Monday, October 30, 2017


I am not a fan of gambling, chalk it up to not wanting to lose, whatever the underlying reason is, I just don't care for it.  There is too much uncertainty involved, too much on the line, and while there is that chance I could win, there is a (bigger) chance (in my mind) that I will not.   There is too much uncertainty when it comes to gambling, and while some people enjoy the thrill of the experience, it honestly gives me increased anxiety, so if I can, I avoid gambling at all costs.

In February 2015 our journey of near daily gambling began, but instead of it being one of those situations where if you lose you can just shrug, walk away, and still go on your merry way, it became a gamble where it turned out even our best chances would leave us pained and drained on all levels.  There is nothing positive about making choices that will eventually backfire or provide more uncertainty.  I, the person who doesn't even like to put my money into the stock market because I consider it too risky, is stuck being forced to gamble every single moment with my 2-year old’s well-being and essentially life.

Last night I was making my new desk calendar on Shutterfly, because this year’s ends on October 31, 2017, and so I began to look through 2017 picture albums.  Every picture of Sonzee represents a decision that we made with the intentions of making her life the best it could possibly be.  We removed a tube from her face, traveled across the country for medical advice, had her undergo surgery, try (and fail) multiple anti-epileptic medications, try various medications to help her GI issues, and had her partake in various therapies (that honestly haven't ever made a difference in her capabilities).  When the tears entered my eyes, I was not sure of the exact reason.  Was it happiness over the ones of her smiling or sadness over the ones of my three typical children smiling without her in the picture because they were standing somewhere she couldn't be, she was asleep from a seizure, or she was in the hospital?  So many pictures involved the blue sheets of the hospital bed, hospital gown, EEG hat, or IV.  Each one represented a gamble we took in her honor to help, yet ultimately failed her in the process.

I try my hardest not to look at our failed attempts as a reflection on our decision-making capabilities or my bad gambling luck.  I tell myself this is just the deck of cards we have been handed and we are doing our best every day.  I try not to get angry over the situation, because it is what is meant to be, for her and for us, but this gambling is breaking me down.  Every decision if it has a positive outcome is short lived, and ultimately ends in heartbreak for us and it seems pain or discomfort of some sort for her.  I wish there was a crystal ball that gave us the right answers on how best to help her, but there aren't any right/’s just outcomes that come from the best decision we can make at the time with the information we have....

...but no matter what, it will always be a gamble.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017


Tuesday was the first time in a long time that I waited for Sam to get home from an activity with Sonzee's sister, so I could take little bear over to the ER.  It had been so long, but the motions were so routine it was as if this was part of our daily schedule.  The same wave of feelings crashed over me, which was basically a contradiction in and of itself; a slow motion out of body experience of not wanting to go, paired with the rush of having to get there before the stranger somewhere else in the Valley who was inevitably racing to beat me, so we could both "beat the rush".  I have learned over the past 2 years and 8 months that it doesn't matter how long it has been since we have been to an ER, stayed in patient, gone for a routine appointment, the emotions and memories within won't ever go away.

You can literally see the top lights of the children's hospital from our street as you pull out of the driveway.  The drive itself is at most 10 minutes covering 4.9 miles.  Our house backs up to the freeway, so it only involves the street lights to get on and off, other than that it is a straight drive, 4 exits.  There is no thinking involved, except for the thoughts that inevitably push their way to the front of my mind.  The thoughts that bring the cloud of tears that I spend a good majority of my time pretending don't exist.  The thoughts that tear at my heart and remind me that our life won't ever resemble typical.  

It was how I scarfed down dinner and three children gave us both hugs and kisses goodnight, while one asked in a blunt manner if Sonzee would be coming home.  How none of them were phased by this event.  How I got to the second set of lights prior to turning into the hospital and I had a complete breakdown of fear wondering how this was going to work with a brand-new baby in just a few more weeks.  All these thoughts compounded with the worry of whether going was the best decision and what could possibly be causing one of her first fevers that wouldn't settle even with alternating Tylenol and Motrin.  

It was a bombardment of thoughts that wouldn't let up, the ones that don't give you a second to catch your breath, the ones that are far enough away on a daily basis that you don't feel their constant weight sitting on your chest, thankfully because it allows you to breathe.  In a simple moment you realize they never really went away, they were just hidden in a compartment to keep you sane and functioning.  It doesn't matter how much time passes or how "good things may be going", they are there like a swift punch to the gut to bring you back to the reality of the special needs life you are part of, the one that no matter what, you won't ever be able to escape.

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Monday, October 9, 2017


On Sunday we take our older children (with Sonzee in tow) to their weekly swim classes.  During their session in the baby pool to the right of the "big kid pool" is the class for babies 2 months to 6 months old.  Little babies that are getting acquainted with the water while bonding with their mom or dad, or both.  Sonzee participated in this class when she was that age.  I have distinct memories of her sleeping the entire half an hour due to having a seizure before entering the pool.  The other parents would all smile and comment about how cute it was that she was able to sleep the entire time, they never knew why.  I enjoyed that class because it was a time when Sonzee was "the same".  It was a time that I could pretend that she was not developmentally behind.  It was a time that her seizures, CDKL5, and our lives were essentially a secret to outsiders.

Today as I was helping Sonzee's twin girl get dressed, I was standing right next to the baby pool.  I could not help but stare at each baby and his/her individual experience.  There were 5 boys and 1 girl in the class.  Mostly dads were present and they all appeared to be on the younger side of the age range.  The mom or dad was taking a cup with holes at the bottom and letting the water fall over each baby's head.  I took note of all the reactions present; surprise, eyes closed with a squirm, and some pure delight.  I could not help but smile.  It has taken me 8 months to feel ready to blog openly that Sonzee is going to become a big sister in the next 6-8 weeks.  I have had so many experiences along this journey that I have wanted to put to paper, but it was not until today when that first baby in the pool gave such a huge smile as his reaction to the water over his head that I knew I could do it.

Chalk it up to fear of opinions, fear of something going wrong, fear of comments, fear in general, or maybe it is just the uncertainty of how our family dynamic is about to change adding another child into the mix.  Whatever the reason, I could not bring myself to "admit" that our world, Sonzee's world is going to change and deep down I know it will be for the best but on the surface, there is an immense amount of fear of the unknown.  What I have missed most about having an atypical child is the simplicity that a typical baby brings.  Yes, there are sleepless nights, there is the typical parent worry, there is the typical unknown, there are the typical challenges a new baby brings to a family, yet after having a Sonzee there is an appreciation for the simplicity that I am praying to occur with this baby.  Fear is deeply etched into this hope of everything working out the way I am so anticipating.  Sometimes the fear is so suffocating it is paralyzing, not that this baby will have CDKL5 (yes, we checked the best we could for those of you whom I know are curious) but of every other rare situation that could possibly occur.  Once you enter the world of rare you realize how not so rare it is.  However, in the recesses of my mind and heart is just pure faith that this baby is exactly what our family needs to pull us all together and keep us grounded in a manner of simplicity I am ready to appreciate in a completely new manner, all thanks to Sonzee.  

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Since Sonzee's CDKL5 diagnosis I have always done my best to make sure that she is looked at as "Sonzee", as an individual, as a person first before the 5-character string that sits "quietly" next to her name on every document that I fill out for her.  To be honest when a doctor uses CDKL5 as their reasoning behind whatever symptom or situation we find ourselves in, it infuriates me to no end.  I have at times considered it to be an excuse, a way for them to place a "blame" on something because they probably do not have a reason themselves as to why she is enduring so much difficulty.  

While I have always felt that her medical team has always held her best interest at heart, there have been so many instances that I felt frustrated with them, thinking that they "just didn't get it".  After all, my rationale was that despite caring for her medically, how could they possibly feel the same way about her as myself and Sam.  After all, they have so many patients, they have so many other priorities, they do not have the time to figure her out.  The situations we find ourselves in with her have taken me on one huge never-ending roller coaster of emotions and it seems around this time of year I tend to have an epiphany and continue to travel on this lengthy journey of grief.

There is usually a situation that occurs that brings the epiphany to light and this year it was our trip to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  We went specifically for Gastrointestinal (GI) motility testing.  Of course, the doctors were aware of her seizures and her overall diagnosis of CDKL5, but I "strategically" did not request a neurological consult while there because I wanted us to just discuss her motility.  I did not want the "blame" to be on CDKL5, I wanted to be told something else was responsible for her situation.  I wanted to know that there was a chance that she could maybe, someday, be a bit more "typical" and tolerate food into her stomach.  Dare I say it, I wanted some "hope".

When we left Philadelphia, that is exactly what we left with, hope for the future, hope for her feeding, and hope for her to be gastrointestinally typical.  I held in my hand an extensive list of potential trials and suggestions and with uncertainty, but "hope", Sam and I walked into her Dr's office this past Friday.  We sat and discussed all of the options, we came up with "the perfect game plan", we spent a ridiculous long time asking questions and listening to what our doctor's thoughts on everything were.  These test results gave us information we never had before, a "reason" behind her issues, and simultaneously the infamous "aha moment" filled my mind as I listened to Sam's final question and heard the answer.  

"Just so we can sleep at night. (Well to be honest I have been sleeping fine), but so we can sleep at night, what these test results show is that her dysmotility was not the result of anything we did?  It was not due to us giving her steroids? It was not due to us having the g-tube placed? There was nothing we could have done to prevent this from happening?"

"No, no, nothing you could have done, this was happening regardless, even before you realized it.  This is just the result of her and the effects of CDKL5".  At that moment I realized how much Sonzee's doctor has been on our side this entire time.  It is so easy to be blind when you are living in the trenches, there is limited visibility when you live in this life.  You pick a team that will hopefully eventually help you to see through the forest.  Just as our doctor left to write out the recommendations and send us on our way I looked at Sam and asked him the question we used to never agree on.  

He went into the hallway and saw Sonzee's doctor standing by her desk and began asking her more questions, the questions that yielded the answers we needed to hear, but did not know to ask.  The answers that proved to us that our doctor was always looking out for Sonzee, but she was also supporting us on this journey.  On our quest to separate Sonzee from CDKL5 we are the ones who forgot to consider the "bigger picture".  No, CDKL5 does not define her.  Yes, despite CDKL5 she can make valuable gains.  But despite only being a 5-character string, the complications set forth from a genetic mutation such as CDKL5 create limitations that will always be present and unavoidable.  No matter what our hearts might yearn for, the specific and individual mutation makes our little bear who she is, and it is the reason she is rare, she is special, and she is HER.

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