Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I'm searching for answers. I've felt that there is something more than the typical "she has Down syndrome and Diabetes and is more prone to illness" reasoning for Em's string of colds/sinus infections. Last year her back to back colds were worse than they had ever been. Worse meaning that she got sick too soon after the last round of illness and each time the length got longer. This year I'm seeing the same thing. Back in October of this school year, I started bringing my concerns up each time we were at the Dr and each time we really didn't get anywhere. I decided to follow up with her Ear, Nose and Throat(ENT) Dr and feel glad that I did. He definitely agreed that we had a problem that needed addressed. My main concern I brought up with him was that we lived in our own version of the Bermuda Triangle. Emma has sleep apnea, Emma has Diabetes, Emma constantly battles upper respiratory infections due to her susceptibility. The respiratory infections make the sleep apnea a nightmare to deal with(meaning she rarely sleeps), the Diabetes makes it harder for her to fight these infections and in turn the infections make the Diabetes almost impossible to control. Her A1c level was recently checked and came in at 10.4, that's a huge jump from the last A1c and says a lot about how bad her Diabetes has been. When the longest time frame between these infections has only been 5 days, it's not hard to see why our family lifestyle is significantly altered right now. I understand that she is more prone to illness and that all of the things on her plate(Diabetes, etc) complicate things. But, I also feel like something can be done to make the quality of life for her and our family a little better. I just don't know what yet.

Her ENT asked a bunch of questions and was particularly interested in the points I made about how her respiratory illnesses always start 3-5 days after the last illness and she's the only one sick in our household. I was hoping there could be a magic fix and things would get better fast(ha ha)but he would barely talk about surgery on her sinuses as an option. I always thought that Emma was getting colds and then they were turning into sinus infections. But, he thinks that she might have an infection deep in the sinus cavity/cavities. Even though she's been on antibiotics multiple times, he thinks that she wasn't on long enough for the infection to be fully treated. So instead of colds turning into sinus infections, we might be dealing more along the longs of recurrent sinusitis. So the plan for her is to follow a 6 week course of antibiotics( I think it's a lower dose each day so the length of use could be extended). He's going to have a Ct scan of her sinuses done at the end of the 6 weeks to look for blockage or the lingering infection. If the scans show significant infection or blockage still, she will more than likely need sinus surgery. He also referred us to an allergist/immunologist. We go next week for some testing.

We don't exactly have answers, but I'm glad that we are at least on the right track to finding some.....

Friday, December 17, 2010


Emma goes through quite a few phases. Sometimes these phases change several times a day, sometimes several times a week or even several times a month. Some of these phases are going to give me gray hairs and some make me giggle. Demanding to be in control of everything; what show we all watch, what games the girls play, how the blanket is spread out-gray hair. You would be surprised that the little doll most know her by can scream, hit, claw, bite(to name a few) if control is taken away from her. Dancing to every song that she ever hears, tucking my hair behind my ears(sometimes I pull it out just so she'll tuck it for me) and signing I love you all giggles. She can really melt me in these sweet tender moments, it sure goes a long way when we come out of a "gray hair" phase. Lately she has started sticking her tongue out at us. It is so funny and makes teaching her to not do it quite difficult with all of the stifled laughter.

We have a tradition each morning she gets on the bus. She always has to carry her backpack, she always gives me a kiss and a hug on the first step of the bus and while the aid buckles her in the harness she blows me kisses and waves. I always sign "I love you" to her when the bus pulls away and she'll sign it back(along with her bff Toby who sits behind her). Well, lately instead of signing "I love you" back she sticks her tongue out at me.

I giggle all the way to the door.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Her strength

When Emma wakes up in the night she'll turn on the light, sit by the door, and call for us over and over or start crying. If she calls for us, I know that she's going to be somewhat draining. She must feel somewhat crappy to not sleep, but well enough to run a rat race at 2:30 in the morning. If she wakes up crying, I know she feels horrible-she's sick Emma. Early this morning, Emma woke me up crying. When that happens, I always jump out of bed with my gloves on-meaning a huge rush of adrenaline comes over me. It sure does help in the moments when this inadequate mommy needs a push to deal with some situations. Really-she's 50 lbs now.

The hard moments we've had and times we are tested to the very core vanish when I see sick Emma. I'm telling you, as a parent of a child with special needs, there is pain in watching them suffer. They go through a lot, big or small, there is always something. Emma runs around with different illnesses that would knock me off my feet for a couple of days. She can do that, she's built up a tolerance. The interesting part is that for some reason the most tender moments with her come when she's sick Emma. She comforts us, she loves us. More times than I can count, she's put the palm of her hand up to my cheek and given me this look. A look that is so wise and comforting. I see her true character shine through in some of her toughest moments-always with sick Emma moments.

Her insulin pump site occluded in the night-went bad and stopped delivering her medicine. On top of that she has another cold. Since the end of September she has had a cold, a sinus infection, a yeast infection, another cold, another sinus infection and now a brand new cold. Even dinky colds spike her sugar nonstop and create a lot of issues for us to deal with. The no insulin combined with an illness created a situation that was on the scary side today. She was white as a ghost, lethargic and kept lifting her jammies to show me her stomach hurt. All I know is that her sugar was over 500. She was too sick to send to school and it took until dinner to get a normal blood sugar.

I know it wasn't an easy day for her. Yet, she was so sweet and tender all day, not one meltdown. Her strength is amazing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Tonight I took Emma for her annual blood work/screenings. I've had some anxiety about it this time, I should say more anxiety this time. The fact that I've procrastinated taking her in since the end of October is proof enough. After the screening this summer and getting blindsided with Celiac disease, I've been nervous. We've had enough emotional trauma that anymore there is no comfort zone. It's just how it is around here. Nothing that a couple of smooth years couldn't fix. Emma deserves that.

While parking next to the building, Madison said "I think we've been here before". Yes hon, we have. Emma walked into the lab building like a pro, she was so cute. I love getting to be with her when she is in one of her good moods. It is some of the best medicine there is, I soak it up. Her mood was great right up until we crossed through the door into the lab room where they draw the blood. Emma is smart, she knew where she was. It was heartbreaking and adorable(her pouty lip is so cute) at the same time to see her change in countenance. While we were getting Em ready, one of the nurses said "we've seen you guys here before". It was a funny moment, since I had just been thinking the same thing. It's always a reality check for me when I recognize nurses and they recognize us. Life for the most part feels "normal" to us now. We've adjusted, it's our life. There are times though that the differences, compared to before, will slap me in the face and I'll feel the difference more. Tonight was one of those moments. It always ends up being a good thing because after the journey it takes my brain on-I always recognize how lucky we are to have Emma.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sugar High

Emma's sugars are so bad right now(really they are always this bad) that we are meeting with the Endocrinologist monthly instead of every 3 months. They check her a1c every time and it's high every time. We went last Thursday and her a1c came in at 9.8, it makes me so upset. We've been in the dangerous range for awhile. It's impossible to describe the frustration I feel in trying to establish good control. It feels like it will never happen, especially when you factor in all Emma's problems that play a role in sugar control. Mainly, her high incidence of illness. We left September's appointment with a new plan for the following month to try for better control. Less than a week later she was ill with a cold and it really affected her sugars. Some illnesses make the Diabetes harder than others. This cold produced dangerously high sugars and large ketones which could have easily lead to a life threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis . We're 5 years in with this disease and this particular cold has made the list as one of the hardest we've dealt with(as far as sugar control goes). One bright note is that Emma is older and will drink fluids when she is running really high. She recognizes the thirst associated with high blood sugar now and contstantly wants to drink. It's such a far cry from when she was tiny and would not drink for us, it would easily land her in the emergency room for iv fluid. The plan we left the Doctor's with in September never happened after the cold turned into a sinus infection. A round of antibiotics, a horrible yeast infection and now a new cold later-I wasn't surprised to see an increase in her a1c level on Thursday.

Every day we are battling a disease that has devastating complications from uncontrolled blood sugars. Every day it feels like we are losing. We really need a cure.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Season of the Neb

The season of the handy dandy nebulizer, aka flu/cold season, has started and is in full force. We were forced to dust it off the other night after Emma came down with a cold and it really triggered her asthma. It's a little disappointing, since we were finally getting better control with her asthma. Here's to less time at school, church and being outside!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

To screen or not to screen?

SCREEN. Since Emma was a baby, her primary physician has followed the recommended guidelines for a baby/child with Down syndrome. A lot of it has involved screenings for things she is high risk for developing-like leukemia, hypothyroidism, eye problems, atlantoaxial instablility and celiac disease. I've always had mixed feelings about these screenings. Who would like it when their child is being screened for leukemia? This summer we switched to a new Endocrinologist, this post I mentioned a not-so fun time with the old one. Anyway, the new doc wanted to run a screening on her thyroid and check for celiac disease. I thought it was unnecessary and told him so. He gently replied that she needed checked every year(the last endo said she didn't-hmmm) and that he was ordering a more in depth screening for celiac. I gave the go ahead, but procrastinated taking her in for the blood work.

I finally took her, and didn't think much of it because I didn't think I was seeing symptoms. I missed a call from the endo office less than 2 weeks later, they mentioned they got the results from her labs in and wanted to discuss them with me. I wanted to barf, they only do that when something is wrong. I called in and got told that her thyroid was normal, but they thought she had celiac disease. Her endo sure showed me! They faxed her labs to the GI clinic at Primary's, they do what's called fast track for celiac. If you spend time at Primary's, then you know scheduling an appointment will be a 2-3 month wait. With the fast track, however, they get them in for a biopsy(the only way to confirm celiac), right away if the numbers are bad. When the nurse practitioner called less than 24 hours later to schedule her biopsy right away, I knew her numbers must have been bad. I've recently found out what her blood work came in at. Her endo told me that a normal blood screen comes is 3 or below and only measures to 100. All they know is that hers was greater than 100 because it didn't even register-it sounded too familiar. We did the biopsy and have since gotten confirmation that she does have celiac disease. Her small intestine has damage, she has a high level of antibodies, but is asymptomatic-no symptoms. After learning more about this disease and how hard it can be to get a diagnosis, I'm so grateful we know and caught this early. Her last blood screening was almost exactly a year ago, so this has developed in the last year. I like to think, right now, that maybe this has something to do with the back to back viral infections she had this past winter. She had a rough year, the worst back to back cycle she's ever had. This is no joke, the longest she went all fall/winter/spring without an ongoing viral infection was 3 days. Who knows if the celiac played a roll in this or not(probably not)but I would love an explanation for why she got sick nonstop. At one point, I even took her to the doctor to see if she needed screened for leukemia. Or maybe it could explain why she had problems sleeping this past year.

I would be lying if I said I was fine about it. I don't care if there are a million gluten free products, it's still hard committing to another auto-immune disease that lasts a lifetime, even more so with all of her other needs. I told my sister that things will never be the same-again. She helped me realize that Emma joining our family already changed that. She's right, but because of that, I hold on with a death grip to the little remaining normalcy. Letting go of another piece of that is proving to be extremely difficult. We'll be fine though, I'm not scared by this-just tired. We are in the process of segregating the gluten foods from the gluten free foods and buying things for our new lifestyle. I am going to have to relearn carb counts with her new food, and the way it affects her sugars, but I feel like the experience with her Diabetes is helping me adjust easily enough to her having celiac disease.

Screen-you never know what's going to show up. Better to find out now than down the road. Of the few possible problems I mentioned above, we have already caught 2 in Em through her routine screenings. Let's hope for no more.......

Monday, March 15, 2010


Emma had a rough day today, after 5 years is still breaks my heart. She has been doing really well lately, relatively speaking. Her behavior has been more workable, meaning she responds to my behavior strategies when a problem comes up. Her strength is better too, and I have felt myself relaxing more when she starts walking down the stairs or breaks into a run. Within the last week, however, I have had more and more trouble with her behavior. Each day has been getting worse, and today it was like the dam burst. She just wasn't herself today, I wish I understood what triggers this in her. I tried all of the different techniques I've learned and got nowhere with her. After just a few hours she reached a point where I had one last resort. We call it couch sitting and she hates it. It's basically a sitting technique that will help her feel safe enough to snap out of it, it always works. The old saying "it gets worse before it gets better", applies here. Like I said, she hates couch sitting and at times it will trigger the worst of her behavior problems. It got downright scary for a minute while I struggled to just keep her on my lap. She was hitting and crying and trying to bite me. After I was able to hold her in a position where she couldn't hurt herself or me, she started screaming for her "daddy" over and over and over. This went on for a long time, at least 5 minutes and I cried the whole time. To me, being consistent with discipline is just about one of the hardest responsibilities in raising a child with special needs. It's impossible to describe how draining it is for me. The time and patience it demands will leave me feeling weak and shaky. After 15 minutes or so she snapped out of it, almost instantly. It was like she wasn't really there for a few minutes and then all of sudden she came back. This was enough to do us both in for the day, but 10 minutes later she started to go down the stairs and fell the entire way down. This hasn't happened for a really long time, it scared me to death. I guess I should never get too comfortable with her on the stairs, no matter how well she seems to be doing it. Luckily, she only cut her mouth in the fall. I'm so grateful that she's never gotten seriously injured in a fall like this, especially with a neck condition. I find myself wondering how she could have setbacks in more than one area within such a short time. After the way this upset me, I have not been surprised to see more behavior issues in her throughout the day. Not as bad as this morning, thankfully. I'm so glad she is sleeping now and can rest from these issues that she really has no control over. Today, it was hard being the mom-especially when I love her as much as I do.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Potty training, it's happening. A week or so ago, Emma came home with a note from school. It said, "Emma went potty on the toilet". Jumping up and down with added screaming may or may not have happened! I have to say I'm a little shocked that it actually happened. We have been introducing it to her for most of the year, with zero progress. I've been pleased that she showed any interest at all, thanks to her younger sister Abby who provides constant competition. I love that her school offered support in this area, it obviously made a difference. Since the note, Em has gone potty several times at home. The latest was initiated by her and happened without the water running to help her along. I've decided to just let this ride and take it one day at a time, without having a goal in sight. I know this will more than likely take awhile to completely figure out. To be starting at age 5 is just awesome, starting is good enough for me.

Surviving winter is hopefully almost over. Emma has missed quite a bit of school this year, almost all because of illnesses going around. This year has seemed to follow the pattern of alternating good and bad winters every other year. It has been "bad" because she has been constantly sick. No "real" complaints here though, since we are coming up on a year of NO hospitalizations. I think we'll throw a party.

Elopement. This is something I am trying to learn about. A great explanation on this can be found here. It basically means, running away. Although, it is far more serious than kids in general running and hiding from their parents. We've seen this in Emma for several years now, putting a name to it has helped. I guess it validates the changes we have come to accept. Things like, always keeping a watchful eye on her-even when you are smack dab in the middle of a conversation. I wonder what it's like for people to talk to us, trust me my eyes are rarely focusing on anything but Emma. Not to mention, interrupting every minute or so to either find her or check on her. I see it a lot when interrupting her mind set, she does not like to be messed with. Her way of coping with that is elopement, she'll run away or hide. More than once it has been a little scary. She knows how to open doors now and that only adds to the problem. This is just one of the many things that make me want to lock her up in a safe bubble as a way of protecting her. Life just doesn't work that way, so we will take this problem in stride and manage it the best we can. Luckily, it isn't severe-yet.

p.s. She dances ALL the time. It makes me smile........

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tubes again!

Pics from surgery today. All went well, and I'm sure Lisa will update with more info later.

All dressed and ready

My Mom and Me

Waiting patiently.....

Being so good while the nurse checks vitals, etc.

Post-Op waiting for the drugs to wear off.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Well it's late and Jeff and I are up with Emma who is sick from high blood sugar. I thought I would pass the time with a quick update. Emma's surgery to place ear tubes was postponed until she recovers from an illness. I so want her to be able to sleep better and this surgery will give her that. But, she has a really bad cough. The last time she went under sedation even remotely close to a cough resulted in pneumonia, so we are just fine waiting. When I talked to the coordinator about pushing it back, I started realizing that she has been sick way too long. Off to the Dr. we went, she was put on an antibiotic for a sinus infection and ear infection. After 1 day on the medicine I can already see an enormous change, even in her blood sugars. I hate that she is on her 4th or 5th round of antibiotics since school started, but obviously she needs them. What do you do? In spite of how miserable she must have been feeling she's been kissing our faces off over and over and dancing away to every song she hears. She is so tough, I love that about her. Even with yucky Diabetes, which does make her really sick. It never keeps her down for long. Not too long ago I spoke with one of the nurses at her school, her husband happens to live with Diabetes(I'm not sure if it's type 1 or type 2). She mentioned that her husband feels sick up to 24 hours after a bad blood sugar episode. It really caught me off guard since bad episodes are a normal part of any day for her. I realized how resilient Emma is through all of this when it is literally pounding her kidneys and body every day. She lives with a really bad case of Diabetes and still smiles. I have so much to learn from her.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Time to fill everyone in on how she's doing. I have mixed feelings on this, it's hard to give just one answer. There are several areas where she is doing great and others that aren't so hot right now. The good-she is still excelling in school. I recently met with her principal and others that work with Emma at her school for another IEP. It was a really great meeting, except that not everyone could make it so I have to go back to meet with the speech therapist and physical therapist. I felt more confident in the process this time. It's been really overwhelming to me to understand the IEP process. I have a hard time trying to figure out what goals to set for her and where I want her to be. I don't want to put limitations on her growth, but she is developmentally delayed so I have to be realistic. OVERWHELMING. I thought a lot about what I wanted for her right now and went into the meeting with some things to discuss. Naturally, I have a hard time making decisions and standing up to people. For some reason, the whole advocating-wanting what is best for her really came to me this time. We spent the majority of the time trying to figure out where to place her for next year. It's a big decision and I'm very grateful that I have the support of her teacher and the principal. When she was first moved to the Dan Peterson school, we knew it would be only temporary. Technically, she doesn't qualify to be there from a development stand point. Medically, she does though. Going from early childhood intervention into the school system was a nightmare. She was the first one to make that transition with juvenile diabetes from kids on the move, so I don't think anyone knew what she needed. The diabetes is difficult with her since her communication is delayed. She never tells me if she is sick or that she feels hungry. I really had to learn her behavior associated with high and low blood sugars. So to place her in a full classroom where there is only 1 teacher and 1 aid, neither with any diabetes training did not work. Although her teacher at her last school tried really hard, bless her heart. She even told me, I don't know how to be her teacher and her nurse. Most kids in school with juvenile diabetes can manage it by themselves. Obviously, Emma can't so this is tough to figure out. Dan Peterson is staffed with a lot of nurses so moving her there just worked. Her teacher could focus on being her teacher and the nurses took on the diabetes. The plan was to give her a couple of years at Dan Peterson and then maybe by then she would be a little more help in managing the diabetes. There is a little communication there, but very little. It's more like I can bribe her to eat for me now, instead of me pinning her down and forcing her to drink sugar gel. She doesn't tell me she is sick and I can't tell her to eat an orange and expect her to cooperate. At one of Emma's A1c appointments, she had a low blood sugar. One of the other moms had an orange in her purse(her daughter with diabetes was a teenager) and offered it to me. If only it was that easy-here Emma eat this orange. Ya right! They have had a few problems at school this year managing her diabetes. Mostly, because Emma is being more stubborn with them about eating. This is something I deal with on a regular basis. It really does take a lot of effort to get her to eat sometimes. It makes me worry about transitioning her for the next school year. I don't know how it will work. The principle was really good about processing the new developments with her. We talked about all of the options and she even suggested putting transition off another year on the back burner. We have a lot to think about in making this decision. She didn't meet a ton of goals, but a few. I think she is pretty smart with all that's on her plate, so I'm not worried. They aren't either. Her behavior is kind of all over the place depending on who she is with. She seems to react positively to strangers and new settings, but can have extreme behavior with those she is most comfortable with( I guess that's me). The good news there is that it is improving. Other good news to report-Emma has learned to spell her name. She can't write it, easily forgets and needs prompting a lot, but still it is such a huge milestone for her. She is also talking more and more everyday. There are quite a few moments that leave me asking her to repeat what she said because I can't understand her still. Abby has become a good tool in translating for me, I don't how she can figure it out. Emma is really starting to want independence, it's awesome and frustrating at the same time. She likes to say "all by myself" with everything. She tries so hard to get the words out, it's adorable. She has to scrunch up her face and gets stuck on the transition from all to by myself. She will repeat "all by" at least 3 times before she can make it to myself. It's barely understandable, but we can understand it, so it needs acknowledged. Emma is having less problems with her skin infections this year, thank goodness. She was constantly getting bacterial infections that led to boils, some had to be lanced. I was doing around the clock care to keep it a minor problem. It's nice to be less obsessed with wiping everything down with cleaning wipes. I recently took her in for a yearly exam. Her doctor agrees that she is showing some age appropriate skills, but is closer to Abby's than her own. It doesn't bother me like I thought it would, maybe because I see improvement and not regression in her. That's all that really matters.

The bad news. Emma is getting sick a lot right now(no hospital at least), it makes living with Diabetes hard on her. I hate that. As a result, her latest A1c came in high at 9 something. I knew it would because of the blood sugars I have been battling. It's still really hard to accept. It was one of the harder diabetes management appointments. Emma's behavior is the same when she has diabetes problems or meltdowns. With the communication barrier I can't ask, so I rule out the most problematic scenario first. I check her blood sugar, if that's ok, I can move on and keep digging to find the source. Technically, if you understand how insulin works you shouldn't need to check within at least a 3 hour period. Emma's management is different, I guess. When I do check her blood sugar within the 3 hour period, more times than not a problem has evolved with her diabetes. Not only that, but she is sick all the time and pulls out her pump site a lot. It makes her blood sugar really high and forces me to check her more than normal. It leaves me feeling anxious all the time because I never really know what I'm dealing with, checking her often is my only link to sanity. Her endo kind of gave me a hard time about the number of times her blood sugar is checked this time, actually he kind of made fun of me. I wanted to explain to him our real life side of living with diabetes. I simply just said that she was really hard. I cried on the way home. He really has no clue what I go through with her, so it definitely struck a nerve. I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to find a new Endocrinologist. Emma is having problems with her ears again and isn't sleeping very well. Since before Thanksgiving she is up more than half the night. It's wearing us down for sure. She started getting back to back ear infections so I knew she needed to be seen by her ear, nose doctor. We met with him on Dec. 23rd and found out that she has a retracted eardrum. She's getting tubes put in for the 4th time on Jan 14th. This should help with her eardrum as well. He thinks that the eardrum is why she's not sleeping. The plan is to fix her ears first and if she doesn't start sleeping, then we'll keep digging to figure out what is going on. I'm starting to worry about her hearing, especially in her right ear. He said her eustachian tube is dysfunctional, which is causing the problems. I worry that we'll never get it under control and she will develop permanent hearing loss. Emma is not eating all that great right now either. She is gagging a lot on foods that she used to eat just fine. I'm trying to figure out if we're dealing with oral sensory issues again or if she is just being stubborn. Her weight isn't being affected yet. Her carb intake is pretty sad, so I need to keep an eye on it. All in all-nothing too bad, Emma's everyday stuff is just causing a few bumps in the road right now.

The ugly-This has to do more with my protective side of her. Lately, I have reached a breaking point in hearing the "r" word. If you stopped to notice, you would be surprised at how many times people used the word retarded. It makes me upset when I hear it. I've actually had people call others "retarded" in conversations with me. It's mind boggling to me that people don't realize that they are slamming people like Emma every time they say it. I'm just doing my part to help spread the word to stop the word. Please be aware of the words you use. You can check out the campaign here .

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's new with Emma

Emma has been doing really well lately. She is attending the same school she did last year and is thriving at school. The crisis moments are getting farther and farther apart and it's giving her a chance to just be a kid. The other day, I watched her dancing with Abby and was overcome with emotion. I was so happy that she is getting moments like that, when I know so many other children with special needs don't. Every day is still hard in one way or another. Either her aggressive side comes out or Diabetes gets in the way or her minute by minute draining behavior will show up(food can't touch, blanket can't have wrinkles, chair has to be lined up just right, I could go on and on). These are the things that we are getting better at handling, they are a part of our "normal" life. I feel like the insulin pump has given her and our family more freedom and feel like we've adjusted to living with Diabetes. It's also helping her overall care, her last A1c came in at 8.2. which if you remember it needs to be 8.0 or below. We're getting closer! She still gets a lot of viral illnesses, but isn't getting as sick from them. She didn't qualify for the extended school year this year and I was really worried that she would regress. All summer long, I was shocked at how well she was doing. Behavior problems and illness were far and few between and I feel like her speech continued to progress. Things have been going so well that I decided to have her join the local dance group made up of individuals born with Down syndrome. She loves dancing with the Sparkly Pals and I love watching her. They had a performance this summer at the Hogle Zoo. Here are a few pictures.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The latest and the greatest with Miss Em

Easter morning

We almost made it this year, staying out of the hospital that is.  I was hoping we could keep her home a whole winter, but it's not happening this year.  A week before Easter, Em came down with a stomach flu.  It hit her on a Sunday night and by Monday morning we were losing ground with her.  She wouldn't eat or drink(always a challenge when she is sick) and her blood sugars were really high all night(loses a lot of fluid with this).  Normally, Em's sugars either run low with this kind of illness because she's not eating or they will plateau.  I had also given her Zofran around the clock all night and it was not working.  Throwing up is not good for her with the Nissen.  She was admitted in the hospital Monday morning for i.v. fluids and was discharged Tuesday morning.  It was really stressful trying to keep her hydrated through the night.  I felt a huge weight lifted once the i.v. was in.   It could have been a lot worse.  It's never fun staying there, but I was relieved she was in a safe environment since things can change so quickly with her.  She was a sick little girl, but was doing really well after she got hydrated.  She started eating and drinking, that is why we were able to come home so soon.  The countdown has started over, maybe next year... 

Her behavior is still really difficult most days.  Her and I have met with a family therapist and I have been feeling really good about some of the new things to try with her.  I'm understanding where her behavior problems stem from more and that alone makes it a little more bearable.  His speculation is that all of her medical issues have led to an attachement disorder.  From day one of her life she has had a difficult road healthwise.  Due to her birth trauma and chronic illness she wasn't able to fully attach and bond the way she should have, especially with me.  It's easy to see for me, all of her life I have had to respond to a lot of her needs and care with some sort of discomfort or pain(shots, therapy, etc.).  It's a little difficult for me to swallow because I'm the mom.  Moms are supposed to make things better, comfort and soothe.  Taking care of her in the way she needed has left her traumatized.  Jeff and I both have been traumatized with it all, it's only fair that she is too.  So when she is acting out or in a meltdown as I like to call it, she is feeling hyper-anxiety.  To make herself feel better, she tries to control or manipulate situations.  When I don't give in to her the feelings escalate, resulting in the meltdown.  It breaks my heart now that I better understand what is going on.  The good news is this is something that can get better, it's going to be a long road though.  I called the Utah parent center and was given some great advice on where to receive help, right now I'm currently trying to get it all figured out.  I wish she knew how much we love her.   

Isn't that picture of her above so great?  Can't tell she got out of the hospital a few days before, I love that about her.....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Family Links Conference 2009

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I attended the family links conference that is hosted by the Utah parent center.  It was awesome and we learned a ton.  I love going to things like this because it provides an environment where I feel like we fit in.  I always say that raising Em is liking living in a world inside the world.  It is difficult for us to relate to people around us anymore.  Not complaining, but it's true.  The keynote speaker was Dr. Robert Brooks, his session focused on from being stressed out to stressed hardy.  I really needed his speech!  I think he was great, he was funny and also had some great advice.  Check out his website.  We attended the conference with some friends of ours who are also raising a child born with Down syndrome.  We all split up and went to different breakout sessions to get as much information as possible.  During the last breakout session, we all met up again and went together.  It was a panel board of people all born with Down syndrome from age 8 all to way up to 54.  Two of them were even married, and were such an inspiration.  They live on their own and have a wonderful life, I was given hope for Em.  The audience was able to ask questions and we received such valuable information straight from the mouths of those just like our children.  I loved when they were asked about what makes them happy and what makes them sad.  I was on the verge of tears the entire time because of the gratitude I felt in experiencing something so amazing.  Emma blesses our lives in countless ways.  What an experience to remember.