Mayo Moments

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

And she is home again.....

I have to say, I do love it when a carefully thought out plan works out perfectly - although in this case, I really do wish it wasn't necessary.

Yesterday, I met with Leah's teacher, principal and the Educational Resource teacher to create an Emergency Medical Protocol for her.  Hers, just like our Leah, is unique.  Usually when a protocol is created, it is because there is a solid diagnosis with definite signs, symptoms and actions to take.  In Leah's case it is full of "if this happens do this....", BUT "if this happens than do this....", OR "if this happens than do this..."

We had a very good, in depth meeting, the staff took lots of notes and were very interested in the history and progression of what she had been going through and most importantly of all, understood the necessity of having all staff members familiar with her and her condition.

To ease the process, I had typed up a list of her symptoms, what her reaction(s) is and a bit of her medical history.  I explained our concerns for her education and her socialization as well as her needs during and after an episode.

We discussed the need for ongoing communication and what would happen during school trips, assemblies and the need for her to have a bathroom buddy.

As it turns out, the first test of our protocol happened this morning, less than 24 hours after we finalized it.  And to boot - she had a supply teacher.  Her teacher had left a copy of my letter as well as instructions to confer with the teacher across the hall should she have any questions.  Today, Leah was home by 11am.  The plan worked like clockwork, all points were considered, assessed and followed through on.

Now that I know the protocol is in place and working, her fairy-god teacher across the hall is watching out for her, and all staff/volunteers and supply teachers will be informed, I think I can rest a little easier during the day.

This is a copy of what I had prepared prior to the meeting.

Leah Balint
Age 7 (June 10, 2004)
No known allergies
Suspected Seizure Disorder

Doctor’s recommendations
·                  Minimize physical exertion
    Participation in strenuous gym activities should be avoided (e.g. Races, aerobic activities)
    Participation in regular activities is encouraged (e.g. Dodge ball, dancing, etc.)
    Leah has been advised to limit running and chasing games while out for recess.
    Leah has been advised to self-monitor – if she begins to feel weak/dizzy/sick to sit or lay down wherever she is and request teacher assistance        
Maintain a moderate body temperature
    Leah should avoid becoming overheated whether through play or in the classroom.
    Leah frequently feels extremely cold and an extra sweater has been placed in her locker for these periods.  Normally she would wrap up in a blanket as well, but unsure how that would work in the classroom
    At the appearance of any symptoms or episodes, Leah can be assessed and sent home if deemed necessary.  Normally she requires a lengthy recovery period before she returns to normal and this will only interfere with the other student’s classroom activities.
    If at anytime Leah should collapse or lose consciousness, 911 should be called and she can be taken to the Welland Hospital.

Leah’s myriad of symptoms is both troubling and confusing for the doctor’s as they don’t necessarily point to any one condition.
  • Fainting with a long recovery time afterwards
  • Complaints of the inside of her head feeling “blurry”
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden headache
  • Repeatedly rubbing at her eye(s) because it feels “weird”
  • Extreme coldness
  • Occasional urinary incontinence (may be related to a seizure)
  • Sudden “wilting” our way of describing a series of symptoms
  • Eyes go blank or flat
  • Lack of energy
Curling into herself, head hangs down or she puts it on the desk
Difficult to talk, to express how she is feeling, or what is going on, will give non-verbal responses when possible
Very weak feeling, resistant/unable to walk
Wants to keep her eyes closed
May suddenly wander off to a quiet space and fall into a deep sleep and be confused upon waking
Could also suddenly fall asleep in the middle of a loud noisy environment (assembly in the gym)

Leah is usually reassured and calmed by physical contact, usually “craves” it afterwards e.g.  Thursday when Megan Tessier cuddled close to her on the carpet, stroked her forehead and read to her until I arrived.  She needs it to feel secure, as she is very often confused about what has just happened and self conscious/embarrassed.

Prior to April/May of 2011, Leah was a very energetic, bouncy normal little girl who happened to fall down an awful lot.  We had been investigating these falls with her doctor since SK, but had never found a reason for them.  We would often describe these falls as “limp noodle” falls, she would just drop, make no effort to stop herself, would not put her hands out to break her fall or reach for something to catch herself.

Since the spring, Leah’s demeanor and energy levels have changed drastically. 

Most mornings she would complain of not feeling well, sore stomach, and muscle aches and pains.  She began to have trouble sleeping.  She would frequently need to come home from school due to her not feeling well.  We began to investigate with her doctor but continued to receive results from blood work and scans that were within normal parameters.

By June it seemed that Leah was missing more school than she was attending.  On June 16th, she lost consciousness during play day.  Her recovery time afterwards was very long and it impacted on her speech, her muscle strength, she experienced a headache that lasted for days, her head and eyes felt “blurry” for weeks and she had daily bouts of dizziness.   She was hospitalized for 3 days while they monitored her, performed extensive blood work, ECG and a CT scan all of which came back normal.  An EEG was scheduled which also was normal.

Leah was deemed able to return to school but on the mornings she felt well enough to attend, she would normally call to come home by lunchtime.  She wore a holter monitor to school for the last 3 days of school, but again, there were no abnormal findings.

Throughout the summer, Leah has lost consciousness a couple more times as well as having many of what we call episodes.  She has been seen by the Children’s ER at McMaster, her paediatrician, a consulting paediatrician at McMaster and a Neuromuscular Specialist.  We are still waiting for her appointment with the Neurologist.  She has a repeat EEG scheduled for September 19th and an MRI on November 5th.  The working theory at this point is some type of seizure disorder.  The sudden falls may actually be atonic seizures and she may be experiencing complex-partial seizures, and those episodes of “wilting” may be her recovery period (post-ictal state) afterwards.

Due to her continuing issues and the aftereffects of these periods of lost consciousness and episodes, Leah has trouble retaining information (will ask the same questions repeatedly), has some balance problems (she can no longer ride her bike) and can become quite emotional very quickly.

Her father and I are very concerned about how she will perform this year and are looking for options to keep her up to date with her learning; we would hate to have her fall behind, as prior to all of this she was a very good student.

At anytime I am available by cell phone or at the house phone.  I do work midnights and sleep during the day while everyone is at school, so if for some reason I can not be reached, please call my mother who lives not far away.  She can come to the school to pick her up.  My husband works in Burlington and is too far away to assist with Leah during the day.

My husband and I would like to thank you for your help and concern for Leah.  Hopefully with us all working together Leah can have a successful year and her doctors can find some answers so we know for sure what we are dealing with.

With much appreciation,

Kate and Paul Balint.

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