Friday, March 22, 2024

And a Happy New Year 2024 and finally an update!

Well, we are well into the new year, and it already feels like it was a blur. The good news is that Jenelle is back to baseline - behavior wise and pain wise.  Unfortunately, we are still seeing a lot of seizures.

At our last follow up in late January, Dr. Steenari adjusted the programing for Jenelle's RNS device slightly.  And when we say slightly, think of a scale of 1 to 10 - we adjusted the settings/programing at a .25.  This process is going to be a marathon, not a race becauase the RNS is very different from the VNS.

 The VNS is set to automatically send electronic stimulation every 40 seconds, and will activate when it senses an increase in heart rate. The RNS device only records seizure activity/brain waves, and will only send electronic stimulation when it recognizes a brain wave that it has been programed to treat.  The manufacturer recommends taking extremely slow steps (i.e. small changes) on the programing of the RNS so as not to "miss" what could be the optimal setting.  While Lennox Gastaut is a different type of Epilepsy, we believe this process will be quicker than it is for a patient with typical epilepsy because a patient with LGS (like Jenelle) has more frequent seizures.  A typical patient with epilepsy may have only 1 seizure every month, whereas Jenelle has at least 3 a day.  

Given that Jenelle is doing well after the implant surgery, but still having lots of seizures, we decided to increase Jenelle's Felbamate to see if that would help.  Unfortunately, we are not seeing much improvment, so that will be something to discuss at our next appointment on April 3.

Jenelle recently got a cute pixie hair cut that I absolutely adore.  Her hair is growing fast, and as mentioned at the beginning of this post, she is back to baseline which makes the entire household calmer.  

In mid February, we were notified by Jenelle's School District that she and another student would be moving to a new class at the Adult Continuation School campus located at Hillview High School.  This change was pretty sudden, which was completely annoying, but we were impressed once we got to see her new classroom, meet her new teacher and get a feel for the campus.  Jenelle's 1:1 Aide was moved with her and they both are enjoying the change.  

Jenelle started her 17th season with the Challenger Team at Tustin Western Little League in late February.  This year, grandpa Denny Curran is retiring after 32 years of volunteer service as the District Administrator for California District 30 Little League.  Jenelle has enjoyed playing with her friends, and celebrating Grandpa at a couple of opening ceremonies this year to honor his many years of service.  Enjoy some photos below of these fun events.

That is all for now - I'll continue to try to keep you posted!

Thursday, December 07, 2023

The one where I give you all the details...

Note - I started drafting this entry on November 16, 2023.  The next day, we tragically lost the family cat, Bruin, and I was unable to get back to this post before Thanksgiving and no the Christmas rush.  Below cuts off quickly and I plan to post it with the November 17th date (but finalized it in early December.)  I promise to update more about Jenelle's recovery in the coming days.  Thanks!

This year continue to be "a lot" to get through.  As a parent of a child with Epilepsy, we are obviously superstitcious.  Who ever said "It's November, what else can go wrong this year?" needs to be taken out back and spanked with a wooden spoon!

First of all - thank you all for the continued love, support, cards, meals and continued prayers for our sweet Jenelle during her recent surgeries.  Three brain surgeries in 6 weeks is a lot, and that it not all of the issues we've been dealing with for Jenelle.  So here is the rest of it, so you can understand why we've aged 10 years in the last 2 months.

Second Issue - Weight loss.  Jenelle is fed via feeding tube - nothing by mouth since losing her front teeth in January 2020.  We started to notice she was losing weight in June, when we met with her GI Doctor, Dr. Shaneen Idries on June 25, 2023.  At that time, we switched her formula to one with more calories.  It took insurance about 6 weeks to get us the correct forumla, which wasn't a problem at the time because I had plently of cases of the current formula for Jenelle.  I was told with the switch, we should give the new formula 3 times a day (or 3 cans a day.)  We started the new formula the beginning of August.

When Jenelle was weighed for her SEEG on September 5, she had dropped from 100 pounds to 96 pounds.  She was not gaining weight.  Because we were dealing with the upcoming surgeries, I decided to increase her to 5 cans of the new formula a day.  By the time we got to the RNS surgery on October 17, Jenelle weighed 86 pounds.  Something was wrong.  During that stay, I asked for the GI department to check in with us because of the significant weight loss.  We decided with all of the surgeries, we would "stay the course" with 5 cans a day of the new forumla and scheduled a follow up visit with GI that we had yesterday.  

And while we were addressing the weight loss issues, I was simultaneously dealing with our "Third Issue" - Insurance Change.

Jenelle has been on what is called an "Institutional Deeming Waver" since around age 6 and her medical insurance is provided by state Medi-cal Insruance. We have known for many months now that when Jenelle turned 21, her medical group, CHOC Health Alliance, would no longer keep her as a patient.  Recall that Jenelle had her third brain surgery on October 17, and turned 21 on October 22.  As of November 1, Jenelle medical group switched from CHOC Health Alliance to Cal Optima Community Network.  The only doctor that was not in the Community Network option was her pediatrician, so Jenelle now has a new "adult" Primary Care Physician, who we had to meet with ASAP to get all of her prescriptions and authorizations for things like Diapers, home nursing, etc. re-approved.  Fortunately, my experience jumping through HMO hoops finally paid off.  So think of this change similar to changing your medical group if you have an HMO.  Lots of hoops to jump through, lots of "I's" to dot and "T's" to cross to get everything back to status quo.  

The insurance change is partly why we expedited the RNS surgery.  Had we changed medical groups before the surgery, we would have had to go through the authorization and approvals all over again.  Always remember to ask for a case manager when you encounter changes like this with your insurance.  One was assigned to Jenelle and we literally talked on thr morning of November 1 - the same day as our post-op visit - and magically she got those two visits approved!  There are Angels in this world looking over us.

Jenelle's recovery has been challenging, but I'll leave that for another post.  Thank you again for all the positive thoughts and prayers.  I will keep you posted!   

Thursday, November 02, 2023

RNS Placement - Day 15

 Day 15 - Someone looks very excited to go back to school!

☺️#epilepsy #lgs #lennoxgastautsyndrome #rnssystem #rns #neuropace #epilepsyawarenessmonth

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

RNS Placement - Day 14

Day 14 - we had our post op visit today with the Neurosurgeon and Neurologist and the representative from @neuropace.rns we discussed a lot of things, and came away with this … Jenelle’s incisions are healing well and after reviewing all daily data, they decided to turn on the RNS! The RNS is now programmed to send electric stimulation when it detects certain brain wave patterns. Pretty cool!

🧠💜⚡️Oh yes, and November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. Needless to say, we are VERY Aware! 🥰

Monday, October 30, 2023

RNS Placement - Days 11/12

 Days 11/12 - needed this reminder today.

Now that Jenelle’s pain is managed she is very happy.

Thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers. We see the doctors on Wednesday.

💜 #lennoxgastautsyndrome #lgs #neuropace #rnssystem #rns #epilepsy

Friday, October 27, 2023

RNS Placement - Day 10

 It’s all my fault.


Day 10 - I spoke to Jenelle’s neurosurgeon and apparently she can have Tylenol every 4-6 hours. We’ve been giving it twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. 😞 so after adjusting the Tylenol, Jenelle has a better day, but still cranky at times. Sometimes cranky even an hour after Tylenol, so we still don’t know. At least we know we can give more pain reliever.

Happy Friday!

#lennoxgastautsyndrome #lgs #epilepsy #rnssystem #neuropace

Thursday, October 26, 2023

RNS Placement - Day 9

Day 9 - another tough day. Jenelle had 2 doctor’s appointments. Endocrine and Cardiology. I thought her appointments were an hour apart but I was wrong, they were 2 hours apart. While waiting for our second appointment, Jenelle and I stopped by Floral Park to visit Aunt Nicki’s plaque. This is one of the few moments today when she wasn’t crying.

😞 #lennoxgastautsyndrome #lgs #rnssystem #neuropace #rns #epilepsy #specialneedskids