A Great December

Guys, it’s a good thing that it’s almost the new year, because I totally need to make a resolution that I’m going to update you all a lot more often.  Lately I’ve just been so busy that by the time I can sit down and write a post so many things have happened and I’m scared I’m going to forget something.

jessandlily

First – it was my birthday and now I’m 2! That meant it was totally time to party.  The mom’s planned a fun afternoon for me and my friends – there was a slide and a ball pit, cars to drive, lots of food and then cake! Can I tell you that I’m seriously digging cake.  My Theresa made the most delicious cake ever (because that’s what she does) and it was so good that I actually tried to eat the plate!

lilycake

I got to see so many cool people – my birthday twin and my BFF (Daniele & Shanelle) came, even though they’re so much older and they brought their friends Sarah and Cameron, who were so much fun, and they even let Rachel and Tammy come along too.  I got to spend a lot of time with my friend Caleigh too, who is the same age as me but knows how to run and walk.  Even still, she slows down so that we can play together – she’s awesome! Mostly, it was just the best birthday ever! I can’t wait until next year.

caleighandlily

It was more than just my birthday party that was super cool, it was also my birthday present from the mom’s…they bought me a puppy! It’s a boy puppy and he’s black and fluffy and the mom’s say he’s going to be really big (which is better for me because then he’s kind of like a pony!).  There was some debate about his name because Mama C was telling Mommy not to be ridiculous, but I think that in the end Mommy won because we’re all calling him Sprinkles now.  Mama C looks a little embarrassed when she has to call him when we’re out for walks but Mommy just laughs and laughs so I think it’s okay.  Sprinkles and I haven’t spent too much time together yet, because he’s a little bouncy and bite-y still (the mom’s say that’s because he’s teething like I am), but sometimes he just sits nicely and lets me pet him (and by pet him I actually mean pull on his fur or try and stick my fingers up his nose).  The cat doesn’t really like him, but she’s outnumbered so too bad for her!

sprinkles

I had my latest check-up with my cardiologist at Sick Kids last week.  I had to be sedated so that they could do an ECHO and look and see how my heart is doing.  The mom’s were super happy because even while I was on the medication that makes me sleepy, my oxygen sats stayed as high as 96%, which is pretty incredible.  And it turns out that it’s because I am incredible! Dr. Dipchand says that my hearts looks amazing! She confirmed that there is no blood flow at all coming from my left lung, but I’m handling it really well and there are no signs that my pulmonary pressures are high.  All of this means that I don’t have to go back and see Dr. Dipchand for ONE WHOLE YEAR! She and the mom’s talked some more about some down the road, long term stuff, but for now, unless I start showing signs that something is going funny, then she said there is no point in coming in to take another picture to show us the same thing.   It may have been the best birthday/christmas gift ever!!

crystalandlily

Speaking of Christmas – I just wanted to tell you all that I hope you have a very very very merry time with all of your family or friends or friends who are family.  I know that I’m very very lucky to have incredible people in my life who make the holiday’s so happy and amazing and I just hope that you do too! Plus, I met this Santa guy and he seems to know what’s going on….so maybe talk to him too and he’ll sort you out…

lilyandsanta

By The Numbers

98582827495: the number of people in line at the Starbucks at Sick Kids today.

189: the number of days before I need to see my cardiologist again.

99: the highest my oxygen saturation levels were at today (does anyone else remember when we were happy when it was 77?)

30: the number of seconds it takes for the technician to actually do an ECG.

10: the number of minutes it takes the technician to set up the ECG.

 

5: the number of minutes I had to sit in the chest x-ray tube for them to see that my heart and lungs look amazing.

2: the number of naps I got woken up from today so that people could poke and prod at me.

1: the number of lungs I have that are strong enough to do the work of 2 regular working lungs.

 

Just saying, it’s been a pretty amazing day.

 

It’s Been A While

Have you missed me? Mama C has been hogging the spotlight lately to write about her “feelings”, but luckily I’ve been really busy so I forgive her and I’m ready to take back the reins.  I hope she’s not too sad about it.

I really have been super busy.  It’s just amazing how time flies when you’re learning so many new things.  In March, the mom’s noticed that I had really stepped up my game in all of the things I was learning – I was reaching for toys that you put in front of me, I started enjoying being on my tummy and I started to rock at rolling over.  So now the mom’s are making me do something called physiotherapy.  I had been doing it with my OT Kristin, but because I’m also eating really well (like really really well people – I can gum a cheese puff like nobody’s business and don’t even get me started on how quickly I can swallow strained carrots), Kristin wants to be able to spend our OT time on eating, so now we do physiotherapy with another person.  Sometimes I really like it – I get to play with different toys and we sing come songs while I rock back and forth, but other times it’s a lot of work and I’m not shy about letting everyone know that I’m totally into it.  But we think that it’s working because I’ve been caught sitting on my own for longer and longer and the other day I even got to hang out on my hands and knees.  The mom’s say that this is getting me prepped to start crawling.  I’m not exactly sure what that is yet, but they say that I’m going to like it.  I think it has to do with moving around the room and if I’m right about that I’m really excited! I LOVE to move.  I don’t think I like anything better than starting in one spot and then finding myself on the opposite side of the room just by rolling and rolling.  I’ve gotten stuck with my legs under the couch or the television stand but mostly I get completely stuck under the coffee table – those legs make it hard for me to keep going! Even when people are holding me, unless I’m in serious cuddle mode, I’ll squirm around until they get the hint (although sometimes I’m just tricking them and squirming around so that they’ll turn me around and I can stick my fingers in their mouth).  Now that I’ve figured this out, there’s no stopping me.

Did you know that it’s almost been one whole year since I came to live with the mom’s? I can’t either.  Sometimes it feels like yesterday but then I look at pictures and see just how tiny I was then – my hair was so short! On Sunday (May 27th) is the 1 year anniversary of when I came home to stay.  It’s pretty exciting.  And even more so now because the mom’s are just about to meet with my adoption worker and sign the papers that say that they really really want me as their daughter.  Those papers will go to the CAS director and then onto the court.  Once the court has it they will set a date for me and the mom’s to come in and they’ll make my adoption legal! It’s still about 3 months away, but the papers being signed is the very last step and so really it’s just around the corner.  Don’t worry – I’ll tell you lots more about it when the time gets closer.

I know some of you have been wondering how I’m doing with all of my doctor’s visits, but the truth is, I’ve barely had any lately!  I saw the ophthalmologist last week, who was really happy with how my eyes are doing.  She just kept saying that I’ve surpassed any expectation they had of how well I would see – in fact, she thought that I would never see again, but I reminded her that my brain is a pretty amazing thing.  We’re still noticing that I have some nystagmus, and that my eyes turn in a bit when I’m trying to focus on something, but the ophthalmologist also said that a lot of new babies have those issues when they’re learning to see and a lot of the time they correct themselves.  She’s going to see me again in 6 months and she’ll decide then if she wants to do anything about it.  I also have to go and see my cardiologist next week, but I’m not really sure why.  I think the mom’s and I agree that I’m doing really well.  I have lots of energy, I don’t get tired when I’m eating and my colour has stayed fantastic.  I have to have a chest x-ray though and I really hate those.  That’s when they stick me in the little tube so that I stay perfectly still while they take the picture.  I’ll also have an EKG done to check how my heart is doing, but we’re secretly hoping that I’ll even get to come off the diuretic medication.  But going to cardiology means that I also get a chance to go and visit my friends on 4D and show them how big I’ve gotten since they saw me in December.  I think they’re going to be pretty impressed.

Silly brain

I’ve had a very eventful time lately.  The mom’s asked me not to talk about it until now because we didn’t really know for sure what was going on, but now that we have a better idea I can tell you all about it.

A few weeks ago, the mom’s started noticing that I was having these little muscle spasms.  It would mostly happen just after I had woken up and was just playing on my mat.  They were always very quick (only about a second or two) and it seemed to happen when I was grabbing my feet, so at first the mom’s thought it was just me losing balance a little bit.  But over time (and especially when my sleeping got all messed up over the Christmas break) it started happening a little more often.  Sometimes it would just be one or two spasms, but other times it would be 7 or 8 in a row and they would get a little bigger.  The mom’s made a big effort to get my sleeping routine back in order and the spasms seemed to go away a little bit but they were definitely still happening.

Finally, last week my lovely pediatrician was able to get us in for a visit to Sick Kids for an EEG.  It was on Thursday morning and I had to wake up at 5am and then stay awake until the test at 8:30am because I had to be tired.   An EEG is a test where a nice technician measured my head, drew all over it with crayons and then put all these little stickers on my scalp that were attached to pretty coloured wires.  The wires were able to send pictures of my brain activity to the technicians computer.  The test lasted about 1 hour and I had to be sleeping, and then slightly awake, then awake enough to look at flashing lights and then asleep again.  Luckily Mama C was holding me the entire time so I was pretty comfortable and only cried at the end when she and the technician were pulling all of the stickers out of my hair.  After that we waited around until we finally got to see the neurologist who was able to explain to the mom’s what’s been going on.

It turns out that I’m having something called Infantile Spasms (or West syndrome), which are a type of epilepsy/seizure disorder.  Kids with Down Syndrome are more likely to have these issues then typical kids, but also kids who have had an Hypoxic-Ischemic brain injury are also more likely to have these as well, so it shouldn’t really be a huge surprise that I’m having issues with them, but it was.  The difference between Infantile Spasms and other seizures though is that my brain activity between the physical seizures is all still all wonky (as opposed to only being wonky when I’m actual having the spasms), which means that it can cause problems with my development. (The mom’s found a really good article to help explain it to them, so if you want to understand it better you can read it too: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/ConditionsandDiseases/BrainandNervousSystemDisorders/Pages/Infantile-Spasms.aspx

All of this means that the doctors have to treat it very quickly and very aggresively so that we can stop the spasms and the wonky brain activity before it causes too much damage.  Luckily I have Down Syndrome though, and even though it’s more likely that we will get West syndrome, it’s all less likely that it will affect us as badly as typical kids so it’s actually really good that I have this extra chromosome (now it’s not just my cute chromosome but it’s my protective one too).   They’ve started by putting me on a new drug called Vigabatrin and they’ll check in two weeks to see if it’s working.  If it’s not then I’ll have to start a different drug that’s given to me everyday with a needle, so I’m really hoping the Vigabatrin works.  It comes with a lot of not so nice side effects though, so until my body gets used to it, I may be having a couple of not so great weeks.  It’s supposed to make me very drowsy and tired, but will also keep me awake at night.  It may cause me to gain weight (which actually made the mom’s happy) but may also make it harder for me to poop.  The big thing that made the mom’s unhappy was that it will probably cause me to loose the muscle tone that I’ve worked so hard to build up.  So, things that I’ve been working so hard on, rolling over, sitting up may get a lot harder in the next little while.  It also means that I’ll have to just be g-tube fed for a while too because I’m going to lose the muscle tone that helps me suck and I’ll also be very drowsy, so it would be dangerous for me to try and eat because I’m so good at aspirating when I’m not at my best.

So, it was a big week and we don’t really know what it means for the future.  I’ll have to be on the medicine (whichever ones works) for at least 7 – 8 months and hopefully by that time I will have grown out of these seizures.  But the doctor’s did say that it’s probably pretty likely that I’ll have a different kind later on.  So, like my veins and my sight, we’ll just add this to the list of things that I’ll just have to figure out as we go along.

Quick Fast

There are so many big and wonderful things that have happened in the past few days but I only have a quick fast minute to tell you all about them!

First of all, at least according to Health Canada, my name really and finally is Lily T-E! It will take another 6-ish months before my adoption becomes finalized before the judge but this is obviously a very big step. At least it means that all of my doctors and nurses will call me by the right name!

Secondly, we went to my first cardiology appointment since I was allowed to leave the hospital and everyone was super happy with how well I seem to be doing! I’ve gained more weight (14 pounds!) and gotten even taller. My oxygen levels are holding steady at 99-100% which is extra impressive with only 1 functioning lung!  It means that my right lung is kicking butt and taking names (and doing the work of 2 lungs really really well!)   They don’t want to see me again for another 2 months but at that appointment they will do an ECHO and an ECG and take a look at my veins more closely and decide what to do then. If they’re narrow again, then I’ll be booked for another heart catheter, but if              they’re the same then they’ll keep doing scans every 3 months (any shorter than that and the results all start to look the same). I even got treated like a bit of a celebrity because 1 of the doctors who was looking at me had just done a big presentation to some other doctors about PVS and he used my pictures! He was happy to meet me in person and even happier to see how great I looked (I think I surprised him a little bit!).

We also talked about the winter and it being something that the mom’s called “cold and flu” season and the doctor’s gave them some good tips called “common sense” to use for the next few months to make sure that I stay healthy and that my 1 lung doesn’t have to work any extra: make sure everyone who touches me washes their hands, the mom’s have to get a flu shot, don’t let any kids kiss or touch my face because they just might not have symptoms of being sick yet and just be smart about where I’m going and who I’m hanging around. It’s a lot of stuff, but at least it doesn’t mean any extra medicine!

Lily – the (Ng) Tubeless Wonder!

I have had a really great week.  I was worried about saying that because it seems that I sometimes manage to jinx myself and say that things are going well and then something happens and then I’m stuck telling you about something crappy.  But so far this week is pretty good – I mean it is only Tuesday, but we take the good things as they come.

I had my heart catheter last week to try and patch up my tiny pulmonary vein.  In the end, the surgeon was not able to put a stent in because it’s made of metal and it would have blocked another vessel (which kind of defeats the point of putting the stent in).  That was not ideal because the stent really was the best option for my last left vein.  In the end, they were able to open a tiny little bit of my vein and it’s helping because my oxygen levels are sitting much higher but it wasn’t really a lot.  Now my left lung is only doing about 2% of the work, and my right lung is doing 98%.  It’s a lot of pressure on that one lung but hopefully this catheter. procedure will help to keep the pressures in my lungs lower than they were before I went to the catheter lab.  Now we just have to hope that it works for way longer than 6 weeks this time.  I get to see my cardiologist in 6 weeks and we’ll have a better idea then on how we move forward from here: how they’re going to monitor my veins and what other treatment options there are if my right lung decides that it doesn’t want to do as much work as we’re asking it to do.  My cardiologist did say that as long as my heart is good, she has kids who are 6 and 7 years old who just have one working lung so that’s what I’m aiming for!

The doctor’s were so impressed with how I was doing that they decided that I could come off of the ECG monitors completely and off of the oxygen monitor while the mom’s were awake (it goes back on when they’re sleeping so the nurses can track me).  I think that’s what made it the best week ever.  On Sunday, I had lots of visitors because it was Grandma’s birthday, so she and Grandpa and Uncle Jeff and Auntie Marina came to have something called birthday cake.  I got to try a little bit of this icing stuff and I really liked it.  But mostly, I liked being able to cuddle with Grandma – she’s so comfy that I went right to sleep.  I would have slept for Uncle Jeff but he kept sticking his tongue out at me and trying to make me laugh.  I decided then that I like Auntie Marina better.

Then on Monday, I got to eat from my bottle and I did really well.  Just as Mama C was attaching my Ng tube to top off my dinner, Auntie CC, Uncle Rico and my Thor came to have their dinner with me!! (And bring Mama C some dinner too).  I had so much fun! Mama C put the mat down on the floor for me and my Thor and we hung out and played for so long.  He cuddled me and called me his “sweet sweet baby”, and he patted my tummy, sang me songs and then tried to teach me how to hold my feet in the air.  I’m not quite strong enough to do it, but if Thor just waits a little bit I bet that I’ll catch up soon.

Then today was G-tube day! Finally, after all of these months of having this stinking Ng tube in my nose, the doctor’s took me to the operating room this morning and put in my Gtube.  I still have a temporary Ng tube in, just in case we run into any problems and they need to feed me or give me medicine, but later tonight (12 hours later), the nurse will give me some clear fluids and I’ll start using my new tube! The mom’s are really happy that they’re going to be able to see my gorgeous face all of the time now but they were a little sad when they had to go to the Specialty Food Shop and buy my new G-tube pump, feeding bags, extenders, clamps, clips and doo dads.  I don’t know what any of this stuff means, but if it means that I get to eat without throwing up, then I’m all for it.  Plus it did come with a cool backpack that made Mama C happy – she says that it’s the perfect size to throw on my stroller.

So, I’m in some pain tonight, because the G-tube does hurt a little bit at first.  They gave me some morphine earlier but now I seem to be doing okay just on Tylenol.  Mama C asked the nurse to give me a little more morphine around midnight so that I sleep really well and the pain doesn’t wake me up, but hopefully tomorrow it will be even less and I can go back to being the happy, smiley girl that I usually am.  Then the doctor’s say that if everything heals well from my G-tube, I could possibly be home before the weekend! I’m not counting on it, but a girl can dream….

A Day in the Life

Today marks my 60th day in the hospital.  I’ve come to realize that this is a really long time because even my favourite nurse, Shelly (who comes to visit and play with me whenever she’s working, even when she’s not my nurse) has told me that I really need to go home and not come back for a long time.  She says that I can visit whenever I want when I come to clinic, but that I should really get a life outside of the atrium walls.

But the thing is, my life here, minus all the poking and prodding, isn’t really so bad.  I know, in all my rambling, that it can seem like we’re not having a lot of fun and sometimes that true, but most days I’m actually feeling really well and we try and keep me as entertained as possible.

Most mornings I like to wake up around 6:30am.  I like this the best because it’s just before the nurse changeover happens, so unless something is wrong, a nurse won’t come in and bug me until at least 8am and probably closer to 8:30am.  This means that I get some serious snuggle time with the mom who has spent the night with me.  We like to sit in the rocking chair, hook up my Ng tube for some breakfast and watch tv together.  Since it takes me an hour and a half to eat, it’s a really nice way to spend the first part of my morning.  If it’s Mama C who’s stayed with me, right after breakfast means that it’s time to clean up before the day nurse comes to check my vitals.  We either have a quick bath or just a wash down before the dreaded hair time begins.  My hair has gotten very very long and since I’ve decided to take up permanent residence here, the mom’s haven’t been able to get it cut.  It also gets tangled very easily if we leave it down, so while I scream and scream, Mama C works out the tangles and then puts it my pigtails.  They’re very cute (I’ve seen the pictures) but I’ll be happy when the bottom layer is a little longer so that we can do something else.  Then the day nurse comes in, fawns over me for a bit (if I’m feeling happy, I’ll totally throw them some smiles so that they think I’m extra cute) and then I get weighed and all checked out.  By that time, I’m totally exhausted and I usually settle down for a bit of a catnap.  Mama C says that I sleep much MUCH better at home, but because I spend so much time in my bed here, short ones are okay.

When I wake up, the doctors are usually coming around to tell the mom’s and dad’s how their kids are doing.  This is Mama C’s favourite part of the day.  She says that sometimes the doctors use bigger words with each other then when they’re explaining stuff to the mom’s one on one, so she listens carefully to understand what’s really going on (and not the dumbed down version).   This is the part of the day that goes by the fastest, because the doctor’s all come back again after rounds to actually check on how I’m doing and make plans for what they’re going to do with me next.   At some point in all of this madness, the mom’s get out my seat and we work on drinking from the bottle so that my tummy can be nice and empty before my OT Lisa comes in the afternoon.  Spending time with Lisa is my absolute favourite time of the day.  She gets out the big mat and spreads my toys all around and we just get to play! She brings toys that light up and toys that make noise and she puts on music and we sing and bounce.  I’m so tired when we’re done that sometimes I fall asleep right in the middle of the exercises and Lisa and the mom’s laugh at me.  I think when we leave here, I’m going to miss her the most.

The rest of the day is a little quieter.  The mom’s and I spend some time cuddling and playing.  Today Mommy had me playing with her on the mat and we both ended up falling asleep right on the floor! Mama C was already having a nap on the bed, so we had a nice family sleep all together.  When the one mom goes home for the night, then we start to settle down.  We eat dinner and play quietly until I start to drift off.  Sadly, the night nurse always seems to come in to her check on me just as I’m about to fall asleep or just as I drifted off, so normally I wake back up again for a little bit.  Mostly the mom’s leave me alone at that point, because if they hang out at my bedside, I think that it’s time to play again and I start smiling at them and they can’t help but get sucked back in.