Saturday, December 20, 2014

MPPH Research

It's been so long since I've posted, I forgot how to make a new post!!  Whew, it's all coming back to me now!

Luke is now a  few months away from 5 - FIVE!  I can't believe it.  His seizures (dare I say it as we head into winter!!!???) have been mostly under control the last 5 months.  He had some questionable behaviors this fall and we increased his medicine and that seemed to fix things. 

He is blossoming right now as he is becoming more interactive with other peers.  He's always been fairly social with adults but interacting with his peers has been a challenge and frankly he seemed uninterested and sometimes afraid of his peers.  Ben has a friend whose little brother is just a little older than Luke and he's really sweet and persistent.  His persistence has paid off and now Luke looks forward to seeing him and plays alongside him.  It's really sweet to see. 

He continues to amaze us with his spelling powers!  He's reading simple stories and often spells as he is talking to us.  He'll say, "Are we going to g-r-a-n-d-m-a-s?" You have to listen closely to figure out what he is talking about sometimes. 

We have his kindergarten (!!!!!!!) transition meeting coming up sometime in the spring.  I'm nervous and excited at the same time.  I'm not sure what kindergarten should and will look like for him.  I want him to feel comfortable and successful and continue to learn a lot.  Writing continues to be a major issue for him and I know that will be difficult as he moves forward.  We started private OT therapy a little over a month ago.  I'm not sure if it's the new therapy but we've seen a lot of improvement since he started.  He's starting to be interested in writing and coloring.  We increased to twice a week and thanks to my in-laws taking him once a week, it's doable for our family. 

About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Ghayda Mirzaa.  She is one of the doctors who is researching MPPH in Seattle.  Due to Luke's brain size and malformation his epilepsy is a little tricky.  This past winter when we were really struggling to control his seizures, I reached out to her to find out if they'd identified any children with the same gene mutation who was having a similar epilepsy experience.  The thought was - from us and Luke's doctors - if they have other kids who have the same gene mutation and  brain malformation then maybe they'd have similar epilepsy.  And maybe someone, somewhere was having better luck controlling it than we are.  The answer was they don't have many more kids identified with the same mutation, no they're not sure about the epilepsy. 

Currently there are 4 children involved in their MPPH study who have the PIK3R2 mosaic mutation.  I know one of the families and have talked about him on here before.  His seizures have largely followed the same pattern as Luke's and as he is switching up medicines, his mom checks in with us to see what we've tried next, what has worked, what our doctor's plans are.  He's developing very similarly to Luke, too.  His mom and I talk often and come up with our own scientific theories:)! 

Dr. Mirzaa contacted me to check up on Luke but also to let me know that they are embarking on an in depth research study on epilepsy and MPPH.  She is teaming with the director of pediatric epilepsy at Washington University to look at MRI's, epilepsy videos, EEG reports and neurological notes to hopefully make solid connections about epilepsy and MPPH.  What that could mean for Luke would be better ideas on how to control his epilepsy.  The gene mutation that he has is the 'golden' gene of MPPH.  So far, from what they know, most of the kids with that gene mutation and epilepsy, have seizures that are well controlled.  There are two other gene mutations associated with MPPH and the seizure control with those mutations is trickier.  I'm really excited that her team is making an effort to get a better understanding of MPPH and epilepsy.

At this point, there is a relatively small pool of subjects that the doctors have to work with.  So what I'm asking, if you're reading this and your child has been diagnosed with MPPH or you suspect your child has MPPH, contact Dr. Mirzaa.  Get involved in the research.  It won't cost you anything.  They've even found the gene in some children who do not officially have megalencephaly.   If you're child has a larger head and PMG, contact the office, tell them a little about your child and see if your child 'fits'. 

The realistic part of me thinks that while all of this research is exciting, I feel like being involved will help others more than it will help us at this point in time.  It may help someone whose brand new baby has just been diagnosed with all of these huge words that the parents can't pronounce or remember how to spell.  Maybe they'll be told they have the same mutation as Luke and the doctors will be able to say that they have several children identified with this and tell these parents how the kids are doing and maybe, just maybe, they'll be a little less scared than we were (still are a lot...). 

So, if you are reading this or have read about Luke and you think that maybe your child's facial features look a little like this darling boy or your child has PMG and his/her head size is large or a touch too large and you're looking for here. It will take you straight to the megalencephaly lab where you can contact Dr. Mirzaa or her awesome assistant Carissa Adams

We're hoping for an uneventful holiday season.  Luke is doing so much better than last year at this time so I'm really hopeful.  Our family thanks you for following Luke's story and for all your prayers and love.   Wishing all of you a happy and healthy holiday with all of your loved ones. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Christmas in June and July!

Sooo much great stuff to update and so little time!! 

*The Epilepsy Walk:  Our team raised over $6,000 for the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas. I cannot begin to tell you what that means to us.  Luke's seizures have gotten better since we started the new medicine.  But he has had some breakthrough seizures, although, not horrible ones.  So we've increased it twice now and are hoping that is it for awhile. But I don't want to dwell on that except to say thank you for providing money and awareness that will hopefully be beneficial to him sooner than later!  We also had close to (maybe more than...) 70 people come to walk with our families and SOOOO many more than that offering words of support and encouragement.  It was a truly special day and I can't find the appropriate words to express our appreciation for all everyone did.  So thank you. 

*New Jersey:  The boys and I had the opportunity to go and visit with a special PMG friend, Michelle, and her family.  She started out as a PMG friend and quickly developed into just a friend - someone who I would like to believe I would have somehow met even if PMG wasn't in our lives.  I've been fortunate to develop several special friendships since Luke's diagnosis and that has been a silver lining in the situation.  Anyway, we flew out to New Jersey to spend the week together.  It was such a great time.  We were treated like royalty by both her family and her husband's family.  They all follow Luke's story and offer words of support and prayers in good and bad times.  It was nice to put faces with all the names and have some quality time together - although I'm pretty sure we STILL never finished an entire conversation! 

*Stroller:  I've been researching special needs strollers for awhile now.  Luke walks well but he tires easily and when he's struggling with seizure control he gets especially clumsy and even more tired.  He's fallen several times and the spot on his head that he hits now has a permanent knot.  Upon researching special needs strollers, we discovered that they're crazy expensive!  Imagine my surprise and joy when insurance assured me that with a doctor's note it would not be a problem to cover the stroller. I know, I know...silly me!!  Well, first of all, it takes for-ev-er!  UGH!  Second of all, after waiting forever, they denied it because we already have a wheelchair and a stroller would be a convenience item.  (For those of you who know us, you might be scratching your heads right now, wondering...wheelchair???)  We DON'T have a wheelchair!  I called, thinking it's an easy fix.  I know, I know...silly me.  Again!  They told me we'd have to go through a whole appeal process which would again take for-ev-er!  AAAGH!  I might've lost my cool a bit here....within minutes of hanging up with them I get a text from my friend, Andrea (side note about her below), saying she might have a surprise for me.  Long story but she happened to check a special needs website and find a woman who was giving away the exact stroller we wanted.  GIVING AWAY.  Not selling - GIVING AWAY COMPLETELY FREE!!  Andrea immediately texted her and was the first one and GOT LUKE THE STROLLER!!!  We picked it up today and it's wonderful.  He has so much more room and will be able to use it for a long time.  I tried to give her - Rebecca - something, anything for the stroller and she refused.  She is an awesome person with two boys who both have Dandy Walker Syndrome.  I don't know how to thank her appropriately so I'll be looking for a way to pay it forward in her honor.
Rebecca, one of our own personal Santa Clause's!  We LOVE YOU!

Speaking of Andrea - her daughter, Willow, who has the same gene mutation as Luke and PMG, is in the hospital right now.  So while Andrea was (is) in the hospital taking care of sweet Willow, she was also looking out for Luke and thought of him immediately when she saw the stroller available.  We are so blessed to have friends like her in our lives.  Please say some extra prayers for sweet Willow.
Willow's first sweet smile in DAYS! 

Dan, Luke and I met with his new epileptologist last week.  Dr. Weisenberg is amazing. She's very direct which we loved.  She has several plans in the back of her mind if the Onfi doesn't do the trick.  Since he's having breakthroughs we're increasing the Onfi again and we're actually going to start decreasing one of his other meds.  I know that sounds strange but the fact is that he's on too high of a dose of his other two meds anyway and sometimes *that* could cause seizures.  He's also becoming increasingly lethargic and clumsy which is worrisome. So we're taking a deep breath, saying a prayer and giving it a try!  Wish us luck. 

Overall as you can read...we have way more good than bad.  I'm always thankful for that! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!  We sure are!  Love to you all! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

4th time's a charm?

Snoozing in the hospital waiting for a discharge!  How stinking cute
is he??
We are all really happy to be home under one roof again.  Luke had a nice day and is doing pretty well.  He's still unsteady but we expect that. 
The great news is that we were able to meet today with Luke's new doctor,  Dr. Weisenberg. She is very direct and a great listener.  We were concerned about increasing one of Luke's medications because the current medications are clearly not working.  She agreed and we are immediately going back down to our regular dose.  We started his new drug,  Onfi, tonight.  The scary thing about it (well some of the scary things!) is that some of the side effects were things we typically watch for as pre signs of seizures - clumsiness, extreme drowsiness, that makes it even trickier to determine if he is having seizures or about to start having seizures. 
One of the reasons that provoked my hate post yesterday was the way his seizure presented Saturday night.  My mom was watching the boys while Dan and I ran down the street to grab a drink.  I told Grandma 'Ancy (both boys drop the 'n' in Nancy!) that she shouldn't talk to them because they'll both talk as long as she'll let them.  Luckily in true Grandma fashion, she ignored me and was having a good old time talking to the boys.  Ben - who was NOT tired - fell asleep pretty quickly.  Luke was pretty chatty, though, and she and Luke were having a fun little conversation.  As she was talking, she realized he had stopped responding.  She looked at him and noticed his eyes were deviated and he wasn't returning conversation. She immediately called us and we were home within 5 minutes.  As soon as we saw him, we knew he was indeed having a seizure.  We were able to administer the emergency drug while calling 911. 
On a normal night, it would have been me in bed with the boys.  I sleep with Luke every night while Dan watches the monitor.  When I put them in bed, I usually read a book on my phone or Kindle and remind them to be quiet so that they will fall asleep.  If it would have been me in there - I have no idea how long it would have/could have taken for me to notice he was having a seizure!  He never threw up after that seizure which is how we find out a lot of times he is having a seizure.  As he is seizing, Luke's blood oxygen starts to deplete.  It usually takes a little while but either the seizure or his head position begins to compromise his blood oxygen.  We have always counted on him throwing up during his nighttime seizures to alert us to a problem.  So we were even more anxious to bring him home because nighttime is a scary time in our household.
He was hooked up to the pulse ox machine during the night because he went into a second round of seizures and his O2 levels were dropping.  I mentioned to the nurse that I wished we could have something like that at home and she said a lot of epilepsy families use them.  I've looked for nighttime devices before but they are mostly for seizures with movement involved - Luke has ZERO movement.  Zero.  Anyway - long, long story with discussion back and forth - but Dr. Weisenberg sees how something like that could bring us some peace of mind and is going to have her nurse start looking into how we could get one to use while he's sleeping.  Truthfully, if we got one it would only really detect a seizure if he's been in it for awhile because it usually takes awhile for his O2 levels to drop.  But at least it would be able to tell us that his breathing was reaching dangerous levels.  It's better than what we have now - which is nothing! 
So all in an all...Dr. Weisenberg is a hit.  AND even better - we're still seeing Dr. Smyser in 6 months to check in, too.  Best of both worlds! Yay! 
Fingers crossed that the saying '3rd time's a charm' is inaccurate and they really meant '4th time's a charm!'  Go Onfi!! 
Attempted selfie with my other little monkey who I was excited
to see....this is why I don't take selfies.  Well, one of the reasons. 
I took 3...this was the best one! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Alright seizures.  Can you please go away for good and leave my kid alone? Grrrrr!
We're back at Children's and hopefully we'll go home tomorrow.  We are increasing a medicine that's not working anyway and hopefully adding a new one tomorrow that will take our little 4 year old,  43 pound,  43 inch kiddo up to 3 anti-epileptic drugs. Awesome.  

I hate seizures.  I hate the medicines that aren't working.  I hate watching Luke cry as they poke him with needles and inflict pain to determine if he's having a seizure.  I hate watching him stumble and slur his words looking like he should look on his 21st birthday,  not at 4. I hate listening to the baby crying down the hall at the beginning of this journey.  I hate feeling like I'm always, always waiting for the worst to happen and it keeps happening.  I hate that while I'm waiting,  I always feel like a crazy person.  I hate being a big fat whiner when there are other precious kids who have it so much worse.  I hate being away from Ben...again.  I hate that I'm still finding my voice and my strength to stand up for what I think is happening to or what is necessary for Luke. I hate missing the second to last day of school with my first graders and I hate that I'm not going to be with Luke on Tuesday so I can be with my first graders on their last day. I hate not knowing how he is feeling or if he is in pain.  I hate that I feel so much hate.  Whew. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. 

I love,  though,  so much. I love our families and friends who are always willing to listen and pitch in. I love new friends who are helping to make sure Ben feels special.  I love my little boy who called the tech a booty butt (not deserved but I enjoyed the spunk!) and blew raspberries at her. I love the nurses and doctors who are trying their darnedest to help our family.  I love that we found out that we might be able to get a hospital pulse ox monitor because his oxygen levels drop during his seizures which might give us a little peace of mind at night.  I love my friend who is yet again going to make sure my classroom is up and running for the substitute tomorrow.  I love the texts and emails and support that always makes me feel like we're not in this alone. I love the friends I have made because of Luke's diagnosis.  I love my husband who is with me every step of the way. I love my boys who are going through life calling each other names and laughing and making arm pit farts. I love those things and so much more.  
Since Luke has been so unsteady lately we've been
holding his hand on the stairs.  Ben now insists that it is HIS
job to get Luke down safely. 

Hopefully we'll go home tomorrow. Hopefully we'll add a new medicine so I'll have renewed hope that this ugly stage is behind us. We'll meet our eptologist officially in a few weeks.  Let's all hope that the past seven months can be the past and our future doesn't keep going this way. 

Thanks for listening.  Love from SLCH..... again.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Luke has been doing really well.  He is on his full dosage of his new medicine.  His new medication was increased quite a bit and he's still on full dosage of his old medicine.    He's a little grumpy, drooling a little, and waking up some at night but otherwise OK.  He seems back to pretty much normal which is nice.  It's a little stressful since we thought he was doing really well when he had the last seizure but we have to find a way to take a deep breath and enjoy the peaceful time we have right now.  We follow up with our neurologist in early May which I look forward to.  It's always nice to sit and chat with him in person. Hopefully there's nothing new to report to him!

Chowing on cupcakes!
I always mean to write when Luke is doing well.  However, I seem to share when we're struggling mostly so I wanted to do an update while he's doing well!  He is almost finished with his first full year in preschool through the school district.  With his medical difficulties it certainly has been a rough year.  Our daycare, which also operates as a preschool, has been incredible.  Without them we would not have been able to send him to the school district school.  The biggest reasons I wanted to send Luke to the school district was to have his therapies and have smaller adult to child ratios to really encourage the social interactions.  Our daycare volunteered to take Luke back and forth because Dan and I couldn't do it.  Socially he is making huge strides.  I still wouldn't say he's 'typical' but he is starting to make progress.  He talks constantly about a little girl named Reham.  He keeps asking me to call her mom so they can have a play date and a sleepover!  He's totally skipping just playing and going straight to sleepovers! 

Today I picked him up from daycare I was told he took off his pants outside!  And he's been telling everyone that there is a 'hotdog in his booty butt'!  What!?  He's turning into such a nut. 

It's really nice to have places where we feel comfortable taking him during the last few stressful months.  I know that both of his schools are well equipped to handle a seizure if it happens to occur.  We are fortunate because the only babysitters we use outside of family are two women who have known Ben and Luke for awhile because they are teachers at our daycare.  They know him really well and I feel comfortable knowing they'd recognize behaviors that were out of the ordinary.  He has quite a team of people looking out for him!

Speaking of teams, I also wanted to update about the Epilepsy Walk.  We are SO fortunate because due to the love our family, friends and even strangers, we have already surpassed our goal.  The walk isn't until the middle of June!  I am overwhelmed and feel so blessed.  If you are planning on walking with us, don't forget to join our team before May 26th so you can get a Seize the Day t-shirt.  I haven't been able to personally thank everyone who has shared/donated/joined yet but I will.  In the meantime, please know how much it means to us.  I have big hopes of funding going to things like better medicines to control epilepsy and seizure detection devices that will detect the kind of seizures Luke has.  Together I feel like we're doing something really important for Luke and many others and that is an amazing feeling.  So thank you. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Every Little Bit!

We came home yesterday - Friday.  We decided to bring Luke home because we thought he could recover more quickly at home than in the hospital.  He's really tired, irritable and unstable but he's home and doesn't seem to be having any seizures.

I wanted to share some things about this latest episode and what it means for Luke and his epilepsy.  Luke's seizures are called partial complex seizures.  Typically - in most individuals that have them - these seizures last 1-2 minutes.  Luke still has some partial complex that last short amounts of time.  In his past history he would have some small ones, we would increase medication and they would go away.  Then last winter happened...and he had his first status seizure, the 20+ minute seizure. 

At that point we were still on Keppra to control his seizures. It became clear that Keppra wasn't going to work anymore so we switched to Lamictal. Keppra doesn't have any huge major side effects besides major anger issues in some kids.  When the nurse brought up Lamictal the first thing she talked about was the possibility of a severe deadly rash that can occur when you take Lamictal.  When researching it, it comes up as the first information about the drug on most websites.  But we took a deep breath and decided to go ahead because it was what our neurologist felt was best at the time and from our research we did, too.  Well, luckily it didn't cause a deadly rash in our guy but any time he even got a fever we freaked out. 

This past January it became clear that Lamictal wasn't going to cut it anymore.  We were increasing and increasing and his seizures were still popping through.  With another status seizure now in Luke's history, we decided to go ahead and add another medication - Zonegran.  It also comes with a long list of precautions - namely the possibly of kidney stones or decreased kidney function among other bad stuff...but we have to try to stop his seizures.  So we began with a small dose at night because that's the time we really run into seizure trouble. 

We also have two medications at home that are 'rescue medications'.  They are supposed to stop the seizure or stall it long enough to either NOT need medical help or for us to be able to get to the doctor.  When Luke has one or two small ones, the pill we have does seem to work.  But this last seizure - it came fast and strong.  He would only come out of it for seconds.  I gave both rescue meds and it did nothing to pull him out of his seizure.  They were also completely ineffective for the January seizure. 

 A lot of seizure medications also impair cognitive function which scare the crap out of me.  We've avoided them so far but we're starting to fly through medications.  Luke is amazing everyone with how well he is doing given his extensive brain malformation.  I would hate to have to do anything to change his level of success...although continued lengthy seizures could also have the same outcome. 

As I consulted Dr. Google I found out that it is rare for individuals with partial complex seizures to go repeatedly into status seizures.  I also either heard or read that once someone tries 4 different seizure medications the likelihood of being able to control your seizures via medicine drops drastically.  Since Dr. Google isn't always the best doctor to listen to, I was able to ask our doctor while we were in the hospital. 

Dr. Smyser is truly our hero.  He is not a wait and see kind of guy.  He answers our questions fully and is respectful and listens to us.  He is aggressive with Luke's treatment and developmentally I KNOW we owe soooo much to him because he made sure Luke was getting therapy from the moment he was born.  He very patiently and sweetly addressed my Dr. Google questions.

Yes, it's rare for individuals with partial complex seizures to go into status.  However given Luke's extensive brain malformation (PMG) it changes Luke's epilepsy.  A lot of individuals with epilepsy have no reason for their epilepsy - we do.  So that makes Luke's case and treatment tougher.  Also since he has an extremely rare gene mutation (MPPH syndrome) there just isn't enough information or research yet to say why Luke's seizures are amping up at the rate they are and being so resistant to several drugs. 

As far as the medication question - also true.  The more medications someone tries - the trickier it gets to control the seizures.  But he also said that there are more and more medications being developed and we still have some to try that could help.

Right now since we had the whopper Thursday night out of the blue, he wants to be somewhat aggressive with our medicine.  We are going to quickly increase his Zonegran to a much stronger dosage over the next three weeks as long as Luke is tolerating the increase. If that doesn't work, Dr. Smyser is going to refer us to a neurologist that specializes in epilepsy which means we probably won't be seeing him anymore.  He knows I am STRONGLY opposed to not seeing him anymore so he promised to work with us and that we might be able to see two neurologists:)! 

One of our biggest fears is the nighttime.  We have an awesome video monitor that we can watch.  Thursday night I was watching it and I saw Luke opening and closing his eyes.  He wasn't moving. He wasn't fussing. I thought it was weird as I watched.  Then he flopped over and I thought he was going back to sleep.  Then I heard him cough and I knew!  I raced in and grabbed him as he was about to vomit.  It was dumb luck that I happened to see him opening and closing his eyes.  And that was the beginning of a seizure that lasted about an hour and was followed by two more seizures lasting 7 and 5 minutes each - two more seizures that came AFTER he had 4 doses of 'rescue meds'.  Then he was given a drug called Fosphenytoin to finally stop it altogether.  He also required this drug to stop his January seizure.  If he ever has a seizure that he doesn't vomit after....well, that'd be bad. 

All of those medications finally stopped our guys seizure.  But the meds and the awful seizures left him drugged, not feeling well, irritable, unable to walk, slurring his speech, and I'm sure just plain scared.  Today (Saturday) he is walking but he can only walk a few steps without falling.  He is still slurring his speech and extremely irritable. 

I try to keep our blog upbeat.  I try not to overshare the stuff that you probably don't need to or necessarily want to know.  We ARE so happy with Luke's progress.  We ARE proud of how hard he works, how hard we work and how hard our family & friends work to ensure his success.  But these stupid seizures.  Argh.  I hate them. 

So I'm totally going to play dirty here.  We've had such an overwhelming response to our walk page so far.  We are already 32% of the way to our goal in just a few days!!  We've had such a generous response from family, friends and even friends of friends.  We can't tell you what that means to us.  The money isn't for us.  It's for all of the kids and adults affected by epilepsy.  They need better monitors that could help identify when they're having seizures.  They need medications that don't come with red level warnings of possible death side effects.  They need support.  We need support so we can do our best to keep Luke healthy, developing and happy.

There are a lot of great causes out there that touch our hearts and I know Dan and I try to help as many as we can.  Sometimes it might only be $5 or $10.  Every single bit helps.  Every dollar, every share will help with epilepsy research and support.  And we appreciate every single bit that we can get to do our part to help the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas. 

So if you can help, here is the link to our walk page:  Stephen & Luke's Seizure Stoppers!  I've had a few people ask if they should join our team if they were planning on walking - please, please do!  We'd love it!  I know Jaime's family, my family and many, many other families are very thankful for whatever you can do to help. 

The prayers and love the last couple of days, weeks, months & years has definitely been felt by us.  Thank you. 
Our sweet boy sleeping off his seizure/medication hangover
with his keys in hand.  He is *obsessed* with keys.  We usually
 don't let him have them in bed but since I'm sitting with him
 and he's had such a rough few days...we made an exception. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

We're back.....

Luke had a seizure tonight that lasted over an hour. We are at Children's again.  He had 5 doses of rescue meds to stop his seizures.  He's resting comfortably and we're waiting on a bed in the PICU.  We're hoping that we'll be able to come home tomorrow because once they get it stopped,  there is really nothing they can do for our sweet boy. 

He had a great day today so a big one like this was unexpected.  He rode his horse tonight and was laughing and talking happily. 

Lots of prayers would be appreciated.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stephen & Luke's Seizure Stoppers!!

Stephen & Luke's Seizure Stoppers!! 
Seize the Day, June 21, 2014
If you follow our blog, you know the last few months have been really tough seizure-wise.  Luke's seizures have gotten better but honestly we're not convinced they're behind us right now.  He's still having issues with stuttering and drooling and clumsiness which seemed to be cropping up before the seizure winter from hell...

His new medication seems to be helping which we are thankful for.  We also have a lot of room to increase his dosage if his recent behaviors are indeed indicating he's starting to have small seizures again.  Now that he's had the longer status seizures unfortunately he's just more likely to trip into those. 

We are lucky because Luke's medications work for lengthy periods of time.  But the medications aren't a cure.  They're a Band-Aid.  That's all.  For some kiddos the Band-Aid sticks for a long time...for some kids the Band-Aid never sticks.  Ever.  When no medication will work and seizures are day in day out and unstoppable...that's called intractable seizures. 

Our sweet friend, Stephen, has intractable seizures.  He's had them since he was a year old.  Dan and I have been friends with his parents, Eric and Jaime, since college.  Dan and I knew each other in college but we weren't friends.  We were reintroduced at Stephen's baby shower - Dan and I were the only two single people there so according to Jaime & another friend, Dori, we had to be perfect for each other.  Turns out they were right!  So Stephen holds a really special place in our heart! 

We don't know how long Luke's medications are going to work.  We don't know if there is ever going to be a medicine that is going to stop Stephen's seizures.  We do know that we need your help. 

Jaime and I decided to team up this year for the Seize the Day epilepsy walk.  The money raised for the epilepsy walk will benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas.  It's early, friends.  7:30 in the morning!  But it was fun last year and you can go home and sleep after!  If you're not in the area but you'd still like to sponsor Stephen and Luke, you can make your tax deductible donation to our team here. Please join us in Kirkwood for a fun morning supporting epilepsy and those who are affected by it.  Please feel free to share our page with your friends! 
Thank you for all of your support and love!! 

Seize the Day 2013

Thursday, February 27, 2014


This kid is unbelievably tough and brave!!!  He has been such a champ with all this stuff on his head and being confined to one room.  
So far, so good.  The EEG so far looks really good.  He hasn't had any big events that we were worried about so we're still not sure what that was. However he's been chatty,  happy,  silly. ... Back to his normal self.  The doctors stressed repeatedly that this is just a glimpse of time and just because it looks good right now it doesn't mean that it will look like that in a few days.  I get that.  I do.  But what the EEG  and Luke's behavior mean to me right now - at this moment in time - is that he seems really, really good for the first time in a long time.  I'll take it! I know this is something he'll always struggle with but right now our happy,  sassy boy has made a strong reappearance and that is great! 
We're staying one more night to be on the safe side which is fine since we're already here.  We'll both be happy to get home tomorrow. We'll be praying that this new medicine continues to do the trick for a long time! 
Lots of love from us!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Ha!  Well Luke and I are waiting for a call from Children's to finally go in for an extended EEG. We'll be there hopefully only overnight.  He started his new medicine last week and things were still really sketchy. We got the call that we were getting in for the EEG Friday.  Saturday. ... He slowly started to improve. The last two days he's really seemed back to normal.  I'll feel better when the EEG comes back clean.  So we're hoping for an uneventful night and to be able to put the last two months behind us for quite awhile!
The picture is from our last hospital stay....This will be the look on his face in a little while!  Say a little prayer for a boring day with lots of treats and apple juice for Lukie!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Waiting for...

Nothing.  We're waiting for nothing to happen.  We're still struggling with seizure control after many medicine increases.  The longest Luke's gone without a seizure since right after Christmas is 9 days.  So we're waiting for a long, long, long period of absolutely nothing. 

His seizures have been small but keep cropping up.  Dan and I are constantly worried that they're going to erupt into one of his 'big' ones.  It's hard because there are no definite signs that a 'big' one is coming.  When we had the last major one, I thought he was on the road to recovery - finally and he SO wasn't! 

Luke also has a multitude of questionable seizure signs.  He has random bouts of stuttering, clumsiness, diarrhea and fussiness that seem to point to seizure activity.  It also leads us to believe that he is having seizures that we can't see because some of the signs will start to appear before we have noticed a seizure.  Yesterday he started randomly choking and gagging on his food which he hasn't done in since he was tiny which was also concerning. 

Some of his seizure signs could also be attributed to illness or to normal three year old behaviors.  However when what seems like the stomach flu (diarrhea) doesn't pass on to the 5 year old or anyone else in the family...that's weird.  Or when he wakes up and sits up crying and holds on to us tight for a second and then drops back down to sleep repeatedly.  Strange.  Or when he starts randomly crying and then can't walk a straight line for a few minutes.  Not normal.  Or when he wakes up fussy and then stops talking for several hours when he's normally a chatterbox.  Weird.  Or when we give one of the stronger seizure meds and his stuttering completely goes away for a couple of days. All of these things help us to know what is unfortunately going on.

His seizures are still mostly happening in the middle of the night which is also stressful.  We feel like Luke knows when they're going to happen a lot now and he gets really upset.  It's heartbreaking when he starts crying and tells us he doesn't want his 'frow up bowl'.  (He hasn't had a throw up seizure since the hospital but he still remembers his 'frow' up bowl that he hated.)  It's good that he knows when they are about to happen so that we can be with him but we're both really worried about his seizures continuing to change and him NOT alerting us to the fact he's having a seizure.  We've been looking into night time devices that would alert us if he was having low oxygen issues but there's not that much out there for that.  A traditional epilepsy mat wouldn't work for Luke because he has no movement associated with his seizures.  We are looking at one device that would monitor oxygen levels overnight because that was a concern with both of his big seizures but not sure what hoops we have to jump through to figure it out. 

I was able to talk to his neurologist today.  We're going to go ahead and switch his seizure medicine to one called Zonegran.  Dan and I both feel like we've increased the heck out of the Lamictal and it's not holding off his seizures.  Hopefully this one will kick in quickly.  We're also going ahead with a 48 hour EEG in the near future.  Our neurologist has been hesitant in the past because we knew he was having seizures so there was no point in doing the EEG.  We're concerned that there may be more seizures going on than we're aware of so we are going to go ahead and get that checked.  Although hopefully by the time we get it scheduled we'll be on the new medicine and this will be past us.  It will be nice to have the peace of mind, though, that he's really not having anything funky. 

Anyway with all of this &*$# going on, Luke is still doing great otherwise.  He's doing well cognitively and he seems to be making gains socially.  He has been tired and cranky a lot but that is understandable.  We continue to have a ton of amazing support and we are truly thankful.  Sorry this is a mostly cranky post but I just needed to vent a little.  We are always, always thankful for how well he's doing but please hope for a little 'nothing' for us!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014


We are home!   The EEG was clean which is what usually happens.   It's a one hour glimpse of time and his seizures have never shown up on it.  He has been happy and active so we felt comfortable going home.  
He was really eager to leave.  In the morning he kept telling us he would wait and have his juice and crackers in the car.  Then when we were leaving he said,  "Hey mom,  when we get home let's shake our booties!"
The brothers were really excited to be reunited as were we.
We don't know for sure the exact reason Luke's seizure got so bad this time.   We're hoping the increase in medicine will put a stop to them for a long, long while.   Thanks for your love and support!

EEG wires

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Seizures Suck!!

While seizures do indeed suck, I'll once again express my gratitude and love for St.  Louis Children's Hospital and my new affection for West County EMS.  Long,  long story,  but Sunday night Luke ended up having a seizure that by the time it was all said and done lasted over 1.5 hours and took 4 doses of rescue drugs to stop.   Even then he turned around and shortly after started up again requiring two more rescue drugs and eventually a sedative to put him out.  Luke was breathing on his own but because his oxygen levels were dropping unless he had help and his blood carbon dioxide levels were increasing because he lacked the strength to expel his breath properly he ended up being intubated for a short time.  He was able to maintain his levels the next morning and have the tube removed.   To say it was a terrifying night for us is an understatement.   What I will say is we are incredibly grateful for the West County EMS department for bringing us to SLCH.  It is not the closest to our house so we were relieved that they were more than willing.   They also listened to us when we explained Luke's seizures because they are so difficult to identify and gave him more medicine on the way to the hospital.   The doctors, nurses and staff at SLCH continue to comfort us during extremely trying times.  
We're still at SLCH.  He's resting comfortably.   He seems tired and irritable but who can blame the poor kid!  
The last few weeks have been trying.  He had a short run of the stomach flu,  followed by seizures,  followed by (wait for this one!) shingles (argh!), followed by the seizures from hell.   After much testing they also discovered he has some random, uncommon cold virus... Not a terrible virus just another thing on top of it all!  Grrrr!  Our poor buddy!
We try to focus on our positives so we can keep our heads above water.  Our family and friends are amazing, as usual.  Ben is hoping that we DON'T get out today because grandma's is soooooo much better!  I've had lots of prayers and support from work and an amazing friend helping make sure my classroom is ready.   Dan's work continues to be understanding as neither of us feel comfortable leaving Luke for very long.  Lots of love and support has been pouring in from friends and family.  We truly don't need anything except for prayers and your kind words.   It helps a lot.  
Dan is amazing in these situations. I am both relieved and impressed with the way he can keep his cool and use great judgement when I feel like I'm a panicking mess!!!
At this point, Luke and Dan are taking a little well deserved mid morning snooze. We're waiting for the neuros to do their rounds so we know what the next step is. They are planning to do an eeg today and then we'll see.  We're not entirely comfortable with his level of stability-he's walking around like he's had one too many adult beverages!  But we also understand the last few days have kicked his butt!  He's tiring easily... Also understandable.   So we'll see.   This was a great deal scarier than last year (I didn't think it could get worse!!!) so we're in no real hurry to get out of here!
Thanks for all the love and support.  The kind words and prayers mean the world to us.
Snoozin' with Tucker and my daddy! 

Warm, cozy socks! Luke loves wearing warm socks! 

Finally eating to make mommy happy!

Juice, keys and the iPad....hmmmm maybe I'll stay a few more minutes!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy 2014!  I wish that all the things I post in my head could magically appear on our blog...My posts are coming so infrequently, I hope I have another one before 2015!  We have had a great fall and Christmas. 
Snuggles for Santa!

Luke's requests for Santa Claus were as simple as last year...keys, crunchy potato chips and cookies. Santa was kind and brought him all three. Although the keys Santa brought still weren't as good as mom and dad's keys...he cannot be fooled with fake keys - even if they appear real!  He gets slightly (ok, maybe a lot!) obsessed with things and right now car keys are a HUGE obsession.  But he only wants our keys.  We thought if Santa brought him real keys then we could stop worrying about whether or not he was losing our keys.  No such luck...his joy over his Santa keys lasted about two days!


Physically he has had huge gains.  He is now able to jump off the furniture and land on his feet (check this out!).  Now, poor Ben would have been told NO in a hot second, but Lukie...well, it's good for him.  He calls it Canyon Ball since that is what Ben called jumping into the pool.  So we see him hop up onto the couch and yell 'Canyon Ball' as he dives off.  He's really jumping good distance, too.  So now both monkeys are regularly jumping off the couches. It's not creating good habits or polite children but it sure is creating one strong little boy and that is our goal.  He will also pretty much only get on the couch by climbing on the back.  He's turning into quite the little monkey! 

Ben and Luke have been having a great time together.  As they're playing, I often hear them get into arguments which is music to my ears.  It's so great to hear 'NO I DIDN'T!  YES YOU DID!'  being screamed from the top of their lungs.  Ben has gotten really good and realizing things that are going to upset Luke and he jumps right in to try to make him laugh or tickle him.  It's really sweet.  It usually erupts into a lot of underwear talk and booty shaking but that's ok.  While I feel bad that Ben is in the position - probably for quite a long time - to be on the lookout for Luke, I also realize that's just what big brother's do.

Luke has always had mild eating issues.  He had a hard time learning to drink thin liquids but has mastered that.  With his low muscle tone, he has a hard time realizing how much food he's putting in his mouth.  He always needed to be watched carefully when he ate and have his food cut into small pieces.  He has come sooooo far! Now he gets angry when we cut his food up.  He is successfully taking bites with very few reminders and rarely overstuffing...unless it's an Oreo.  Who can blame him then? 

Luke's starting to make gains conversationally, too.  He still has a hard time carrying on a two sided conversation, especially with peers.  But we're excited that he's starting to take part in conversation and making sense.  His language skills overall are amazing.  He's talking in long sentences and starting to sing a lot of songs.  His favorites are Drummer Boy and Happy Birthday currently.  He is starting to stutter a lot which I'm wondering if it's in connection with the return of the bad...seizures. 

As I said I've been posting a lot in my head with all of the stuff he's been doing that is amazing so I don't want to focus on this part.  The seizures did reappear over Christmas break (REALLY?!  Argh. Next year we're heading south.  I'm done with Christmas!)  They're a little different than they were before which is worrisome.  I'm kind of wondering if he's been having some that we didn't recognize for awhile because it's been within the last month that his stuttering has picked up A LOT,  he's been getting upset really easily, and we have noticed a little more clumsiness.  I received calls from both his daycare and classroom because he was acting abnormally recently.  So we're working on getting that back under control again...we had almost 8 sweet seizure free months...hopefully we'll be looking at more this time.  I hate them.  A lot.  But I am grateful that we usually can get them under control.  I'm always afraid that 'this time' we won't be able to but there's no point in focusing on that right now.

Happy, happy New Year to you all!  My only resolution is going to be to try to enjoy all the wonderful moments we're having right now and stop worrying so much about the future!  Hope you're enjoying your moments, too!