Sunday, September 26, 2010

Love/Hate Relationship

I have a definite love/hate relationship with the Fall. Essentially, I love it. But it hates me.
Pure evil
The ragweed starts to grow in August and I get sick.  My favorite season is definitely tainted by these yellow flowers that paint the ditches everywhere I go. I've been glad to see that their color is starting to fade.  Soon it will be cold again in Minnesota and I'll be able to breathe again.  But it will be COLD, so I'm trying to enjoy these awesome autumn days even though the outdoors is trying to kill me. 
I love where we live. There are cows in the field that is adjacent to our yard.  Hearing and seeing these cows when I'm outside makes me happy. We live in town, but I can pretend I live in the country.
And Elijah? Well, he loves every season.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mysterious Limp Solved - or - How Things Become Really Complicated When Your Kid Has a Brain-Injury

Long story short -

Elijah is fine.

Long story long (don't say I didn't warn you) -

It's been a stressful couple of days to find out that he is fine.

On Wednesday afternoon, Elijah's ABA therapists were at our house to work with him.  He was still asleep when they got here at three o'clock and by four I decided it was time for him to get up from his nap.

Shortly after he woke up, I noticed that he was limping.  I said something to his therapists about his leg falling asleep since that's what it looked like to me. An hour later he was still limping and I was concerned.  Something was not right.

Then I remembered that Elijah had tumbled down two steps that morning at 8:30am. He'd acted completely normal all morning, but I thought perhaps he'd broken something or possibly had a concussion.  It didn't really make sense, but I was worried.

His therapists were worried too, but about something even more sinister.  One of them mentioned the possibility of seizures. While Elijah hasn't had seizures since his NICU days, his risk for having seizures is higher than most.  He was really sleepy after I woke him up (which, who wouldn't be after a two and a half hour nap?) and his gait was definitely not typical for him. Signs that could point to him having had a seizure, possibly during his nap.

By this point, it was evening and we decided that we'd better take him to the emergency room. So, off we went for our first ever ER visit as parents. We spent two hours at the hospital, the doc took a look at him, stretched his legs a little bit (pretty much what I'd already done at home, but I'm not a doc) and told us she thought it was probably something neurologic.  Essentially, since she couldn't find anything physically wrong with him, she thought that he'd probably had a seizure and neurologically his leg had fallen asleep.  She advised us to call our neurologist in the morning.  It was 10pm and we were just happy to go home at that point.

Elijah was supposed to go to preschool the next morning for his second day, but there was no way we were going to send him after hearing that he might have had a seizure and was still limping.

8am the next morning (Thursday) Andy called our neurologist and left a message.  We also got an appointment that afternoon for a pediatrician and for a chiropractor.  The pediatrician thankfully took me seriously and spent a lot of time with us. I told him what had happened and how I wanted to rule out any physical reason for his limp.  Simply checking the legs of a kid who has a really high pain tolerance and who cannot tell you what is bothering him isn't enough.  The doc ordered x-rays, but apparently it would take 20-some x-rays to make sure Elijah didn't have a fracture.  He referred us to have a CT scan (at the same hospital Elijah was in the NICU) for the next day, since he thought that'd give us a clearer picture.

We stopped at the chiropractor on the way home and Elijah got a small adjustment. The doc didn't think that was making Elijah limp either.

Wow, this story is already long and we're just now getting to today...

So this morning, Friday, the hospital called us and wondered why we didn't get x-rays.  They thought the best course of action was to do some x-rays first (and they didn't think it would take 20). If they didn't find anything there, they'd do an MRI to get a better picture. In the meantime, Andy called our neurologist because we hadn't heard back from him and his thought was that Elijah's limp was a physical thing (which was actually good news). We requested that if they did an MRI, they'd also do a scan of his brain since he'd already be sedated.

The x-rays showed nothing, so off to the MRI we went. We got to go into the room with him to the MRI until he fell asleep, but then had to leave and wait.

About an hour and forty-five minutes later, we got called back to see our boy, who was still fast asleep from his sedation in the short stay unit. Eventually, he woke up and we got to go home. He's sound asleep in his own bed and we're hoping that he'll feel a lot better in the morning.

Andy did get to talk to the doctor and they did discover what was causing the limp. Apparently he has some sort of inflammation on his right hip joint that can occur after a virus. Overall, I think this is the best news we could have gotten.  He had no fractures and his limp should go away within a couple weeks. And his brain scan looks the same as it did when he was 8 days old, so no new injuries to his brain have occurred. I'm sure we'll discuss the scan more with our neurologist at Eli's next appointment in November.
Anyway, it's been a crazy, stressful couple of days.  From worries about broken bones to seizures to concussion to stroke to something as simple as growing pains. Why is my kid limping? Thankfully, we finally have an answer and I'm finally starting to breathe again.  
Thanks for all of the prayers and kind words! 

The Mysterious Limp

I don't have the time to write as much as I'd like, but I just wanted to write a quick post to ask for some prayers...

Elijah has been limping since Wednesday evening and we're trying to find out why.  We've been to a doctor twice since (the ER and a pediatrician), with no clear answers.

He did fall Wednesday morning, but didn't start limping until after a nap that day at four.

We were concerned that he could have had a seizure that caused him to be limping, but it sounds like his neurologist doesn't think that's the case.  I hope that is not the case.

Anyway, we're heading out in a few minutes to get an x-ray of his legs (finally!) and if they don't find anything there, we'll be doing an MRI to try to figure out why he has been limping since Wednesday. If we do end up doing an MRI, we'll probably take a scan of his brain as well since he'd already need to be sedated. (And you all know how crazy we are about sedation).

The poor guy hasn't been able to eat all day either!

We'd just like some prayers that we can get to the root of the problem and that he'd respond favorably to sedation. Thanks. :)

P.S. Thanks to all of you new visitors!  I've had so many comments since last night. It's made a stressful day a little happier.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The First Day

The night before preschool, Elijah was awake for several hours - the first time he's slept that horribly in months. Not exactly the best start to his first day of school.
So, the first day of preschool... I got Elijah to school early. I dropped off all of his allergy medication. I made sure everyone knew what his food allergies were and how serious they were. I felt comfortable and sad and excited and nervous. Elijah explored the room. He smiled.  And then he found me, grabbed my hand, and brought me to the door - his way of asking to leave.  I think he was done exploring the room. I made sure they had everything they needed and went on my way, leaving part of myself behind.
I drove home and waited for the time to go pick up our son.  I sat in our house - alone - I think for the first time in over three years. I kept glancing at our monitor, expecting to hear something. It was quiet. And I missed him. 

I anxiously drove to school to pick up our boy to hear about his day.  When I arrived, he was crying. He'd been outside waiting with his classmates for the bus and wasn't happy about having to come back inside.  I can understand that...he doesn't like to come back inside when he isn't ready to do so.  My heart broke a little; he didn't seem to care that I was there.

Talking over Elijah's cries, they told me his day went well.  He'd asked (by bringing them to the door) to leave the classroom multiple times. They were -ahem- lucky enough to see some temper tantrums. His teacher put a stop sign on the door and that seemed to help a little.

They said he'd bumped his head on some playground equipment, which upset me.  My worries were realized! Andy called later and talked to his teacher to find out what had happened. Elijah had been closely monitored by a teacher who knows him from early intervention, but he'd lost his footing on the mulch in the playground.  He doesn't even have a mark. He's fine. I'm glad that they told us and my mind is at ease. We're considering having Elijah wear his thudguard until he gets more used to the school (his vision is better in familiar surroundings).

We drove home. I took Elijah out of his car-seat and finally he gave me exactly what I'd needed: a short snuggle. I soaked it in and said,

"Mommy missed you this morning Elijah!"

He giggled as if to say that missing him for two and half hours was ridiculous. And everything was all right in the world.

I think he liked school. And I will learn - eventually - to like my time alone too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Packed and Ready to Go

Tomorrow morning Preschool starts for Elijah. His backpack is sitting by the door. 
We're packed and ready to go.
My heart? Not sure it'll ever be ready.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Little Billy Goat

Every once in awhile in our house, you just might get to see a real live billy goat. 
This is no ordinary billy goat, though. While this billy goat has plenty of natural ability, he often uses tools to help him climb. These tools usually come in the form of buckets or drums.

Sometimes climbing doesn't quite get him any closer to his intended destination.
And sometimes this billy goat will show up in the most unexpected places. 
The best thing is that billy goats make the best little helpers. If you consider splashing helping. ;)
The little man has been a master climber the last few months.  The cool thing is that he's using tools to get where he wants to go. We have a smart billy goat indeed. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Transitions in Elijahland

Pretty much everything is changing in Elijahland these days.  I know I've been kind of ambiguous about it all, but sometimes it's hard to know how to put things into words. (Yes, even for me!)

Early Intervention (i.e. Birth to Three) is over.  Done. No more home visits from the school district.  It's weird to have a part of your life that been such a regular thing just end.  I learned a lot from Elijah's therapists.  They cheered along with us, they cried with me during hard times, encouraged me often, and gave us priceless knowledge on how to help our son. Thanks for everything ladies! :) I so appreciate everything you've done for us.

The next step is Preschool. Elijah will be attending two days a week for two and a half hours (a total of five hours a week). Sending our kiddo to preschool is a hard one for me, mostly because I don't think I would have sent him to preschool sans-special-needs. I had always thought I'd homeschool until it was time for kindergarten, but who knows what we would've done if our life was different. I simply need a change in my preconceived notions and expectations (something I'm working on!).

The bottom line is that I think preschool will be good for Elijah. He loves kids. He'll be in the special needs class and he'll continue to get speech, OT, and PT during school. I'm going to miss him, of course, but I think that it'll be a good thing for both of us.

He starts school next Tuesday, which is seemingly really late compared to all of our blogging friends. I am glad we still have a week for me to become accustomed to this notion.  Let's face it, I'm really attached to this kid.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself after I drop him off at his class next Tuesday.

The biggest change in Elijahland is that we've started a therapy called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). I wrote about Elijah possibly having another diagnosis called PDD-NOS back in October 2009. I can't believe it's been that long already.  Elijah now officially has the PDD diagnosis, which puts him on the autism spectrum. Essentially it means that Elijah has some autistic characteristics, but not all of them.  This'd be why I wrote this post about Elijah's diagnosis collection. It can be overwhelming at times.

Now, to be clear, we've been told his PDD is a result of his brain injury. The way we understand it is this - because of his impairments, Elijah has found things to do with his time that he can do.  He has impaired vision and very impaired fine motor skills, so there isn't much he can do to play on his own. He's figured out what he can do to fill his time, which most often means banging on things, spinning, and mouthing nonfood items, etc.

Elijah's developmental pediatrician recommended we try ABA for Elijah, which honestly kind of threw me for a loop.  I thought our lives were calming down some and now a doctor was recommending a therapy that would mean at minimum a commitment of 25 hours a week.  But when I clarified, "So you think ABA would help Elijah?" He said, "ABA WILL help Elijah."  That was it.  We would try it.

So trying it, we are.  (Oooh, that makes me sound all yoda-like). It's been quite the road to get here, but I'm glad we've made the decision to give it a chance.  We haven't been doing it for long, but we've already been noticing some positive changes.  I will be sharing more about our experiences with ABA in the near future.

So, more Early Intervention, Preschool starting soon, and getting ABA underfoot. It's been a crazy life lately with a lot of changes in our household. I have such mixed emotions about it all, but mostly I'm excited to see where these new paths will direct us.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Remembering Today: What Joy Looks Like

Three years ago today, we were able to take our son home from the hospital.  He was 21 days old.  We showed Elijah around his house and laid him in his crib for the first time. He wasn't there for long as we wouldn't let him out of our arms.  
Sept. 4th, 2007
But before we were able to show him around, we had to get him in the house. The following photo was taken mere moments after we'd walked in the door.  I sat down on the couch, tears of joy flowing down my face.  It's the kind of moment that you can't pose.
Sept. 4th, 2007
If you want to know what pure joy looks like, this is it. Not to mention relief, gratefulness, praise.  I can't look at that photo and not tear up.  I can't look at it and not remember three years ago and think how far we have come.  It is certainly one of my favorite photos of all time.  And I never want to forget the way that felt.

I'm thinking I need to photoshop that tree off of my head and hang it somewhere in our house, along with this photo, which is my favorite shot of Andy and Elijah, taken a few days later.
Sept. 7th, 2007
Happy Homecoming Day little man!
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