Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Spectrum

It has been four days since our CDKL5 family lost another precious little soul.  A sweet 2 year 10-month-old little boy who was just 4 months older than Sonzee.  The pain is a mixture of heartbreak for his family tinged with fear for my own.  Within those four days another CDKL5 2-year-old learned how to take her first independent steps.  My heart filled with joy for all she has accomplished and immense amount of hope for her journey, but simultaneously breaks for what Sonzee might never do.  My heart and mind both torn at the fact that I should be less selfish about my feelings toward other CDKL5 children’s' advancements and just be grateful it's not my turn to be planning a funeral. 

This incurable disorder is just devastating on every imaginable level possible.  The spectrum is so wide and confusing.  We all want to grasp onto hope with the term representing various parts.  We hope our children do not constantly seize, we hope our children gain milestones, we hope our children are happy, we hope our children do not suffer, we hope our children do not catch a common cold that sends them into the hospital and has them clinging onto their lives, and most importantly we hope and pray our time to bury our child does not come today.

I spend every moment trying to keep Sonzee's life expectancy in perspective.  I try not to focus on the "what if" and "when".  I do not let those aspects consume my life, but the thoughts are never distant from my mind.  I know plenty will say "I shouldn't think that way", even other parents of children with CDKL5, but I will not convince myself otherwise when I know how unforgiving these toddler years can be, when I have witnessed Sonzee teeter on the delicate rope between life and death, and when I watch her seizures increase in both length and intensity right before my eyes.  It works the same with her Sonzee-stone achievements, I try not to focus on the "what if" and "When" but just let her do what her body is capable of, trying to truly believe when I say that I am content with where she is at.  


Daily we have new CDKL5 family members added to our group.  Having your child affected by a disorder with such a spectrum is cruel and unfair.  A parent posts a picture a picture of their 14-month-old standing and some say it "gives them hope", while I do my best to not compare an apple to an orange.  No one wants to have their child "more severely impacted", but someone must fill those shoes.  It is just the luck of the draw when it comes to CDKL5 and the role it plays and while we could not have won a bigger jackpot having Sonzee as part of our family, we could not have fathomed how difficult and painful her journey was going to be. 

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sometimes it's just easier

We are spending this week at Hershey Park.  We've done this before when Sonzee was a year younger, and I could justify her constant position of being in a stroller because she actually was "a baby".  It didn't phase me that she wasn't going on the "no infant in arms" rides because she was an infant.  She wasn't impressed last year with the few rides she could go on, the merry go round, train, and the monarail, but we took her on them irregardless because I insisted we treat her like everyone else.  Fast forward a year, knowing her personality better, and respecting her desires and we decided to not even attempt to take her out of her wheelchair.  

Sam and I have a routine of waiting in line with the kids to go on rides and then he takes on the children who want to go that have met the height requirements one at a time.  It's not ideal but we are clearly outnumbered by children so it is what is, and we don't factor Sonzee "as the reason" we wait.  With my parents here this year it makes it easier, but due to various ride restrictions Sam is the sole adult participant for this trip. There are some rides the kids wanted to go on  but that would involve taking Sonzee out of her wheelchair and having her be held in my arms and to be honest would result in a miserable time for everyone in addition to her, so we told the big kids we would take them later because Sonzee would be retiring to the room early.  As my oldest repeatedly said "even though we love her, sometimes it is just easier to not have Sonzee."

"It is easier", after I agreed with her and said the words, the tears swelled in my eyes (thank you $5 sunglasses from Marshalls for hiding this small fact) and I had to choke back the feeling of crying from my chest.  It is a honest truth that certain aspects of our life are "easier" without one of our children, and that is the worst feeling in the world and utterly breaks my heart.  I can't believe I have to say those words much less think them, and I really can't even fathom that it is actually a fact.

It doesn't phase her siblings that we tell them on multiple occasions "we can't because of Sonzee".  They don't have tantrums or get visibly upset over the "excuse".  They are very "go with the flow" type of children, but I am sure it must be frustrating to constantly hear us tell them they can't because of Sonzee.  It warmed my heart to hear my oldest say "we love Sonzee but", but I dislike immensely that there is even a "but" to follow.  She isn't wrong either, it is easier at times without their sister, I just wish that wasn't the case.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sensitive emotions

I can clearly remember how Sonzee was 2 years ago when she was close 5.5 months old.  Her diagnoses of CDKL5 known to us already for a little over 3 months.  She had been enrolled into therapies for 4.5 months at that point.  Her seizures were finally under some semblance of control, only happening every other day.  I remember being upset with that form of control.  I remember despite knowing the odds of her sitting, walking, talking, and/or being functional I was filled with so much hope because she was so young.  I remember distinct conversations with her physical therapist where we would both say that "Sonzee will...." and "She is so young....".  I remember feeling like maybe, just maybe, she would be the outlier to the (extremely few) journal articles written that gave the statistics about children with CDKL5.  

I can clearly remember 14 months ago when Sonzee was 15 months old.  Her life hanging in the balance as she spent a month in the hospital with it unknown to us whether she would be leaving the same doors we brought her through in our arms.  Her amazing therapists came and sat there encouraging her along the way.  She was swollen from medications, TPN, and additional fluids.  She had transfusions of blood and various other items to balance her metabolic panel, and developed an allergic reaction to the one seizure medication that at the time she appeared to be responding to.  Her seizures were at bay, but her physical development was far worse due to her failing body.  I remember feeling utterly helpless and wondered if it was going to be our turn to join those who had lost their CDKL5 children.

The years have passed and our attempts to help Sonzee live her best life possible have not gone the way I personally have intended.  Despite the relentless seizures and the awful GI system she was blessed with, we have not ever stopped her therapies.  Her therapists sit in our home whether Sonzee is an active participant for the hours they are scheduled.  They reschedule when Sonzee is having a difficult day and they do their best to help her have the best quality of life possible.  I will never say that the diagnosis of CDKL5 defines who the essence of Sonzee is, BUT I will loudly announce that it plays a crucial crucial role in her body's ability to achieve skills and perform "simple" tasks.  


Last night was one of those times where I felt like such a failure despite all the therapeutic efforts we have tried with Sonzee.  I truly believe that the words that led to my feelings were not intended to cut me like a knife.  I will lend it to me being super sensitive, but I am going to embrace the pain they caused regardless.  No Sonzee does not sit, she does not even want to be held upright at times.  She is wheelchair bound, and this is not changing any time soon.  Her physical abilities do not have anything to do with her personality so I do not let her lack of development negatively affect me.  It is probably irrational of me to be the slightest bit disappointed with myself over her development when just yesterday over an 11-hour period she endured 3 seizures and slept 9 of those hours.  There was no time to squeeze in any attempt at physical therapy.  I will take a guess that her day today will be similar, but she will be up for the challenge in true Sonzee fashion.  She is her absolute best even with the CDKL5 mutation she was allotted and I will continue to tell myself I am also.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Disappointment...again

For the past two summers I have created a list of "attempted goals" in my mind that I wish for Sonzee to achieve.  I always tell myself to be realistic, but to be honest, this is the one time of the year I actually feel extremely optimistic that during these four weeks there is no reason why she cannot progress leaps and bounds when there is nothing else to do but work with her.  Then the summer begins and the hours of each day pass by, the days turn into weeks, and I am left realizing that my fantasy of Sonzee gaining substantial ground is just that, a fantasy.

The scenery has changed, the environment is different, but the effect of CDKL5 is and always will be the same.  The seizures perform their daily havoc, actually, they are pretty much the only skill that she seems to make advances with.  Just 5 weeks ago she was having small little questionable moments, and now twice a day on average she has undeniable episodes.  I do not know when I will truly realize that we are not ever going to beat the seizures.  There is no magic potion to wave them away, and deep down I really do know this.

Her jumper is hanging in the doorway here in our townhouse and her stander sits by the wall.  Both have been used twice.  The Upsee has spent the entire time hanging in a bag on the laundry room door, my desire for us to walk together for 5 minutes a day has yet to be met.  Her bike sits by the fireplace next to a basket of toys she has zero desire to play with despite the various attempts her siblings and I make to get her interested.  Essentially, nothing has changed except my feelings of defeat are far more pronounced. 


It is the moments like these that I realize that even though I thought I had lost my hope with her, it was there, hidden away in a small space in my heart and mind, hoping to prove the majority of my heart and mind wrong.  In the end, all it does is leave a pain in my heart, a fog in my mind and it solidifies why it is I really dislike everything that surrounds the word "hope". 

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Becoming accustomed...

Whenever Sonzee goes through months of multiple daily seizures I do get numb to them.  Some of them bother me more than others, but overall "I am used to them".  I feel like when I say that to people I genuinely believe it.  Seizure are part of all the amazing offerings of CDKL5, well really it is more than that, THEY are the essence of CDKL5 at its core.  However, it is not until Sonzee experiences a break in her seizures and they return that I realize how much I was fooled into thinking I was/am used to them.  I guess I was not aware of just how talented my brain has gotten in constantly shielding me.  

I have watched this little girl seize since she was a newborn.  I have seen her body move in ways that are just not normal.  I have seen so many several types of seizures that my descriptions typically involve some morbid explanation that leave some of her doctors uncomfortable, but they at least understand what her body is doing based off my words.  I always try to accompany my descriptions with a video, but it is obvious that even the professionals find it uncomfortable to watch.  Which makes me realize just how not okay this situation is, no matter what my brain tries to convince me of.


There should not be any parent who must "get used to" witnessing seizure activity in their child.  This should NOT be an effect of a disorder.  My brain should not have to find a way to cope with this.  It just should NOT be.  I do not think I will ever understand why the hallmark of a CDKL5 mutation must be the most volatile atrocious experience you can possibly watch your child go through.  My brain clearly has limitations with its capability of comprehension in this department.  I guess I will just have to give it a couple more days and I will be back to the state of numbness that I get accustomed to and prefer.


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