hard 6 weeks for the mom’s.  Mama C decided that it was time for a little reality break so she’s off on vacation for the next two whole weeks! We’re just waiting for my new cousin, Baby Ollie to be born and then we’ll go to Grandpa’s house in Frankford and spend some downtime just hanging out in his nice house by the water.

But there have been good things happening too! The smiley happy me that made an appearance two weeks ago seems to be sticking around.  All day long I’m just happy to just sit, bounce my feet all around and smile these big huge smiles.  I’m giggling more and now I can’t stop talking.  A lot of the times I’m just playing with different noises but the mom’s have caught me babbling a little bit too.  Everyone who comes over: Janet (my vision worker), my OT Kristin and Kathy and Barb from Surrey Place (Infant Development and Speech and Language) say that it’s like being around an entirely new kid.  They’re amazed at how much I’ve changed in just a few short weeks and they’re so happy that I’m learning new things all of the time.  And I LOVE seeing people.  I’m not even shy a little bit.  This weekend my cousin Alex and her boyfriend Aaron came to visit and I was so happy to just play and smile with them, but it doesn’t seem to matter who’s looking at me, I just want to show them how happy I am.  I don’t really care about toys or stuff, but I love the people in my life so very much.

And it seems to all be because the new medication the doctor’s put me on for my seizures seems to be working so very very well.  I haven’t had a single seizure in almost 3 weeks and my brain is definitly not feeling as fuzzy as it was before.  You can tell just by looking at me that I’m feeling so much better.  The doctor’s were really happy at how well I responded to the medication and were happy that I didn’t have to go onto the other one.  They were even able to give the mom’s a baseline for my development, which made them happy because a) it’s been a long time since anyone has been able to do that and b) they weren’t too far off the mark themselves.  The neurologist says that I’ve developed to about a 4 – 6 month old baby, which at first seems not so good (seeing as I’m 14 months), but is actually pretty amazing, seeing as my brain was pretty much re-set in July.  It’s almost like I have 2 birthday’s to count from.  I have my December birthday which is my actual age, but then I have my brain birthday which is July and would make me 7 months old.  So the mom’s are really really happy with how far I’ve come since I was that little baby in the PICU that wasn’t moving at all, couldn’t see light and couldn’t breathe on her own.  When you put it that way, I’m pretty amazed myself.

 

Much Needed Sunshine

While my tiny giggle hasn’t turned into full out squeals of laughter yet, I have decided that it was time the real me, the smiley, happy, always content, can’t stop squirming me, made a grand reappearance.  After December being a bit of a wash out with colds and probably some funny brain stuff, and January being awful because of my new medicine, I realized that it had been too long since the mom’s (and everyone else) had seen what I can do.  This week I’m turning it on strong.

I’m determined to sit up.  I like the whole world a lot more when I’m sitting up – I can see things better, and kick my legs better and grab my feet easier.  But my arms still aren’t quite strong enough to help me get there.  But I’m determined.  Lately, I’ve been experimenting with trying to use every single muscle in my core to spring up into a sitting position.  Apparently it’s pretty funny because it makes the mom’s laugh and laugh and laugh.  If I’m being honest it probably does look pretty ridiculous, so I should probably just keep working on making my arms strong enough to help me, but trust me, if I can figure out a way to do this without my arms, I totally will.

I’ve also been so very happy – I just can’t stop smiling.  I love to hear the sound of my own name, and I love to see people’s faces smiling back at me.  And I really really love the sound of the mom’s laughing – it just cracks me up.  Tonight, it was our weekly dinner date night with Gramma and Pa and that was super fun too.  They hadn’t seen me so happy and lively since Thanksgiving, so I think it made them pretty happy to see how active and bouncy I am.

But the best part of the night was when Pa got to hold me for a really long time (he’s really comfy, it’s like he’s been holding kids for a lot of years!).  We got all settled in nicely and then he started to sing for me.  Mama C always told me that there were two things about Pa I needed to know: he sings really well (when he’s not just fooling around) and he gives the best hugs in the world.  I learned about the hugs a long time ago, and I’m glad to know now that she wasn’t lying about the singing either.

Introducing….

Today the mom’s decided that there had been enough being not so happy about all this seizure stuff going on.  I have to admit that it wasn’t a great weekend.  The medication has been making me very tired (which the mom’s don’t seem to mind sooo much because apparently I’m into a good “routine”).  But I’ve stopped smiling at them and sometimes get a little lost in my own thoughts and I forget to look up at them.  But, they have noticed that I’ve been looking at lots of bright and shiny things, so they decided to help me in their own unique way…

They bought me a fish!! He’s very pretty and bright blue and just swims around making bubbles and splashing the water like I do in the bath (but I don’t hear the mom’s telling HIM that he has to splash with both arms, uh, fins).  We actually went to the pet store yesterday to get him, but apparently all the fish at that store had died because they were displayed too close to the front door and they got too cold (they should have talked to me, I could have told them how to make a come back).  So, while we got the stuff to make his house all nice yesterday, we finally went and picked him up from a different store today.

He’s very pretty, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I would have preferred a guinea pig.  While we were at the pet store today I was a little whiny so Mama C took me over to look at the birds and the reptiles and the hamsters, but as soon and she kneeled down so that I could look at the guinea pigs, I just stopped whining and sat watching them.  They are almost as cute as I am.  Someone walking by warned Mama C that they make a lot of noise, but she just laughed and said that they would just fit right in.  I think I heard her trying to convince Mommy that I should have one of those too, but I’m not sure who won that battle because I fell asleep.

So, now the fishy is at home in his new house, which we made all pretty with some rocks and a plant, but the very best part is that the mom’s let me name him all by myself!  This is what I picked….

 

The mom’s say that we will have to  spell it phonetically (whatever that means), so I hope you’ll all be as nice to Aaahrah as you are to me!

Silly brain

I’ve had a very eventful time lately.  The mom’s asked me not to talk about it until now because we didn’t really know for sure what was going on, but now that we have a better idea I can tell you all about it.

A few weeks ago, the mom’s started noticing that I was having these little muscle spasms.  It would mostly happen just after I had woken up and was just playing on my mat.  They were always very quick (only about a second or two) and it seemed to happen when I was grabbing my feet, so at first the mom’s thought it was just me losing balance a little bit.  But over time (and especially when my sleeping got all messed up over the Christmas break) it started happening a little more often.  Sometimes it would just be one or two spasms, but other times it would be 7 or 8 in a row and they would get a little bigger.  The mom’s made a big effort to get my sleeping routine back in order and the spasms seemed to go away a little bit but they were definitely still happening.

Finally, last week my lovely pediatrician was able to get us in for a visit to Sick Kids for an EEG.  It was on Thursday morning and I had to wake up at 5am and then stay awake until the test at 8:30am because I had to be tired.   An EEG is a test where a nice technician measured my head, drew all over it with crayons and then put all these little stickers on my scalp that were attached to pretty coloured wires.  The wires were able to send pictures of my brain activity to the technicians computer.  The test lasted about 1 hour and I had to be sleeping, and then slightly awake, then awake enough to look at flashing lights and then asleep again.  Luckily Mama C was holding me the entire time so I was pretty comfortable and only cried at the end when she and the technician were pulling all of the stickers out of my hair.  After that we waited around until we finally got to see the neurologist who was able to explain to the mom’s what’s been going on.

It turns out that I’m having something called Infantile Spasms (or West syndrome), which are a type of epilepsy/seizure disorder.  Kids with Down Syndrome are more likely to have these issues then typical kids, but also kids who have had an Hypoxic-Ischemic brain injury are also more likely to have these as well, so it shouldn’t really be a huge surprise that I’m having issues with them, but it was.  The difference between Infantile Spasms and other seizures though is that my brain activity between the physical seizures is all still all wonky (as opposed to only being wonky when I’m actual having the spasms), which means that it can cause problems with my development. (The mom’s found a really good article to help explain it to them, so if you want to understand it better you can read it too: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/ConditionsandDiseases/BrainandNervousSystemDisorders/Pages/Infantile-Spasms.aspx

All of this means that the doctors have to treat it very quickly and very aggresively so that we can stop the spasms and the wonky brain activity before it causes too much damage.  Luckily I have Down Syndrome though, and even though it’s more likely that we will get West syndrome, it’s all less likely that it will affect us as badly as typical kids so it’s actually really good that I have this extra chromosome (now it’s not just my cute chromosome but it’s my protective one too).   They’ve started by putting me on a new drug called Vigabatrin and they’ll check in two weeks to see if it’s working.  If it’s not then I’ll have to start a different drug that’s given to me everyday with a needle, so I’m really hoping the Vigabatrin works.  It comes with a lot of not so nice side effects though, so until my body gets used to it, I may be having a couple of not so great weeks.  It’s supposed to make me very drowsy and tired, but will also keep me awake at night.  It may cause me to gain weight (which actually made the mom’s happy) but may also make it harder for me to poop.  The big thing that made the mom’s unhappy was that it will probably cause me to loose the muscle tone that I’ve worked so hard to build up.  So, things that I’ve been working so hard on, rolling over, sitting up may get a lot harder in the next little while.  It also means that I’ll have to just be g-tube fed for a while too because I’m going to lose the muscle tone that helps me suck and I’ll also be very drowsy, so it would be dangerous for me to try and eat because I’m so good at aspirating when I’m not at my best.

So, it was a big week and we don’t really know what it means for the future.  I’ll have to be on the medicine (whichever ones works) for at least 7 – 8 months and hopefully by that time I will have grown out of these seizures.  But the doctor’s did say that it’s probably pretty likely that I’ll have a different kind later on.  So, like my veins and my sight, we’ll just add this to the list of things that I’ll just have to figure out as we go along.