Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wonder

I read the book Wonder with a class I was teaching last year. I really liked it and thought it was a good book to read with Ayden Jane this summer as she was changing schools and some of the social chords might ring true. Her class is also reading it currently so it has all worked out nicely!

The movie came out last weekend and I promised to take Ayden Jane. Gary read a few chapters with her through the summer and loves movies so he wanted us to go when he could come. Mckenna has not had a chance to read it yet, but it is on her list. She was excited to come along with us so we make it a Thanksgiving Day family movie time.

So we sat there together. Ayden Jane super excited and wanting to talk through the movie... as usual. Mckenna with a vague idea of what it was about. Gary expecting a sweet feel good movie that champions kids who overcome challenges. Me, wondering how the book will play out on the big screen.

I'll start with Gary. Yep, he is the family crier as it comes to movies and he didn't let us down. Ayden Jane loved it but Daisy dying really hit her hard. I think she also totally grasped the "Via" piece. She has been talking about how much Mckenna loved herr and helped her and played with her and was her best friend when she was little. I think she has morphed all that Kayla, Noah and Mckenna meant to her and, for know, has it all placed on Mckenna. All in a good way. It is super sweet. Seeing the charatcter and hearing her talk about what it was like to be Auggie's big sister is such an honest, yet positive way was so great for her. She just 'got it'.

The Via part hit Mckenna HARD. She said after how accurate the character was. The way they showed how Via loved Auggie and totally understood he needed so much. Wanted only the best for him, but also felt as though she couldn't need anything... "Scary how accurate" were her words.

As for me? Well, I was prepared, having read the book 3 times now. The parts that were so true were Auggie's mom - putting her life on hold - but that not really being a bad thing. Just a truth. I agree. Via's part ... played out in Mckenna's life. Not sure about Noah and Kayla. And the Dad being the glue in a way. Supporting everyone. Also, his crazy attachement to the dog. It's going to rough when our Sadie dies. OH!! And Mckenna and I had to laugh at the part when Auggie brings Jack Will home and sort of announces him as his friend. The look of shock/excitement and wanting to cheer but holding your breath at the same time. We totally get that!

All in all, it's a great representation of the type of things that go on in a family that has a child with a big medical condition. Everyone plays their part. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kitchen and Running

Whew. We are in the home stretch of our kitchen remodel. What exactly dose that mean? It means 3 months after demolishion, I have counters, a sink ... a fully functioning kitchen. Still needs paint. Still needs some carpentry completed. Still needs to be painted. Stil needs a few odds and ends and I still need to unpack some boxes and find things but I can finally cook again.

For Ayden Jane's part, she has done amazingly well. It is common for kids with PWS to get very nervous when routines are messed with, particularly those that involve food. For the most part, she has just rolled with it. It got so bad at the end, I hadn't made many of her typical standbys to have on hand and she was still rolling with it.

I will say, the large amount of eating out has not been the best for her weight and health, but things have not gotten out of control so I consider that a victory! I am looking forward to getting her back to good quality food and lots of vegetables. We shall see if I succeed.

Ayden Jane wants to start running again during December and January. Swim team is done this week and soccer is over for the fall. She is thinks it will be easier on Pitolisant and she remembers how much it helped her when she was running before. For my part, I told her I would run this crazy run with her http://www.the5kfoamfest.com/ . It is in March so she has 3 months to 'train' for the 5k.

Her plan is to do the running plan we found once before that will get her up to about 2 miles by the time we see Dr Miller at the end of January. Then switch over to a 5k training program that will get her to 3 miles. Wish me luck because we all know who will be running along side of her...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Over Due Update

Time is flying by. Ayden Jane is doing well She seems to have really hit a groove this past week.

She brought home testing results from last spring's standardized testing. She has met grade level expectations across the board. Language, reading and math. She also had lexile score which placed her in the 73rd percentile and a math quantile which placed her in the 89th percentile. Yep. That pretty much blew me away. I think her 3rd grade teacher gets TONS of credit.

We managed to get through Halloween this past week. Ayden Jane loves Halloween. She dresses up and trick or treats with reckless abandon. She is convinced that the more candy she piles up for the Great Pumpkin, the better/more toys she will get in trade! The excitement that builds can get a little out of control. I blame it on being a holiday that doesn't start until late in the evening... That is just cruel. Having to wait all day long!

Just to up the excitement of life a little, we finally made good on our birthday promise to Ayden Jane. All she wanted to do was the ropes course. We took her friend G and off we went. It was a challenging course and after 2 hours, one potty stop which, of course meant we had to start over, and a lot of panic, we completed the entire level 1 course. It was so much fun and Ayden Jane did great! She is ready to go conquer level 2 next time. I hope I am up for the challenge!

My favorite quote of the day. As the girls were playing on some bars wating for our turn, Ayden Jane says: G, how do you do that so easy. Oh, I bet you have all your chromosomes. I'm glad I'm strong so Prader Willi Syndrome can't stop me! The positive attitude and determination are amazing. No whining, no 'not fair'. Just a truly thankful heart that she is strong and can do anything.

Mostly, life is summed up as a bit complicated, but totally doable. Ayden Jane still has no ability to be rushed. She still loves to thourghly discuss a topic before doing what needs to be done. She still can get a little stuck the moment you need her to process smoothly and quickly. Honestly though, I think we are getting to the point where some of these things are less PWS related and more quirky Ayden Jane things.



Monday, October 23, 2017

Pitolisant 22.5

I still like the new dose. I don't see negatives. I have noticed some itchiness. She has been mischevious. She has been content. She is doing great socially. That tiny increase in processing speed and energy seem to have her rolling right along.

Here is our weekend in a nut shell. Friday night was a swim meet where she earned her very first blue ribbon. Saturday morning she had a soccer game and played really well. (relatively speaking) A couple parents commented on the improvement in her.

During the afternoon we rode down and met family including twin boys with PWS. Ayden Jane was super excited and, as typical, was pretty quiet when she actually met them.

Saturday evening it was off to Mckenna's soccer game. It was at a field with a playground with woods behind. Ayden Jane played from 4:30 until at least 6:30 and never even came over to talk to me. Actually, I lost her for a little while. She was on the playground with several other children... and then she wasn't. Eventually she popped out from the edge of the woods. Apparently, they built a butterfly hospital and were having a wonderful time. She was entirely fithy and entirely happy.

Sunday came church and the Fall Y'all festival with lots to games and fun. We threw in an hour long dog walk between the two. All makes for a perfect weekend for Ayden Jane.

Today was strange though. Ayden Jane had a slow start and when she got to school, ended up throwing up. Yep. First time in 10 years! She did not seem any worse for the wear. I talked to her on the phone and she seemed fine. I came to pick her up - I mean, she threw up so I figured I should. She was out on the playground at the time and the moment I saw her I knew she was fine. She came home and read and worked on some online math. I took her to swimming and we went on with our day.

Never a dull moment.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Small Bump, Big Jump

After talking with Dr. Miller, we decided to increase Ayden Jane's dose of Pitolisant by another 4.5 mg. This takes her from the dose of 18 she was on to 22.5. 

Why? you ask? Some of the sleepiness creeping in after school. A bit of over emotional, overtired stuff. Notes from her teacher that her processing speed is noticably slower later in the day. And Ayden Jane asking for it. She gave a fair account. She just told me that she can do all she wants but doesn't want to feel tired and have to work so hard. She was really sweet honestly, telling me to check with Dr. Miller and if she couldn't it was okay. She would manage.

Dosing is a bit of a challege because Pitolisant is new. She is young. We want to ere on the side of caution if there is any chance of error. It is EXPENSIVE. Dr Miller decided with us there was no issue going up another bump and that we will hold there for a while - like until we see her in January.

I'm not sure what I expected. I do know I did not expect the bump to make a huge difference, sort of just give her a boost to get through the day with more even energy. What it did do for her was so much fun! She is loud and silly and happy after school. She NEVER stops talking. There is little aruing and much laugther. 

She PLAYED soccer in her game today. I mean, she kicked the ball. Got in the mix. Ran up and down the field. No stand and stare. No getting tired. 

Needless to say I love it.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

First of Many to Catch Up

I am so behind, which is a result of an out of control schedule! For my part, I am not keeping up with life well. My last post was a couple of weeks ago and the days have marched on by.

A couple weeks ago we had soccer in Columbia Sunday, then went to Greenville Thursday and Friday to see Shriner's for a scoliosis check and, of course, to visit Ellie. First up, the scoliosis check went well. I hoped for a reduction in the curve, but no such luck. They said that the curve has remained stable and seemed very pleased with that. I'm not super thrilled that she has even the 13 degree curve but if they docs are not worried I guess I shouldn't be concerned about it. For now we just continue to watch it. Back for another check in 6 months.

Hanging with Ellie was great. Her school was so kind to put on a carnival for us to enjoy together. Honestly, Ayden Jane really enjoyed seeing Ellie's school and doing all the rides and games with her. So fun to watch their friendship

We more or less recovered from all that fun and we were back on the road to Columbia for a soccer tournament for Mckenna. Mckenna played 4 games in under 30 hours... she was exhausted. Ayden Jane ran with the pack of younger siblings, enjoyed time at the hotel pool with a friend and just generally kept occupied and happy. We were all EXHAUSTED after the weekend but, of course, had to jump right back into the swing Monday morning.

It all caught up on AJ during the week and she had a rough one. I think the travel and eating out caused her gut to mess up which always seems to cause her behavior to mess up. Anyway, by the end of the week she seemed pretty good.

So that catches everything up until yesterday. We had Ayden Jane's game at 9 (which was less than her best performance) and then just stayed HOME for the rest of the day. It was wonderful. Then today it was back on the soccer road for the day. The games are fun and AJ does great but this momma is tired.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Our New Life

Ayden Jane continues to do well and love grade 4. I am missing her. Missing getting in her classroom or visiting her at lunch and putting faces to the names I hear. I feel sort of disconnected. I remind myself how amazing it is I can be disconnected and Ayden Jane still doing fantastic.

I mean, we still have no working kitchen so I have not been able to provide meals ect that would be best. I have no part in picking her up or after school snacks. I don't even see her in the morning. It's all sort of strange. For the past 10 years she has been so dependent on me. It is good, but strange. She is functioning without me and, although there will be some improvements coming in the food category, she is doing fine.

Additionally, I had a WOW moment last weekend. We went to Mckenna's soccer game in Columbia. It was HOT. I was hot, and I am always the last one to be hot. In years past, I would likely not have even attempted to attend the game because I would have known Ayden Jane could not handle the heat. This summer, I just didn't notice heat being a problem for AJ. I didn't think that much of it and I had taken for granted how much better she handles the heat. Sunday really confirmed it for me though, we were out there for nearly 2.5 hours with zero shade and she was totally fine. Thanks Pitolisant.

Tomorrow, off to Shriner's! Yikes!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

School Adjustments and Scoliosis

Ayden Jane is still loving school, which is wonderful. We have put hurricane Irma behind us. It was a little stressful, but more in a, will it come here and we go on a trip? Or will it go elsewhere and leave us to go to school sort of way. In the end, we didn't get to go away and we did miss a bit of school...

The return to school has added a bit of weight to Ayden Jane which honestly makes me more crazy than it should. It happens most every year and on top of that, we are remodeling our kitchen and eating out entirely too much. I guess it's all to be expected. 

This week she has started back to swimming and she is very excited to play soccer again this fall. She took a year off since she just could not stay awake long enough in the day to even go to practice last fall. Hopefully, once we are all back in the groove she will lean back out. Then again, it is entirely possible she is just adding a bit around the middle before she shoots up. These are the things that cause sleepless nights for PWS parents/ I'm worried and I should _____. No, she's fine and I need to not stress us all out. But I need to catch it before it gets out of hand. But maybe she is being a typical kid trying to store up and grow. ugh.

Next week we head to Shriner's Greenville to check on the scoliosis. Last January Ayden Jane's curve was measured at 12 degrees. That does not sound like a lot, but it was a significant increase and she is at the age where the spine grows quickly so the docs were not happy. 12 degrees was still in the "monitor" range. As we were leading up to our appointment in January, I was noticing her using poor posture when sitting on the floor. It was winter and we had not had a lot of activity and it was just prior to beginning Pitolisant. We/she corrected the poor habits of sitting posture. Summer and lots of activity came along. Pitolisant has seemed to improve tone. Here's to hoping for good news next week!!  If the curve increases to 16 degrees she will have to begin night bracing. Please no!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Our Lives

Gary and I were chatting about how very different Ayden Jane is this fall. He was noting how totally different she is. I have mentioned lots of ways that is true as we have gone through this pitolisant journey. Ayden Jane feels the difference and mentions it often.

As we talked though, what struck me is how different OUR lives are. I mean our - as in the rest of the family. We went out to dinner tonight, since our kitchen is torn apart with a remodel. As we chat at dinner, Ayden Jane keeps up. She joins into conversation and keeps us all laughing. I know it sounds like a little thing, but it used to be challenging to just have fun family conversations. Either she couldn't keep up and got frustrated or she would constantly stop us and ask us to explain things. She'd ask us to explain words or expressions or word choices or if something was funny or why .... It was exhausting and made it hard for our family to really just relax and enjoy time together.

Our evenings are normal. I get to go to games and events and fun stuff. Last fall, I pretty much just had to stay home with Ayden Jane if anything was going to go past 6. Any moment after six, we knew she could completely melt down from exhaustion or just fall asleep on the spot. We typically chose not to risk the arguments and disruptions that evening often brought if we took her places.

It's like we breathe a daily sigh of relief. We go on about our days without the feeling of 'walking on egg shells'. The general stress level in the house is reduced tremendously. I mean, just the fact that I have been able to go back to work full time, our kitchen be completely torn apart which means the entire house disorganized as there is "stuff" everywhere, workers coming and going (or not coming when they were supposed to be) and Ayden Jane able to carry on. If you have never lived with someone with PWS than you probably can't grasp how incredible that is. Any one of those things in the past would have made for a very challenging balance to life.

Pitolisant has freed Ayden Jane from much of  PWS, and has in turned freed our entire family.

Monday, August 28, 2017

4th Grade

So far so wonderful. I have also started a new school year and I am in a new school a ways up the road from Ayden Jane. I leave early and feel a bit disconnected from what she is doing at school, however her teacher has been awesome about filling me in on any details I need to know.

Ayden Jane is happy as can be and I am hearing lots of new names of friends. So far there has been no homework, which has been very enjoyable for all of us! I do need to get some structure in our lives with at least a bit of reading ect. I am sure it will come.

It is so strange to be so relaxed about the school year. Most years, the first few weeks I am pretty much holding my breath. Just hoping she gets the hang of procedures and schedules and expectations. It just all seems easy this year. I am sure some of that is the amazing teacher she had last year who prepared her so very well.

Getting off to school in the morning is interesting at least 1 morning a week. With Gary working nights and me having to leave by about 6:20 to get to work on time, there are mornings where Mckenna is now taking over as taxi driver. So, yes, I pack Ayden Jane's lunch and snack, and I put out her morning meds/supplements. Then I wake up Mckenna as I leave. Since pitolisant, Ayden Jane needs to be woken in the morning but she is getting the rest of it done herself. This morning was the first "on their own" morning and I got the text of relief from Mckenna. I made it and even on time. They were ready and out the door in time for Mckenna to get Ayden Jane dropped off and herself over to the high school without being tardy. Woohoo. That is not small feet.

The evenings this year are proving much different from last year as well. Last fall we were struggling to find enough hours in the day for exercise and being a kid. She was just so tired. Tonight, I got the text from Gary to hurry home with supper because Ayden Jane was nutty. After we ate he took her out to the beach on the creek side and they swam a long time. He had her swimming against the current and giggling away. She went to bed around 8:30.

So, Ayden Jane's life is pretty good about now. Hoping to build more solid friendships. Get back into some good books and enjoy being in the 4th grade.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Surfing


Just more evidence of an epic summer. The kid is a beach kid through and through. She has so much fun in the ocean. Getting up to standing and riding waves was the goal of the summer and she has loved every minute of it. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Funny Kid

Lately, Ayden Jane has developed a great, quick wit. Admittedly it sometimes comes across with more attitude than she intends and she crosses lines, but I appreciate the fast processing speed and the intelligence that is shows.

One example was today when Gary was talking about how he needs to clean out his car after taking the dogs to the beach in it. Kayla added that she also needed to de sand her car from the summer fun. Ayden Jane chimed right in, "yeah, my car is a mess too. It's going to be tough to get it clean." She grinned and thought she was so very funny. I had to admit it was pretty quick witted of her.

Other things are listening to her 'trash talk' with Gary over who is going to win at board games the play. She used to first get upset when Gary would say things like, "do you want to lose at Sorry?" She'd start to get upset and be insulted that he said she would lose. Now she just responds with 'dream on' or 'your going down'. She will give him options of what game he's like to lose.... She will not let him forget times she has beat him. All typical kid sorts of teasing. It's fun to hear.

She lives in a house with a lot of sarcasm and joking and quoting lines from movies and other sorts of humor that is older. She is just better now at not being confused or offended. She started to follow it pretty well but I guess the difference now is that she can jump in. Not always smoothly or well, but its getting better.

Maybe I'm crazy, but it makes me happy and feels like she is gaining worthwhile social skills. (If sarcasm and quick on liners are considered social skills)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Eyes

We had our annual visit to Storm Eye Institute and WOOHOO, Ayden Jane's prescription is reduced. She is very excited to say the least. The words, "no glasses" were thrown around a bit as a possibility in future years.

So there is some thought that pitolisant activating histamine 3 receptors in her eyes could be helping with the changes. It could be that or it could be growth and development of the age. We will likely never know but the eye exam showed significant improvement in her vision.

Here is what I do know. From the history of her eyes, she had no strabismus or vision issues until the awful winter of infection when her whole body went haywire and her tone went to mush. Poof, suddenly her right eye would wander.

We started glasses at that point and she has been at the same prescription up until this visit. (+2) This summer I noticed she started taking her glasses off pretty frequently. Other times she would ask me things like, "what time is it? I can't read the clock with my glasses on."

It was pretty obvious she couldn't go back to school with the same prescription. She would not have been able to read the board without taking her glasses off and if she takes them off.... you never know when you will see them again. Full scale searches had to be activated frequently this summer.

The resident came in first and her plan was for Ayden Jane to go down to a +1 but when Dr. W came in, he made her focus really hard ... or something and it apparently made her alignment go a bit awry. In the end he dropped her from a 2.0 to a 1.5.

Ayden Jane was great with it. She had gotten really excited about the victory of 1.0 but still took the 1.5 as a win and is determined to get to 1.0 next time. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer - just a little bit longer

I have not been great about blogging this summer. Well, especially lately. Honestly, we have just been having so much fun and the time is just flying by.

One highlight has been surfing. I mean the standing (or attempting to stand) version of surfing. Earlier in the summer, before camps and vacations came along, Ayden Jane took her "surf board" out a fair amount. We bought her a soft top type board, cheap from Sams. It's a bit small for her which makes it harder to ride, but it is something she can fall on, get hit in the head by ect and not really get hurt.

Noah promised to take her out on his big board and teach her, but he has been busy. Well the day finally came on Saturday. I did not go watch, but the report was good. Mostly, it was good because she listened well and did not argue with Noah. That was accomplishment one. There are plans to do a bit more this week before he leaves to go back to school. I will do my best to get a few pictures of it.

General observations of this summer, as I think back over it, include Ayden Jane being much better socially. We live in a vacation area so when we go to the beach or the the pool there are often families with kids who are visiting. Ayden Jane has always had a bold nature and attempted to make friends. In the past, however, there were times that her ability to communicate just make is challenging. She would meet someone new and that pause as she would attempt to process the person, what they said ect before she would respond seemed awkward. Her volume would be low and her articulation mumbly... If I was right there a could facilitate the first few interchanges things would smooth out a bit. Now I am no longer necessary. Conversations flow back and forth typically and she can articulate her thoughts and ideas clearly. It's a subtle difference to those watching from the outside but to me the difference is massive.

We plan to finish strong this summer. This week is filled with company. Next week I will be back to work and she has big plans of all the places she is going to convince Gary to take her. I think they plan to play tourist and hit up a few of the fun things to do right here we just haven't done much of this summer.

It has truly been a wonderful summer - one for the record books.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Vacation


 We had a great vacation to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Ayden Jane couldn't have loved it more. We went to the park and to the water park! There were pools to swim in at the resort and activity galore!


 Ayden Jane loves speed so the speed slides were a must!


This one Noah did with Ayden Jane. It was beyond me and the big girls were happy to pass on it this time. 




Saturday, July 22, 2017

B12 Continued

So, Ayden Jane had the b12 shot a week ago. this week was a busy one and she handled it beautifully. She continued to sleep later in the morning which was nice. She had art camp in the mornings from 9-12 each day and enjoyed that. We finished out her last couple swim team practices of the year on Monday and Wednesday and she went to a wild and wacky evening program at a local church from 6-8:30.

A couple of the nights she was wound up from the fun and just kept on going until after 10. I sure wish we had received the shot before we went to camp a couple weeks ago. She was just happy and easy about everything.

Mckenna noted how happy Ayden Jane seemed. Ayden Jane told me she can sit and rest quietly without falling asleep. I think the hand rubbing thing and constant talking were often to keep her awake and alert.

I am frustrated with myself for waiting so long to try it. I mean, we did/do so many things to give Ayden Jane's little body the best amount of energy it can summon. Over the years the little boosts from all the different things added up to keep her running well. A simple once a month shot would have been nothing to add to the craziness. Lab values don't show a need and she still had a big response to it. Weird.

It is all a good reminder that I want to continue to look for things to power Ayden Jane. That 'doing well' is awesome, but it doesn't mean we stop the pursuit of doing her best. So many little things will change in this process of Pitolisant and growth and learning. She has come so far and we discover new surprises every week.

Soon we go on an actual family vacation. My big kids have made it clear that we have deprived them of such their entire lives. Mind you, we live at the beach and they have had a pretty great life. So here's to Busch Garden's Williamsburg and the water park! I think she will have the energy to wear us all out.

Monday, July 17, 2017

B12 Shot

We have given Ayden Jane a lot of oral b12 over the years. A. Lot. There are several old posts from years past where I worked though what seemed to work for her. In the end, we found that cyanocobalamin gave her a sort of wild, almost over stimulating burst, while methylcobalamin helped her sort of organize all that crazy energy and use it for good.

That puts together what took me a while to figure out. Various times along the way I have talked to Dr. Miller about b12 shots. I nearly went for it a couple of times over the years, but how do you know? I finally bit the bullet a few days ago.

It was ... interesting. The first day was rough! I expected AJ to have extra energy, if anything. Instead she was extra whiny, extra itchy, and extra tired. There were tears because she was tired but couldn't sleep. She cried through lunch with the big kids. I finally got her to go swimming for a little while - my best solution for most things Ayden Jane - and she found a friend and had a good time for a little bit. Then she was suddenly done and wanted to leave. I think she was a little dizzy or something. At least the water had calmed her down and when we got home she was asleep by about 6:45. Amazingly she slept straight through until 7:30 the next morning.

Since then, I have noticed decreased hunger, no rubbing her hands (a little habit she had been doing when she was tired), and she got cold. She was shivering in a chilly restaurant and came out of the ocean saying she was freezing and needed a hot shower after swimming for just a minute. The same kid that has been swimming in the ocean since March!!

I'm not entirely sure what to make of it all, but I am guessing there was some need that the b12 is not filling so once a month it is.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Camp

Monday through Thursday this week, Ayden Jane went to camp. I went too, as one of the parent chaperones. Ayden Jane did amazing. Four full days of nonstop action. The days started at 6:30 and did not end until at least 10:30 pm. She had a few moments where she struggled, but I thought she would just crash at some point before camp was over. You know, fall asleep in a moment of free time or curl up in a corner during the late night activities.

I watched her ... There she was, acting like a typical kid. Dancing and singing. Playing all the games. Following the instructions, getting to all the groups she was supposed to, living by the moment as nothing was predictable, interacting successfully with other kids her age, managing her meals in the cafeteria and snacks. The joy on her face as she was learning how to be a typical kid.

What I really wanted in the moment was to be able to enjoy/rejoice with someone else who completely gets what a miracle the entire thing was. I mean, it sounds a little crazy to get over the top excited about your kid being average if you haven't lived the special needs world. And quite honestly, she was average when she was truly firing on all cylinders. There were plenty of times she was just hanging in there, but that was just as exciting! It's not like she was doing something amazing. She did not win a Nobel Prize nor did she make an Olympic team but I wanted to celebrate like she had done both. I will never be able to put into words the millions of subtle miracles that were taking place in front of my eyes.

Six months ago I would not have imagined she would successfully go to camp. I mean I would have let her go. I would have chaperoned but I envisioned it would be a painful experience for me. Watching as she struggled to keep up and not be able to no matter how much effort she put in. She would have cried... likely several times. Not from being homesick or even from other kids being "mean" as she couldn't communicate effectively or follow directions. They would have been tears of frustration. Tears of exhaustion. Tears of confusion and misunderstanding. There would have been activities missed because she would have needed to sleep. She would have willed herself through it and enjoyed some of it, but it would not have compared to how much she loved camp this week.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fun Parent

A lot of my thinking has always been done on the run. As in, while I am on a run. Lately, I have spent more time on a bike as part of working back to being able to run. Although my thoughts are not as clear, at least I am having some. This post is an attempt to express some of the thoughts rolling around in there on a recent ride.

Sometimes I think back to the mom I was with my first 3 kids. Even the person I was with my first 3 kids. The things I did, the friends I had, the life we had as a family. There was always a lot of laughter. There was always a lot of activity. There was always a lot of chaos - and I mean good chaos. I guess the best way to express it was a lot of joy. Lot's of friends, lots of kids ...

Now, I'm not suggesting that joy left the building once Ayden Jane came along. Trust me, there is still plenty of laughter, plenty of activity and plenty of chaos. At the same time, however, the more serious, goal-oriented nature I have took over. I now had a mission. It started with the basics of getting her feeding enough to come home. Then it was milestones....

Preschool, then grade school... always striving for something. Always having an extra piece of baggage. At times it was worry, at times it was responsibility, at times it was just extra stuff to do, extra planning required.

I realized as I was thinking on my ride, those are lifting. School - just not that worried, she can keep up now. Planning - if I'm not prepared with snacks ect it's no big deal, she can wait. Energy - she has plenty for any place we go. Social skills - she's learning fast and blending in better each day. Conversation - no more need to help 'translate', she can communicate effectively because she can keep up with the conversation.

I didn't know I was still feeling the strains until now that they are lifting. It makes me ready and excited to have FUN. I'm looking forward to our coming vacation and am hoping that Gary is not the only fun parent :) 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Food and a Changing Metabolism

Food is such a tricky subject as it comes to PWS kids. Well, families. Food 'rules' or routines fall into place whether they are totally planned or not. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with appropriate snacks. Quantity worked out for the individual and managed from the outside. Types of food - low carb/high fat for Ayden Jane. This includes zero grains or simple sugars and consciously choosing things like avocado. Pairings of certain foods. No fruit all by itself. So blueberries with nuts. Or apple slices with almond butter. You get the picture. It's hard for me to even remember what must seem like rules to others because we have been at this for 9 years. It's our normal.

So what happens when metabolism changes? What happens when the body can begin to use stored energy a bit and not NEED more food the second it runs out of fuel? What happens when you are suddenly awake and active more hours in a day and have so. much. energy? How do you know how much you are supposed to eat? How do you know when you are supposed to eat if you are in the middle of having fun?

These are the questions we are working through. Yes, they sound like wonderful things to be working through and they are, but they are also confusing. Ayden Jane has never had "PWS hunger". She learned to understand the cues her body gave her in regards to food and just knows what an appropriate portion size looks like. So, what do you do when the cues are different?

We have come across this twice this week. First time was when we were at the water, bouncy, obstacle course this week. It was HARD work. I did the first session with her and I was tired! She did a second session and it was 1:00 before we hit the car and ate our packed lunches. Then we stopped at a friends to swim in a pool for a bit and by 3 Ayden Jane was tired out. She wasn't sleepy and didn't say she was hungry but she was ready to just sit for a little while. We stopped for an errand and by nearly 4 I decided that even though lunch was not long ago she might need supper. It took her a minute but I said the words chik-fil-a and she decided maybe it was a good idea. After she ate she perked up and said she had no idea she needed supper already.  She followed it up with a chia bar and was asking me if it was okay. I asked her if she was still hungry and she said just a little. I told her that was her answer. A little hungry so try a little extra. She was baffled by the whole thing and has asked me about it a couple times. She can't figure out how she could have been so hungry and yet not had the feeling she usually does to let her know she needed to eat.

The next time came last night. Gary grilled and with 6 of us in the house (and one being Noah) that means grilling a lot of food. There were hot dogs, burgers, chicken, corn on the cob, asparagus and grilled apples. Ayden Jane had half a hot dog and half a burger with some corn and cherries. Later Gary mentioned the asparagus and apples and asked AJ if she wanted any. She said she had already eaten her supper. I told her it was fine if she wanted some but she repeated her supper was over and could we save some. I thought she was worried it would be too much food so I reassured her again. She got a little exasperated with me and said, "I already had my supper and I don't NEED any more. What's that word for when you are not hungry any more, you are ..... (I said full?) YES. I'm full so save some for me to have tomorrow when I am hungry."

Oh my. She is learning to read new cues in her body and even needs a new vocabulary for them. So tonight she referred back to the chik-fil-a thing. She asked me how she will know when she just needs more food and if she will get the feeling of enough if she doesn't need more food.

I wish I could answer that question by saying you can just trust your body. I honestly don't know if you can kiddo, but you amaze me with the positive attitude you keep in the midst of it all.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fun Times


                 

Today Ayden Jane and I went to a fun place with 2 of her friends. She had a blast and worked hard!
Just imagine a giant a bunch of bouncy things, now get them all wet and slippery. Next, make them wobble a bit as lots of other people are on ones all around. 

Yes that is Ayden Jane jumping off the top


Now add some slippery things to climb, a few ropes and "rock" walls that lead to tall jumps. 










Friday, June 23, 2017

Repetitive

I feel like most of what I have to say is the same thing over and over. Ayden Jane is doing great, but still has a lot to catch up on. She can understand more, learn more, move more... but her starting point is several years behind.

It's entirely exciting and amazing.

It's entirely painful and frustrating.

There are so many great moments.

Her coach noticing the change in her this spring and commenting that she seems to be "outgrowing the quirks she had from whatever that thing is called I told her Ayden Jane has."

The parent of a friend we haven't seen since last fall telling me, she must have learned a lot and worked hard in third grade, They had a great conversation.

Doing pretty stinkin' well in her first swim meet moving up to swimming 50's with turns!

A grandparent and medical professional saying, "Ayden Jane's swimming looks great this summer. Her whole body is so much more organized."

Watching her make friends with a sweet girl on the swim team who simply offered encouragement and friendship. Next thing I know they are chatting away and slip off to play hopscotch.

Reading the book Wonder with her and being amazed by her insight into the characters feelings and motives.

Then there are the times where the amount of information she can take in, multiplied by the depth she wants to understand, divided by the square root of the number of questions humanly possible ... makes my head hurt.

I am sure it must be overwhelming in that brain and body. So much new information coming in. So much to organize....

Go sweet Ayden Jane go. The determination, the love of learning, the joy of life. So much fun to watch. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Happy

A few people have asked me this week how Ayden Jane is doing. It's a simple enough question but if I am to answer truthfully and completely, it's a long answer. So, here goes.

Energy wise, Ayden Jane is doing GREAT. She is up around 6:30 or so and goes strong all day long. At times it seems like she has too much energy. She will go from playing in the ocean for hours to swimming in the pool for a bit. You would think that would make her tired, or at least calm. I think she is just really enjoying the feeling of energy. That probably sounds weird, but until this summer, she would go pretty well, but we would have to watch for crashes in energy. It always was an effort for her to keep up. She was determined and did not want to miss anything so she would hang in there, but she just goes with ease now. Of course, she is also talking non stop and super fast so it would be nice if she came with an off switch.

I told her the other day that I was going to hide her Pitolisant because I can't keep up. She grinned and told that wouldn't work because she is too smart for me now. I'd say she is enjoying the added energy.

There are other areas we are watching for improvement. One is tone. Ayden Jane is low tone, but not too low. Lots of kids with PWS have significantly low tone. I think Ayden Jane's tone has improved by watching her sit. She used to sort of melt into the sofa and you could see her posture fall apart. Now she looks more typical. She stands up better without leaning into me and she can get going easier. When your tone is low, you sort of need to tell all your muscles to turn on, gather strength and then move. Every time... The muscles turn of the moment you are done actively using them so you have to round 'em up every time. I can see Ayden Jane get going much more quickly now, she can hop out of the chair, change direction, and generally just react more typically.

A great things is that Ayden Jane just feels good. She is happy. She is relaxed about food, now trusting her body that she can hold it together if supper is late or a snack is missed. I think she was more fearful of feeling bad because she ran out of fuel than she was actually hungry (before Pitolisant). This made knowing when and what food was coming always lurk in the back of her mind. She is freed from that now. I asked her the other day if she was okay or we needed to get a snack. It was the first she seemed sort of spacey in a long time. She looked at me like I was crazy, said she was fine, and ran and jumped in the pool.

There's more, but that's all I can think of now.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Summer

It has arrived. Summer is here! By 9 AM on Saturday - first school free day of summer, Ayden Jane asked me a bit impatiently if we could go to the beach YET. I put my list of things I had put off all spring to do after school was out on hold... and we hit the beach.

We arrived at the beach before 10 with a packed lunch in the cooler and the day ahead of us. I figured we would be out there a couple hours. Well, Ayden Jane found friends, boogie boarded, played longer... About 2:00 her friends were heading off the beach so I was able to tear her away, but of course she wanted to swing by the pool. Lets just say we made it home about 4:30.

So, that seems pretty amazing as it is. I mean, 6 hours of playing in the ocean and pool. I thought for sure she would collapse and be down for the night. Just to prove me wrong, however, she asked if we could go for a bike ride after supper! I mean, did we really need to do every summer activity in one day! Thankfully, I survived and lived to write about it.

We are working on getting into a summer routine of sorts. This week is pretty much making things up as we go. No camps, no arranged play, just making it up as we go. That pretty much translates into Ayden Jane looking up the weather and telling me we NEED to go to the beach early because it might storm later and she NEEDS to get her wiggles out.

We are getting a small, soft top surf board. It basically looks like a big boogie board with fins in the bottom. She is determined this summer she will be surfing. I am sure she will fall a lot while she figures it out so I just want her to fall on something that will not hurt her. She just loves the ocean. Once she figures it out I see lots of time spent trying to capture a video of her riding a wave! It could be an all summer long project. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Awards

I have been down the awards road with my other kids. I was happy for them with all the awards they earned, but I also knew that many of the academic ones were not earned with incredibly hard work. They were sort of awarded for being smart and doing what they were supposed to do. Congrats was nice and obviously, they could have chosen to squander their brains and behave poorly. So awards were good to acknowledge they were "good kids".

As I go to awards events now with Ayden Jane, it is different. I mean, I see lots of kids getting awards just like my big kids did. It's great that they use their gifts and make great choices. I hear the same sort of awards I have heard in the past.

I think all of this hit Gary today as he was watching Ayden Jane's final award celebration at Elementary School. I was at work, so did not attend and he sent me this text: I want to stand up and tell all these people that Ayden Jane deserves an award!!!! They have no idea whatsoever. I guess that's okay, but she's a brave little girl.

I think it sums up the struggle. On one hand I want to tell people what Ayden Jane's diagnosis says she won't be able to do. I want people to hear how much she is supposed to be struggling. I want people to have an understanding of how much work this kid puts in and how much crap she puts up with from PWS. On the other hand, I want people to see her as a typical kid and not treat her differently. I mean, that's the goal. Make PWS invisible. Trouble is, if they don't know what she fights everyday, they can't know how amazing she is.

So, I believe Ayden Jane would earn the BRAVERY award if there was one. I mean, she forges ahead fearlessly. She is happy to take on the role of being one of the first to try things and knows that others are learning from our mistakes and rewards. She boldly goes where PWS could not before.

I think she would also win the WAKE UP AND DEFY THE ODDS EVERY SINGLE DAY award. I think sometimes it's the every singe day piece that amazes me. No matter whether the day before was a hard fought, miserable,wonderful, exhausting, painful or joyful day. Whether it was a triumphant victory or miserable defeat. No matter, she starts fresh every morning with a positive attitude, ready to give every ounce of effort toward whatever she is doing that day.

That's the stuff awards are made. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Settling In - New Normal?

I'm not entirely sure what happened to the month of May. We have been taking it a day or week at time and managing to make it to all the end of year events and squeezing in as much time on the beach and in the pool as possible. 

Ayden Jane has been at 18 mg for a month now. I feel like she is evening out. She is learning to control her new super powers and use them for good. She has days where she NEEDS a lot of big muscle movement and deep input. Craves the ocean, wants to rough house, can't sit still, talks loud and feels deeply. There is so much laughter. So much engagement with her friends and siblings (which is occasionally overwhelming) 

I measured her at 57 inches and 91 pounds. She has really grown! I dropped the rest of the ACL and so far so good. We are using very little lactoferrin, less iron, and she has no energy crashes even when we had supper an hour and half late! I asked her if she was okay or needed a snack and she said, "I'll be fine Mom. I don't crash with Pitolisant. I can eat whenever."

And of course she can't wait for summer!!!! 

The last week of school is upon us. It has been an amazing year. The difference in Ayden Jane from last November to this spring is like comparing two totally different children! She goes strong all day long, no naps, no lost hours due to needing to regroup. Awake until 8-8:30 every night and up about 6:30 in the morning. No constant night waking, which means no night waking for the Momma either :)

The arguing still exists but is much better and does not surface unless she is tired or trying to do too much. I don't mean PWS tired, I mean, typical, huge days of beach and pool and friends and water parks tired. 

It is interesting to watch her work through how to do life now that her brain works faster. She is going to need to learn to give people space, to slow down the conversation, dial back the intensity, to let things go. She has spent nine years fighting with every ounce of her being to keep up, to be a part of the conversation. She learned how to manage life that was always a tad faster than she was made to go by working so hard, concentrating hard to understand, working hard physically to keep up, relying on effort and the things she did well to get by. That same intensity and effort now can get a bit obnoxious. What should we do now? That's not how you ____. Constantly and inch a way from whoever she is playing with. Often a bit "in your face". I am hoping her good friends will have patience with her but also that they will be straight with her. and nicely help her get up to speed on these things  

Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Disorganized and Chill

Ayden Jane seems "all jumbled" these days. We have lost glasses, papers at school, forgotten homework ... all things that would have typically sent her into a tizzy of panic. Instead, she is just not worried about any of it. It seems we have swung from overly worried about most all details to sort of 'whatever'. I am hoping this is an adjustment period which will eventually swing to a healthy concern.

On my part, I stopped the acetyl carnitine (ACL) after the last increase in Pitolisant. She was operating so fast that neither she, nor the rest of us, could hardly stand it. She was talking super fast, but still not as fast as her brain was going. The result was a lot of half sentences and gaps in what she was saying. She basically needed a translator. So, part of me wonders if now that she is fully adjusted to the Pitolisant, does she need a touch of the ACL? Questions with no clear answer.... It's the challenge of this entire thing.

I will say she was pretty entertaining last night at the soccer fields. She had to survey 50 people for a math project at school. She was a little shy at first so we did the first one together with a friend of mine. Then she went to a few moms and with me just letting them know it was a school assignment, they were glad to help. Ayden Jane was hooked. She asked her question to 50 different people and recorded their responses. No translator needed and she was so excited.

The entire interaction shows the improvement in processing speed. She was able to explain what she was doing and adapt to questions people She could just plain interact back and forth at the speed of typical conversation.

Now, if we can just get the data displayed in 3 different types of graphs... legibly... we will be in good shape.

The other crazy thing is Ayden Jane can throw and catch!! Seriously, she used to try to throw but it was ugly. The ball never really went anywhere, let alone with any speed or accuracy. We threw a ball back and forth on the trampoline the other night and she could absolutely hit a target and throw with decent velocity. Even catching was vastly improved!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Headstrong

Headstrong is a word I would have used to describe Ayden Jane pretty much her entire life. Sort of just bulldozing her way through "challenges". So, basically, underneath all the PWS is a truly strong-willed child in every sense of the word. This basic nature has served her tremendously well.

So what if she suddenly gained confidence. Processed information faster. Was able to respond quicker. Came to her own conclusions and reasons at the speed of light. Basically, that's what we have going on. Her wonderful teacher, Mrs. M, referred to her as "even more headstrong". Hmmmm.

You see, there are wonderful things about being 'headstrong', and learning how to take on the world tactfully and with a touch of humility are things that are taught from a very young age to those wonderful, strong-willed children. Only, in Ayden Jane's case, she wasn't really capable of learning the subtleties of tact and realizing the effects of her behavior on others. Now she is.

It seems there is an adventure ahead of us. Ayden Jane is learning and processing at an amazing rate but definitely needs to catch up how to do so with respect for those older and wiser and with patience. Don't get me wrong. She is not suddenly an oppositional defiant child who is wreaking havoc. She just has an edge about her that comes across as disrespectful.

Luckily, none of my big kids will put up with her crossing lines of respect and they all get where it is coming from. They will join forces with me and teach Ayden Jane to slow down and listen. They will make her understand that sometimes the answer is no, even when you want it to be yes and can make an excellent argument.

Wish us luck!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Who is This Kid?

I love the new Ayden Jane, but I am also a little lost because I don't really know how to read her. Or maybe I am simply waiting for something to blow up on me and can't trust it all yet. 

Her blood sugars are more stable than ever, well, as I view from the outside. I mean, she does not 'crash' anymore.

Her mental stamina is through the roof. She took the state testing this past week and the first day included writing an essay. The kid started at 8:30 and did not finish until after 2!! Her teacher said she honestly worked the entire time. She came home happy as a lark and bouncy - just like my typical kids would.

So where's my issue? 

I guess, previously, I could read AJ. I mean, I could look at her and tell you if she needed more gh. Her behavior told me if ACL was too high or b12 too low. I could manipulate her diet to manage blood sugar. Now I have NO idea what I am looking for. Where are my "boundaries" or ranges of .... well, everything? How do I know what's going on in there?

Soooo, I guess I am living in the land of is it all too good to be true? 

I'm curious if she still has a black hole for carntine. Wonder about the gh bump... and pretty much everything else. I mean, it's like the kid has a new metabolism. She is more typical as it comes to food. She has always wavered between forgetting to eat and maintaining weight to gaining a bit too much. I always managed it from the outside by talking her through it.

I'd say the past month really, I have had very little to do with her food. I don't remind her if she skips a snack or a meal comes quite late she does not miss a beat. She has days where she is more hungry and eats extra, but her weight is remarkably stable. We will head out the door with no plan for food and she will tell me not to worry about it. She will be fine. Seriously?

This week has been brutal as far as schedule ect. Long days testing at school. Late nights at the HS with Mckenna in playoffs and chorus concerts. I am barely functioning and she rocking it. Yes, there are lots of questions about peoples expressions and social interactions (apparently she can now 'read' faces and body language but is still learning how she should respond). Yes she has some sensory needs which shows me the neurology is continuing to connect. She no longer gets stuck on topics or questions... and can "take a subtle hint."

I guess, my mind goes to - if there is this big a shift in .... metabolism? something... then how can all that I am giving her not need to be adjusted? I have been managing and tweaking this stuff for 9 years and suddenly have no idea what I'm doing.  I mean, I wouldn't be pumping all this stuff in my other kids. Is there anything I give her that can be over done? I'm thinking labs are in our future, even it its just for Momma's sake. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Whew

That's a big sigh of relief. Testing days 1 and 2 are over! The first day Ayden Jane worked on her test from 8:30 in the morning until after 2! Obviously, I don't know anything about how she did, but I know she tried really hard. She showed her true tortoise self. Not at all phased by those around her, just plodding along doing her thing.

After the test I took her to the beach. Wow did she need to hit the waves! Fresh air and sunshine. Salt water and good waves. It was perfect. She even found a couple of boys who were boogie boarding and she joined in. The ocean is the best reset button I have and I knew she had to get up the next morning and start the entire thing again!

Day 2 she said she finished shortly after lunch. She told me she was done, but was not done going over all her answers before lunch so she had to have silent lunch. She didn't mind too much but she was very glad to report she was finished in time for recess!

Today, she had swim team after the test and then we had a playoff game of Mckenna's to attend. She has been so funny this season. She is totally into the games. She knows all the players names, talks about how great they did, and cheers during the game. (well, as she runs by while playing hide and seek or whatever) She is so proud of Mckenna and is loving the season. Tonight they won a hard fought playoff game and Ayden Jane was complaining about the bad calls during the game and reliving highlights. She not always right in her recount but her enthusiasm is unmatched.

She is so glad Mckenna's team won tonight so there is another game on Friday!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Standardized Testing - Sheesh

Time is flying by. Ayden Jane is loving Pitolisant and her fast brain. She is still getting used to her new super powers so will only continue to improve her skills but she is learning at an amazing rate.

Tomorrow is the SC Ready test. It is South Carolina's standardized testing. Being in 3rd grade it is Ayden Jane's first exposure to such a testing situation. She is a nervous wreck. I think hearing about it and all the hype surrounding it, but never actually having had the experience is hard. It's hard for all of them!

She has been working on something called a text dependent analysis (TDA) for the past few weeks. It is hard but she absolutely gets it. Now it's just time to pray she does not freeze up. Typically she reads the story and likes to talk about it. Then she can organize her thoughts enough to get it all put together and written down. Tomorrow there will be no talking through and if she gets 'stuck' it's going to be ugly.

As she worked through things last night she asked me if she forgot to put in comma's or something if they would still grade her paper. Sounds crazy doesn't it. Here is how it works. Teacher reminds the students (remember, 3rd grade) that they need to use their neat handwriting. She tells them if whoever is scoring the paper cannot read their handwriting they will simply not score it. Yep... Ayden Jane took the leap that if she misses anything, as in anything less than perfection and her paper will be thrown away. Then she asks me if it is okay if she gets a couple wrong. Ummm yes, dear. Just do you best and show what you know. There will be some questions you do not know. Just take your time and be sure to get the ones you know right.

Her teacher is going to give the kids 'breakfast' before the test. It's a great idea for 99 percent of the class... guess who it is just adding more excitement/stress to.

All in all I'd say Ayden Jane is half nervous and half excited. Yep. Excited. I mean... it's an opportunity to work hard and accomplish a goal. That's right up her alley. Hopefully she will still be exited the 2nd and 3rd days!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Important Event In My Life

I was looking at the news letter Ayden Jane's teacher sends to us at the beginning of the week so we know what she is studying or doing that week. One of the things mentioned was a diary entry of sorts about an important event in her life.

I asked Ayden Jane if she had any important events. She said not really. Maybe going to a big soccer game of Mckenna's? I told her I could think of a lot of important events in her life but most of them she would not remember. Things like getting the ng tube out and eating all on her own so she could come home from the hospital. We talked through a few ideas. 

Mckenna looked at me as Ayden Jane was talking. We were both very intrigued by how unphased Ayden Jane was about things that we understand to be HUGE. I mean... dare I say Pitolisant? There is a cluelessness about her in regard to what she has accomplished. 

I teased her and suggested maybe the day I found and made a chocolate cake for her birthday was important. She told me, "mom, that's not important. That's just food." Now there are some unique words to come out of a kid with PWS.

In the end, I really have no idea what she will pick. Likely, it will be something unrelated to PWS. Maybe, somewhere in that brain of hers, she doesn't want her important thing to have to involve PWS. I mean, she doesn't really want to be that kid with a rare genetic disorder. She just wants to be Ayden Jane - the nice kid who wants the best for everyone. 

Obviously, I will want to read it when she is done!! I am really curious about what goes on inside that noggin of hers. Maybe getting her to write things like this is a way to find a window into her thoughts. I also need to learn to talk less and ask better questions. Patiently listen and not redirect or correct details or fill in pauses. 

Increase to 18

Ayden Jane had been asking to increase the Pitolisant (Wakix) dose to 18 mg. I'm not sure if she felt she needed the increase or if she was just being her goal oriented self. Either way, I wanted to wait until the trip was coming to a close and we were home with nothing major to do.

So, on Thursday, our last day of travels I gave Ayden Jane the increased dose. All was well on Thursday. Friday, especially in the morning she was tired. She was spacey. She would say she wanted to do _____, but then would change her mind because she was too hot, or too tired, or just didn't want to. She napped in the morning. Then we went to the beach after lunch.

She did not complain of headache but it was clear a lot was going on in there. It looks on the outside like she is super spacey. She is slow and moves like she is tired but she's not sleepy. When I took her to the beach and after swimming a bit she just wanted to sit on the beach. Sit and watch people and do nothing. At the same time completely peaceful and totally NOT content. It's hard to explain. If you push her to do anything she gets very argumentative and says her head hurts. When I asked her about it she just said her brain was thinking a lot but she didn't know what it was thinking about.

Saturday came and I was hoping for a big improvement. She started asking to take the dogs for a walk. She could not get it together and finally decided she did not want to take a walk and went to her room. She fell asleep... again. When she woke from that nap, she looked more ready for activity, finally. It's hard to explain.

We went back out to the beach and this time she played hard, sat in the sand a bit but was chatty and drawing things.... Then swam some more. Finally, we went over to the pool and she found a couple friends to play with. They are sweet giggly girls and Ayden Jane still a step slow, but they were patient and Ayden Jane had fun.

Finally, this morning (day 4) she is bouncy and quick and playing jokes on me. No nap, no slow down. We walked the dogs and will go for a dip in the pool later but I think she is really ready for school. Yay. It's going to be a rude awakening tomorrow morning. Well, for me and Mckenna for sure. It will be a long day for Ayden Jane as she will have school, swim team and Mckenna's soccer game to attend tomorrow night.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Faith of a Child

At the end of our long adventure to TX, Ayden Jane was excited to stop and see her friend E. I thought we would be able to stop by Wednesday evening for a bit and then head home but as I redid the math ... It wasn't happening. We had to decide whether to go home and abandon our last stop or commit to spending the night in yet another hotel so we see our friends the next day.

I wasn't too worried about finding a hotel. I figured it was a Wednesday and there was not anything major going on in the area. Well, those facts were true, but that did not mean there were rooms. The first place I stopped was booked. The guy at the desk was very nice and sent us to another hotel which I would not have found if he had not told me. It looked just as busy and there was a sign that the desk person would be back soon... I went out and made some calls but everything was booked. Well, that's not true, there were some places I drove by that likely had a room but I didn't think they were good places for Ayden Jane and I to stay.

I wasn't worried in that there were plenty of other exits with hotels... I was just tired and wanted to be done. Ayden Jane told me "don't worry Mom, God will take care of us. You know, just like he put that gas station right where we needed it when you were almost out of gas. It's really cool how God takes care of even the little things."

So, we went back in and the lady at the desk was finishing up with someone who had been waiting with us earlier. I asked the question, any rooms left for tonight? She said there were. She chatted with us for a minute as well. She came up with a discount. Then another. Before the evening was out Ayden Jane's story, her faith, was shared a little and hopefully the kind, night shift, desk person was blessed.

It was great for me. I was thinking a lot on the drive. Probably too much. Some doubts were creeping in about a few things (not necessarily Ayden Jane related things) In the end though, a cute little 9 year old reminded me - not to worry. God is in control of even the little details. Doesn't mean He will make things easy all the time, but He does have a plan and I need to trust that.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Traveling

An entire week has gone by. Wow. It has been an unbelievably busy past couple of weeks. Work busy for both Gary and I. School busy for Ayden Jane and Mckenna. Kayla - well, sometimes you can barely tell she lives at home so is gone and doing so much.

Spring Break has finally arrived we and managed to pull out of Pawleys on Thursday evening after a full day of school and a quick trip to the beach and pool to help with the wiggles. I think I packed my stuff and Ayden Jane's medicines, supplements and food in about 20 minutes total!

We traveled all night long, which although exhausting, is a very efficient way to go. Ayden Jane did awesome. Kayla made a pnut butter sandwich for her with cashew bread before we left so when dinner time rolled around Ayden Jane could have that a some snacks from the cooler. The rest of us planned to wait and stop for a late supper after we had a few hours of travel under out belts.

All went according to plan and after our 'late supper' and bedtime snack for Ayden Jane she watched a bit of a movie and went to sleep. We were hoping she would fall asleep in South Carolina and wake up nearly to Texas.

Somewhere around 1:30 or so AM we stopped for gas (and coffee). Ayden Jane woke up and declared she could not go back to sleep. Now, before Pitolisant, no matter how sure she was she couldn't sleep, just put her in the car and she was out like a light. ha. No longer. She watched some more movie and read a little and finally did go back to sleep. She was great though. No whining or complaining. Just awake.

Morning came and she was wide awake and chatty. We talked (okay, she talked and I listened) for about an hour. She was just so excited to be on the trip and to see her grandpa, aunts and uncles and cousins. The excitement was escalated because she hadn't seen them since she was 3 and honestly couldn't even figure out who she was going to see.  About 6:30 her belly time, we stopped for breakfast.

The rest of the way she was still great. She always wants to know how much longer, but that is nothing GPS can't handle. Traveling with a PWS kiddo, typically brings out the anxiety in them. So many unknowns. Typically, Ayden Jane travels well with me, but I do have to answer a lot of questions about where, when, how, who... well, everything. I have always just accepted that and made sure to let her know the plan, and let her be a part of any changes to the plan. This is a whole new level of go with the flow. I mean, there are 5 of us and a HUGE family is a part of the plan. We all know how flexible you need to be to handle that! I don't know that she could have enjoyed this trip nearly as much before Pitolisant. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Big Dreams

It's no surprise that we have always allowed ourselves to dream big for Ayden Jane. Maybe in a way, that first endocrinologist who told me - my problem was I needed to learn to accept that Ayden Jane was a special needs child and stop trying so hard - did me a favor. I mean, Ayden Jane gets her "just tell me I can't" attitude from genetics other than the PWS region.

So we went on our merry way helping Ayden Jane achieve as close to her peers as possible. She learned to read... with a little extra effort. She kept up in school, with the support of awesome teachers who recognized she could learn but sometimes took an alternate route to solving math problems. Ayden Jane would talk of going to college like her siblings and I imagined she would, but likely community college where she could still be home with support. She talked of becoming a veterinarian (like most girls her age) and I could totally see her as a vet assistant.

You get the picture. All wonderful success that could lead to her being able to be happy, productive and independent eventually. Or at least, independent enough that she would not be a heavy burden to her siblings one day. You know, needing one of them to check in with her and help her out at times, but not the 24/7 care that we were told would be necessary. That was a dream nearly unthinkable for kids/families with PWS even 5-10 years ago.

Those were the dreams we HAD for Ayden Jane.

I catch myself now, with Pitolisant, dreaming all new dreams for her. Although the dreams of the past were wonderful, I now catch myself dreaming, expecting that she will go away to college if she chooses. That she will be anything she wants. The limits I put on my dreams for her - not that she ever had any limits for herself - have been lifted.

Why the change? She operates so much closer to the speed of life now. The pause, the step behind she always was, is gone. It will take time to learn how to use her faster brain and there is still catch up to happen, but even others are noticing. We have said goodbye and good riddens to "the stand and stare." She is engaged and a part of all that is going on around her and not just an outside observer gleaning all she can but unable to do so fast enough to truly be a part.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Message From Ayden Jane

Mom asked me why i like Pitolisant and if there is anything bad about it.

I think it is great. It helps me do better in school. I can understand things better, figure stuff out, remember more, and can work a longer time. School is easier now.

I can tell that I can stay awake longer in school and keep my concentration and I don't fall asleep as early at night as I used to do. I have enough time to get all my homework done before bed and don't have to do it in the morning before school. Homework is easy now. I can play longer because I have time and I also have more energy.

No problems with Pitolisant other than the first day or two after I start an new dose. I was tired but slept really well. Sleep right away changes. At first sometimes there is a headache with the tired and I don't want to do anything but after that it is all good.

I feel happy and laugh a lot now.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sensory Seeking

Over this past weekend, I noticed Ayden Jane having some 'sensory needs'. This language seems normal to me now but may sound strange if you haven't lived a life of occupational therapy. Basically, from the time Ayden Jane was little and we started things like B12 and carnitine and fed her brain with good fats her little neurological system has been growing. That growth is often not smooth however, and needs a little help to sort of sink in and/or organize all the information it is getting.

This sort of thing can show up the form of anxiety, emotional instability, rough housing, itching, complaining of clothes not being comfortable, not wanting to wear shoes, things being too loud or too bright, using entirely too many words to say something simple ... When Ayden Jane was really little we did a brushing protocol and joint compressions. I remember the first time Mrs Jen did joint compressions and Ayden Jane relaxed and was quickly peaceful. She explained it then as sort of helping the messages coming in connect to the brain and become filed correctly. Like there can be a sort of back up of input that can't figure out where to go and instead makes her feel overwhelmed and disorganized. The system of nerves just not moving information effectively and causing a traffic jam.

Pitolisant has caused some of these old familiar things to resurface. I think it is a good thing, as it shows there is a lot of neurology firing these days, but it does feel uncomfortable at times for Ayden Jane. This past weekend we dealt with it by sending her with a friend to Savannah's playground, taking a long walk, bouncing on the trampoline .... That was all Saturday. Sunday we hit the ocean. Nothing seems to calm her internal storm like being pounded by the waves.

Monday, when Ayden Jane woke up she was calm, and focused and happy. She had her reading MAP test and knocked it out of the park. By Monday night, however, the storm was again brewing. I think it was fed by the excitement of how well she did, the desire to repeat the success on Tuesday with part 2 and a huge field trip the following day. So much to be excited about. So much to process.

Tuesday morning came and there were a couple of shirt changes and a small pile left behind of shirts that were no longer acceptable. Shoes had to be put on a couple times because they 'weren't right'. She got upset over something little that typically would not be a concern.The palm scratching, using so many words to tell me things I did not even need to know.

She had part 2 of her standardized testing but before it even began she went to her "problem solver" at school because there was no way she could stay in her current shirt for MAP testing and needed to call home. My awesome friend who teaches there proceeded to take her to the school store and find her a new, nice, large, soft t-shirt which was acceptable. Whew. She did not do poorly on her testing but did not blow it away like yesterday. Well, other than it took her half the time it took her last time! 

Anyway, tonight she bounced on the trampoline, wrestled with Gary and is heading off to the High School soccer game to play with the pack of younger siblings. Wishing her teacher luck on their trip to the Charleston Aquarium and touring downtown tomorrow! They will be gone 10 hours! Anyway, there is definitely an awakening that is to some extent uncomfortable.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Great Reports

With the weekend I get a chance to collect some 'reports' from school for the past week, spend some time with Ayden Jane and get a feel for where we are in this process.

The changes for this week included reducing Acetyl Carnitine (ACL) and adjusting to an increase in gh. Pitolisant was staying the same at 13.5 mg. The little by little tweaking of things can be very stressful. Basically, I take in the information I get from those who see her all week and combine it with what I see. I take a deep breath, pray over each choice and then I check with Dr. Miller to make sure I'm not doing anything crazy.

I let a change go at least a week and assess where we are. It sounds simple enough but it is my kid I'm messing with so the stakes feel really high. I am thrilled to have teachers watching over her at school that know her well, love her and pray for her regularly. It makes it so much easier to turn her over every morning as I pray for the best. This week the reports were fantastic. Here are some highlights.

Please remember that I am simply sharing our experience. I wish I had the power to make this the experience for all kids with PWS but I cannot.

Anxiousness- Compared to previous weeks, her anxiousness has definitely decreased. The only time she got anxious was when she had to stop her S.S. Chpt. 7 Test on Thursday (after an hour). Once I explained she would complete it on Friday all was good!

Focus- Doesn't seem to be as scattered. AJ has struggled somewhat to switch gears when we transition from one subject area or task to another. In the past week, she has been able to transition better and appears to be attending to the lessons better.

Speed of Work Completion- a little faster depending on what the task is requiring her to do. For example in Geometry she has had to cut & paste shapes when sorting by attributes. This has been a lengthy process, but one she perseveres through.
Daily Language Review Quiz definitely went faster this past week. She continues to work even when most students would throw their hands up & throw the towel in.

Processing & Problem Solving- definitely taking in the concepts she's being taught at a faster rate & amazing to see how deeply she understands the concepts. For example in Geometry, the students were asked to draw specific shapes based off of there attributes. There were a total of 8 tasks. ONLY 4 tasks could be drawn the remaining 4 were impossible, but the children had to write why the shapes could not be drawn. AJ was clear in all 4 written responses explaining exactly why this was impossible. *I am attaching the task & will be glad to send home AJ's work so you can see her explanations.

Socially- I've noticed AJ engaging more with her peers. 
Classroom- she will approach students to have a conversation😊
Lunch- she is talking and laughing more than I've ever seen her 😊

Whew. Thankful for weeks like this where God shows up and lets me know to just keep going and follow Him. We are not done yet, but plan to stay right where we are for now. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Busy Weekend

So last I wrote was 5 days ago. It has been a busy few days.

Friday was quite the test for Pitolisant. Ayden Jane had a full day of school, swim team practice, then we ran home to pack up and head to Columbia. I figured she would take a good nap in the car before the 8:30 soccer game of Mckenna's we were heading to. I figured wrong. She played her ipad, read her box car kids book and generally entertained herself the entire trip.

Now I thought I was in for a rough night at the game. I mean, Friday night - game starting at 8:30? How could it end well. Again I was totally wrong. Ayden Jane played her little heart out and ran around all the way 'til 10:00 pm when the game ended! It is such a new world we live in.

So Saturday brought 2 more soccer games and the trip home. She did well. A little tired and cranky, but so was I. Mckenna played awesome and the second half of the second game, Ayden Jane was tired of running around and it was getting hot. She came and sat with me and totally got into the game. It was great. So basically, 3 soccer games in less than 20 hours and all was well.

Sunday I thought Ayden Jane would be tired but she woke up full steam ahead. We went to church, then hit the beach for a while. She had a wonderful time riding on and playing in the waves. There is something so calming to her about being knocked around in the ocean. Next up was Awana - a kids program at church - and lastly we took the dogs for a walk.

She was up and ready for school with no problem this morning. It's awesome.

Nitty gritty wise, this is where we are. Ayden Jane is currently on a dose of 13.5 mg of Pitolisant. I am planning to maintain this dose for another week at least. At the same time, we started her increase in gh that labs showed back in early February she is due for. The other thing I am working on is reducing the amount of Acetyl Carnitine (ACL) I am giving her.

ACL is brain activating. It was very helpful in the past with keeping AJ alert in school. It is a nutritional supplement and not a drug, but is one that dosing can be tricky. For Ayden Jane, too little and I could not keep her carnitine levels decent and Ayden Jane had trouble focusing on things. The tiniest bit too much and AJ was anxious and ornery and none of us had any fun. I was wiling to put up with a little panicky kiddo if it meant she could focus, but there was a line.

With all that seems to be going on in Ayden Jane I am cutting back the ACL in half (after having checked with Dr. M, of course) Whew. Lots of tweaks and adjustments. Ayden Jane is handling it all like a pro. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Pattern Continues

Gary picked up Ayden Jane from school and she was tired. Not grumpy or irrational or shutting down tired. My PWS friends will know exactly what I am talking about. She was just, kid who had 2 super busy days back to back tired. She knew she was tired because she told Gary she was too tired to go to swim team. She had a snack and watched a cartoon or two while playing with some old friends, her mini pop beads. It was something she used to love to do when she was little. Sort of a calming thing she did when her little sensory system was overwhelmed. I have not seen her do that in years.

After a bit she began to get a little ornery which is common when she is tired. What was new was that she stopped arguing and just slipped off and went to her room to take a nap. I say that is new because all too often in the past, she will pick and push buttons ... eventually our patience wears thin and we fuss at her. The ensuing events end up with her going to bed crying and not having a clue how it all happened. 

She slept for a pretty long time and then woke up, happy as a clam. She had some supper and then happily completed her homework. There is an ease about her. Gary and I were talking and it as if we see glimpses of what Ayden Jane would be like without PWS. Let's just say she would be a handful in a whole other way!!

I think things are evening out but it will continue to be a process. She feels so good at times she over does it and feels it the next day. She is taking in so much she needs a little help organizing and integrating it all. I am hoping the pattern of super powers / worn out / super powers.... will even out  over time and Ayden Jane. Hopefully in a a way that is super powers at all times!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday compared to today was a big change. If it keeps going at this rate it's going to get wild around here.

Yesterday, Mrs. M said Ayden Jane was a little sluggish. I saw the same at home. Not full on tired, not falling asleep, just processing a little slow and struggling a little. I don't know how else to describe it. She did a lot, school, swim team, shopped, homework, walked dogs... She wanted to do all of it but at the same time you could see the effort in it all. There was some anxiety, which always comes with tired.

Today? I do not know how school went but since I have been with her - starting at 4 ish - she has been on FIRE. She did an awesome job picking out new glasses. She was cracking up the ladies there helping her. She was decisive about what she liked and did not like. She was delightful.

After glasses we joined up with Gary and Mckenna and grabbed a bite to eat. She was so animated. So much laughter. So much joy. All of that and she was on her way to supper so you would think she would be slowing down.

After a burger and veggies we headed home to knock out homework, walk the dogs, wash the dogs and take a shower. There is NO WAY all of those things could possibly have been done in one night before Pitolisant. Not only did she accomplish the list of things she wanted to, she did it all with ease. It is currently 9:00 and she is still firing quickly.  As we were nearly home from our walk Ayden Jane stopped to tie her shoe. Being the good mom I am, I just kept walking and figured she'd catch up and knew her way home anyway. I got down the road a bit and I heard footsteps. They were the footsteps of Ayden Jane running. I didn't even turn around because I loved the sound. It was different. Her steps were quicker and lighter and even and.... sounded like a kid who ran easily. After she caught up she said, "mom, Pitolisant makes me way faster. Hey, can we start running this week? I want to do that bouncy race coming up! I bet I can run the whole way with no problem.... "

I am honestly a little nervous about tomorrow. I think that sometimes, on P, she has felt so great one day that she over does it and the next day she is tired. Or maybe she is sort of over energized that she doesn't sleep well? I don't know, it's just a pattern that has seemed to surface. I am hoping that it will all even out over time. I have a feeling my quick increase is partly to blame. I think Pitolisant needed to really settle in and she needed more time to adjust at each dose. I guess that is part of what we are doing. Looking for benefits and side effects and knowledge for dosing.

What I do know for sure is that today was great. The hope that days like today will string together and become the new normal is amazing. Of course, only time will tell... patience, patience. Prayers of thanksgiving tonight for a great day and a glimpse of what may be to come. Prayers for little Ayden Jane as she walks through this all and rides the ups and downs of all sorts of things going on inside.