Mayo Moments

Sunday, 11 November 2012

November's Update

After a couple of weeks full of doctor's appointments and trips to McMaster, I finally felt prepared to give a long comprehensive update on Leah.

As I think I have mentioned before I feel most in control of all of this when I am well informed.  I have been very heavy into research and networking with other patients and parents of pediatric patients with similar issues as Leah. There is so much information and data gathering that has to be done and kept up to date for each of her doctors.  I feel like I have turned into a fact-spouting documentation obsessed lunatic!

As a coping measure I have developed a large binder full of information on a variety of subjects relating to her issues as well as keeping copies of her medical history, bloodwork and diagnostic results and an ongoing list of questions.  The binder I use is similar to the one below.  It even has a shoulder carrying strap!  At Leah's last appointment I had it on the chair beside me open to a few articles that were heavily underlined with points I wanted to address.  When the doctor walked into the room I actually saw his shoulders slump!  Poor guy knew it wasn't going to be a quick easy appointment!

I have also created a document chronicling all of her bloodwork.  As I explained to one specialist when he wondered why I would do such a thing....I need all the doctors Leah sees to be able to take a look at the bigger picture.  They need to be able to see more than just the results of the tests THEY order.  Maybe if they had access to a document like this previously, so much time wouldn't have been wasted.  With this chart they can see at a glance how she is trending and draw conclusions from that.  For example, if her esoinophils and her IGE are consistently elevated (which they are - minimally) that indicates that there is an allergic response to something going on.  Now that triggers an investigation into what she is allergic to.  Eliminating any reason to rev up her immune response is our goal right now since it is already in a state of hyper-vigilance.

As well, everyone can see (especially me) what needs to be monitored and ensure that those problem results are routinely rechecked.   

Taking a step back and looking at how we were handling things at home and at doctor's appointments I realized that everything was happening TO Leah.  But she really wasn't an active participant and amazingly she didn't really have a good grasp on what was actually going on with her!  That one really shocked me!  How could she not know??  But then I gave my head a shake and realized she is only 8 and I can't just assume she would understand all of this.  I guess that it is a testament to how much she trusts us that she hasn't really questioned any of it.

As such, we have been encouraging her to take a larger role in her care.  I am encouraging her to be a more active participant in her appointments, to speak for herself instead of just pointing at me to provide the answers.  She fills out a daily chart outlining how she feels, what her symptoms were that day, rates her day based on a smiley face scale and even gives me a brief description on the back if something abnormal occurs.

On the school front she has been doing very well.  Still missing a larger number of days due to either illness or doctor's appointments than I would like, but she is managing.  Her teacher says that she very smart and can pick up new concepts very quickly which is what is allowing her to catch up on missed school work.  Without that ability, she would be very behind.  However she is very very VERY disorganized.  She does well within the structure of the classroom where there are clear rules and schedule.  But give her any sort of freedom and she can't function.  She easily becomes overwhelmed and at times reduced to tears.  I am currently struggling with how to help her with that.  Her agenda doesn't really do it for her and I don't want to overload her with charts and check lists.  Anybody have advice?

Recently Leah was seen by her new family doctor, a Neurologist and an Endocrinologist.  The outcome of all of that has been a couple of referrals to other hospitals.  In the coming months she will be seen at both Toronto Sick Kids and London Sick Kids.  She has a follow up MRI before the end of this month and an Ultrasound of her thyroid pending.  We will be gradually increasing her dosage of Kepra as she is still having frequent events (as the doctors call them) and her dosage was still at the "sub therapeutic level".

At the endocrinology appointment the doctor felt nodules in her thyroid and wants to do the ultrasound to investigate those as well as create a baseline to track any changes.

There is still some question in the minds of those doctors if the diagnosis given a Mayo Clinic is correct.  I am finding this increasingly frustrating.  I can't decide if it is ego, pride or just spitefulness that is causing their hesitancy or if there is a true doubt.   At least the psych consult is off the table now!

With regard to how she is feeling, Leah still is troubled by sleep disturbances which may or may not be seizure related.  She is frequently up during the night but doesn't remember much of what has gone on.  She comes to us seeking comfort which means none of us are feeling rested!  :)

Her mornings are still difficult and we have to be very firm with her and harden our hearts to some tears.  Not everyday thank goodness, but at least a couple times a week.

During the day she is still dealing with her sudden falls and dropping things.  Unfortunately this means her time on the monkey bars has had to be curtailed as whenever one of the Negative Myoclonic Seizures occurred, it caused her hands or legs to release and she was falling on her head!  She is still having her rest period at lunch time which I firmly believe is the reason she is able to stay at school most days.

In the midst of all of this, we have had a great month as a family.  Halloween was fun despite the rain and the kids are really looking forward to our annual trip to Great Wolf Lodge tomorrow!

I did however forget to pack the donations for Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room into the van on our last trip to Hamilton, so for those of you who had sample sized toiletry items to donate but hadn't got them to me yet THERE IS STILL TIME!  :)  For those of you who have already gotten them to me or promised to do so THANKS SO MUCH!    I know they will be greatly appreciated by the families that will use them.

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