Monday, June 5, 2017

The "Rare" Butterfly Effect

"Butterfly Effect"

We have all heard of the "Butterfly Effect" at some point.  Wikipedia simply defines it "is the concept that small causes can have large effects. Initially, it was used with weather prediction but later the term became a metaphor used in and out of science.[1] In The Vocation of Man (1800), Fichte says that "you could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby ... changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole"."

Living in the rare world of disease I have noticed how one small change can have so many different outcomes.  I am guessing the same applies to any "sub" populations in which we live.  I have found the more you put yourself out there the more people are quick to judge and pick you apart.  The more successful you are, the more genuine feelings and truths surface about how they "perceive" you and your "real intentions" behind what you are doing. Some of those are not exactly positive. This could go either way.  I'm finding that people who were "nay-sayers" in the beginning all of a sudden see success and and try very hard to wedge their way back into your life to "get a piece". Ones who aren't quite where you are, who have walked with you side by side to help; want what you have and snicker behind your back, wishing they were where you are in your journey. Then you have "true friends" who stand by you, encourage you, don't block you out and are "gingerly" honest with you.  I realize it is nothing I have done to make people feel this way and it is disappointing when the truth comes out and you are blindsided because of the full trust you had in them.  



Motives and Attitude:

I guess this brings me to my point. Our motives and attitudes drive the future of what you are wanting to achieve.  It can be productive or destructive. People tend to be judgmental by nature and how one presents their opinions and views can literally destroy the momentum of someone's mission.  I was warned in the beginning that putting yourself out in public would be difficult and to be ready to have a thick skin.  Wow!!! I actually questioned this notion and thought to myself, "Why would anyone want to destroy or bring down a great cause that could help so many?"  I had to sit back and think long and hard about why someone, ANYONE would want to do this.  People are out there doing that to people out of their own insecurity and lack of their own purpose.  How naive was I? Regardless, I see it as just that. A human weakness and struggle. I personally will try and continue to build people up regardless of how they see me.  I will continue to be myself regardless, of how I talk, dress and share my life with people.  I can't be everything to everyone. I hope that others don't expect me to be everything to them. We can only do the best we can and continue to fight the good fight for rare.  We should not see each other as threats, but assets to conquering a world we are already exhausted fighting for.  My vision is to see groups working together for the same mission, TREATMENTS FOR OUR LOVED ONES.  I hear this a lot, we are all in this together.. so if we are, let's work together and build each other up and not compete for it. Oh, and if you are expecting me to go into detail about the circumstances that led me to this post, well you will never know, because it just adds to the chaos and it's none of anyone's business.  Celebrate the victories and cry in the heartaches together. I think sometimes it's a good practice to stop and do a "heart check".  Where is your heart? Why are you doing what you are doing?   




Why I do What I do?

I have had several people question my motive and I am not really sure why.  I would think that it is natural to fight for your child to have the very best.  But amazingly, people still question my motives. No, I don't worry too much about those people because this is my calling.  I don't want a brownie button for doing something that I think any caring mother would do for her child.  I do however, find it a challenge when people tell me I can't accomplish what I intend to do.  Do not ever tell me I can't do something.  I will show you I can.  Many don't know what I did to continue the fight for my son.  It was very difficult to walk away from a 23 year teaching career, salary, benefits and retirement.  I have been told that was my choice to do so.  My questions to them. What stopped you from risking everything to help someone you loved?  Would you risk it all?  What stopped you from stepping out on faith to do the unthinkable?  I typically get the response of, "I don't have the resources or support to do that".  
Who said I did? If it's not there, you create it! Bottomline!  You have no resources? EXCUSE!  There is a big wide world out there at your disposal.  Use it for good and you will succeed. Don't EVER expect it to come to you, IT WON'T!  YOU GO GET IT! 



Yes, there are sacrifices.  I have paid many and still am, because I believe the cause I am fighting for.  I am just surprised that I still get judged for it too.  So my question would be... What would you give to make your child have the best quality of life?  For me the answer was simple.  I am doing what I need and will succeed.  I have sacrificed more than people know.  There are only a few who know my business and it's been difficult and excruciating at times to plow through.  But I stay the course. This is for my son, Beckett. I will not let people keep me from success of finding a treatment for him and others like him.  Know and understand that I will keep going.  People will judge, say no, have the wrong perception of and just flat out right not respect me and that doesn't matter. The right people will see me and my true motive and will get me to where I need to be to get my son and the others like him the help they need.  

After you read this...do a heart check... Why are you in it? Make friends, not enemies.  








Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Special Boy: I Just Want to Run Away Sometimes

My Special Boy: I Just Want to Run Away Sometimes: I haven't blogged in awhile and thought maybe I should go back to putting my feelings and emotions on paper. (or digital paper) It hel...

I Just Want to Run Away Sometimes

I haven't blogged in awhile and thought maybe I should go back to putting my feelings and emotions on paper. (or digital paper) It helps me process what I am feeling. Some days you are just numb to everything. I was told recently in a counseling session.. yes, counseling.. (I think everyone has been there...if not it might do you some good) 😜 I was told I am grieving for the child that I didn't have. I'll be honest, I thought she was all wrong, yet in some ways she was right. I am grieving a lot of things. I had to process a lot and had plenty time to do it these past weeks. I'm still not ready to accept somethings and I think that's OK because it's going to take me a while to figure it out.

It's accepting that your life is not the normal one everyone else has and is even harder. Today has been a hard day for me.. Wanting to run away and never come back. That's really bad ugh? Anxiety and worry tend to take over and sometimes it's hard just to deal with. Most people tell you don't compare your life with the cookie cutter American Family you see on TV. Right? That's what you are conditioned to believe your whole life. The perfect life right? House, car, dog (I hate cats; sorry cat lovers) kids and the whole shebang!

You see, everyone else's life on social media show the house (that's not child proofed with all the fortress locks, chains and alarms) the two kids, a dog, a pool, vacations, nice cars, blah, blah, blah! Kinda magnifies the problem and confirms the diagnosis of Facebook Blues. Our life is not anything like that. The medications that are given constantly, watching for the seizures to return and waiting for that next nuclear meltdown. Planning something spontaneous is never even considered! All that is gone. I miss that! I have to be brutally honest here and say I wish I could have all that back, but the guilt consumes me to almost a depression and I get angry. Then you pop right back up to then be reminded of how thankful you should be for what you have. Which I am, but then I am not. Yes, others have it much worse than I. I get that. But the feelings are still the same.

These feelings have an affect on every single aspect of your life. I now see why most all marriages of special needs end in divorce. In fact, 70% of all marriages with special needs end in divorce. Well, I guess I'm batting a 1000 because this is my second marriage, add in three kids from the former marriage, plus a child with special needs is a recipe for just that. I can see how relationships get lost in the frantic of everyday. A divorce is the only way to get a break from it all. I can honestly say, I will never marry again. No offense to my current husband, but that's the honest truth. Now, I am not saying I am divorcing, so don't go and think that. I am just merely sharing facts about relationships and raising a child with special needs.

I bury myself in my work to make myself feel better. It does. I don't want to stop and don't think I ever will. I was told I am addicted to my job. No, I just love what I do to help other people and that's the long and short of it. Sometimes I just feel like I am running on empty and search to be filled. Crazy? Right? My work seems to give me relief somehow, yet I am still sad as I feel like I am missing something.

Of course, I have people tell me all the time God put you here. Yes, not arguing that point, I believe He called me to this. I know some reading this, (especially the ones who know me from way back when) are cringing. Why you say? Because my life experiences molded me to be the person I am today. Which I am much more "relaxed" than the "rigid" expectations I was raised with. See, I was brought up in a strict Southern Baptist home. My Biblical core values haven't changed, but some of my thought processes have on "fundamentals of religion". But, you find yourself asking all these same questions, looking for answers that may never come. The questions of all questions; like "Why me?" and "Why do people cross your path and what was their purpose for being in your life?"

Funny how the self talk that most people have with themselves are what most of us ask daily without even thinking about it. So, I got to thinking and found this article on grieving a child with special needs. It fits me. I guess my counselor was right. I know tomorrow will be a better day and I will probably still ask the same questions tomorrow. I've had to learn to step back and sometimes take it at a minute at a time just to survive.


Friday, September 30, 2016

As Life Changes

Many things in my life have changed since quitting my job teaching of 23 years.  I really don't know how to explain what I am going through.  Anxiety, Direction, Searching, Security....  You want to scream to the world what is going on inside you, but you just can't get it out.  Only some of the closest few to you know the "inside" scoop of what you really are dealing with.  I laugh when I hear people say "The struggle is real!" because in your heart of hearts, you know it really is.  There are so many dynamics taking place around us and to use words to describe them is well....impossible.  You can't really explain your place to someone because they aren't there, they can only imagine. A state that is giving a sense of loneliness to the whole world you live in.  Even when you have thousands of people around you that are reaching out everyday.

I am pretty sure if someone were to film a documentary on my life.. it definitely wouldn't be a movie.. more like a series.  What many don't know is I have come along way in this life. Unfortunately, I still make mistakes and I do learn from them..hopefully faster now than before.

Going through my childhood, youth, young adulthood and now middle age I have been through some shit. Most likely everyone would be very surprised for those who really don't  know me.  I keep a pretty BIG smile on my face at times to cover up some of the true feelings I have.  I usually don't take much off people now, but somehow I still give my heart to people and things without even blinking an eye.  I guess that's me though. I have also taught my children the same thing, give your all until someone tries to steal it from you. Then protect it with all your might.  I am sad when people can't see your true worth and value in what you have to offer.  But I honestly have to say, that will never stop me from the goals or ambition I have to really change the world.

It's funny how life shapes you to be the person that you are.  I guess the process will continue throughout life until we take our last breath.  One thing I do want people to know, is that I never did the things I do for myself.  I really always have had others in mind and how I can help them.  I never was selfish in my actions. I don't care about money, fame, the cars people drive, the designer clothes people wear, the houses people live in or friends they have.  I want people to know it was how I helped those less fortunate and gave every last bit of energy to fight for those who couldn't themselves. That's what I hope people remember.

I had a little bit of an epiphone today and realized again for myself.. "no one can love you more than you loving yourself and one can not give love if there is no love of self. "  So.. Love yourself! Then everything else falls into place where it should.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Flashback Beckett's Story

I know many special needs parents and caregivers can relate to this story.  It's been 4 years since I really sat down and thought about our journey; where we were and where we are now.  I just want to recap the beginning again for those who came in after the movie started ;)

Beckett's Story:

In November of 2012 we found out that my son Beckett has been diagnosed with a very rare autosomal dominant disorder called SYNGAP-1 gene (6p21.3). I didn’t know whether to cry or breathe a sigh of relief. He was the first to be diagnosed at Texas Children’s Hospital Genetics Clinic. Symptoms of this disorder vary in severity and include mild to severe intellectual disability, speech delay, a spectrum of epilepsies and has been linked to autism. Our son Beckett has been in multiple therapies that include OT, PT, speech therapy, play therapy and music therapy.
I knew that something was not right when Beckett was 4 months old. He was not sitting up or meeting the same milestones as his twin sister. I began my search for an answer beginning with my general practitioner, then adding 19 more specialists to the list since his birth. After many tests such as an MRI, EEG, Cat-scan, Microarray and metabolic tests at 2 years old we found out everything was “normal.” But we knew that it was everything but “normal.”
He was unable to walk, feed himself, babble or talk. We waited 14 months to get an appointment to have an evaluation at Texas Children’s Meyer Center for Autism. They concluded that our son was going to have intellectual disability and a severe speech delay, but still no real answers. The Meyer Center then referred us to Texas Children’s Genetics Clinic for Whole Exome DNA testing.  After a grueling thirteen week wait for the results, we finally got the answer to his problems. It took almost 4 years to get a diagnosis for our son.
I was in shock and knew that it would be an uphill battle.  Our genetics doctor only found one published paper on SYNGAP1.  I knew that there had to be more, but sadly there wasn't.  On the drive home from the clinic I cried and prayed for answers to why.  Thoughts of despair and helplessness overcame me.  It took me about 2 days to process the news, but I was determined this was not going to break me. I had no idea the challenges I would be facing taking care of a special needs child while raising four other typical children who needed my attention and a marriage that I was unsure would survive and that is an ongoing struggle to keep a balance.
After a past of abuse in my own personal life before I was married the second time, I was not going to allow myself to be a victim any longer to anything.  I gathered my thoughts and decided then that I would do everything in my power to help him. Finding answers for him and others was my purpose. I began to blog about his progress and wanted to try and raise awareness of SYNGAP1 and find others like him. 
When I posted our diagnosis on my son’s blog I began to reach people from all over the world who were like me.  I created an information page through Facebook that is strictly for research on SYNGAP1 and brain based research that is related to SYNGAP1. The first parent who found me helped me set up a closed Facebook group for parents looking for support and a place to talk about our children’s medical progress and challenges.
As the Whole Exome DNA test becomes more common we see our group growing worldwide. The network we have created in this group has brought several international doctors together to work on research to define our rare disease. We continue to drive research to help find a treatment that will help our children. We have since created a nonprofit for education and research for SYNGAP1. Our group has doubled in the last year.  We currently add newly identified patients worldwide on an average of one per week.  Though this journey over the last four years has been difficult, we have had triumphs and trials. I wouldn’t change for the world. I have learned more about myself and the love I have for people than I ever thought I would if I had not been placed in this situation. I am very grateful and appreciate life more than I ever have and am truely happy doing a job I love.  I will not stop, I will not give up.  #NEVERSTOPPING

Friday, May 13, 2016

My Special Boy: I Can Change The World!

My Special Boy: I Can Change The World!: It's been quite a while since I have posted an update on Beckett. Since the start of the new year we have been full speed ahead.  Becke...

I Can Change The World!

It's been quite a while since I have posted an update on Beckett. Since the start of the new year we have been full speed ahead.  Beckett has started a new medication which in addition to his Lamictal has helped him control his meltdowns and sensory overload.  He has been on Clonodine for the last 6 months.  It has been a life changer for us.  His meltdowns are minimal and his cognition has improved over time.  We still have the occasional tantrum, which is expected.  But this is nothing like from years before.  The hours of screaming are gone and it is much easier to redirect his behavior.  He is now at a daycare where the children and workers love on him.  I see him truly happy and there has not been an issue with him at his new after school care.  The foundation is taking off.  We are full speed ahead and are focusing on building our programs and planning a long lasting strategy that will sustain our mission.  My new motto has become #NEVERSTOPPING.. because until I am 6 feet under I am never stopping.  My hope grows stronger for these children every day.  The great scientists and clinicians who are walking by our side all the way are going to help us get there.  There is so much to say and do.. but to keep this short there is one picture that says a thousand words.  A picture that my Beckett brought home form school said it all.......
He has changed my world.......

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What a Crazy Life!


It's been quite busy since the summer.  It has been really hard to just stop and take a breath.  School has started and I am in the thick of working the foundation.  Things have been amazing though. Life has just been lining up and all in God's timing.  I can honestly say that I have never quite felt so at peace and enjoy every minute of work I do to help further research and awareness. It is so true the old saying goes "You never work a day in your life, if you enjoy the work you do".  That is exactly how I feel.  I have an amazing group of supportive people surrounding me, encouraging me and walking every step of the way with me.  I couldn't do this without them, nor would I want to.   I am truly blessed by the people who have entered my life.  I don't think I ever knew what it meant to be fulfilled and all just by helping those who can't help themselves.  People are my passion! Yes, there are some people who are just plain jerks, but I guess life hasn't hit them in the face yet.  Typically, when life hits you real hard, you are given a choice.  Take notice and change to make it better or be a victim of your own circumstances.
Ok, I still get whacked around by life sometimes and they aren't so great, kinda like what happened a couple days ago.  Here's a quick back story on our Beckett.  We have had issues with him getting sick with strep numerous times. We are trying to balance out his medication and make sure his seizures are controlled. His hyperactivity was needing to be brought down a couple of notches. So the medication balancing act has been on going for the last few months.



Well.. We tried something different .. Umm.. Big mistake! I thought well.. Beckett has been doing ok so far in public places no meltdowns in quite sometime..to no avail!! I take him with his sister to watch the last part of her daddies football game. That lasted all but 5 minutes. Beckett decides he wants to go up the bleachers. Welp, this momma thought oh God!! I'm in trouble now! Sure nuff that boy in front of God and everyone pulled hair, screamed to to top of his lungs like I was killing him. Of course half the Stadium was filled with my parents and my students. You could hear a pin drop in the middle of each of his breaths to scream again. I was mortified for about one second and wanted to cry. But I didn't.. But our police officer who is on our campus came to us and calmly helped me with my child. He walked us to the car as he was screaming. He looked at me and said "it's ok momma" I looked at him and said this is why I will never stop looking to help my child lead a normal life. He said.. "I know.." And he smiled through all of the screaming. Then I got in my car and cried..I cried all the way home. This meltdown was nothing like I had seen in a while.  I finally got his medicine down him and bathed for bed.  Through all the screaming and crying, he finally laid down in my bed and fell asleep next to me.  I was alone at home and I had left Pyper with her dad.  The silence was golden. I very gently scooped him up, all 67 pounds of him.. (that's why I workout, that kids is heavy) and carried him upstairs to his bed.  When I came back down stairs I sat down and the tears just wouldn't stop.  I couldn't quit crying.  It felt good though just to weep.  I didn't feel sorry for myself.  I was just tired and scared.  Scared of what the future has for him and us.  A flood of anxiety came over me, but as fast as it came it left.  It was the hope that we (our SYNGAP families) are building something that will change peoples lives.  It is something I can't stop just because I am tired, so I thought.  I guess I had to give myself permission to rest and just not think about anything. I had to mentally and emotionally push a reset button.  I think that time to let go was what I needed to put things in perspective and remind me of why I am doing what I am doing.  It's to help better other lives, not just my own. That's hard being the naturally selfish people that we are.  Sometimes a good smack in the head keeps it level.  So here's to life and to one more day.  Bless those who bless others, that is what life is about.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

And Onto Another Specialist

Of course there is always something new popping up with our Bean.  At least we might have found out some answers to why he is constantly getting sick.  We took him to his first visit with an immunologist to see why he was getting strep all the time.  Well, the $3,500 worth of blood work came back from the eleven tubes of blood taken from our boy. 

Beckett's immunology reports  have peeked the interest of our immunologist. A couple of things that came up in his blood panel that were surprising.  Beckett seems to be on antibiotics all the time. His tests uncovered some interesting data in his blood samples. She found that his antibodies IgG and IgM are very low. His IgA was normal. She found that his numbers were low enough to watch over the next few months. A typical healthy child has anywhere from 700-800 levels, Beckett's are around the 500's when he is healthy. She said that if they go below 300 - 250 that she will recommend him having antibody infusions due to his immune system is not creating a high enough antibody count to fight off infection.  We would monitor his situation every 6 months. Also, his body did not create a high enough antibodies to tetanus. Which his other vaccines seemed to be adequate to fight off those other types of infections. She ask me if he scrapes and cuts took a long time to heal...which I never really thought about it..but it takes forever to have a wound heal fast. Anyway, I thought that this was an interesting find and I am going bring it up to the researchers to see if it could possibly be linked to SYNGAP.  She also recommended us take him to see and infectious disease doctor to rule out the possibility of him having PANDAS.  She said he exhibits all the criteria for PANDAS. That will be our next stop this fall.  We will be taking Beckett in November to have him skin pricked for all the allergies to penicillin.  That day should be fun...

I am glad it is summer time because Beckett is not sick as much during the summer.  Beckett has been progressing much faster than usual being on his Lamictal medication.   His expressive language has gotten much better and his annunciation of words has improved tremendously.  His cognitive abilities and behavior have also improved being on his new medication. Sometimes it scares me, because his problem solving skills are getting better, then on the other hand, he still doesn't understand the consequences of his choices.  I can only hope that comes in time.  

We are disappointed that he did not get to keep attending the regular day camp we planned for summer.  Not because of what he did, but because they would not offer him a "shadow" of sorts to keep him from wondering off and engaging him.  We now have him in an adaptive program where he gets a shadow with him and gets to play with children his own age.  So now, if he gets over stimulated because of the noise, she can take him to play in a quiet room to decompress some.  I love the program, it is just very expensive and will probably put us further into debt.  I do have to say, I would rather be in debt, than deprive him of the experience of being with others his own age and have friends.  
This boy LOVES Ranch Dressing!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

FIRST EVER..COMBINED INFORMATION PAPER ON SYNGAP1

I never dreamed that today would come. For the first time in my life I had a dream and it came into reality.  I never thought I had it in me to see anything this "BIG" through because the fear of failure.  Today, I proved to myself that if I just keep going and continue to try and never give up, that good things will start to happen.  Just yesterday I was saying how I wanted to quit and run away. But I chose to stay and continue on through all the feelings of frustration.

My Baby Boy before he started walking...
I thought about my son when he was learning to walk. Pushing a walker and being forced to take every step, because if he didn't he would have never learned to walk.  I thought of how hard that must have been.  How hard it was for him to put one foot in front of the other. Having no motor control and working hand over hand with him to "feel" his legs move.  He never gave up and in the end and he walked!  That meant I can never give up.  I have to keep going no matter how hard things get. No matter how many tears I cry, no matter how mad I get, I just can't stop.  It's my family, it's my children and my SYNGAP family that keep me going.

To think that an email I sent 3 years ago to a researcher I thought would never be heard, was heard.  It started a domino effect.  To think if I never sent that email where would we be now?  I know for sure that I would never be where I am now if I let fear prevent me from reaching out to find help and to find someone that would listen. 

Today was a great day for SYNGAP awareness.  Dr. Jacques Michaud and Dr. Gavin Rumbaugh combined efforts and created a collective summary on SYNGAP1 mutations.  NORD (National Organization for Rare Disease) has published our paper in their database.  This is the first time SYNGAP1 has been published as a collective summary.  This is just the beginning for us as a foundation.  This puts SYNGAP in the hands of people trying to find answers and hope. 

I have to be honest, when I saw it pop on the website, I cried like a baby.  I felt an overwhelming weight off my shoulders.  It was a feeling of relief knowing that when people go searching they have a chance at finding an answer to what they are looking for.  It's a hope for them to know that they're people out there trying to help.  That makes me feel good to know that someone will find help.  I have learned that if "it" wasn't there for you, then be "it" for someone else.  I hope that I can do that for those who need "it".  Since this is just the beginning, I am so excited to see what more we can do together.  The future is bright and I believe we can be the light for others who are searching to get out of the dark. 

Check out our paper and share!  http://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/syngap1-related-nsid/