Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Sorry for the delay in posting some Christmas pictures, its been a busy couple of days.....I need a break!!!! So I will make this short and sweet with just these few words and a couple of pics. Enjoy!!! (More pictures are on Picasa....follow the link on the right hand side of this page)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sigh of Relief (NIH Day 4)

We just wrapped up with Dr Gunay and we are pleased to say that other than the very mild abnormalities on her liver ultrasound, Haley seems to be in great shape. Her kidneys look perfect on ultrasound, all of her lab work came back great, and for now there are no plans for us to return to the NIH for any further treatment or studies. A huge sigh of relief!!! Dr Gunay said that what they saw on the liver ultrasound was not significant enough to do anything extra for. She will have to have yearly ultrasounds and labwork, but she would have had to have that anyway for the minimum monitoring for JS. I am so glad we came here, it put our minds at ease because the kidney complications seen with JS can be very serious. Of course they cannot guarantee that she will never have kidney or liver problems, but with the data they have on Haley and based on their case studies they feel that her chances are minimal.

Right now we are waiting to go to the airport, our flight does not leave until later tonight, so we still have a long boring day ahead of us. In case you missed it, here is the link to the Santa story from last night. Haley is not on it....oh well!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Limbo (NIH Day 3)

Another long exhausting day is over. It started off with a bang with Haley having blood drawn, which, as you would expect, was not a good way to start the day, but she did very well and seemed to forget all about the torture within a few minutes. But she didn't get much downtime after the labs. We went directly over to radiology to have a liver and kidney ultrasound. It took both Will and I to hold her down to get this done. It is not at all painful, but she has this thing about not wanting to show her belly. What can I say, she is modest, I like that!!!

See, I recover quickly!


Daddy and I checking out the Cookie Monster gingerbread house


That was all for the morning time, and we all came back to the Inn took a nap. After lunch she had an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart). She did surprisingly well with this which was essentially the same procedure as the abdominal ultrasound, just a few inches about her belly though. I'm not sure what the difference was other than she wasn't poked with a needle 10 mintues prior to this ultrasound like she was for the earlier ultrasound. Then we met briefly with a nutritionist, and she was very pleased with Haley's diet. Didn't really have much to offer with advice on how to make her diet any better, which made me feel pretty good about the job we do feeding her nutritious food. Haley has always eaten just about anything we put in front of her, but lately it has become a struggle with typical toddler picky behavior so I've been worried about how well I actually am feeding her.

Then we met with Dr Heller, a gastrointestinal doctor who studies the liver complications associated with JS and the other ciliopathies called portal hypertension and congenital hepatic fibrosis. I won't bore you with the explanations of what those it if you are interested. I really wasn't expecting much out of his visit, but it turned out to be a very informative visit and a wake up call to not be so nonchalant about possible liver complications in the future. He said that Haley's liver and spleen were slightly abnormal on ultrasound. He said that the texture of her liver was abnormal but could not tell if it was true scarring associated with congenital hepatic fibrosis. Her spleen was also slightly enlarged. He said that at this point to not worry too much about it because all of her lab work was fabulous, actually better than the average JS patient that they see. He suggested that she just be followed yearly with ultrasounds and lab work. At first hearing her ultrasound was abnormal scared the bejesus out of us, but by the end of our meeting he made us feel a lot better, all we can do is keep a close eye on her and if she does develop liver problems she will be in good hands. But even though we were told not to worry, we still feel like we are in limbo waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Once we got back from the hospital we had yet another fun surprise waiting for us. The Montgomery County Police Motorcycle Units came to visit the Inn. About 30 or so cops on motorcycles came roaring through the front gates of the NIH with their lights and sirens blaring.....and guess who else was riding a motorcycle.....well, Santa of course!!!! This time we were prepared with a camera for Santa's visits, but for the third time Haley rejected Santa. Fox News was there filming. Here is a link to the story they ran, Haley wasn't in it but it shows what they did for the Inn.

Do you have a license to drive that walker young lady?


Santa upgraded his sleigh


Third strike with Santa


Playing with Viola again


We will be leaving tomorrow, and will be so ready to get back home!! Although the Children's Inn and everyone at the NIH has been wonderful, there really is no place like home. Tomorrow Will and I have to have blood drawn and then we meet with Dr Gunay for the final reports and wrap up. I assume we will talk about any need to follow up here with them and what our next steps are.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another Long Day (NIH Day 2)

Whewww....we are just getting settled in for the night, we had a pretty busy day today. We met with Dr Gunay and her nurse Joy this morning and they got a complete medical history on Haley and attempted to do an exam. Haley let Dr Gunay know right off the bat she was in no mood to be messed with today, so the doctor didn't push it. That is one of the good things about particiapting in a study, it is completely voluntary you can choose at any time to stop if you feel like you have had enough and the doctors and nurses don't keep pushing something that is obviously not working.

Our next stop was the opthamologist. Because retinal dystrophy is related to JS, they wanted a complete and thorough eye exam done. Haley's vision is normal for her age, there are no signs of retinal dystrophy and they agree that she has ocular motor apraxia. But the opthamologist did point out a new finding today with an abnormality with one of her eye muscles which may or may not be related to JS. Basically one of her eye muscles are lazy and she tilts her head to correct her vision. He said it was nothing to worry about and is actually pretty common, lots of people walk around with it and never know it. It can be corrected with surgery, which he did not recommend right now since it didn't seem to be causing her any problems.

Then Haley managed to catch a quick nap and when we got back to the hospital guess who was waiting on her......Santa Claus....AGAIN!!!! This time his helpers were three Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. Of course we left the camera in the room, but there wasn't much of a photo opp....she refused to even look at him again. And of course she got more gifts from Santa. They really are too good to us!!!

After that Haley had to have an EEG (electroencephalograph) to study her brain waves because JS is linked to seizure activity (which she does not have a history of). I just knew this was going to be difficult, but the tech, Jackie, knew exactly how to handle Haley.....this wasn't her first rodeo!!! She somehow managed to hook 23 leads to Haley's head. It took about 20 minutes to get set up, she had to measure and mark on her scalp, clean each individual lead location, then apply and tape each lead down then wrap her head in gauze to keep her from yanking them out. She played some corny kids video for her and let her play with some toys while she was getting her set up. Haley struggled with her a little bit, but in the end Haley knew Jackie would win this fight. We haven't gotten results from that yet.




That was our last appointment for the day so we decided to reward Haley with a visit with the resident therapy dog at the Inn named Viola. Viola lives here at the Inn and is a 6 year old yellow lab. Very sweet dog and I think it made Haley's day. As soon as she saw her she lit up. And when Viola left the room Haley stalked her all over the building. There also happened to be some reporters from USA Today there taking pictures and of course they couldn't resist taking pictures of Haley with Viola. I'm not sure what their article will be about but they said they would probably publish it sometime in January and would contact us to let us know when it was coming out.



Tomorrow looks to be another busy day. First she has to have some blood drawn, this is what I have been dreading. I hate having her blood drawn, its a huge ordeal. Then she will have an ultrasound of her liver and kidneys then an echocardiogram. Then after nap time we meet with a nutritionist and the GI doctors. I'm tired already!!! Better get in bed!!! Good nite.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Haley Meets Santa.....sorta (NIH Day 1)

Wow!!!! Two blogs in one night!!!! But we had a great night, and I had some downtime to tell you about it. Haley took a good long nap until about 5pm and we decided to go walk around and we stumbled upon a little Christmas party they were having for the kids. The Ritz Carlton put on a wonderful "Polar Express" event for the kids and families tonight. They served grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Santa and his helpers were there greeting families, taking pictures, and passing out gift bags. Haley got a cuddly stuffed lion and some little toys in her bag and we got a picture album and leather luggage tag in ours. Too bad we left the room without our camera, we missed out of some great pictures. Haley did not want ANYTHING to do with Santa, but there was a big bear there that she was very interested in. It was a pretty nice thing they did for the Children's Inn. There were several people there from the Ritz Carlton there volunteering their time to work the event and talk with the families and kids. One guy said it was just their way to help these kids that are here going through hell have a chance to have some normalcy. You could tell they were really here out of the kindness in their hearts, not just to get in volunteer time.

After dinner we went to the toddler play room....WOWWWWW I wish we had a play room like this at home!!! She played for ever in there, and did not want to leave. I'm sure we will be spending lots of free time in there.




There is not much to do however once Haley's bedtime rolls around....hence the second blog in one day. Right now Will is downstairs in the gym while I stay up here with Haley. I hope I can get down there and run at some point this week, but I am temporarily sidelined by another pesky cold....thanks daycare germs!!!!!

See you again tomorrow!

What a Stressful Day!!!! (NIH Day 1)

Man, are we beat!!!! This week is the long anticipated NIH trip for the kidney/liver study. In case you don't remember....short the JSF conference back in July some doctors from the NIH were there who are studying what are called ciliopathies. JS is believed to be a cliopathy which may be the root of the kidney and liver failure that is sometimes related with JS. At the conference they invited people with JS to come to Bethesda, MD to participate in their research study. The whole trip is paid for by the NIH and we get free medical testing which will help us know for sure whether Haley will have kidney/liver problems in the future. We were kind of worried that because none of her current doctors had even heard of JS that they may be missing early warning signs of future problems so we felt like this trip would be worth while.

So we boarded a plane this morning bright and early at 7:30 am and off we go to the NIH. This is the first time ever flying with Haley. Now I hate flying to begin with, but add a toddler into the can just say I was filled with DREAD!!!! Everything went surprisingly smoothly though, no problems getting through security with all our baby paraphernalia, no outbursts or temper tantrums during the flight, we really couldn't have asked for better behavior!! We are so proud of our big girl! But it was an emotionally taxing trip, schlepping our junk around and worrying how Haley would handle the plane ride.

Here are some pictures of Haley walking in the Baltimore Airport while we were waiting on the shuttle to the NIH



We are staying at the Children's Inn at the NIH. It is pretty nice, they really work hard to make it seem as much like home as possible. And let me tell you, the NIH is no joke. You have to go through an airport type security check to even get through the gate.....get off the bus, with all your crap, run it through the x-ray machine and walk through a metal detector type of stuff!!!

Tomorrow we meet with Dr Gunay and her nurse. I'm not sure what all is on the itinerary, but she will have a bunch of tests including an echocardiogram, a kidney and liver ultrasound, some blood work, and a 24 hour urine collection. They are pretty good to not push the kids too hard to do things that stress them out too badly, but I'm sure there will be some amount of protest on Haley's part.

And I also have a new first to report!!!! Haley has been able to pull herself to a standing position for a while now during therapy and if we help her, but she has never done it spontaneously and completely on her own. Saturday when I got her out of bed in the morning, she sat up put her hands on the rail and stood straight up. And needless to say we had never bothered to move her mattress down and had I not been standing right there she could have toppled right out. Of course, we moved that mattress all the way down before she went down for her next nap!!!

Let me OUT!!!!


Oh! So this is how you do it!!!


Well, we will try to keep you updated on what is going on while we are here. Take Care!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Check Out My New Wheels

Haley got her new walker in last week. She is doing really well with it. Here are a couple of pictures of her taking her new wheels for a spin. Her favorite thing to do is walk up and down our driveway, and anyone who has ever been to our house knows what a tough hike that is. Our driveway is about 200 yards or so long with a step hill going up towards the road. She can make it the entire way up without any help.



We are getting ready for Christmas. So far we have only managed to get our shopping done for Haley, that was a huge task by itself. I can only imagine each Christmas will become harder and harder to keep from going overboard. Shopping for kids is so much fun!!!

We are also gearing up for a trip to Maryland to the National Institute of Health. Haley is going to be in a research study for people with Joubert Syndrome and other disorders that affect the liver and kidneys. She isn't having any symptoms of kidney or liver problems, but she is at risk and this study will be able to tell us if she is in danger of developing them in the future. I really REALLY dread the flight. We have never flown with Haley and have no idea how she will react. I hate flying as it is but throw a toddler and tons of baggage in the mix and all I can picture is disaster!!! Pray for us!!!! We will keep you all updated on what is going on while we are up there.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Here Goes Nothing

So, I am a little nervous about making this post, worried that I will not be successful, that it will fail, and what people will think, but here goes nothing (no I'm not trying to get pregnant yet! LOL) I've created a new blog to kick off my new fundraising endeavor. I have been running again for several months and have decided to turn my new found hobby into a fundraising effort. I won't talk much about it here, as not to take away from Haley's blog and to constantly post about it here may annoy people who could care less about running. So, go check it out, this will all make more sense once you read it......and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Movin On UP!!!!

Growing up is inevitable, and today marks yet another milestone for our BIG girl!!! Haley is being moved up a class at her preschool. Granted it is the one year old class, but she is moving up nonetheless. Her teachers have been debating the move for a while now. She is needing more intellectual stimulation and more structured activities and learning opportunities. The main reason they were waiting is because she was not mobile and they were afraid she would just be trampled on by the other mobile kids. They decided she was ready, they were just waiting on a spot to open up. Her first day in the big kids class will be Monday. A lot of the kids in the class she is moving to were in her class before they moved up so she will have some familiar faces. I am sad to know that she is moving from her current teachers. Ms Ann and Ms Violet are so good with her, but they are just right across the hallway, so they won't be far away.

Haley is getting better and better at walking. She is doing GREAT with her walker, she has learned to steer it and go pretty much anywhere she wants to go with it. I still keep the walking wings around her waist because I'm still scared that she will fall. I know she will fall eventually and will fall a lot, but she still doesn't have that protective reflex down pat and I still think if she goes down now she will go down hard.



Also, I can't remember if I posted about this before, but she is OFFICIALLY CRAWLING!!!!! Thinking back to January when this whole therapy thing started, I could have never imagined the day that she would be able to crawl. She has come along way and has worked so hard to get to this point!!!

And for those who are wondering what is going on with our insurance. We are in the process of the second appeal, and we are waiting for their response. I know what it will be, but I am hoping for a miracle. We were however able to qualify for 100% coverage through the state's early intervention program. We have been involved with them since the beginning, but their level of support is based solely on income minus medical expenses and childcare expenses. When we first started we did not qualify for any help, but because we have incurred so many medical expenses and I haven't been able to work full time since January we were able to get ourselves down to 100% coverage!! It is quite a relief, but we still have eat the costs of her therapy sessions dating from May until October. This is where the appeal is so important, we are hoping that insurance will come back and decide to pay for all of those hope and pray that our appeal makes it to a sympathetic soul's desk (I'm not even sure if those exists in the insurance world HAHA). We are also waiting on Haley's walker to get here (which thankfully was covered by the early intervention program). The one she has now is a loaner from the state, her new one is much nicer.

Don't forget about the Joubert Syndrome 10x10 Fundraising Campaign. I am still brainstorming on several small projects and maybe one large event sometime next summer. But with the holidays coming, I know things like this aren't on the forefront of people's minds, I just wanted to remind people not to forget about it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My, How Parenthood Changes You!

I've been thinking a lot lately about my life and how I do more and more things since becoming a parent that I vowed I would never do. I find it kind of comical to look back at my ridiculous ideas and realize now how much parenthood changes you.

I used to hate ANYTHING on my refrigerator. It was literally blank, no magnets, pictures, notes, calendars......NOTHING before having Haley, and even after she was born, I still resisted putting things on the fridge. But then came preschool and craft projects being sent home, and little doodles made while playing in the floor. Next thing I know, my fridge is covered in the handy work of little Haley. And now I proudly cover my once barren fridge with the artwork of Haley and I think it is beautiful!!!

I also used to think kids kissing their parents on the lips was icky. I don't know why, but I did. Well now Haley is really learning to show affection, she has been giving hugs on command for several weeks. Just the other day I asked her for a kiss and she plants her sloppy, slobbery little lips right on mine......I could just eat her up!!! I love those sweet little kisses now and can't get enough!!!!

I once thought it was such a waste of a good day to lay around in your pajamas all day long. Now there is nothing better than spending an entire Sunday in our PJs cuddling, playing and watching football. Who needs to get dressed when you can stay comfy and cosy with your baby??

I thought I would never have my child in daycare. I have to admit, preschool is one of the best things that has ever happened to Haley. Her social skills have improved ten fold and I have to give a ton of credit to her teachers for all of their hard work, it has made all of the difference in the world for her.

Then there are some things I am not so proud of.....

I used to say I would never use television as a babysitter, or a reward, or as a coping mechanism. Well, I'm embarrassed to say, Sesame Street is now a life saver in our house. I don't know how we would make it through getting breakfast or dinner made, stopping out of control temper tantrums and where else would we learn useless and random Spanish vocabulary from our new Sesame Street friend Ovejita. Everything in moderation right?

The germ-phobe in me thought I would wash every single cup, spoon, toy etc that fell on the dirty floor. Who was I kidding, who has time for that crap!!??? I would spend my day at the sink sanitizing things. A quick brush off is good enough for me at this point.

I also thought I would never cave into the habit of fixing more than one meal at a time in order to get Haley to eat. I was always of the mind set you eat what I fix and if you don't eat....too bad. But I am so paranoid because Haley is at risk for kidney problems and an early sign is poor appetite, plus she has been teetering on the low end of the percentile charts for weight, I push food on her constantly. If one food doesn't work I will try another, and another, and another. But I am slowly learning this is just typical toddler behavior and trying not to give into this at every meal.

All in all I think we are doing a pretty good job sticking to our initial parenting philosophy, but we are learning that compromise and improvisation are a big key player. One ideal that I still haven't given into and will fight it to the death.....I will NOT drive a mini-van!!!!!! (disclaimer....sorry mini-van moms, nothing personal, I just can't do it LOL)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Meet Clyde....

Hi my name is Clyde.......

I want to introduce a new member of our family, his name is Clyde. Today is our anniversary and to celebrate we went to Charlotte yesterady and had a nice lunch, a massage and went shopping at SouthPark. Apparently, the Mecklenburg County Animal Shelter has an adoption drive on the first Saturday of each month and as we were leaving, I caught the sign for it out of the corner of my eye. Against my better judgement we went to look at the animals and the first dog I saw was this little fella and I just fell in love with him instantly. He is part German Shepherd and probably part lab, we're not sure. He was surrendered to the shelter by his previous owners because they could not afford to feed him, he was a pretty neglected little guy. When he was brought in they estimated him to be 4 months old and only 17 pounds, he could not even walk on his own feet because there was so much muscle wasting, he was walking on his knees. They thought his leg was broken because he wouldn't bear weight on his right rear leg, and he was full of fleas. He doesn't act like he was physcially abused thankfully. He is very social and not very timid. But needless to say, he has had a rough life. He was taken in by some wonderful foster parents who took great care of him and acclimated him to living with other dogs, they have 3 beagles as well. I just had to have him.

We had been considering getting another dog for a while now, we felt like Rhett would benefit having a companion and wanted to get one for him before he got too old to enjoy another dog. And Haley just loves dogs too. We just didn't know if we could handle another puppy right now with everything going on with Haley. He is probably close to 6 months old now, still a puppy, but doesn't need quite as much attention as a really young puppy. He was already house broken, crate trained, neutered, vaccinated and microchipped, all thanks to his foster parents. And I could not imagine a dog much sweeter than this little guy, a real lap dog!!!

Rhett really seems to enjoy him so far. He is trying to establish his dominance of course, but not showing any agression towards him at all. We kept Clyde in a crate last night in our bedroom and he slept through the night. But Rhett would not go to sleep, he kept walking over to the crate and watching him so I had to move Rhett's bed over in front of the crate so he would go to sleep, he seems very protective of Clyde already. They are already playing in the yard together like old pals. I'm sure Rhett will teach him many things.

Haley, of course, loves him. She just squeals when she sees him and wants to pet him. Clyde is very tolerant of her. She has been tugging on his tail and feet and he doesn't mind a bit. He is still a bit clumsy and I am afriad he may knock her over accidentally, so we keep the interactions short and very controlled.

The cats however, are not big fans of him yet. Parker has slapped and hissed at him several times. Baxter is curious but cautious with him. I'm sure they will come around eventually, but for now they are keeping their distance.

So, yep, we are crazy I guess. But I just felt like running into Clyde was fate and I had to have him. We have a small menagerie, and if its true that pets help increase your lifespan, then we should live to be 130!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Creepy Cow and a Crazy Blonde Lady

Happy Halloween!!!! Haley is obsessed with the Chik-fil-A commercials, everytime one comes on the television she starts pointing and "moo-ing" at the TV so we decided she should be a cow for Halloween.

There was a Fall Festival at school last week. All the kids dressed up and there were some games. One of the teachers dressed up like a cow and Haley really enjoyed seeing her.






Then tonight, we managed to dodge the rain and Haley got to go out and enjoy trick or treating for the first time, last year she was a little too small to enjoy dressing up and seeing people. And yes, we shamelessly used our kid to get some good candy loot too!!! I've never been one to get into dressing up for Halloween but thought I would do something this year and got a Kate Gosselin wig (you know, the crazy mom on Jon and Kate + 8 with that ridiculous hair-do??). Well I don't think our neighbors got my joke, they all looked at me kinda weird and sympathetically thinking to themselves "what did that poor girl do to her hair?" I ended up ditching the wig after 3 houses. Enjoy a good laugh at my expense!!!