Happy Birthday

DSC_0210The girls both reached milestones yesterday: EB bought her first lipstick (a milestone in any girl’s life. The colour is a good deal more flattering than anything in my teenage makeup bag – it was the Eighties). And R turned 10.

R was excited about her birthday but the planned party has been postponed for the time being because she is still so weak. So we celebrated quietly. We had bunting and paper chains (I love bunting and paper chains).  EB made and distributed cinema tickets for a movie premier in our living room. R slept through most of it.

I’ve been neglecting the blog lately.  I’ve been waiting for things to improve (or even just stabilise).  They haven’t but I don’t think that I can let R’s birthday pass without posting an update .

It started with tonsillitis. The tonsillitis triggered seizures.  These seizures required repeated doses of emergency medication.  The medication put her repeatedly into respiratory distress: this is life threatening. The risks were made only too clear to us by the anxiety shown by the paramedics, nurses and medical staff who treated her.

The doctors tried a different tack.  A feeding tube was inserted via her nose into her stomach. The ketogenic diet was now to be given solely as a milk feed via this tube.  This would allow greater control.  The seizures stopped and it was decided that R should be scheduled urgently for surgery for a permanent tube which would deliver the feed (and medicines) directly to her stomach (a PEG).

Then the diarrhoea started.  Terrible diarrhoea. I have never seen so much poo.  Oceans of the stuff.  The doctors suspected the milk feed.  The feed was modified: dairy-free, less fat, less MCT oil. The diarrhoea continued.  Finally, on the Friday evening, after more than a week of diarrhoea and with her surgery scheduled for Monday morning, she was diagnosed with Colostrom Difficile (C Diff ).

I’d like to be able to say that the C Diff was treated successfully and it was happy ever after.  But that’s not how it has turned out.  Thankfully, R’s surgery went ahead regardless (and went well).  Getting R well again has proven more difficult.  At one point that week, with R lying unrousable, and weak from vomitting and diarrhoea, I genuinely thought that we might lose her.  She pulled through – thank God – but after two courses of antibiotics she’s still not free from the C Diff.  She is worn out.

So the birthday party has had to be postponed but we are hoping that she might be well enough to celebrate properly soon.

Happy Birthday, my lovely R. Here’s to a better year.

 

 

Advertisements

New year, new worry

It’s almost a month since I last posted. G suggested that I might want to censor some of the gloomier posts for the sake of the reader.  Right now, it feels that by doing so, I might just as well  mothball the whole blog. From a selfish point of view, I find sharing our experiences here cathartic. But I also think that giving a truthful account of our life with Rett syndrome is only fair to R.

It’s not that nothing good has happened recently. R enjoyed Christmas. She loved her hot pink headband with built-in headphones and her little night light, which projects blue and green stars on her ceiling. She enjoyed the pantomime and going out for dinner afterwards. Tonight, R laughed through the whole of James McAvoy’s CBeebies Bedtime Story (anyone who has ever heard R laugh will know that it can really make your day). But all the good stuff has been tempered by the fact that she is still unwell much of the time.

This week has not been a good week. On Monday, R stopped breathing. Not for long – 30 seconds maybe – but it happened several times and each time I laid her down. This was not her usual breath holding. This was something much scarier and she was unresponsive when it happened. We decided to take her to hospital (on the way in, she stopped breathing again and I had to stop the car on the hard shoulder of the motorway. In retrospect, I think that I should have called an ambulance).

It’s not clear that these episodes were related to her epilepsy, nevertheless that her seizures remain uncontrolled is a cause for concern. Her medicines have been changed again. Given that her epilepsy is proving hard to control and the periods of not breathing, I was counselled again about Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). We were advised to consider an anti-suffocation pillow and that it may be beneficial to obtain a monitor which will check her oxygen levels overnight. The potential benefits of a gastrostomy tube in ensuring that R gets her full dose of medication were once again discussed.

I’m trying to be rational. There is no point in being paralysed by anxiety over this.  SUDEP is very rare. Realistically, R is at low risk of suffocation because, while they can be very frequent, her seizures are typically quite short at present. But it’s incredibly difficult to set this worry aside altogether.

Rett syndrome is considered by clinicians to have 4 stages.  R is in Stage 3. This is known as the plateau stage.  It’s mis-named.

“The Trick is to Keep Breathing”

This week was Scottish Book Week. Inevitably, there was a Greatest Hits List of Scottish books compiled to coincide with this event. Funnily enough, I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about one of the books that made the Top 10 – Janice Galloway’s The Trick is to Keep Breathing. In truth, I’ve been thinking less about the book than its title, which has a particular resonance for us.

Continue reading