Sunday, 3 September 2017

It's been a S**T Summer!

Sorry for the lack of post on this blog. As Lucy gets older I find it difficult to share so much about her. I do worry about who might see it, especially now that she's in Secondary School.
However, I started this blog to record her journey and I've deliberately left out any recent photos so I do want to continue writing here.

My reason for the title? We are currently on round 4 of dis-impaction. It's becoming second nature to us now. We are experts in poo! After each round Lucy is okay for a while and then she becomes constipated again, despite constantly having the Movecol. The incontinence nurse reckons it's because we still haven't cleared all the blockage yet, and seeing as she's been constipated for years it's bound to have built up. So, our only option is to keep doing the dis-impaction until the constipation is cleared.

At her last appointment we watched a video which explains things clearly.




We are determined to get this problem solved. I don't want her to continue into her teens with it anyway.

In other news, we are still waiting for the genetic testing results which were taken in May. They said it could take up to four months...well it's September now. I did get myself into a tiz worrying about them. It was written in her notes that the Dr was looking for certain genes which would give her a diagnosis of a rare condition. I read up about it and scared myself witless. Then I stopped looking it up and was determined to wait for the results. It was always at the back of my mind so I eventually looked it up again. I found that there is only one person with this condition in the UK, phew. Sad for that little boy but it means it's very very unlikely that Lucy has it. In fact I don't even know why the Dr would be testing for it. Yes, she has a couple of the signs, but not the majorly obvious ones.

It is possible that she has Marfan Syndrome though. Her arms are longer than her torso and she has long fingers and toes (so have I.) If it's not Marfan then it could be what she is already diagnosed with, Elher's Danlos Syndrome. However, her Dr has already ruled out the Hypermobility type because she doesn't tick enough boxes. A lot of the other types of EDS have symptoms that do not present themselves until later in life, usually teenage years. It is a difficult process getting an accurate diagnosis. So many of the conditions she could have come with heart problems. We were told last year that Lucy would be checked regularly for heart problems. She had all the testing last year, but nothing this year. I'm not sure how often she should be tested or if they are waiting for the genetics results.

We go to see Lucy's neurology consultant about her neck in October. She seems to be doing okay although she has had some pain at times. I do wonder if her 'repair job' will last a lifetime, or if it will need re-doing at some point. The good news is that she is having regular check ups.

Lucy's Autism is becoming more noticeable as she gets older. Some things are getting worse and some things better. Her communication skills are not too bad, it was around her age that her brother began having problems with communication, or maybe it was just the fact that it was becoming more noticeable. With high functioning autism it is hard to distinguish some of a child's autistic features until they become an age where their behaviour is different to their peers. Lucy's autism was diagnosed much earlier than her brothers (she was 6, he was 12) but then we have more experience of Autism and noticed the signs earlier. Also, with her brother, he may have been diagnosed sooner if I'd listened to the school and refused to accept that my first born had something wrong with him. (The school wanted me to refer him to a psychologist at 6yrs.)


Apart from the poo issues, it hasn't been a bad summer. We've had some good days out as well as a small holiday. Lucy is a pain when it comes to going out, she'll get really anxious and may run off and shut herself in her room crying because she doesn't want to go. But by staying calm and using plenty of re-assurance, we have managed to get her out and she's always had fun.


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

It's all a load of Poo!

We visited Lucy's psychologist for a check up and found out that she's leaving. Lucy has been seeing her for 6 years now so it's sad to see her go. She did ask for Lucy to see the Incontinence nurse before she left and we had an appointment just before Easter.

I wasn't sure what to expect. The gastroenterology doctor hasn't helped much in the three years we've been going. I wasn't surprised that the first thing the nurse told she had fecal impaction (constipation.)
So our first job was to get rid of the impaction. We have tried this before many times and it's horribe, it really is.

So, we started with the Movical which is a powder that you dissolve in water and drink. It expands in the colon and pushes everything out. We worked our way up to 10 sachets of Movicol a day as we were instructed. We had to wait until the result was just water like.

Lucy is incontinent, she doesn't feel the need to go to the toilet. The nurse explained that this can , happen because of constant constipation. The bowels can become expanded and the feeling of needing to go can't happen.

So, just for one moment, no longer, imagine an incontinent 11 year old with not feeling of needing to go but taking enough laxative to get a horse 'moving.' I won't go into too much detail but it involved lots of washing, smell and tears.

Lucy was very sore and in pain with tummy contractions by the time we reached dis-impaction. Then I started lowering the dose and now she's on three Movicol a day. It's still pretty bad. I'm still wishing I had a sluice room in my home. But, the soreness has cleared up a little and the tummy pains eased off.

Today we go back to see the nurse to see what the next steps are.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Backtracking!

In my last post I talked about Lucy going on a residential trip with the school and how I'd given a lot of thought and consideration in saying no to her going.

Well, things didn't quite turn out that way.

The week of the trip we were told that she could go in the daytime only and come back each day at the end of school. Of course Lucy really wanted to go even though it still meant she couldn't do most of the activities on offer. We decided to give it a go.

She wasn't alone, the school mini bus took 7 children on the first morning and back again. Lucy loved it, she had a really great day. When I asked her what she'd been up to it was mostly watching the other kids climbing and on the zip wall. She'd also felt a bit sad at coming home which was a big surprise. 
She went again the next day and managed to join in with a go kart race so she was really excited.
The next day she had been told she could stay over for the last night and party and so wanted to. How could I not let her. I was still worried how she would cope but I let her stay and packed her an overnight bag. 

She came back the next day tired, miserable and in pain. It had all been a bit too much for her. They'd gone for  a long walk and her knees had been hurting all night. She had not enjoyed the party at all, it was too loud and everyone was too mad. And she'd not got much sleep because the boys had been too noisy and everyone had stayed up way too late. She was not a happy bunny at all. I just hope it hasn't put her off going away again if the opportunity arrives.

The good news is that she did it! and for that I'm really proud of her.

Today is the first Day of Autism Awareness Month so I will hopefully posting a little more this month.



Thursday, 2 February 2017

Elhers Danlos Syndrome and DIY SOS Big Build

Last night I watched DIY SOS the Big Build and they were rebuilding a house for a young girl with Elhers Danlos Syndrome. What they didn't say was what type of Elhers Danlos Syndrome she had. There are at least seven types of EDS which you can see here.

I'm no expert but I'd hazard a guess that because she was so poorly she would have Vascular EDS. This affects the heart and organs and can be serious.

My daughter also has EDS but we haven't been given an accurate diagnosis yet, we are still under the geneticist to find out exactly what is going on. We don't know what the future may hold for her.

When she was just three years old she had a lot of problems with pain in her knees, she would keep us awake most of the night complaining. The hospital diagnosed Hypermobility Syndrome.

Then she had the subluxation in her neck which should have been easy to fix but her consultant noted that her ligaments were very lax. I looked up what this could mean and that's when I first heard of Elhers Danlos Syndrome. Her consultant referred her to rheumatologist who agreed that she had EDS and then referred her to the geneticist to explore more. The geneticist reported that she may have Marfan Syndrome and ordered tests on her heart and eyes. They came back ok, she doesn't have problems. However, there is no way of knowing if problems may occur in the future.

My little girls is currently doing quite well. She does get sick a lot, I mean a lot more than her siblings, but she hasn't had any subluxations for a while which is good.

It's hard not knowing the future, but we can only live in the day. It's hard looking back at the things she has been through in the past but we got through it and she's still with us.

I just wanted to say, yes, my daughter has EDS but she's not as sick as that poor girl, Antonia, in the tv program last night. Awareness of rare conditions is always good, but I wished they had been more specific.


Monday, 9 January 2017

The School Residential Trip

Last year we had a letter from the school about a residential trip  that is taking place in February. I threw the letter away, my first instincts were that this was not going to work for Lucy.

Then last week we had a call from the school and he spent over half hour talking about the trip and what it would involve, how it would benefit Lucy and that she had said at school that she wanted to go. I said we would think about it.

First I spoke to Lucy. I asked her if she wanted to go and she told me excitedly that there was going to be a disco on the last night. I asked her again, 'do you want to go then?' She said 'can I go to the party but not stay overnight?' I told her no, that's not possible. She cried. 'I don't want to go, I don't want to stay away from home.'

She has stayed away from home before, a few times actually. But she really doesn't want to stay away with the school.

I decided to take a close look at the place where they are going. I was told in the phone call about all the fantastic activities available. It sounds wonderful, but Lucy has a joint problem which means she is prone to dislocations. We have a medical letter outlining the types of activities she is able to do. Abseiling is out, so is the zipwire, she can't do the ropes and caving could be a problem as she may slip. She wouldn't be able to do orienteering as walking too far causes pain in her knees and ankles. We let her go on day trips which involve walking but at night we have to spend time massages her, medicating her and using wheat bags to help relieve her pain. I'd hate to think she was hurting like that and not having our treatment, and I know she wouldn't accept it off anyone else. Her stress would be unimaginable.

There are some activities she'd be able to do, archery, problem solving, the buggies and of course the last night disco. She probably would join in if the others were doing it. I'm sure she'd get something out of it.

We have been offered the chance to discuss exactly what she could do and what she couldn't. We have been told that she would have all the help she required and she wouldn't be forced to do anything she didn't really want to do or felt uncomfortable about.

We have been told that a lot of the children have trouble sleeping and that there will be staff available throughout the night for anyone who needs them.

We have been told that we could pick her up at any time if it wasn't working out, and that the place they are going is only an hour away on the motorway.

It's been a difficult decision to make and we have all been going around in circles.

If she went it would be an amazing opportunity for her, she would experience being away from home and not with any relative, she would hopefully forge new and closer friendships with her peers.

If she went she would experience a lot of anxiety, not be able to sleep, possible suffer from pain, and is at risk of getting seriously hurt. (she once dislocated her ankle and we have no idea how, and of course she dislocated her cervical spine which needed lots of major surgery to put right.)

We know we wrap her in cotton wool but it's still really raw for us the things she has been through and we know it could happen again, so yes, we are ultra careful with her.

Even if the school were really good and did exactly as they promised we are not sure that her anxiety would not spoil the experience anyway.

But, and there is one big but. What about her incontinence? She has always been fecal incontinent. We are still under the hospital, investigating possible reasons for this. (her next appointment is the day they go away on the school residential trip.) When she has an 'accident' she gets upset, angry, distressed and refuses help in getting cleaned up. She is also refusing to clean herself so we have to force her to come and get cleaned up. The whole situation is really awful and we have to deal with it on a daily basis. It's getting worse as she gets older, when she was younger she was ok with us cleaning her up. She is embarrassed about the whole thing and that's what causes her refusal for help.

She has had 'accidents' at school and they have called us to pick her up and we have taken her home and cleaned her. She has managed to seek help before the other kids have found out what has happened (apart from one time in her last school.) She gets help because she knows that we will pick her up and help her. If she is away with the school she will not seek help because she knows we won't be able to do it. She will not clean herself, she will not let anyone else clean her, the other kids will find out what has happened.

I suppose we could let her go and if she does soil herself go and collect her. But, this is generally a  daily occurrence and the trip is for 3 days.

So, our conclusion is to not allow her to go, it feels like the best option at this point.

She is only 11 so she will have many more opportunities like this I'm sure. We are trying so hard to get the incontinence under control and I have every hope that we will get there in the end. We can work on her anxiety too and hopefully an experience like a residential trip would be more workable.

As for her joint condition, maybe if she doesn't have any more serious problems for a while we will become more confident and allow her to do more stuff. We can't keep her wrapped in cotton wool forever.

So now I feel like a bad mum, I feel like I'm letting my daughter miss out.
Lucy, however, is happier knowing that she doesn't have to go, she is just anxious about what will happen to her while the other kids are away.

It's been a tough decision.


Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas 2016

Today I have been thinking about Christmas 2013 when Lucy was fitted with her first halo. We had a real Christmas Angel that year.

This year it's amazing to see how far she has come. Her neck is strong and she rarely gets any pain now.

Lucy has had some trouble settling at school but she's trying real hard. She loves some lessons, especially music and drama, and others she hates. That's quite normal though isn't it. She particularly loves Band Musicianship which is something her school does, in fact it's the only school in the UK that does it. The kids are allowed access to all sorts of instruments, guitars, drums, pianos and so on, and they form bands and practice together in sound proof rooms. The teachers give very little input and leave the kids to be creative. We went to see all of the year 7 bands perform last week and they were great. Not perfect, but still great because you could see how much they all loved  what they were doing. Lucy's band did Adele's 'Hello' and Lucy was one of the two singers. I've heard her sing this song at home and she does it beautifully, however, on the stage she was nervous and shy and didn't belt it out like she used to.

We have decided not to give Lucy the Melatonin, it doesn't stop her from waking up early which is the main problem. We don't really want her relying on drugs to get her to go to sleep as it could become permanent. Also, after the first dose she was feeling sick the next day so we decided not to continue.

The psychologist also suggested giving her Movicol every day, but we already have enough problems and I don't believe that Movicol is the answer to any of them, but more of an added worry.

I'm picking her up from school at lunch time today, she's had difficulty keeping up with all the changes at school in the last week. I know most of the kids are hyper and excited and the school has taken this into consideration and they've had a week where the normal hard work has been put to one side and they've been learning through fun instead. Lucy has had fun but she's been left feeling confused and stressed because of all the changes.

After today she will not have to worry about school until next year, so we will be getting into the Christmas spirit.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

A visit with the Psychologist

We had an appointment with the psychologist today, we've not had one for over a year. We've been going to the same place for over five years now and Lucy walked into the office in a real chirpy mood.
"I've not been to see you for ages!"
"Everything looks smaller in here, have I grown so much!"
"I'm at a new school now."

This was before the Doctor had had a chance to speak more than an hello to her.

She was asked about her school and told her which one she was going to, and about the bullying and how it had all been sorted out now. She really was chatty and cheerful, like she was happy to be there. Then she went off to play with some of the (babyish) toys while I was left to speak to the Doctor.

We talked about school, her incontinence problems and her sleep patterns.
Lucy was weighed and measured (yes, she's grown again!) and then examined on the bed where she complained of a sore tummy.

Then she went back to playing while we discussed what our next steps were.

She is going to be referred to the incontinence nurses (I never knew they existed) for help in that area. In the meantime I have to give her Movicol more regularly.

She has been prescribed Melatonin as a trial to aid her sleep problems. We don't think this will help though because Melatonin is used to help someone to go to sleep, Lucy's problem lies in waking up way too early and not going back to sleep. Even if we keep her up later she doesn't sleep longer in the morning. She does have trouble going to sleep some nights and will come downstairs two or three times until I go to bed. Then she comes into our room and sleeps in the spare bed we have. If she does sleep in her own bed she will be awake by 4am and then come into the spare bed in our room. Sometimes she will go back to sleep, but mostly she will play on my mobile until it's time to get up. I used to get up early with her, around 6ish but since I got sick myself I find I can't wake so early anymore due to the drugs I have to take.

We really want to get rid of the spare bed from our room but that would mean even less sleep for me and Lucy's Dad as she would keep getting us up to re-settle her all night long.

We also noted her increased number of meltdowns, and also her lack of maturity compared to her peers. When in meltdown mode she has started to say she wishes she was dead which is very upsetting. I think she's way to young to have thoughts like that. The psychologist assured me that it was her autism, because she see things in black and white and when she feels like nothing is right in her life then the only thing that would take everything away is to end life. It's her answer to ending the bad stuff going on. She doesn't think past the consequences or that things might get better. I'm not sure that this makes me feel any better, but I suppose it's kind of reassuring to think that she's not thinking of dying, or the consequences of dying, she's just thinking of a way of ending her distress with something final. I'll still be keeping an eye on her!

Lucy has always been split in personality, so kind and lovely one minute and a complete monster the next, but as she gets older it seems she has less control over her emotions and the fight inside her is real.

We try our best to avoid meltdowns but sometimes we get it wrong. Yesterday, for instance, we realised too late that her siblings had and Inset day and didn't have to go to school. Not too late for them, but too late to let Lucy know and process the information. Her finding out on the morning that she had school and the other two didn't was just too much for her and she went into a soul destroying meltdown. I felt so awful for her, she lashed out at everyone and everything, and, of course, wanted to die. We did manage to calm her down, and there was even a smile by the time we dropped her off at school. She came home in a great mood after a good day. Of course I'd spent the day worrying about her.

She goes from loving being at school to hating it with a passion. I guess that's quite normal for an eleven year old though. I can even remember feeling like that myself at times. Although I will admit that it's hard to remember so long ago. We are persevering with mainstream school for now though. If they can sort out her bullying problem and she can go into school without any trouble then it can't be bad. She is refusing to do any homework though. It's a strange system they have. They get booklets for all their lessons and have to complete sections of the booklets which they are tested on their knowledge every two weeks. However, the booklets are not checked or marked (except for her English one) so it's only the tests that show that they have done any work at home. Lucy has managed to wing it so far and passed all the tests. I am now trying to get her to do at least a little work at home even though she claims there is no need because she's passing the tests.

We know the worst is yet to come as she hurtles towards puberty, but sometimes we feel positive that we can do this the best we can and all come through unscathed. Fingers tightly crossed X