Yesterday afternoon we had Elijah's 18-Month check-up with his pediatrician, Dr. Positive. I am pleased to report that I don't have much to report (but that's not going to stop me from writing down all of the details anyway!).
Dr. Positive seemed extremely pleased to watch Elijah walk around the room and was impressed with Elijah's ability to pivot around as well as side-step to avoid falling down. He basically told us to keep doing what we're doing. The thing I like about Dr. Positive is that he has always been supportive about HBOT. He doesn't seem 100 percent convinced that it does anything, but he can't argue that Elijah is doing well and that HBOT certainly didn't hurt.
The thing with HBOT is that it's so hard to prove. We don't have another Elijah who hasn't undergone HBOT to compare him to. We can only wonder what he'd be doing now if we'd never tried it. I think that Elijah would have walked without HBOT, but I don't think it would have happened this soon. (And - his therapists don't seem to think so either)
Andy filled out a checklist while we were at the clinic about autism, which is something they give to all parents. Dr. Positive mentioned that it would be difficult to diagnose a child like Elijah with autism because he has CP and developmental delays. Andy and I have always been aware that autism was a possibility given Elijah's seizures at birth and the brain injury he sustained. I don't really think Elijah has autism, but I do think he might have some autistic tendencies (like not being able to maintain eye contact for very long…which might be a part of his visual impairment). Who knows, and really, what does it matter anyway? Any diagnosis Elijah has is a direct result of the damage that occurred to his brain at birth. All of his diagnoses - CP, CVI, micro, etc. are a direct result of his injury. I guess I don't like to have these labels. Elijah is injured and he is who he is. No diagnosis is ever going to change who he is, nor can a diagnosis define him. I guess when you hear the words "severe brain damage" attributed to your child; most other conditions are no longer as scary as they once were.
Our Doc's Personal Pain is a Reminder for Us
Awhile ago, Dr. Positive mentioned that he has a nephew about the same age as Elijah who has an unexplained brain injury and is unable to move his body at all. Every time we see our doc, I ask about his nephew and I want to cry (and did once) when he tells us that nothing has changed and his nephew is doing "nothing". This is of course hard for our doc and it makes me want to make the pain go away. He shares this info with us easily and openly. I think he is trying to remind us how lucky we are that Elijah is doing so well. He has seen the other side of the coin and he knows what a miracle Elijah is. "A lot of answered prayers, right?" he said yesterday and I can see that he has real joy for us. I nodded and can't help but to feel guilty and sad that the prayers haven't been answered for their family. (Send some prayers up for them, would you? And all of the brain-injured kids in the world, whose bodies work against them? I am reminded once again how badly we need Christ's return.)
Eating and Weight Gain
I've been so incredibly worried about Elijah's eating habits as of late, so we discussed this with Dr. Positive. Elijah really won't eat much of anything. I know a lot of kids do this to their parents, but it's complicated by the fact that Elijah can't eat milk, eggs or peanuts and has difficulty chewing. And, he isn't yet able to pick things up to feed himself or able to hold a bottle (or cup) to drink. So, unlike other kids, he can't just go get something when he is hungry or thirsty. I'm not really worried any more after yesterday's appointment because Elijah is gaining weight and seems to be staying at about the same percentile (even with all of the walking he is doing!). And, it seems that Elijah is eating a bit better now that I've calmed down a bit. He can sense my stress and it makes him eat even less. So, I'm doing my best to stop worrying about it and it seems that Elijah is doing better eating now that I'm less freaked out about it.
For those of you interested in such things - Elijah now weighs 22 lbs. 4 oz, which puts him at the eighth percentile for his age. He is 33 inches long, which puts him at the 71st percentile. His head circumference is 16 and ¾ inches, which is a negative percentile. Overall, he is doing well, maintaining his weight and growing.
Dr. Postive didn't have much to tell us, which honestly, is a good thing. We really enjoy having him as a doctor. When we left, he gave us printouts as he always does, with Elijah's stats on it. He also had a page with patient instructions on it. "Have fun diving!" it said at the top. What a nice, caring, positive doctor we have for our son.