Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Dear Wonderful Family and Friends,

As the year comes to a close we reflect back on the days of 2007. It’s been quite an adventure for our family! Ten major events mark the memories we’ve made.

Our little blond munchkin turned one in March! What a special celebration. Josiah has brought so much surprise and pure delight to our home. We truly praise the Lord every day for allowing us to experience this child’s life. Kissing his soft cheeks and receiving one in return can only bring big, happy tears and a bursting heart! He has mastered over 70 signs which helps him to express his wants and needs. Along with these signs he is now speaking pretty clearly, which is lots of fun!

In March we also took a trip to Pittsburgh for a second evaluation with the country’s most recognized cortical vision impairment specialist. Her advice, encouragement and professional recommendations have helped us get several things that Abby needed. The most exciting one is that Abby now has a one-on-one aide in the classroom! The intention of having the aide is to provide someone who will bring language to Abby, as well as a consistent learning experience. The Deafblind Intervener model is very new to the school system, so we are working together with them to create the most appropriate environment possible! We are praying for continued sign language comprehension and expression for Abby. She is consistently and appropriately signing “up,” “eat,” “more” and “all done.” We are told her classmates enjoy her presence and miss her when she is absent.

In April my mom and I took the kids to Montreal Canada to embark on a new journey. While in Montreal we learned a new manual therapy technique to use on Abby. Because of Abby’s CP she is unable to sit up, crawl or walk. This therapy will hopefully allow her to develop a stronger core structure so she can eventually gain more function. It demands a large time commitment every day, but we are already seeing physical results after only 8 months. It’s taken some effort to rearrange our family routine to fit it in. Abby seems to enjoy it and becomes very relaxed… most of the time.

Patrick is really enjoying his new job at NASA! Another one of this year’s praises. The Lord provided the exact job we had prayed for. He loves the challenge.

Abby has continued to struggle with reflux. To make a long story short, the G-tube feedings became too uncomfortable for her. After undergoing an upper GI exam (including sedation and a scope), and discovering significant esophagitis we knew something needed to change. We resorted to a GJ-tube which feeds a slow drip of special formula into her intestines, bypassing her stomach. It has helped so much. She is slowly gaining back the 4 lbs she lost during the last 2 months.

The beginning of Fall brought a sad day for our family. We lost our golden retriever, Hummer. He was such a big part of our lives. We really miss him, especially now that our Christmas tree is up and he’s not here to explore it.

October took us to California where we enjoyed a great family reunion with my mom’s family!! The airplane trips were an adventure in themselves. It was so wonderful to travel with my sister, Christy, and her family. It was Papa’s 80th birthday celebration, complete with aunts, uncles and cousins. The kids got to meet everyone and spend quality time with Papa and Patrish, which they all loved.

Our final event included surgery for Abby. Early this month Abby had her Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted. It sits under her skin right below her collar bone and has wires which wrap around the vagus nerve in her neck. Her seizures have escalated out of control over the past year, and this is the next step of treatment. Now that it has been activated the implant sends small electrical pulses every 5 minutes. It interrupts the electrical “storms” happening in her brain producing the seizures. We have a magnet that we can use to wave over the device during a seizure, causing an extra “dose” of pulses to be discharged. It actually works to bring her out of a seizure more quickly! We hope to wean Abby off some of her seizure medication in the New Year.

Each and every day we turn Abby (and all the worries) over to the Lord. Only He can bring comfort, healing and renewal to our girl. If we’ve learned one thing through the past four years, it’s that we need our savior to intervene on our behalf daily.

Christmas is always a special season for our family. This year just like all the previous ones, we are humbled by the Lord’s provision for us. We are surrounded by His love sent to us through family and friends, near and far away.

Draw near to the Lord in the coming New Year, for His love endures forever!


Patrick, Patty, Abby and Josiah

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Activation Day!

Monday we took Abby to Dr. M's office to have her VNS activated! We were excited and anxious as we waited for him to program the device. Abby sat in her chair seemingly aware that something important was about to happen.

The Dr. put his programming "wand" over her chest where the implant sits and started the electrical impulses. We watched her closely for any reaction. Honestly we were a little afraid she might get scared and wig out! Instead she sat very still and had that look of concentration on her face. She did feel the stimulation but wasn't bothered by it. Whew.

Since Monday we've noticed very subtle behavioral signs when she receives the impulses. Sometimes she gulps, has a gag or cough, and once or twice has started "singing" and we noticed a higher pitch to her voice. Most of the time we can't tell it is delivering the impulses.

More good news. Yesterday she had 3 big seizures during which I dashed to grab her magnet. After briefly waving the magnet over the implant I watched as she slowly came out of the seizure! I almost couldn't believe my eyes. Abby seemed to be surprised too! She calmed down quicker than usual, although she was still very sleepy afterwards.

I had to sit there and just thank the Lord for giving us some way to help Abby. It's not a cure, but it sure beats watching her helplessly as she suffers through another terrible seizure. Praise Him for answering our prayers.

Here's Josiah listening to the "IPOP"... as he calls our Ipod. It is really funny. We are amazed at how quickly he figures things out. Before we knew it he was unplugging the ear phones from the Ipod and finding other appliances to plug them in to! Yikes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

VNS Surgery

Abby's surgery Monday went very well. She did great during the procedure and is now resting at home. She has an incision on the left side of her neck, and one on the upper left chest, just below her clavicle. The implant itself is quite large and clearly visible under her skin, but we knew it would be.

Today we are trying to stay ahead of her discomfort by making sure she gets her pain meds on time. So far she's been resting ok.

The device has not been programmed yet so we won't know if it will help her seizures until it's turned on. We've been told that every child is different in the way they respond to the Vagus Nerve Stimulation therapy. Some show change in seizure activity immediately, and some gradually see improvements over time.
Abby is scheduled for her implant to be activated after the first of the New Year. We are really praying it will help her! The potential of seizure relief gives us a lot of hope.

Thank you so much for those who prayed for Abby. We can feel the Lords' peace when His people bring our family before His throne.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

J's First Hair Cut

Josiah got his very first hair cut last week. It was hard to see his baby curls fall, but the end result is just so darling! He really looks like a little man.

Our handsome boy.