Monday, March 28, 2016

The moving target

Dr. Sasha always reminds us that Rett Syndrome is a moving target, meaning it changes all of the time, without warning. For example one day Lucy did not have seizures, and then the next day, without warning, she did. Once upon a time she had floppy muscle tone, and then one day it started getting tighter and her body started arching backward all...the...time. One day she could turn the pages of books, and then she couldn't. Unfortunately, the changes that occur always seem to be taking from her...until recently!

The other day I was folding clothes behind Lu while she had a feed and watched a movie. On her lap I had sat her singing Elsa doll and suddenly, it was singing! Lucy had managed to position her hands so she could press the button on the front of Elsa to make her sing! And then when she realized what she was doing, she did it over and over again and was so clearly excited and tickled with herself! I don't honestly know how long it has been since she was able to activate a toy like that all by herself.

When I mentioned above that Lucy's body started arching back, this pretty drastically effected her ability to sit unassisted. That was almost three years ago and in that time she has only been able to sit up on her own for seconds at a time, because her body just wouldn't allow it. But then a few weeks ago she was sitting for her PT, and doing a really excellent job! So, her super rad Dad started a sitting practice session each day while they wait for supper to be ready. And now, after three years of hardly any unassisted sitting, Lucy May has been sitting for minutes at a time, all by herself! 

And a couple of months ago Lu started being able to sometimes stand up from sitting, with little to no assistance, just holding onto our hands! This is super hard work for her and her body. Again, it was Daddy who first got this out of her. I think he is the best PT she will ever have, and he's not even a PT! 

The only downside to all of these wonderful new/old skills that Lu has acquired is the "moving target" part. For the past few years a lot of symptoms have either presented themselves for the first time, or have taken skills away from Lu, and our biggest consolation, our hopeful mantra is that "Rett is a moving target. It's always changing." And so we are often waiting for something that is making Lu's life harder to change, or go away, because eventually, it might. Not all things of course, and we know that. But now here we are with some changes in her body, and how Rett is presenting itself, that are wonderful! She seems stronger, and like she has gained a little control of her body back, and now instead of waiting anxiously for something to change so she will feel better, I am anxiously hoping that if anything does change it will only continue to be more positive changes. Unfortunately, upon being introduced to Rett Syndrome, it quickly establishes itself as cruel, relentless, and not something that tends to get easier to live with as time goes on. So, I guess I want to feel optimistic about these changes, but at the same time I know how quickly Rett can take from Lu, and that is so hard to swallow. HOWEVER, while I feel anxious, we will still keep working hard on what she has been excelling at, and looking for new things that her body might be capable of doing that she hasn't been able to do for awhile. Day by day is how we live here, and the days lately have been treating us pretty well.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Four Years Gone

This was taken right around the day we received the phone call that Lu had Rett Syndrome. The anniversary of the date of the call just passed, it was February 27th. And this was the first year since we received the diagnosis that the day we met with Dr. Coffman has existed, because it was February 29th. These days were more prominent to me in the first year or two. The 29th will always be a day where I bristle with a combination of rage and pride; rage at what Dr. Coffman told us Lucy was NOT going to do, and pride at all that she has learned to do so far, instead. This was the first year that I really had a talk with her about Dr. Coffman and how wrong he was, and how wrong many people are not only about children with Rett, but people with complex diagnoses in general. 

And then last night I dreamt that Lu was talking, with her mouth, and everything was just coming out like she had always been able to. In the dream it was just like, "oh, ok Lucy can talk now! Of course she can!" I wonder if in the dream we were so nonchalant about it either because she already does talk to us all day, just not with her mouth, and/or because I believe it is a given that someday she will be able to speak, when there is a treatment or a cure. 

The thing is, when I am awake and not dreaming, I spend very little time thinking about treatments and cures, and I've talked about why before. However, every single day I hope for Lucy to stay healthy, to get stronger, to learn new things, for her spine to not curve more, and on and on. Chad and I don't live in the shadow of the possibility of a cure because that hasn't happened yet. And while there are so many exciting things going on in the scientific world in regard to treatments and a cure, there is no guarantee that it is going to happen, so we just focus on how to keep Lucy as healthy, and happy as possible, and how to prepare her for life and the world, even if she always has Rett Syndrome. 

We believe this:
-Dr. Seuss

And this:

She is who she is and we worship her just how she is. We would take away all of her difficulties in a white hot instant, immediately, without a second thought, if that option was ever presented to us. But, Chad and I just naturally focus on who she is, not who we thought she was going to be. Lately, more people than usual have asked me if there are any new developments in the trials for treatments and medications. I know with 100% certainty that these are well-meaning inquiries. I know that our family and friends just want Lucy's life to be easier for her. They want to see her "get better", and get to live a more "normal" life. I know they just love her, and us. But...I instantly, and I suppose irrationally, become defensive inside. I answer politely with what they want to know, but on the inside my heart says, " Why? Isn't she good enough for you the way she is?" And I know full well that's not what they are saying, but it's just my gut reaction. 

In regard to Rett Syndrome, the Shaffers have been kicking it's ass and taking its name since 2012.  I hate it, I fear it, and I wish we had never had to learn what it was.  But, in the event that Lucy never receives any reprieve from it, we are prepared to keep up the fight and help her to become the person that she wants to be, in spite of Rett Syndrome.