Celebrating! 2 weeks seizure free, a 6 month birthday, and a 6 year wedding anniversary!

It has been two weeks since Eli’s last seizure. I am finally starting to let out the breath I’ve been holding. We started weaning him off the ACTH last Friday. His dose was drastically reduced. He was at a high dose of 0.6ml and the first stage of weaning dropped him to 0.13ml. Now he’s at 0.06ml and will go down to 0.04ml. He will be done with the weaning process next Friday. He is scheduled for a follow up EEG the following Tuesday (May 14). He never did have an EEG before starting the wean. The neurologist was confident that the EEG would look good while on the ACTH since he hadn’t had a seizure in over a week. The less EEG’s we have to do, the happier Eli will be. It’s not a fun process for him (or mommy and daddy). Thank goodness he’s a baby. This whole process would be next to impossible with our toddler.

I am also ecstatic to report that Eli’s personality is back to the happy, carefree baby he was before the seizures started. He smiles and plays and laughs and babbles. It is so wonderful to see our boy shinning brightly once again!

This past week he turned 6 months old.
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I am not sure how this has happened already. At times, it seems as though the days drag on forever (usually during a hospital stay) and other times the days, weeks, and evens months, go by at lightening speed. Crazy to think all that he’s been through in 6 short months. I’m hoping that all of the “icky stuff” (to quote my almost 3 year old) is behind us now, God willing.

Chuck and I celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary this past weekend. Our lives are certainly different than what we had planned when we first said “I do” but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life’s challenges seem less challenging and the triumphs are more triumphant with my best friend by my side. I love this quote (by Winnie the Pooh!) – it sums up my feelings the best: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”20130430-235622.jpg

Thank you for sharing in the love of our family, and most importantly, loving our little boy(s). ❤

One week seizure free!

Look what’s back?! His beautiful smile! 20130424-000131.jpg
Eli has been seizure free for one whole week! He’s still not the Mr. Happy Boy he usually is, but I’ll take a few smiles and the occasional giggle over irritability and crankiness any day! It’s really interesting…He’s still on the high dose of ACTH yet he’s a totally different baby now that he’s no longer having the seizures. Leads me to believe it was the seizures causing his unpleasant behavior and not the steroids – or maybe now that the steroids are actually working the negative symptoms subside some? He does still have a very “swollen” face (known as moon face) but I think his chubby cheeks are adorable! 20130424-000821.jpg
I am so thankful that the ACTH finally started to work, just when I was ready to give up. I have read so many heartbreaking stories where the search for the right medicine(s) is exhausting and never-ending. I thought that was the road we were heading down. I truly was starting to lose hope.

Eli still has to get through the weaning process so all of your continued prayers are appreciated. He’ll have another EEG at the end of this week or early next week. If the test shows normal activity has returned to the brain, we will start the wean off the ACTH. That should take about 3 weeks. I am not sure of the maintenance plan after that. Usually, children stay on an anti-seizure drug (there is a wide range of treatment protocols as to the length of time – depends on the neurologist I guess!).

Thank you to all who have kept the faith. Your love and support is invaluable. ❤20130424-002834.jpg

Good news! Stopping (stopped?) the seizures – Day 14

Today I come to you with good GREAT news. Eli has not had a seizure since Tuesday night at 10pm – exactly 48 hours ago!!! I was hesitant to share this news because I didn’t want to get your hopes up but, I am going to stay positively optimistic that we have started stopping the seizures. We are nowhere near the end – yet. He will stay on the high dose of ACTH for one more week. If he stays seizure free he will have another EEG at the end of the week or beginning of the following week. If that is clear we will begin the 3 week weaning process.

I am starting to see some of his personality return. He smiles, occasionally. He giggled once yesterday. I cried tears of joy. Even if it’s just a little glimpse, I am so happy to have my baby back. He’s a little bloated and has “moon” face (puffiness from the steroids) but he’s still the cutest boy in the world to me. ❤

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your continued prayers. They are working! It is with the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from all of you that has kept us strong. We WILL beat this!!!

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Trying to stay grateful while trying to stop the seizures (day 12)

I was going to write an update on Eli yesterday but in light of what happened in Boston, it didn’t feel right. What a sad day – for Bostonians, for the country, for human kind. I adore Boston. It’s one of my favorite cities. I like the Boston Red Sox and I love the Boston Celtics. Most of my family is from, and many still live in, New England. I find it heartbreaking that an event that brings together people from all around the world, was shattered by such insanity. My heart goes out to those that lost a loved one. My prayers go out to all the victims of another senseless act of violence.

As far as Eli and his seizures, things seem to be staying the same. We are on day 12. By now, they should be gone – at least that was the impression I was given. Yesterday, although he was still having seizures, they did seem smaller. Instead of 20-40 spasms in a cluster he had 2 or 3. It was very promising. And then he had one with 25. But, it was still better than the day before. That’s all we’re looking for – progress. Today he woke up and right away had a seizure. Then he had one before his injection and again in the parking lot at the pediatrician’s office, then when we got home, then again after lunch, and again while he lays in my arms while I type this on my phone – most with 20+ spams. So, today we’re right back to where we were. So frustrating!

I did speak with the neurologist yesterday. I expressed my concerns about the ACTH not working, even at the increased dose. His thought is, let’s give Eli “the benefit of the doubt”. He stated that it is very “atypical” for a child with Down syndrome not to respond favorably to ACTH when treating Infantile Spasms. I get it. He finds it hard to believe that Eli will be the one that it doesn’t work on. I should have reminded him though – our Eli is anything but typical. He does things his way, in his time. I’m certainly willing to keep trying it. I’d hate to give up when we already have so much invested. But I also don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to try something else. Time is the enemy. We are dealing with a “catastrophic” seizure disorder. The damage Infantile Spasms does to the brain sometimes cannot be reversed – or it could take years to ‘fix’. That is a scary realization. He’s already experiencing the nasty side effects of the drug (weight gain, irritability, no ‘personality’). I’ve only seen him smile once since getting into the thick of this treatment. That is the hardest part of this process. I miss my baby. I miss his smiles and his laugh. I miss his sweet personality. I miss looking into his eyes and seeing a brightness. Now he just seems ‘distant’. He tires very easily so we don’t get to play much. But, I do get more snuggle time because he always wants to be held.

Please continue praying. Each day I wake up and pray that today will be the day the seizures stop. Each time I give him an injection I say a prayer that it will work and doesn’t just end up doing more harm than good. Each night I pray for a better day. And I also pray for all of you. Every single one of you that prays for, thinks about, asks about Eli. Each one that has offered dinners for us, or to go shopping for us, or to just be there for us. Most people don’t understand what it’s like to have a sick child. They don’t get the strain it can put on a family. I won’t lie, it’s rough. I considered our family to be strong. Heck, we’ve been through a lot already but always weathered the storm. This storm is more like a hurricane. We’re staying afloat, but sometimes it feels like it’s just barely.

But, today I still woke up grateful. My children are alive. I am able to hug them and kiss them and hold them. Some families no longer can. I will never take a day for granted – good or bad.
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Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.
– Charles Dickens

Stopping the seizures – Day 1

We are settled in at the hospital. We scored a private room thanks to Eli’s lingering cough from the previous week’s hospital stay. It’s great to have our own room but now we have to take “quarantine precautions”, which means no children under 10 allowed to visit. We found that out about 5 minutes before a very excited Cody (with Nana) showed up. Luckily the hospital has a great outdoor play area that happily occupied big brother while we took turns playing with him.

Eli received his first injection of ACTH. That was about 3 hours ago. So far there has been no reaction. He is currently sleeping restfully in my arms. The doctor warned us that many of his patients parents “no longer like their child while on ACTH” so I am expecting a raging, steroid fueled, beast to emerge shortly. I can’t imagine my lovable, easygoing baby turning into The Hulk. Fingers crossed his sweetness can overtake any crankiness.

I have been practicing injecting an orange to get the feel of giving the shot. I feel I have mastered it. But an orange doesn’t wiggle or cry so my mastery doesn’t mean squat. Tomorrow will be my turn. If I can give Eli the injection successfully, we may be able to go home. No pressure.

Your continued love and prayers for strength and healing for Eli are greatly appreciated as always.

Luckily, he doesn’t seem to mind another hospital stay…yet.

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He loves kisses!!!
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Big brother thinks the hospital is a pretty fun place!
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