Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It Has Been A While

From Halloween 2010
Halloween 2010
Elias took advantage of Halloween to give Daddy a scare. He had been having an off day yesterday. He seemed more tired than usual and a bit moody, so we were already more watchful. While napping his head began to shake and his eyebrows moved up and down rapidly. Within seconds his head was shaking faster. Initially my heart sank, another seizure. I quickly began trying to wake him, with a single toggle his eyes opened I put my hands on his shaking head and it stopped. Thank God. Had it been a seizure it would have kept going. He did seem to have a bit of a headache so we gave some Tylenol. He began to feel a little better shortly afterward. We were thankful it wasn't another seizure and feel like he was feeling a really bad headache or migraine in his sleep. The head shaking was just him trying to soothe himself some. Unfortunately, headaches and migraines have become increasingly common. They are a side effect of his IVIG as well as a new normal, as we are told with the seizure problem. Neurology told us two things in his last visit with them. First, he is more prone to have seizures when he is asleep and potentially when sick. Second, we need to lower our threshold on giving Tylenol. Since Elias is non-verbal, while his communication has improved headaches are often disguised and difficult to read. We are all getting better learning the subtle cues. It is a process that we are constantly making progress. Needless to say there was no dress-up or trick or treating for Elias. We had not planned on the trick or treating anyway. First, he can't be out that much and second he can't eat by mouth anyway. Finally, being non-verbal and not hearing he has no understanding of what the heck holidays are anyway. Last year we sat outside for about 15 minutes with him so he could see the other kids dressed up. He didn't seem to care too much, hahaha. Just FYI he still fits in his Halloween costume from last year!

It has been so long since we have been able to update. It just seems to be getting more and more difficult. Time has been a premium and we have been in a survival mode with the loss of night nursing over the past few months. We have had to juggle staying up all night and then struggle not being able to sleep with appointments and therapy during the day. After 7 weeks we finally have some coverage, but staffing continues to be a problem and seemingly impossible for the agency. Unfortunately there is no alternative, they are still the only agency accepting vent patients. Our advocacy woes with them continue and their incompetence shows daily, but what can we do? We have caught them yet again in an outright lie about how diligently they are working on the case, but they don't care and there is nothing we can do. Unfortunately Elias care needs have intensified overnight and is much more critical with the seizure risk protocol. These are the doctors words, not ours and we are working with her to try and enlist her help in pressuring the agency over Elias safety. We have to try, but not expecting it to work. They have a mind set and it has not swayed in the almost 2 years we have been with them. The excuses are the same, yet there is no action on their part in an attempt to change and improve the issue. Instead they are content with being passive and using the same excuses repeatedly, yet contradicting themselves by telling parents 'we don't hire nurses unless they can work nights and weekends.' If this were true then we do not understand how there can be a problem staffing weekends and nights. The nurses that are working here have never been told they "HAVE" to work weekends, they were given a choice. When they said no, the agency did not push. They simply said 'okay.'  I'm going to stop there I don't want to get into a rant. Just know it is growing tiresome and it is frustrating knowing you are helpless to change the situation and at the mercy of a failing system. We are not the only family like this. We know countless families in and out of the area experiencing similar issues. While that makes us feel a little better knowing it is not just us demanding too much, it is sad that no one is raising a red flag for such a widespread issue.

Preschool - the past two months have, as expected been a learning experience. As we mentioned in the
previous paragraph and post with the look of our calendar the schedule is packed! We knew it would be busy and it hasn't disappointed. It would be more manageable if we were up 24 - 36 hours at a time. We have managed quite well all things considered. A lot of daily chores and cleaning has been sacrificed, focusing on the priorities, but that is what you have to do when you face challenges. The biggest issue has been scheduling. They all want to come at the same time or limit the days they can come. Again we are working through this and are making progress. We have definitely learned a few things that we will be asking to avoid next year and will fight to write it in his IEP next year. The biggest issue is the co-treats. While these are effective periodically between 2 disciplines, every time is over kill and ineffective. OT & PT especially. They often are competing for Elias attention when they both are here. They each have very different focuses and while they claim to do this often it is not working for Elias. He ends up running away from them and standing in a corner. It stresses him out a bit and very overwhelming to have someone work with you and then suddenly another person pops in the picture trying to make you do something different. You can see it in his face. We have addressed this and they disagree with our assessment. A few weeks ago the PT was forced to come out alone and she commented how engaging,  productive, and focused Elias was. We took that opportunity to stress our point again, but it was brushed aside it seems. The argument we are presenting now is that he is approved to have two 45 minute sessions of each, PT and OT. By co-treating he is being cheated out of time, given that each of them is battling for his attention. It is comical to watch, but the reality is it is not effective. We can't believe that no other parent has ever brought this up. He is only getting 90 minute session with both simultaneously with the focus is back and forth. Not the 180 (45 x 4) That is not giving him the time he needs, or any patient for that matter. He is likely not going to reach his goals on his IEP due to this and while it is a set back for Elias, it just may help strengthen our advocating point.

Elias development overall has been incredible. His communication is constantly improving, expanding and evolving. Gesturing and him physically taking us to an item he is requesting has become a knew favorite form of communication. Just like we use different methods to request things, he too is learning to choose from the various tools - picture exchange, gestures, signing - for what he wants. It is amazing to watch. His joint attention is also becoming more purposeful. We are beginning to work on getting him to understand that we also need to have the ability to decide when something is all done or finished. Not an easy task when you have no ability to explain why you need to stop and activity. He simply sees it as done. Impressively he has grasped the concept surprisingly well given that barrier. He reacts appropriately with mild tantrums or displays of displeasure consistent with a 'typical child'. His independent play has never been  a problem, and we are seeing continued growth in this area as well. Baby is a word he says quite often and he also says something that resembles bubbles. Bubbles of course being one of his favorite activities and one of the most motivating tools we have in teaching.  His saying these two words along with many sounds (ah, a, b, ch, du, da, eg, j ,la, lu, m) tells us that the listening therapy (Aural Rehab) is now showing dividends. We have some recordings that we are trying to put together to post. We have been doing AR for over a year and a half and the progress has been questioned more by the providers than us, but it has been reminded that this is going to be a slow long process. Once we all focus back on that point and see these things, most of which he has just started in the past few weeks it is reassuring and promising. It may take five years but if we continue to do the things we do and work fervently there is hope he will hear and even verbalize. That is truly a blessing and melts away the stress, mental and physical exhaustion. Elias continues to make us proud and thrive beyond expectations his medical limitations should have. There is a great deal more that we could share, as so much has been going on. These have been the key points. As always we keep on pushing. Thanks for your patience, your thoughts, and your prayers.


  1. Hi! I just recently stumbled upon your blog after searching about FA. My friend just found out that her newborn son has FA. Perhaps you can encourage her and share a little advice. Your son is beautiful and I will keep him in my prayers! :)

    her blog is www.colemansinlove.blogspot.com


  2. Juliet,

    Thank you for taking the time to read a little about Elias! We appreciate your prayers. I actually reached out to your friend last evening via twitter. I recognize the blog address you left. My wife and I would be happy to help, share and encourage their family. You are a good friend to take the time to do some searching on your own for their benefit. There is a lot of hope with FA and the experience does vary from family to family. One thing that is always in common though is the children's resilience, strength, and ability to inspire.

    take care!
    Michael & Katharine


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