Thursday, December 27, 2007

Spinal Tap Update

Thank you all for your positive thoughts and prayers today. We are home now with Jenelle and her spinal tap went well. Our only problem was that Jenelle started to get a rash of some sort when she woke up from the anesthesia. Quickly, she was given IV Benadryl and it disappeared as quickly as it started. The nurse said the rash was commonly seen with the form of anesthesia they used on Jenelle. Jenelle did not have any breathing problems and we were out of there by 4:00! Jenelle woke up pretty quickly and we really didn't keep her "horizontal" as long as we should. Since being home, she was a little cranky after her bath. I think she may have what they call a "spinal headache", but otherwise is moving around fine.

Unfortunately, Dr. Chang's nurse was incorrect, and we are going to postpone our visit with him until February, as it will take 4 weeks to get the results. The procedure was done in the new "short stay" unit at CHOC in the building we watched them build from our room in the PICU two years ago. The facility is lovely and we were quite impressed with all the changes. It's been so long since our last admission to CHOC (two years) that thankfully we were able to really enjoy the new changes.

Earlier this morning, Jenelle had her annual eye exam with Dr. Ching. If you recall last year he was unimpressed with her tracking skills and said that she was still cortically blind. Today he was thrilled to see her progress and agreed that she is finally tracking! I asked him about the difference between today and last year, and he said that last year she really didn't have much control of her tracking and there was no consistency. Today, she followed the toy he showed her and even reached out to touch it. That was quite a thrill for Dr. Ching. She still has cortical visual impairment, but he thinks with her continued seizure control and maturity, she will start seeing better and better. Dr. Ching will see her in another year.

And to end on a funny note, I told Dr. Chang that we had just visited with Dr. Ching, and he replied, "Well after this, I'll send you to Dr. Chong!" Thank you again for your wonderful thoughts and prayers. I'll keep you posted when we have the results.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

First, an update - Jenelle will be having her spinal tap to test for Neurotransmitter Disease on December 27! Dr. Chang tells me that unlike genetic test results which can take weeks to come back, we should have these results within days! Jenelle will be sedated for this procedure, so please say an extra prayer for us that she does not have a reaction or complication with the anesthesia. Here's hoping we get some answers, or at least rule out one more thing!

Peace to you all as you enjoy your families this time of year. I want to take this opportunity to extend wonderful holiday wishes and a Merry Christmas to you all.

Click on the photo above to enlarge it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jenelle's new school photo.

Her teacher left me a note saying that the only smile they could get would accompany Jenelle's hands on her head in some fashion. Whenever they held them down, she would get very, very serious, like above.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Special Treat

My parents, Nana and Poppa George, live 4 hours away and because of the distance it is hard for us to travel with Jenelle to see them. She does not do well seizure wise on the drive over the mountains. This weekend, Nana and Poppa came down so we could open Christmas gifts together and celebrate Nana and Poppa's 45th Wedding Anniversary next weekend. We had lunch on Saturday at Crystal Court and Nana got a special treat; Jenelle sitting all by herself without assistance on the chair!

Saturday evening, Jack and I took Nana and Poppa George to the Crystal Cathedral to see the "Glory of Christmas". Daddy stayed home with Jenelle - we didn't think she'd sit through it. It was a beautiful performance and the church was pretty with the beautiful tree outside. We got the tickets for Mom & Dad's Anniversary. Here they are with Jack outside.

And just because I'm sharing photos, I thought I'd share this great one of the kids with Santa and Mrs. Claus, courtesy of our local Police Department. Each year, they drive up practically to our front door and give out candy canes to the kids. What a treat!

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season, with many magical moments like the ones we shared above!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Spinal Tap & IEP Update

Jenelle is doing really well and we are just waiting to hear from CHOC about a date for her admission for the spinal tap. They called a week ago, and I returned their call, and since then we're playing phone tag. Everything is approved, so at least that is one hurdle out of the way. Hopefully we can get it done soon and before our January 2 appointment with Dr. Chang. I'll let you know soon when we get that date.

Onto other things - I met with Jenelle's teacher and principal on November 29 for her annual IEP. Usually the term IEP strikes fear and anger in many special needs parents. I am fortunate to say that Jenelle's IEPs have always gone very smoothly. I am told however that next year will be an "evaluation" year where Jenelle will be re-evaluated and tested, so we'll see how that goes. Her IEP went extremely well - Jenelle met and exceeded all but two of her goals set from her previous IEP! Her goals include things like "holding an object for 5 seconds or more, 80% of the time" and "sipping from a straw 80% of the time", etc. Because she is doing so well we created a lot of new goals, so the coming year should be exciting. One of her new goals will be to keep her food in her mouth, 80% of the time.

Her teacher also asked if we could start purchasing lunches from the school lunch program. Apparently, Jenelle is eating a lot of mashed up table foods for them, and usually shares a lunch with one of the other students. I'm still in shock that she is eating so well for them. I may try to stop by to watch her eat sometime soon. The school would like to keep Jenelle with her current teacher for another year or more. I assumed she would be moving onto a new class next year, but apparently the classes are not under any age-restriction in this program. They feel Jenelle is best fit where she is - I couldn't agree more! It is such a relief to have such a wonderful "working" relationship with her educators - whatever they are doing, it certainly seems to work!

Both Jenelle and I have been under the weather a bit with sinus infections. When I took her to the doctor, they wanted to give me a prescription for an antibiotic to use later if she got worse, but as we talked her nose began to run and the doctor told me to start that evening. She is well now and hopefully we will all stay that way for the holiday!

And speaking of "Holiday", I haven't updated about Big Brother Jack in a while. While picking up Grandma and Grandpa Curran's Christmas Tree with Cousin Trevor at Peltzer Tree Farm in Irvine a week or so ago, Jack was interviewed by the Irvine News! The clip can be seen on the Internet - just go to this link and click on December 5. A new window will open with a media player - at the bottom click on "Jump to" Peltzer Pines, that way you won't have to sit through 6 minutes of the news cast. Jack is doing great and really looking forward to Christmas.

Irvine News

Thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers - I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Just a short update

Here is a photo of Jenelle on Thanksgiving with her Daddy and Godmother Shelly in the background. She had a wonderful day and enjoyed playing with her cousins and getting in the middle of things. I love this photo because her hair looks perfect - Normally it is a messy mop! Lately she really likes for me to dry her hair with the hair dryer (with the attached diffuser for the curls.) She hangs onto the sink and watches in the mirror.

Last Friday we went to the family cabin in Lake Arrowhead, and by Saturday it seemed the altitude brought on more seizures than normal for Jenelle. She also had a difficult time falling asleep so the weekend was rough for her. The weather was cold and both she and Jack have red cheeks.

Tomorrow is Jenelle's IEP at school. I'm not worried about a thing and am rather excited to hear all the good reports I am expecting from her teachers and therapists. I hope we can increase some time for speech therapy, or maybe incorporate assisted technology like switchboards. Over the weekend, whenever Jenelle was hungry, she would crawl to her highchair and wait. While in Lake Arrowhead, we went to church on Sunday. As we opened the door to go outside, Jenelle made for the door and was so quick, she almost got out the door on her own!

We're still waiting on the Neurotransmitter authorization. I spoke with Dr. Chang's office, and we should be hearing from them soon. Today was supposed to be a follow up appointment and they have rescheduled us for January 2. I guess that means we'll get the LP done sometime before the end of the year!

We hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Test for Neurotransmitter Disease

Last Friday, I received a call from Dr. Chang, Jenelle's metabolic doctor at CHOC. If you recall, when we last met with UCLA Genetics, the metabolic doctor there wanted to speak to Dr. Chang about some tests for Jenelle. I sent an e-mail to Dr. Chang after our visit to UCLA in September, and called to remind him last week that I hadn't heard from him and that we had an appointment later this month. So it took a while, but we finally connected!

Both Dr. Chang and Dr. Cederbaum at UCLA would like to test Jenelle for Neurotransmitter Disease. This would involve a spinal tap. Normally, a spinal tap is done as an outpatient procedure, but we're talking about Jenelle who is very wiggly giggly. She will need to be sedated for the procedure, and Dr. Chang would prefer to have her stay overnight in the PICU for this test. I told him it was better to be in the PICU as a precaution, as opposed to actually needing to be there. He will submit an authorization request to our insurance, and we should have a date for the procedure once it is authorized. Admission may also depend on bed availability, so it may be a while.

Neurotransmitter disease is an umbrella term for genetic disorders that affect the synthesis, metabolism and catabolism of neurotransmitters in children. These inborn errors of metabolism affect the central nervous system in children and if left untreated can lead to severely compromised neurological function. The symptoms of some pediatric neurotransmitter diseases can be completely treated whereas in other pediatric neurotransmitter diseases treatment can sometimes improve quality of life. Now, the last part where it says "some can be treated" is exciting to hear, but we realize the chance of Jenelle having a treatable form of Neurotransmitter Disease is probably very slim (if she even has it at all), and we don't want to create any false hope. This is one thing that has never been tested on Jenelle, so it is a logical next step.

Jenelle is doing really well and has been standing by herself for up to 5 seconds, and making efforts to take steps on her own. In fact, sometimes when I go to lift her, I hold out my hand and Jenelle reaches for it in turn, then pulls herself to a stand! Finally, some help to save my poor back!

Thank you for the continued prayers and positive thoughts! I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Super Girl Standing!

This is a photo Jenelle's teacher took of Jenelle standing during the class Halloween party.
Isn't she amazing?

And please ignore the little boy in the background picking his nose. ;)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month!

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. The color for Epilepsy Awareness Month is purple.

The last two years in honor of this month, I've shared with you our experience with Epilepsy while also providing the basic facts about epilepsy and seizure first aid. Feel free to re-read those posts here and here. This year, I want to literally show you what Jenelle's seizures look like. Below you will find a series of older videos I uploaded to You Tube so you can literally see what we are fighting.

Video #1 - Grand Mal:

This video shows Jenelle's Grand Mal. Jenelle hasn't had many Grand Mals in her life, maybe 10 at the most. When she was 18 months old she was tested at UCLA to see if she was a brain surgery candidate. During the testing, we were lucky to capture her Grand Mal on video. This clip is a video of the actually VHS tape from UCLA, which is poor quality. This is only 2 1/2 minutes into the seizure that went 10 minutes requiring oxygen. It starts as a Grand Mal, then moves into an Absence Seizure about 40 seconds into the seizure. The "screaming" you hear from Jenelle during the seizure is involuntary - she was never in any pain. I will caution you, the first few seconds are graphic.

Video #2 - Absence Seizure:

This is a short video clip of Jenelle's Absence Seizure. Jenelle was approximately 3 years old in this video. The typical presentation of an Absence Seizure is that the patient appears to be dazed and confused. Sometimes you can see twitches here and there and sometimes patients pick at their clothes, grind their teeth, or smack their lips during an Absence Seizure. This is one of many seizures Jenelle had that evening during a very bad "cluster." Jenelle suffers from "Cluster" seizures where her seizures come on one after another without much relief or down time. If clusters are not controlled, they can eventually lead to Status Epilepticus, or constant seizure state.

Video #3 - Absence Seizure with Hand Twitch:

This video is of another seizure taken the same night as the above video clip. This was later into the cluster. As you can see, Jenelle is completely out (almost like being asleep) and her hand is twitching.

Video #4 - Infantile Spasms:

This is a very short clip from Jenelle's first Video EEG when she was 10 months old. We were pretty new to seizures, and as you can see I'm practically oblivious to her spasms. The "arching" you see in this video is the infantile spasms, and she did it repeatedly. Infantile Spasms is diagnosed when a specific pattern of hypsarythmia is seen on the EEG.

Video #5 - Tonic/Absence:

This is a video we captured to show Jenelle's neurologist when she started having Tonic (stiffening) seizures and longer absence. The clip ends at 3 minutes, but this seizure went longer and we eventually used Diastat.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Birthday Party Photos!

Well, it was a strange week with the fires. Thankfully we are all safe and sound, and maybe just a little cooped up from being inside all week.

At long last, here are some photos of Jenelle's birthday party brunch at Disneyland. We ate at Goofy's Kitchen, which is a character breakfast brunch. We kept it small and it was perfect for Jenelle.
Here is Miss Jenelle meeting Pluto while we waited for our table.

The "Chef" Goofy saying hello as Nana and Papa look on.

The boys were quite smitten with Princess Jasmin!

And here we have Brett's Brother Brad and Grandpa laughing as Brett said he found his new beer drinking mug!

And the whole party - unfortunately Jenelle did not look into the camera!

Earlier that morning, Jenelle and I participated in the Children's Hospital of Orange County "Walk in the Park" fundraiser. The below photo is Jenelle on the tram. Unfortunately, the winds that morning picked up as we were leaving (we had epic Santa Ana winds at reported hurricane force in the mountains.) On the way to the car, our tram was "delayed" due to a falling tree. Only Disney would get out there right away and take care of its "guests."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Happy 5th Birthday Jenelle!

We love you so very much!
We are so proud of you!

This photo is of Jenelle at the CHOC Walk on Sunday- riding her favorite ride; the tram.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fire Drill!

Monday morning, my heart started pumping a little faster than normal. I have my own "Google" page with all the different news sources I want on it (RSS feeds for the Internet know it all.) I keep our my local newspaper on it and it gives me "breaking news alerts." Imagine my surprise when I see Jenelle's school in a headline that reads "Fire at ___ Elementary - Students Evacuated!"

Turns out, it wasn't a real fire but rather a faulty air conditioning unit that filled a room with smoke (electrical problems.) The room wasn't even in Jenelle's building. Luckily, the special education classes do not start until 9:15 and the fire was called in shortly after 8:30. So Jenelle and the rest of her classmates (almost all in wheelchairs) were kept on the bus that had just arrived at the school. Apparently, it was quite a mess. More than 30 school buses (short buses) lined up in the parking lot and out into the residential street, and 4 huge fire trucks! Eventually she made it into her classroom once they were given the all clear.

Can you imagine trying to evacuate children in wheelchairs? Oh my! I spoke to her teacher after reading the news, and she said it was exciting and quite a mess as the principal was not on site that day. When I picked Jenelle up from school that day, I asked her if anything exciting happened at school. She simply gave me her best "raspberry." And I think that was the best response for the situation after the fact. So glad it wasn't worse.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Article about Special Needs Siblings

My friend Vicki has written a new article that really touched my heart when I first read it yesterday. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Jack has gone through so much since Jenelle was born - I often need to remind myself about how amazing he is, and how in the end, he will be OK.

Please click here to read the article.

Enjoy! And thank you Vicki, for putting down these words and emotions so perfectly!

Monday, October 08, 2007

The bacteria was identified!

Sorry for the quick post on Sunday - I was trying to get out the door to watch our Angels lose to Boston! ;)

When I spoke to the lab at the ER and the bacteria was identified. Just before leaving for the game, the ER doctor called after reviewing the results. He felt that Jenelle would be fine with the IV antibiotics she received on Saturday. Also, the second blood culture was clear after 24 hours, which means she could be over the infection (or that it was a contaminant.) We are still waiting for final results (as cultures take a full 72 hours) but it looks like we have safely avoided a hospital admission (knock on wood!)

Jenelle seemed a little better on Sunday, but still lethargic. All of this is just another reminder at how medically fragile she can be. I asked the ER doctor how she could have possibly obtained a blood infection, and it seems the bacteria identified was a "staph type bacteria from the skin" which could have come from an untreated cut or sore. Also, a typical cold virus can always cross into the blood system so that was very likely as well.

Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers! I'll keep you posted if anything changes!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Too many trips to the ER

Thursday night we had a trip to the ER with Jenelle. While sleeping, I over-heard her choking - a common sound she makes when trying to vomit. I went to her to find her drooling and very lethargic. I then realized that earlier that evening, she had been breathing heavy and panting - all of which are signs of metabolic acidosis (where the blood is acidotic - too much CO in the blood.) I spoke to the metabolic doctor on call, and he sent us to the ER for labs, and said to prepare for possible admission. Jenelle had a fever the night before, so there was a possibility she could be sick.

At the ER, they ran many tests including a chest x-ray, blood and urine cultures. All the tests returned normal and her CO level was 27, which is absolutely perfect. The ER doctor assumed she had a virus, but said we did the right thing with the symptoms she presented. If she had been acidotic, she would have been admitted for treatment. We made it home at 3:00 a.m.

Saturday morning after Jack's soccer game, we had a message on our phone from the ER. Turns out Jenelle's blood culture returned positive for a bacterial infection. I took Jenelle back to the ER so they could re-do the blood culture to make sure the first wasn't contaminated, and for IV antibiotics just in case. Jenelle has been acting lethargic and of course an increase in seizures, so we assume the bacterial blood infection might be right. I just spoke to the lab at the ER and the bacteria was identified, but they are waiting to find out if it can be treated with oral antibiotics, or if we have to return. Good news though is that the second test is clear, which means oral antibiotics may be OK.

We are trying our best to keep her home - please keep us in your prayers that this can happen. Thanks and I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Jenelle - Devastated by the Angels loss!

OK Angels - You can't do this to my little girl! She has high hopes for another World Series Win to honor her 5th birthday coming soon!
Don't disappoint this sweetheart!

That said, I'm not too worried. When we won in 2002, we lost the first game of each series. It's kind of our thing. However, Friday is a must win. I'm just saying...

Oh, and Jenelle cried like this all through the 9th inning. Then I took her temperature and realized she was running 102.9! Yikes! She fell asleep at 7:00 p.m. and hasn't moved an inch! Poor thing!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bad news and Good news!

Well, this week has been a bad one for Jenelle as far as seizures are concerned. Earlier in the week, Jenelle had a bad cluster of seizures ending in our having to use Diastat (her emergency seizure medication.) She had a cluster of seizures that went on for almost 2 hours, but the Diastat did its job! UCLA thinks teething might be the culprit so we are going to continue to monitor these seizures. This is why we have Diastat, and hopefully we can stay out of the ER!

However, onto the good news … Jenelle has made HUGE strides in eating this week! As of last weekend, Jenelle has been taking 3 jars of baby food by mouth each day, and is drinking her formula from a special straw out of the can! Her school informs me that they haven't used her g-tube for feedings at all, and at home, we've only used it for medications or to finish a feeding if she seems too tired. This progress came out of nowhere, and is simply amazing. I honestly think I had given up on any chance of Jenelle ever eating by mouth. She also likes special cheetos, bread and croutons. We think her desire to start chewing was instigated by her teething, so with that in mind, we'll deal with the seizures!

That is all for now. Thanks for your continued prayers - I'll keep you posted!

What to do when you meet a child like Jenelle

Last week end, my 7 year old next door neighbor knocked on our door. When I answered, she was standing there with her friend. She explained to me that her friend had never seen a "mentally retarded kid" so she wanted her to meet Jenelle. When I tell this story to friends,-they wince and cringe! I thought it was very sweet because really, she is only 7. I invited our neighbor and her friend into the house, and our neighbor proceeded to introduce Jenelle to her friend, explaining things like how Jenelle cannot walk or talk, how she cries for no reason, and how she is fed through a tube. She also gave her a tour of Jenelle's room, and her AFOs and stander. I was impressed that she had paid attention to such detail. Again, she is only 7.

Bennie had an anonymous commenter on his blog ask some questions about how to approach special needs families. I must admit, I too am asked similar questions all the time, and of course my answer is complicated. The commenter asked,

Would you welcome interaction with other kids with Ben (Jenelle)? Or would that be intrusive?

How should we as parents teach our kids to interact with kids that may be less verbal?

I am never offended when people ask questions. Being curious and asking questions is the key to overcoming the stigma often associated with a disability. I am never offended by stares, pitying looks or comments - but I am offended when they make assumptions and I'll address that a little bit later.

I welcome interaction with Jenelle, but of course that has a caveat as well. I don’t want a child with a runny nose trying to touch her. She is medically fragile and she just can't tolerate all the germs that might come into contact with her. Usually when a child waves or tries to get her attention, I try to explain that she cannot see or understand. I explain that she will not respond with words. Sometimes they seem frightened at first, but then they get used to it. I never openly show a child Jenelle's Mic-Key button; usually I ask first if they want to see it. Sometimes this is unavoidable when we are feeding her, and sometimes that is when we get the most stares and questions.

Our biggest problem with Jenelle is that she looks normal. Her mic-key button is hidden, and unless she is in her wheelchair, people usually miss it. This is especially hard with children who expect her to react to smile or wave in response. However, usually with some explanation, they are fine with it. As a parent, I encourage you to teach your child that children like Jenelle are different, but they can still be your friends. Take cues from the special needs child's parents on how to talk to the disabled child, or to explain to your child what is wrong with this child. And as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a stupid question - so ask away!

Assumptions offend me the most. When I over hear someone say "that poor child" or "that poor mother" or "oh look at the little girl in the wheelchair" and I know they pity us. Or when they openly tell me they will pray for Jenelle because they assume her life is tragic. Or when I see other parents wipe away tears when they see us (and yes, I see the tears and your emotions.) Don't assume you know what is wrong with my child. We live a happy albeit different life. Jenelle is thriving and is happy. Do not pity us - pray for our strength, but not for a cure for us. This is the way our life is with Jenelle. And we are more than happy to share that with you.

Our hope is that Jenelle can change people's perspective on life. The world is sometimes so busy trying to be politically correct that that we often get past trying to get to the good in things. Communication is the key and assumptions won't get you anywhere. Next time you see us, introduce yourself, ask a question. We'll be glad you did!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Exceeding Expectations

In 2003, the doctors told us, "She may have a short life and if the seizures cannot be controlled, she may not live past age 5." Our Jenelle will be 5 years old in less than a month. And unless you are brand new to this website, then you know that Jenelle has been thriving, developing and learning new things every day. According to her doctors, she is now "exceeding their expectations in every way." And this is the news every parent of a special needs child longs to hear, especially when given such a grim prognosis in the beginning. Rather than a date we hoped would remain far off in the distance, that "age 5" number is now a symbol of how far we've come.

I think doctors have the most difficult job in the world. They have to be an expert in their field, up to date on the latest research, and carry the hopes and lives of so many in their care. They have to be honest with their families about details few like to discuss. Details like prognosis, quality of life, possible death and coping. I think the best doctors tell you everything good and bad, and along with you hope that your child proves them wrong and defies the odds.

Many friends and family have commented recently on Jenelle's upcoming birthday, and the significance it holds. While I realize we are no where near the reality of that grim prognosis we were given in 2003, I also realize the slim possibility that things could go wrong very quickly. Yet that shouldn't diminish the achievements Jenelle has made and continues to make these past 5 years. We should always keep hope that things will continue to get better. I mentioned to a friend recently that after her upcoming birthday, Jenelle was going to be on "borrowed time". My friend was rather angry with me for saying that. But it is true in a way, albeit very honest and frank. It is all in God's hands and we just get to enjoy the here and now.

I spoke to a Mom a year or so ago who lost her child with Down Syndrome at the age of 23. Her words about her daughter have always stayed with me as she said, "Kelly, don't be sad about her passing. We were blessed to have her in our lives for 23 years! That was 13 years longer than the doctors originally thought! Each day is a gift, and we were blessed to have that gift as long as we did." I remind myself of this frequently - these beautiful special children that enter our lives, and turn our world upside down and teach us new things in life are special gifts that we only get to keep for a little while.

When your child is 10 months old and having 200 or more seizures a day and every medication you try isn't working; reaching age 5 seems a lifetime away. And yet, if someone had told me Jenelle would be standing, crawling and almost walking - I wouldn't have believed them. Not because you believe in the prognosis, but because it seemed so far away it was almost impossible to be true.

The day our neurologist said, "She is doing more than I ever imagined. She is now exceeding expectations", I knew we could breathe a sigh of relief. Instantly I knew that "age 5" was no longer a significant number we needed to pass. And silently, I said a prayer and thanked God for giving us more time with this wonderful, most precious gift.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New Seizures & Another Article!

I just wanted to give a quick update on our girl. In the last week we've seen a slight improvement with the crying episodes since starting back on Tranxene. Unfortunately, the improvement has been very, very slight. And just because she likes to keep us on our toes, Jenelle has decided to increase her seizures. She is having very long absence seizures (complex partial - the staring seizure) and had a small cluster last Saturday totalling almost 10 minutes. I'm trying to see if there is a connection with the crying and the seizures (i.e. is she crying before they happen or after?) but so far no luck. Last night I noticed and felt what might be new molars coming in, so that could be the culprit. For now, we're just watching her carefully, and if things don't improve over the weekend, I'll be calling UCLA.

And just to brag a little, our story has been published once again. In January, I was interviewed by the national magazine for my sorority, The Trident of Delta Delta Delta. The magazine was doing an article about the "Mommy Wars" to discuss the issues between working and non-working Moms. In my interview, I answered questions about my decision to be a working Mom and expanded a little by explaining some of the difficulties of being a working Mom of a special needs child. I received the Spring 2007 issue of The Trident in August during the time I was busy working on a jury trial. The magazine contained not only the article quoting some of my interview answers, but a sub-article entitled "Notes From the Trenches" where they printed one of my responses in full and gave me a by-line. Unfortunately, they had me confused with another member and state that I went to college at Texas A&M instead of UC Santa Barbara. Because The Trident is not a publication you will likely find at your local Barnes & Nobel, I scanned the article and you can read it below. (Click on the page to enlarge it - my article is on the 4th page.) Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A full day of Doctors!

Yesterday, we had a full and very busy day with Jenelle. In the morning, we had an appointment to get her new AFOs! What normally takes a few minutes of trying them on, ended up taking two hours to make all sorts of size adjustments. Once they finally fit, Jenelle stood up and was able to take a few steps down the hall - with my help of course! The new AFOs are cute and are blue with butterflies! To show you how much she's grown, take a look at the photos below of Jenelle's AFOs, since her first pair back in 2003.

As soon as we finished with the AFOs, we made our semi-annual trip to UCLA to see Dr. Shields. As always, he was pleased to see us and was very pleased with Jenelle's progress. We told him about her "attitude" lately and he watched some of the video clips of her crying episodes. Dr. Shields agreed that it could be the Tranxene wean. He did not feel she was in withdrawal, because the behavior would be getting better at this point. But, he feels it is apparent that Jenelle needs something to help with behavior and he thinks Tranxene may be her "Happy Drug". So, last night we started a low dose of Tranxene again to see if it would help her attitude and the crying spells. We can raise the dose in a week or so if the crying spells do not subside, but we are to call him in three weeks if she is not completely better. At this point, the Tranxene is not being used for seizures but rather as an anti-psychotic. If it doesn't work, there is another drug we can try.

After our time with Dr. Shields, we had a meeting with UCLA Genetics to follow up on the results of the test for Rhett Syndrome. This time we met with Dr. Cederbaum, a doctor we have not yet met. As I suspected, the Genetics Team basically informed us that they were out of ideas. We discussed some of the tests mentioned by our metabolic specialist Dr. Chang, and they agreed our next test should be the spinal tap to test for neurotransmitter disease. Apparently, Dr. Cederbaum and Dr. Chang meet once a month with other area metabolic doctors to discuss recent trends and cases. So, with our permission they will discuss various tests for Jenelle at their meeting next week. Once they agree on the next test, then we will be waiting for insurance authorization. It is a long, tedious process for sure. Genetics did have some good news for us in that they are very confident that the issues with Jenelle are not genetic in nature. This means the likely hood of her issues being genetically passed onto any future children or to Jack's children is practically nil (3% at most.) So for now, we do not need to meet with genetics again unless the spinal tap gives us new information about possible neurotransmitter disease.

That is all for now! Thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers - I'll keep you posted!

My how she's grown!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A conversation with Jenelle & prayer request

I wanted to briefly share that I had an exciting conversation with Jenelle this past weekend. A week or so ago, Jenelle started responding back and forth with me by making "raspberry" noises. At first she would respond to my raspberry 3 out of 5 times. Over the weekend, we had a 20 minute "raspberry conversation" where she clearly waited for me to make a raspberry noise, and then responded in kind! She even showed excitement when I responded by bouncing up and down on her bed! For those of you who remember the early days of your child's speech development, this "back and forth" type mimicking play is key to speech development! I will try to get a video when I can to share with you - I'm sure that would be very entertaining!

And yesterday, we welcomed a new baby into the family. Brett's brother and his wife gave birth to a baby girl and have named her Kiersten Breanna. So we have a new niece and a new cousin! Prior to her birth, Kiersten was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and is currently in the NICU at CHOC where she will have a shunt placed to help drain the fluid on her brain. Please keep baby Kiersten in your prayers. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Jenelle in a few years...

The lack of updates here is not because of any Jenelle crisis - I have been very busy working on a trial in Los Angeles, and during these times I am too busy to update. Sorry!

Jenelle is doing well, however, we are still dealing with her crankiness. We are starting to think that maybe she is experiencing "withdrawal" symptoms since we completely stopped the Tranxene on August 1. We weaned her slowly for 6 months, and Dr. Shields did warn me to take it slow. It is a little late to go back to it, but if we finally have an answer that would be great. We see Dr. Shields on Monday (not soon enough - believe me!)

In other Jenelle news, I received a letter last week from Medi-cal informing me that Jenelle was being denied. We annually have to re-new our application and apparently in the last bit of paperwork I completed and sent in, I failed to "verify her identity." The benefits were set to end on August 31, and in order to keep them going I had to "request an appeal." Nice waste of tax payer money don't you think? The case worker couldn't return my 4 phone calls so now I have to waste a day of my time and Jenelle's hauling her into some government building so they can "verify her identity." Brett was trying to be optimistic and thinks maybe they are looking out for her with identity theft and all. I'm sure I simply missed something on the application... still, what a waste of our time. If the case worker would return my call, we would probably have solved all this a week ago!

And finally - a new photo! For a while, we've been trying to figure out who Jenelle takes after from our family. I sometimes see bits of my Father in her face, and the curls are definitely from Brett's Irish side. Recently however, in finding an old photo of Brett's cousin Sheila, we all agree that Jenelle looks most like Sheila. Even in a photo of Sheila's First Communion; it was a tiny Jenelle staring back from the photo.

Sheila helped us celebrate Brett's birthday this weekend (and her own birthday which is today!) Here is the best photo I could get of the two, with a very wiggly Jenelle. Enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Something Wonderful!

We had a wonderful evening Saturday night where we went to another concert in the park. This was a special event with Aunt Nicki. She had a reserved table for us, and the theme was "A little bit country, little bit rock n roll". We listened to great music by a band called "The Answer", had great food, Brett and Jack played catch, and Jenelle danced ... again!

As we were walking to the car at the end of our night, I asked Jack if he had fun. He said yes he did. Then he looked up at me, took my hand and said, "Mommy, isn't our family wonderful?" With a lump in my throat, I took his hand and squeezed it. "Yes sweetie, and you are the most wonderful thing in our family!"

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Small delays...

Well, due to various circumstances, there is not much new to report. Jenelle was scheduled to see Dr. Shields at UCLA this coming Monday, but his office had to reschedule due to a family emergency. We're keeping him in our good thoughts that all is well for his family. In the 4 years we've been seeing him, this is the first time he has ever re-scheduled an appointment. We are now scheduled to se him September 10.

Last Monday, I took Jenelle to her appointment to pick up her new AFOs (with the new hinge) that she was casted for on June 29. Unfortunately, it appears our girl has had another growth spurt and she has already outgrown the new AFOs! At the top by 2 inches! We didn't get to take them home, and we're going to have to wait a week or so for new AFOs to be built. It’s a shame as the new ones were purple this time to match her new wheelchair. Jenelle seemed very excited about them.

Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I'll have new AFO photos to share! Thanks for the continued prayers and positive thoughts!

Monday, August 06, 2007

End of the Year Award!

Friday was the last day of school for Jenelle - her school gets the month of August off. On Friday, the school held their annual "Awards and Promotion" ceremony. Everyone gets an award, and some of them are quite moving to witness. One child got an award for "most improved vision tracking", another for most improved "holding objects without throwing them" (and she didn't throw the award when they handed it to her), and some were for things most typical parents wouldn't understand like "using the board to make a choice from a field of 8."

While we suspected Jenelle might get an award for the "Biggest Drama Queen", her award was for "Improving her Ability to Interact with Her Environment by Reaching out and Touching Things!" (aka she is starting to use her hands!) Here is Miss Jenelle getting her award with her teacher Miss Darlene. Jenelle will continue at this school for one more year, then onto Kindergarten!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

5 Blogs That Make Me Think!

My friend Toni recently tagged this blog for the Thinking Blogger's Award because she says, this is a blog that makes her think! Ironically, I was tagged with this award some months ago by Vicki, but I didn't see it until a month later, so I decided that was too late to post about it.
So now, two people have awarded us the "Thinking Blogger's Award", so I decided it was time to accept the accolades. I've always been moved by how Jenelle's story touches so many people all over the world, and to be awarded like this is an extra special bonus. Thank you for the recognition! And now, in the spirit of this award, I get to tell you about my 5 (favorite) blogs that make me think!

The Thinking Blogger Award!

6 Year Med: What can I say about Danielle that I haven't already said in this blog? I think next to her own Mother, I am Danielle's biggest cheer leader and fan! This girl will be an exceptional doctor because she already gets the hard part that some doctors never understand - you need to understand your patients and their families! I've learned more about medical school, the profession and the quirks of doctors than I ever imagined from Danielle's blog. And if she doesn't get a great "Match" in May, I may just have to hunt down these hospitals and give them a piece of my mind! On top of enjoying her writing, I feel like Danielle is a good friend too. The difference in our age is barely noticeable when we correspond, and she has a lovely personality to boot!

It's A Wonderful Life: I found Kelly's blog via Danielle's. Of course, how many Kelly's in the world could there be with daughter's with Lennox Gastaut Syndrome? Well, apparently there are two and us and we both call our daughters "Boo!" Kelly reminds me of God's role in all this. She is very uplifting and often gives me reasons to be thankful for this different life we lead.

Just Regular Folks: I love this blog because the whole family gets involved. Most special needs blogs are written by the Mother (with the exception this one and Bennie of course!) Their little girl has Rhett Syndrome and is similar to Jenelle in many ways. There is a lot of love from around the world at this blog. What I like most is that at times it doesn't always talk about the special needs child. Sometimes, we all need a break, and this blog is a shining example of a family doing just that!

Special & Needy: "Co-pays and Canoli" - Yep, that pretty much sums it all up! Mete is a wonderful person and has been a reader of this blog for a long time now. She is a new Mommy too which could explain her absence of late at her blog. I have always loved her blog as it is ever changing - the last theme had a photo of her son's AFOs that I could have taken myself! Mete has kind thoughts and words for all of us and understands everything so well. And of course, she has my sense of humor and that is our best survival instinct I truly believe.

Neonatal Doc: This blog is a recent find for me. The stories are moving and so very emotional. This blog made me realize that sometimes, many parents enter into this world of Special Needs knowing ahead of time or from the start. We had a lovely "honeymoon" as I call it with Jenelle where the first 4 months or so we were convinced everything was normal. I think it was meant to be that way, because had I known ahead of time what we might be facing, I'm not sure I would have gone down this road. Either way you start it isn't easy, but in all there are miracles to be found, and many such stories are told here.

I wanted to note that there were a couple of blogs that I wanted to mention, but they have already been dubbed with this award, so I didn't want to burden them any further. Vicki at "Speak Softly" and Bennie at "A Work of Art". I get a lot of inspiration from these bloggers, and they make me think on more than one occasion. I didn't want to leave them out without mention.

I truly appreciate your comments, e-mails and awards. It is a privilege to share our daughter with you and your recognition gives me so much in return. Thank you!

Friday, July 27, 2007

A visit with our Metabolic Specialist

Jenelle was seen by her Metabolic doctor, Dr. Richard Chang, at CHOC on Wednesday and I must say this guy really impresses me! Brett had a client appointment so he couldn't come with me. He was joking with me that morning about how he wouldn't miss having to hear the "there is nothing more we can test for" speech. Boy, was he wrong! This doctor spent over an hour talking to me about Jenelle and various tests results and such. It seems we have a plan, and there are still some tests to be done.

If you recall, we last met with Dr. Chang in January where he ordered many tests on Jenelle including Fragile X, Amino Acids, Carbohydrate Deficiency and another chromosome panel and some other tests. Nine vials of blood and some urine to be exact. All of the results were normal. When I spoke to Dr. Chang in March, he wanted to wait for the Rhett results from UCLA, as well as for copies of Jenelle's medical records from UCLA. Apparently they sent him 3 inches of documents, and he has a lot of reading to catch up on with Jenelle. We discussed her improvement, and some new symptoms and he believes there are more tests we can run. Dr. Chang wants a new MRI, PET Scan and to order another spinal tap. All of the possible tests he mentioned had really strange names, and I honestly can't remember what they were for. One is a new genetic test for a different type of autism found only in girls without speech, and another will test how her body breaks down proteins. That was all I could remember.

We see Dr. Shields in August, and Dr. Chang would like to work with UCLA on the MRI and PET Scan as CHOC does not have the appropriate radiologist needed for the specific test he wants to order. In the meantime, Dr. Chang spoke to our insurance, and all tests have to be approved first, so once again we have to wait. The problem is that our insurance is limiting him to "one test at a time" so that he doesn't incur too much cost to them should he happen to pick a test that actually turns out positive. Interesting theory - but what about all that poking and prodding to Jenelle? Regardless, once we have authorization these tests could take 4 to 6 months to complete, so at least our girl gets a break on the prodding. I like that he is willing to work with UCLA, and that he is so through in his review of Jenelle. I think we've finally found the dedicated metabolic specialist we need to keep trying to find an answer.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

She really can be a pest sometimes!

There is no other word for it, but Jenelle has been an absolute bitch this past week/weekend. She's been crabby, cranky, crying inconsolably and just in an out right bitchy mood. If you don't believe me, ask her teacher - she said she'd back me up on that one!

I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but a week before the 4th of July, Jenelle had strep throat. She had a high fever and was crying inconsolably. Life would be so much easier if she could simply point to the part that hurts, or better tell us what was wrong. Instead we go through a process of elimination and eventually to the doctor and/or urgent care. She ended her antibiotic on the 4th of July, and was an absolute doll for the week that followed.

Last Thursday, Jenelle had a half day at school, so she had been at daycare since noon. Around 3:00, her daycare provider called me worried because she had increased seizures and would not stop screaming and crying. In fact, I could hear Jenelle wailing in the background. Our daycare provider has the patience of a saint!

Other than the seizures, Jenelle had been crying like this the two days prior. In fact, I let her cry her self to sleep both nights, because her crying seemed behavioral. Once our daycare provider mentioned seizures, I figured we needed to check her ears and throat. Our doctor was out of the office, so this meant going to urgent care. As soon as we arrived at Urgent Care, Jenelle was happy as a clam. As if she knew we were finally believing her and the doctor would make it all better. I felt guilty writing as our "reason for visit" to be "uncontrollable crying" when she was happy and smiling. No fever, no crying, and five minutes after meeting the doctor, he diagnosed a re-lapse of strep throat and sent us home with a prescription.

And then the guilt sets in. I let her cry herself to sleep when she was in pain! How did I miss that? Probably because she didn't have a fever. Regardless, the guilt was there. At least she is some what on the mend.

My biggest fear for Jenelle is that she may hurt herself internally, and that we wouldn't be able to figure it out. We think Jenelle understands words - perhaps maybe talks in her head, but the words do not vocalize and she cannot sign. Someday we'll figure things out. Hopefully someday soon.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Yummy Watermelon & Jenelle update!

Jenelle had a few appointments this week, so I have some new information to update you about. Last Friday, I took Jenelle to Mission Orthotics to be fitted for new AFOs (ankle foot orthotics). Yes, her shoe size has changed yet again! Prior to this appointment, I spoke to Jenelle's physical therapist to ask her if she wanted to make any changes to Jenelle's AFOs. She gave me her pager number and told me to have the man who does the casting to give her a call. Prior to having the casts made, I spoke to the "orthotic" guy (not sure what he is called) and explained that Jenelle was really mobile these days. I then put Jenelle on the floor to give him an idea of what I was talking about, and he was encouraged and thinks she is very close to walking! The good news is that because Jenelle has mastered "standing", she can now advance to the next type of AFO, which would provide more movement of the ankle to help her walk easier! He was going to contact our PT to give her his opinion, and will call us when the new AFOs arrive! Should be exciting!

Monday, Jenelle had an appointment with her G.I. doctor. Jenelle continues to grow and gain weight (bummer for me on the lifting) and is now 41 pounds! Jenelle is now in the 75th percentile for weight! This is amazing for a child that once fell off the weight chart prior to getting her g-tube. The doctor was so pleased, she said she only needs to see Jenelle once a year now to continue monitoring her growth. This is great news for us - one less appointment to keep! Jenelle's feeding by mouth hasn't improved much for us so it looks like the feeding tube will be with us for a while. Speaking of feeding issues, Jenelle took some interest in watermelon on the 4th of July and actually took a couple of bites. Luckily Brett got a great photo, so I can share it with you.

We hope you had a wonderful 4th of July holiday. Ours was enjoyable and Jenelle really seemed to enjoy watching the fireworks. Afterward she was so tired, she was asleep by the time we got home! Thank you for the continued prayers and positive thoughts - I'll keep you posted on anything new!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Scientists have reversed autism symptoms in mice!

I just read this article on Yahoo news and found it to be fascinating. While the headline emphasizes "autism" in reading the actual article, it sounds more like the symptoms of "mental retardation" than autism. This is hopeful for us - wasn't I just saying last week that we were waiting for science to catch up with Jenelle? Looks like it won't be long.

Here is the article:

CHICAGO (AFP) - US researchers have reversed the symptoms of mental retardation and autism in mice by inhibiting an enzyme that affects the connections between brain cells, researchers said Wednesday.

In a series of experiments on mice, the MIT investigators showed that they could undo the brain damage seen in a condition called Fragile X syndrome by inhibiting a key brain chemical called PAK.

In humans, Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the leading cause of mental retardation and the most common genetic cause of autism -- the complex and devastating developmental disorder that is now being diagnosed in increasing numbers of children.

The study raises the intriguing possibility that the brain damage seen in children with the condition can be rolled back and identifies a specific target for potential drug therapies.

"It opens up a new avenue for drug research to treat this condition," said Susumu Tonegawa, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author of the paper.

MIT researchers began by creating a batch of mice that had been genetically modified to have Fragile X, a condition in which the neurons of the brain are structurally abnormal and functionally impaired compared to regular nerve cells.

These transgenic mice had many of the behavioral problems seen in kids with the condition: hyperactivity, attention deficits, repetitive behaviors and poor social skills.

The investigators then cross-bred these mice with another batch of mice that had been genetically modified to inhibit the activity of the PAK (p21-activated kinase) enzyme which is instrumental in shaping the formation of neuronal connections in the brain.

The researchers knew that when PAK was inactivated, the mice developed neurons that had short, fat dendritic spines, with a higher-than-usual capacity for relaying the electrical impulses that pass between brain cells.

In other words, the shape and function of the dendritic spines in the PAK mice was just the reverse of those seen in the brain cells of the mice with Fragile X syndrome.

The researchers gambled that the two abnormalities would cancel each other out, and that's exactly what the experiment showed.

The cross-bred mice had been genetically engineered so that the inactivation of the PAK enzyme began two weeks into the mouse's life cycle, which in human terms would be several years after birth.

Tests and autopsies showed that the PAK-blocking action restored electrical communication between neurons in the brains of the double mutant mice, correcting their behavioral abnormalities in the process.

"This is very exciting because it suggests that PAK inhibitors could be used for therapeutic purposes to reverse already established mental impairments in fragile X children," said Eric Klann, a professor at New York University's Center for Neural Science.

The study was conducted by Tonegawa and a postdoctoral student at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and appears in this week's edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jenelle was tested for Fragile X just last December and it came back negative. But this is exciting and encouraging for us. Just thought I'd share this fascinating news.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Days like this...

I read this post of Bennie's yesterday and was so moved by its accuracy of the every day lives we live as parents of special needs kids. I thought of it last night and again this morning as I mixed Jenelle's drugs with my pestle. If you haven't read this, you really should! Click here.

Thanks Bennie for capturing what we all feel on so many occasions!

Genetic Test Results from UCLA

I received a call from UCLA today and they had the results of the genetic testing for the Atypical Rhett Syndrome gene for Jenelle. Remember, this is from our blood draw on January 3? The test results were negative, meaning that Jenelle does not have the atypical form of Rhett Syndrome. We have already ruled out the typical form of Rhett Syndrome, so safely we can rule out Rhett Syndrome completely.

While once again we are left without a real "diagnosis" for Jenelle's issues, we have also ruled out another possibility. We will meet again with UCLA Genetics when we return to see Dr. Shields in August and we'll go from there. At this point, Jenelle has literally been tested for almost everything possible known to the best experts in genetic disorders. We are simply going to have to wait for science to catch up with Jenelle and for a new genetic condition to possibly test for, or for progress from stem cell research and gene therapy. UCLA says they may just keep in touch with us annually, or if a new symptom occurs, or if Jenelle begins to regress. As I've said before, the up side of Jenelle being "undiagnosed" is that her potential remains unlimited. So this is good news.

In other good news - Today marks 2 years since Jenelle's last hospitalization! If you had told me two and a half years ago that we were close to our last hospital stay for a while (knock on wood) I wouldn't have believed you. As Jenelle continues to improve, we can only sit back and enjoy how far she has come!

Last night, our city had its opening night for "Concerts in the Park". These are free, fun events where everyone takes a picnic, some wine, and the kids run free. A year ago, Jenelle could barely sit up at these events.

Last night... she was dancing!

Thanks for the continued thoughts and prayers. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In the midnight hour...

Jack came into our room last night at 12:30 claiming he was scared. He climbed into our bed and stayed for a while, and then asked me to take him back to his room. He never said what scared him, and he did not seem to remember anything about it this morning.

This got me thinking – does Jenelle have nightmares? If she were scared in the middle of the night, how would she find me? Because her mind works so differently, does that also mean that she does not understand the concept of fear? Sometimes she cries for no reason and seems comforted by being held. But honestly, until she can talk – we’ll may know. Just another one of those glaring differences between kids like Jenelle and typical kids like Jack.

Sometimes I imagine her mind is much like mine. Intelligent of course, and mature beyond her years. But then when you think of all the aspects of childhood, you have to wonder if she imagines things, or gets scared, or if she is even thinking at all. I wonder if the seizures took that innocence away, or rather that she is blissfully ignorant to the concept.


Summer is in full swing for us as Jack graduated from Kindergarten last week and started summer camp on Monday. He seems to be affected by the change in routine, but for the most part is enjoying summer camp. Jenelle’s school does not let out until the end of July – thankfully only giving them the month of August off. The daycare situation is good for now as Jenelle's daycare provider is thinking about making changes so she can focus more on special needs kids, and keep more children like Jenelle. For now, daycare is secure for August, which was my greatest concern.

Here we are at Jack's graduation. I held back my tears rather well, until his teacher announced a very special guest - the Father of one of Jack's classmates had arrived 2 hours before the ceremony from Kuwait! He was still wearing his desert fatigues, and the journey took him 3 days. That really put things into perspective, and everyone joyfully and tearfully welcomed him home!

I got a message yesterday from UCLA Genetics to call them today, and I am waiting to hear back. Perhaps we will finally have the results of the Rhett Test? I'll keep you posted as soon as I know!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Just an update & a new claim to fame

Not much to update other than Jenelle continues to do well and progress. We are more than half way done with our wean from Tranxene, and so far no problems or increased seizures. She will be off it completely in August, and in time for our next visit to Dr. Shields. Once we are off the Tranxene, we will stop her bi-citra supplement and see how she does. Eliminating those two medications will leave Jenelle on what is called "mono-therapy" meaning we will be using only one seizures medication. Mono-therapy would be a wonderful improvement from the days of three and four medications at a time for her seizures. At least we know what works.

Jenelle's mobility has really improved. You can tell that she really wants to walk on her own, but she is far from that. Jenelle is getting around the house now by her own form of crawling and/or walking on her knees. Her poor knees are starting to look like elephant knees, and we're looking into some sort of knee pad and/or leggings for protection. She has already worn holes in some of our favorite pants which I've been able to make into shorts - prefect for summer! The other night after putting Jenelle in her room for bed time, I was in our room and noticed out of the corner of my eye a small purple figure coming towards me with a huge smile. I was startled at first then realized it was Jenelle. She is definitely learning her way around the house, and this is problematic at bedtime.

Speaking of beds, many have asked for an update on the Sleep Safe bed. Jenelle's secondary insurance has denied the sleep safe bed, but the case manager is working with me to see if we can find another solution. I think at this point I need to officially appeal our insurance, but just haven't had time to draft the letter. We're still working on it, and in the mean time we put Jenelle to sleep on her floor and then move her to her bed when she is out. She still falls out occassionally, and of course, now gets up and "walks" out of her room before falling asleep. I suppose there could be worse things at bed time.

And finally, I wanted to share another article that features Jenelle and me. Back in February when I was venting my frustrations about the hoops we had to jump through for our HMO to see Dr. Shields, a freelance writer for the publication "Neurology Now" found Jenelle's website and the post about that experience. She e-mailed me to ask if I'd be interested in being interviewed for a story she was writing about "out of network" insurance problems. I agreed to be interviewed, and the article is currently in the May/June 2007 publication of "Neurology Now" that I received in the mail yesterday. The article is very good, and I told Brett last night that the article really makes it sound as if I know what I'm talking about! ;) (and sometimes I know I don’t'!)
I couldn't figure out how to attach a PDF, so I changed the scan to JPEG and here is the article. Click on the page to read it easier! It it not yet available on the Neurology Now website, but when it is, I'll keep a link to it instead.

Thanks for continued thoughts and prayers - I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Little League Day at the Angels Game!

On Sunday, our Angels hosted "Little League Day" and all the Leagues in our District got to parade on the field before the game! I honestly don't think these kids know how lucky they are! Here is Brett and his assistant coach with Jack and his the teammates parading on field (Jack being a ham of course!)

If you can believe it, Jenelle has never actually owned her own "Angels" outfit in red. Of course, as a baby we had a lot of red for her to wear, but never anything official with an Angels logo. And now, pretty much everything she owns is pink or purple, so Friday evening I purchased this adorable cheerleader outfit and she seemed pretty smitten with herself!

Before the game, Jenelle and I went into Diamond Club (VIP Season Ticket area) with Grandma to snap photos of the parade. At home, when Jenelle was dressed and ready to go, Jack saw her and said, "Mommy, Jenelle is very cute today!" I think all she was missing was pom poms.

After the pre-game parade, we moved down to our seats near the foul pole which were fortunately in the front row of the Terrace Level (in the shade!) It was perfect, and the ushers were very helpful with Jenelle's wheelchair and such. Unfortunately I had to hold Jenelle on my lap like this the entire game (in fact, you can see her determined face fighting me in this photo!) As you know, she is quite giggly wiggly, so my arms felt like they were going to fall off last night after we got home!

A little later in the game when she calmed down, I was able to sit Jenelle in the seat next to me where she held herself up for a good 10 minutes (and gave my sore arms a much needed break!) She is really looking like such a big girl too! A cute little 2 year old sitting behind Jenelle kept grabbing her curl and pulling it down to make it bounce up! It didn't bother her a bit!

Jack and Daddy enjoyed the game, especially Vladimir's walk off home run to win it! Jack actually got cold in our seats in the shade, so Brett took him down to sit in the sun to warm up. After the game, we went to Grandma's to swim and I got to nap in the sun!

So now our Little League season is over - Jack's last game was Saturday. Jack has a new trophy for his room and we can all rest a bit more until next season! I got some good news in that it looks like the Challenger Division for Jenelle may actually happen next year. At the game on Saturday, I spoke to Rex Hudler (former Angels player, now TV announcer) and he was very positive and excited about the new division. I'm sure next season will be here before we know it!
Hope you had a wonderful weekend!