Holy crud it’s almost 2017.
Vivian is 2.5 years old now. And acting like a threenager.
There is so much to update you on – I really don’t know where to begin this time!
Firstly, we’ve moved. We needed more space, and a house that wasn’t an oven in the summer time. We needed to reclaim our lounge as a lounge and not a therapy room.
We are smitten with the new rental. We would love to buy it one day.
Viv’s new room is a bit bigger than her old one, which is fantastic. We need a new bed for her already, as she fell out of bed the week before last. Her old room couldn’t accommodate a standard single bed.
Before you ask, her bed was on the lowest position, so she wasn’t hurt, just pretty scared. Thankfully she didn’t catch the corner of her side table with her face on the way down. Unfortunately the bed she has (which I adore, because it actually looks like a bed you’d find in a home, not a hospital bed) can’t be adapted to make the sides taller, so we’re looking at bigger, more long-term options.
She also has a spare bedroom all to herself for therapy and larger toys. It’s working out really well, and we’re not tripping over toys or equipment anymore. And the house isn’t cluttered because there’s actually room for everything to have a place.
Vivian is loving the new house as well.
She has changed so much in the last 6 months. When I look back at pictures of her I can’t believe how much younger and smaller she looked. And how much hair she has now. Curly, curly hair.
Where to start on Vivian updates!
Neurologically: She hasn’t had a seizure in 2 years. Woo hoo! I need to get a picture to mark that special occasion. It’s hard to get a non-blurry picture now because she is so mobile!
She has an official cerebral palsy diagnosis. Her pediatrician actually listed it in one of her appointment notes and didn’t tell us. I questioned when we’d get a diagnosis at our next appointment, because I don’t bother reading the diagnoses list on her reports and she said she was sure she’d already listed it in previous reports. I was expecting at least some announcement of that to us as Vivian’s parents, but I guess she thinks we’re the type of parents to already know because we read so much. Not much ceremony to it. When I asked her what kind, as I thought she would say spastic quadriplegic, she said spastic or possibly mixed. Although now that I have read through the different kinds, I think Vivian would have double hemiplegia/hemiparesis.
What does that mean? There are a lot of different types of cerebral palsy, but this kind means that Vivian’s brain damage affects the way her body moves (the cerebral palsy part) in all four of her limbs (the quadriplegic part). And that she has mixed tone, or spasicity, in her limbs (the spastic part). So her arms and legs will often tense up, like when she’s excited or upset, or concentrating on something. But because her right side is more affected than her left side, I think that’s where the double hemiparesis comes in (all four limbs affected but two on one side more than the other side).
Physical development: She is sitting up now! Mainly w-sitting, but sitting. And high-kneeling. And bouncing. And almost butt-scooting because her bouncing has such momentum :) I’m hoping she doesn’t figure out that she can butt-scoot because I do want her to crawl for a bit.
She is crawling, about three ‘steps’ at a time, if something is just out of arms’ reach. If it’s further away than that, she prefers to creep along the floor using her arms and dragging her legs. Still rolling all over the place, but now with much more determination and purpose.
She is able to stand supported and lean against things for a while now, and also able to sit on her foam steps.
Her physical therapist sent back her standing frame because Vivian didn’t need it any longer and is starting to show signs of shifting weight from one leg back to the other, so the therapist thinks Vivian will eventually walk. She is not wanting to get Vivian a gait trainer just yet, because she thinks Vivian may lose the instinct she already has to shift weight and walk from her hips instead of starting to lead and walk with her hands supporting her weight on a gait trainer.
She still uses her left side more than her right. We are still working on trying to get her right hand into the action more. She has started weight-bearing on it and opening it up some of the time when she’s four-point kneeling. Her physical therapist and occupational therapist have ordered some new wrist braces for her to wear while she sleeps, as well as some neoprene braces to get her thumbs open more because Vivian prefers holding her thumbs in very close to her hand, even while grasping things. We should hopefully get those soon.
She is still in the same pair of Piedro boots we got last summer, but now she has Leap Frogs orthotics to wear in them as well, which provide more support around her arch and inner ankle area.
And she is very, very tall. She definitely has Ben’s genes in that department. She’s over half my height now!
Hearing: Vivian has started to refuse her hearing aids. We are not sure exactly why, but our guess is her hearing has improved. Her hearing specialists also think this could be the case, because her hearing loss is/was conductive and not neurological. We will be getting a new auditory brainstem response (ABR) test done when Vivian has dental surgery in the next few months.
She seems to hear her favorite songs if you sing the very quietly, but if you whisper, she doesn’t really respond, so I think that may be her threshold. I’m sure it’s more complicated than that but I can only go on what I have available to me (my crappy, off-key singing).
Vision: Vivian is no longer wearing glasses (she refuses). The ophthalmologist doesn’t think they’ll make any difference and is confident Vivian can see without them, so that could be why she is refusing them. He is also not concerned that one of her eyes still turns in sometimes, as it’s intermittent and not a permanent turn. He’s not worried about her losing sight in this eye or using one eye more than the other at this point.
We also went up to Auckland last month to visit the BLENNZ Homai Campus for an official assessment. It was pretty full on, especially after having to evacuate our home in the wee hours of the morning we were due to fly out. Vivian did amazingly well on the flight up and down, so well that we are planning to save up for a trip to the US, hopefully within the next year. We do think it’ll be easier on Vivian and us to travel while she’s young for such a long flight.
We came away from that visit with an official cortical/cerebral vision impairment (CVI) diagnosis for Vivian, and confirmation that we have been doing a lot of great things already to aid Vivian’s vision. We also got a lot of good knowledge about how to continue improving her visual environment and how to help her knowledge of the world around her, which I might go into a bit more in another post.
Dental: Vivian has almost all of her teeth in now, except for 3 of her 2-year molars. She also has a temporary cap/seal on one of her front teeth and a failed one on the tooth next to that one. Her hospital dentist has put her on the waiting list to have her molars capped, because kids with HIE are more likely to have enamel defects like the one in her front teeth, in their molars.
It was very hard to take her to the appointment to get the temporary sealant put on, but Vivian did extremely well. I wish we could have explained to her what was going to happen, though. It was really rough to see her so unhappy but she recovered very quickly.
Getting her molars capped means she’ll be going under a general anesthesia, which is when the ABR test will be done as well. I also want to have her upper lip tie released during that surgery because it would make brushing her front teeth so much easier. I know that sounds horrible to say, but I think we could have prevented some of the decay on her front teeth better if she didn’t have this upper lip tie (it’s a pretty big one). The dentist thinks he may also need to pull the tooth that has the failed temporary seal on it as it has had some rapid decay due to the enamel defect on it.
Eating: Still on the soft lumps and no dry or finger foods. Vivian is also still at the point where she will guide a spoon to her mouth but will drop it immediately when it hits mouth-level. Or she will refuse to feed herself and throw a tantrum now if you ask her to. We have a lot of work to do in this area, and I pushed to get this as a main goal for her therapy this term, so I hope in 6 months that we’ll have made some progress.
I also want us to work on getting her to drink out of a sippy cup or a straw cup but I think that might be a year of work. There’s only so many hours in a day.
Prioritizing goals is a fucking bitch.
Communication: Vivian is still ‘non-verbal’, but she definitely can communicate in other ways. She tells us when she’s happy and when she’s sad, when she’s angry and tired. She definitely can say no. You can figure out what she wants, but only if you know what you’re looking for, unless it’s blatantly obvious.
We will be getting help from TalkLink Trust very soon on finding an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system to help Vivian communicate with us so she can say what she really feels instead of us only grasping the most basic of her needs and wants. So she can have her voice, as she should.
It’s very exciting and sort of overwhelming at the same time. It’s going to be a lot of work but it will be so worth it. Again, enough details about that to write a separate blog post really.
Overall health and sleeping: Still having major, nightly trouble with sleep and discomfort, and no closer to unlocking the solution. It sucks so bad to see her in discomfort at night and not being able to help. Her pediatrician wants to do a gastroscopy to see if it’s reflux-related. I would like to rule that out as well. We had another appointment with the neurologist who previously treated Vivian, to rule out seizures. He took a look at videos of her movements and determined it wasn’t seizure-related, as during the discomfort and kicking episodes, she’s still conscious and can coordinate a pacifier-finding mission while crying. We figured as much but it’s always good to get that officially crossed off the list.
Other than that, Vivian has been pretty good. We’re lucky to have only had 2 colds (that I can remember) this year, the latest one hitting last week and still lingering.
I think that’s everything covered. I am sorry for the lack of blog posts. I started a new job, in a new field, in June and it has taken some learning and adjusting to get settled in enough to have mental energy to do anything else than unwind when I got home.
We hope you have a very merry holiday season and a happy new year. We attempted a picture with Santa but the cold she got last week meant she wasn’t feeling it on the day we were scheduled to see him. We might try again this week.
Bring on 2017 and more milestones!