Tag Archives: Infantile Spasms

One Word Photo Challenge: White

One Word Photo Challenge White

This post is in response to: One Word Photo Challenge: White | Jennifer Nichole Wells.  For more weekly photo challenges click here: One Word Photo Challenge | Jennifer Nichole Wells.


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Love Support Educate Advocate Accept by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Challenging Expectations

I sat and waited nervously for the pediatric neurologist, listening to the sounds of hospital monitors, hoping and praying that my son would live. We knew from the very start of the symptoms 12 days earlier, that something was wrong. On the 3rd day of these strange symptoms, the pediatrician in our church group thought it was gas. On the 8th day, parental instinct led us to contact our pediatrician for a more thorough examination.

in the hospital

For those of you who have not already read Our Story, our hospital stay began the Friday before Christmas. I feared the symptoms might get worse over the holiday. So I called the pediatrician, a sweet caring man, who listened to the symptoms I described.

in the hospital 2It was now Tuesday (the day after Christmas) and I had prayed frantically for 4 days, waiting for the prognosis. The pediatric neurologist was a very intelligent woman. At first meeting, she seemed to lack bed-side manner. She was very direct and honest right from the start – something that can only be fully appreciated in retrospect.

She told me my son had a life threatening condition called Infantile Spasms. She explained treatment for this seizure disorder was risky. The known complications of ACTH injections were: heart failure, liver failure, and intestinal bleeding. Without treatment uncontrolled seizures could lead to brain damage and death. The likelihood of severe mental retardation was over 50% even with treatment, and treatment had a success rate of about 70%.1st Christmas

It seemed like there were no good options. Terrified, I asked the neurologist what she would do if it was her child. She explained why she felt that ACTH therapy was the best option. Her experience with situations like this far exceeded my own, so I felt it was best to trust her expert opinion.

The 12th day with Infantile Spasms was the 3rd day of ACTH treatment. He was responding well and the duration and intensity of the seizures had improved. After many tests, EEG’s, MRI’s, CT scan, EKG, blood work, etc. I anxiously awaited the prognosis.

It was afternoon when the neurologist came back with the findings. There was no evidence of cerebral palsy on the MRI at this time, but it couldn’t be entirely ruled out yet. There was no evidence of tuberous sclerosis. There were no abnormalities in the structure of the brain, no evidence of brain injury, and there was no known cause for this life threatening seizure disorder. In fact the only abnormality noted was a benign pineal gland cyst deemed of no consequence.

Christmas in the hospital

I was left with a void where hopes, dreams and expectations once resided in my heart. I had no idea what to expect and I had no idea what the future would hold for my son. I grieved at the loss of unspoken dreams, but I never gave up hope. Over the next 7 years more was revealed. The picture began to form like pieces of a puzzle being put together.

With the dawn of each new day, new dreams were born, new hopes and new challenges.

Our son’s diagnosis include: cortical vision impairment (legally blind), failure to thrive, feeding difficulty, autism, epilepsy, hearing impairment (legally deaf), combined vision and hearing impairment (legally deaf-blind), food sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome and/or inflammatory bowel disease (and suspected celiac disease which cannot be confirmed without the risk of making him sicker.) He is the epitome of special needs, and the joy of my life!

These are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. The song is about the expectations we have for our children and challenging those expectations after a life changing diagnosis – The Good by Rachel Coleman (Signing Time):

The Good

It was you and me and the whole world right before us
I couldn’t wait to start
I saw you and dreams just like everyone before us
We thought we knew what we got

And then one day I thought it slipped away
And I looked to my hands to hold on
And then one day all my fear slipped away
And my hands did so much more

So maybe we won’t find easy
But, baby, we’ve found the good
No, maybe we won’t find easy
But, baby, we’ve found the good!

It was you and me and a new world right before us
I was so scared to start
I saw you and dreams just like everyone before us
But how did they move so far?

And then one day I thought it slipped away
And I looked to my hands to hold you
And then one day all my fear slipped away
And my hands did so much more

So maybe we won’t find easy
But, baby, we’ve found the good
Maybe we won’t find easy
But, baby, we’ve found the good!

Continue reading Challenging Expectations

When “Normal” was Normal

Lately, I find myself trying to remember what normal was like. What exactly is normal anyway? I’m not sure I’ve ever really known “normal” but there was a time before I had a child with autism and special needs. It seems so long ago now, like a distant memory…

I recently restored old photos from a backup drive. I’m glad to have the old photos back within reach because I honestly can’t remember if everything was “normal” in the beginning. I had started to wonder if I had missed the signs of what was yet to come…  So I sit here looking at old photos and examining them for something I could have missed or something I’ve forgotten.

Stephen had the cord wrapped around his neck at birth. I don’t remember him being blue for long, but then I wondered…

I held him for a brief moment before they cut off the end of the cord...
I held him for a brief moment before they cut off the end of the cord…

Stephen was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms at 5 months old. I’ve heard that having the cord wrapped around the neck at birth is common in babies who have Infantile Spasms – especially when the exact cause is unknown.

I remember he cried right away when he was born. He started to get pink right away and they cleaned him up and next dad cut the cord...
I remember he cried right away when he was born; he started to get pink . They cleaned him up and then dad cut the cord…

 Infantile spasms is associated with a significant risk of mortality and morbidity. Riikonen has followed 214 infantile spasms patients for 20–35 years and has accumulated the best long-term follow-up studies of these patients. In her series, nearly one third of the patients died during the follow-up period, many in the first 3 years of life. Eight of the 24 patients who died by age 3 died of complications of therapy with ACTH…

I was induced at 9:00 am and Stephen was born by 6:00 pm. Here he is looking like a normal healthy newborn in his brother's arms.
I was induced at 9:00 am and Stephen was born by 6:00 pm. Here he is looking like a normal healthy newborn in his brother’s arms an hour later…

Without even realizing it we had a vision of what life would be like…

We could never have imagined what life had in store for us…

This was just the beginning of our story

Stephen is now 7 years old. His diagnosis includes: autism, epilepsy, GI disorders (gastrointestinal), hearing impairment, vision impairment, and neuro developmental delays. He is non-verbal and legally deaf-blind. He went through 6 years of weekly therapy for feeding difficulties, most likely caused by GI disorder. He is self-feeding and eating solid foods now. We’ve started potty training, and we’re finally making progress towards independence and self-help skills! 🙂

A Harvard Medical School analysis of electronic medical records suggests that some children with autism fall into one of three distinct subgroups based on common medical issues.

This post is in response to:Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | The Daily Post
Continue reading When “Normal” was Normal