Tag Archives: speech therapy

Outgrowing allergies and other updates

I reread what I wrote last night and realized that I got tired and stopped short of finishing telling you about our day. I didn’t tell you anything about speech therapy.

After being away for 9 months, we finally decided it was time to go back to speech therapy. We only just barely arrived on time, because we were coming from the meeting with the school. Thank goodness my sister had tagged along to help with Patrick or he would never have done so well.

But he DID do well. His therapist hasn’t seen him in a really long time and it was fun to see her reaction to his progress. Because speech is one place where Patrick’s progress is simply amazing. Being able to find car keys like a french pig finds truffles, Patrick found his therapist’s key on his therapist’s desk, brought it to her and asked “Do you drive a Volvo?” She laughed and said that he’d graduated speech therapy.

No, seriously though. He’s come a long way but is still struggling with things like pronunciation and verb tenses and sentence and word structure. She started doing some testing yesterday. It was amazing to see how far his receptive (listening) language has come. He flew through that test with all kinds of new words. Amazing how 9 months of netflix can expand your vocabulary.

The expressive language, though.. the one where he had to say what he saw in pictures. That wasn’t flying colors. And it kind of demonstrated what I have been seeing. Patrick knows words. But recalling them to say that, that is hard. It’s part of why he is always asking everyone their name.

We had a good talk about attention and ADHD and attention and steroids. His therapist said she has seen steroids really affect attention before. And that lack of attention causes trouble with memory. It all kind of fit. Not that I know what to do about it. But it fit.

So that was that. Now we just have to get insurance to agree to pay for speech therapy again.

In other big news, I got a call from Patrick’s allergist this morning. (After missing the appointment, they had him call me.) He went through the blood test and scratch test results pretty thoroughly.. figuring out what is safe to try and what wasn’t. He told me to be very careful with some newly diagnosed allergies: soy and tomato especially. And he also gave permission to try some cow’s milk with Patrick because all the tests indicate Patrick may have outgrown that allergy.

When I offered Patrick a piece of cow’s milk cheese, he was quite fearful. It took half an hour to convince him it was ok to take a small bite. He nibbled a couple more and then, after a few minutes when he saw he was still safe, he grabbed that piece of cheese and gobbled it down. No reaction. So, later in the day, I gave Patrick a piece of string cheese. He really loved that. He asked for another later on. And then he tried to get to eat only string cheese for dinner.

I nixed that plan but did try some pasta with cream of chicken soup in the recipe. Fail. He got spots on his face. No worse reaction. But too many ingredients. I can’t tell you if it was the dairy or the soy or something else. But we’ll need to be more careful before we try that again.

What a tricky balance. Introducing Patrick cautiously to foods to find out how he’ll react. And then, on the other hand, trying to make sure that he’s eating as many calories as possible.

We cut Patrick’s tube feeds in half last night. Now, he’s only getting about 200 calories over 4 hours. I think it will work. I think he can eat the target 1800-2000 calories easily. But not if I cook him dinner and discover I made him something unsafe. Tonight I ended up making a whole extra dinner for him. And yet, I still don’t think he ate his full calories.

if Patrick can maintain or gain weight, the goal is to switch to all oral food next month. Knock on wood. This wasn’t the greatest way to start today.

Today was kind of hard all around, though. And not just because my hot pad slipped and I burned my thumb cooking fish sticks. That just set me back.

But knowing that school had started. Seeing the school next door bustling with life. And everyone’s first day of school pictures on Facebook, and Patrick asking to play with friends who are no longer home. And then us.. just trying to find the right balance of work and entertainment to get us through yet another day at home. I’ve been doing this for almost 9 months now. I am exhausted. And it’s driving through the middle of nowhere and finally spotting a town and needing the restroom and then discovering that the restroom where you are is out of order and you’ll have to go across the street. Holding on those last moments when you thought you’d made it to the finish line, but the finish line moved. It’s hard.

I look around me and I see so many things that have been just waiting. Waiting for me to have time and free hands. But that’s not the time right now for me. And with needing to be a part of training, it might not even really happen for a while.

At least the day ended well. Patrick raised his start to the ceiling of the Make-a-Wish building tonight. Family and friends came. We took a tour and we ate some cake and we visited. Patrick was exhausted and crazed.

But it was a moving moment to see his star go up with the others after all. Even if he did do the fastest ever.

I’d add pictures but they are on Brian’s phone and my battery is dying so I’m going to post now.

 

What we do when we’re not in the hospital

I’m almost afraid I’ll jinx us by writing this post. Patrick finished his course of antibiotics and antifungals a week ago. So far, so good. We’ve been settling into life at home in this break that the super anti-infection medications have given us.

Patrick seems to be on a mission to make up for all of the time and opportunity his illness have caused him. So, I’m doing all I can to support him and help him to be successful in doing this. Last fall, he couldn’t roll over. Now he’s crawling, climbing stairs, and cruising along furniture. Because he’s in such a focused, productive period of development right now, we’ve called in the troops to help him to accomplish his goals.

He’s got 5 therapists right now, making for a total of about 10 therapy visits a month. We’re working on speech, motor skills, feeding, and more. It seems that every time we meet with one of these experts, Patrick learns some new and amazing skill from the visit. After a little bit of reinforcement at home, he’s doing things that had previously seemed impossible, or at least a long, long way off.

Of course, a more active, mobile, and as one physical therapist describes him “impulsive” Patrick requires much more supervision. He breaks a little connector piece in his IV tubing a minimum of 3 times a week. And a backpack on wheels is not capable of following him up the stairs. We have many more bumps and bruises than we used to have. Patrick’s a big braver sometimes than his skills can allow for and I don’t think it would be a normal day without him falling and bonking his head on something. But, as tired as I am from chasing all the time, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Last week we made a change in his IV therapy. Once a day now, he gets a one hour “break” from his TPN. No tubes. No pumps. I just disconnect him, put up the baby gates, and let him go. He plays and plays and then we reconnect the IV’s and the combination of activity and change in blood sugar knock him out completely. The only problem with this plan is that he’s taken to napping as late as 7 p.m.

Being at home with an easier medication regimen (just 2 oral meds and two nutritional supplements given morning and night) has actually given us time to do other things like cooking or playing and working in the yard or  taking care of the amazing friends who’ve taken such good care of us. I’ve had time to really dive into plans for the upcoming benefit concert (which sound more and more amazing by the day!) One of these days, I’ll even catch up on the ironing. (This is a little bit thwarted by the fact that Patrick really likes to stand holding onto the ironing board.)

It’s so nice to go to bed at the end of the day exhausted from a day of work around the house and playing with my little boy. It’s been a treat to be at home with my family and friends nearby. Things are good right now and we feel very, very blessed. It can’t be this way forever. Until Patrick’s transplant, there will always be another hospitalization around the corner. But we are grateful for this little moment of peace.

We love making the doctors happy

Patrick had a couple of doctor’s appointments this week and this month the doctors were all smiles! After such a hard summer, everyone is happy to see him doing so well.

Patrick has actually been gaining weight.. He’s at 85% of the recommended weight for his height right now, and for the first time rising ahead of the curve. Today, with his clothes on, Patrick weighed 18 pounds.

In even better news, his liver tests looked good! His bilirubin (the measure of bile in his bloodstream) was in the normal range and his liver enzymes, although they show that his liver is still inflammed and unhappy, have been trending downward. His liver even “felt” normal on exam.

All of his other tests were normal! This is SPECTACULAR, as it is so hard to keep him stable for any length of time.

Today, I took him to be evaluated by the rehabiliational medicine department at Primary Children’s. The goal was to see if any physical or occupational therapy can help him to make up some of the developmental delays that came from this long illness this summer and from his delicate health in general. (We’ll be starting physical and speech therapy soon, in addition to his developmental theraphy).

At the end of the appointment, one of the hospital’s residents came in to visit. She took care of Patrick while she was on the GI service 3 months ago.. when he was still so sick and fragile. Now she was doing a rotation in PT. And she was THRILLED to see him! She held him and played with him and just couldn’t stop talking about how much he’d improved since she’d last seen him. She just kept saying, “he looks like a healthy baby!”

In the end, Patrick left with gifts of a new ball and blanket and a big hug and kiss on the head.

We are so proud of our little man and how well he’s doing, especially after all he’s had to fight through. (Just hearing his history today, the doctor said she came in expecting to find a vegetable, and instead found a happy, playful little boy).  We’re praying to be able to keep posting glowing reports like this one.