Food Fun!

Food Fun!

Please feel free to share these food pics, as long as you credit and link back to my blog page where you found the food pic.

Thanks & enjoy!

😀

Hollow bell of Trombone cake
with removable large and small mouthpieces at far, right end
Hollow bell of trombone cake
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Trombone cake 2012
Front view of husband's 2012 birthday cake
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Strawberry Cake
Hope & Faith - celebrating birthdays together
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Easter Cross Cake 2011
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Creamy Parmesan Shrimp and Okra
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Orange Cream pastry, sliced open
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Chocolate “Lasagna” Cake
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Wedding Reception cake
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Easter Cross Cake 2010
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Side view of iPod Birthday cake 2010
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Steelhead Trout
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Corned Beef Brisket, Cabbage & Carrots
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Glazed Roasted Duck a l’Orange
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Coconut Macaroons
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Lemon Ginger Shrimp & Scallops over Wilted Spinach
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One Step Closer, I pray…

We have received approval from our secondary insurance provider (approval from the first was received yesterday) for Faith’s IVIG infusions.

As most of you are aware, she has been having an increasingly difficult time since soon after the 3 week point post her last infusion.

The specialty pharmacy will be overnighting the medication & supplies to our home.  This formulation is a little different than the one she was receiving recently.  This will be the same one as what she received locally previously and she seemed to do better on this medication so we are hopeful we will see that continue.

The first half of this infusion will be on Friday and the second half will be administered on Monday.

Her doctor is monitoring her progress and her labs and will determine where we go from here… if any adjustments are needed and how long she will require treatment.

Our next step is to eradicate these strep throat infections… we’re working on that…

Thank you all for your prayers… God remains in control and is providing for her needs.  ♥

Declining further… a morning in our life.

She’s getting worse … steady decline since just over 3 weeks past her last IVIG infusion – we’re at 6 weeks post-IVIG today… and it shows.  Deeper and deeper we slide into episode after episode; confusion compounded by fear and exhaustion as the antibodies rage all out war on the basal ganglia area in her brain.  The episodes began almost first thing this morning when she woke.  They lasted for about 4 hours, if I had to estimate… one running into another.  She did not want to take her meds… “they taste bad”.  She did not want to eat breakfast (she has hypoglycemia and for stability of her blood glucose levels, needs to eat regularly)… finally got her to drink a glass of milk at breakfast and eventually got down the meds as well.

Did I mention that the rapid strep tests we ran at home last week… were negative (20% false negative rate on those)… she was feeling worse the next day.  I called our Pediatrician’s office to ask about a med she was taking that can have side effects of headache, sore throat and nausea (these and others she was having are common side effects for this med) and would he be in agreement to change it to a prn med?  His nurse, who knows her condition well, called me back.  “Can you bring her in for a strep test?”  “The ones I ran over the weekend at home were negative; but, I can if that’s what you want me to do.”

Yes, they want me to – he ran one – yes, positive…. yes, even on a treatment dosage of antibiotics twice daily for months.  … and, she has thrush again from the endless antibiotics.  He writes for two antibiotics this time -one twice daily for 14 days and another daily.  He addresses the thrush with several days treatment and bumps her adult dose of probiotics from BID to TID.  I’ve just started making Kefir (kuh-feer) at home… for those unfamiliar, it’s like a liquid yogurt.  It’s very simple to make – just add milk to the Kefir grains and wait about 24 hours –  ready to use.  I make fruit smoothies with it for her.  The homemade version has lots more healthful probiotics than the store version.  We add that to the regimen to help with any gut issues due to the never-ending antibiotics.

I’m working with insurance companies and our specialty pharmacy on several phone calls… trying to get her high dose IVIG infusions processed as quickly as possible since she is in crisis at this point… but I can’t – she is grabbing for me, panic-stricken and severe OCD again.  She is very upset, repeating over and over that she “has” to be with me and/or “has” to be hugging me …. she is within 6 inches of me at all times… if I move one step, she moves also… it’s as if we are dancing… not the kind where she dances on my feet or I twirl her around the room… this one is a cruel, horrible dance brought on by the attack on her brain that has her in this current state of panic… I could not pry the intense grip of her fingers loose from my clothing when I was on one phone call – had to remove my clothing to get into another room so I could discuss information they need to process the high dose IVIG… gave up being passed around from one department to another as her panic mounted higher and higher outside my door all the while calling for me in desperation…. and called our docs office…

I inquire… “Can we do an emergent infusion since she is behind schedule and clearly declining in exacerbation?”  Response:  “Local hospital does not run them on children.”  I provide the pertinent information to move forward with the processing of the order and get off the phone as quickly as possible having asked for help and delegated what I can to the doctor’s staff.  The office manager calls back later and leaves a message… I can go to emergency and call him via the on call system or call her cell if we need emergent care for her – she provides the number on our answering machine.

Deep breath… prayer.  Strep for over a full year during this, her second severe exacerbation – can’t clear the horrible stuff and I am a rather patient person, but at this point even I am feeling enormous strain.  I am her “safe person”… her “comfort person”.  I pray some more, take a deep breath and try to push down the growing worry, turmoil, pain and exhaustion…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

Psalm 130:1-2, 5-6

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I open the door to tend to her and wrap my arms around her shaking, sobbing body.  She seems to resign as she leans into me.  My heart is broken anew as I comfort and reassure her, wishing I could clone myself into one who can reassure and hold her and another who can get things done that she… me… our home and our entire family need done.  She doesn’t speak at this point… she’s often unable to during these.  I guide her gently down to the family room and encourage her to rock in the recliner – I need to get us some lunch.

She did not want to eat lunch… could not decide what she wanted… did not like any suggestions I made.  I warmed some leftovers from a recent dinner that she had devoured and asked for more… she refused it.  I pressed for another glass of milk… she refused.  I’m still on the phone during all of this – processing the IVIG approvals takes a lot of phone calls.  I suggested she could add a little vanilla extract, almond extract or maybe some Agave maple syrup – initially she just keeps shaking her head – finally, I hit pay dirt.  She takes the maple Agave, gets a straw and drinks…. praise God!!

Afterward, she didn’t remember.  She usually doesn’t.  This worries me…. I don’t know what it means for her prognosis.  We make it to her appointment with her counselor and I send her inside so I can finish a phone call with the specialty pharmacy about her infusions.  She’s calm now and appears as though nothing happened… save for her lack of a bath and brushing her hair since the sleep study Monday night.  Her counselor gets a brief update on the situation, encourages being nonchalant, calm… she wants to go to church tonight and I’m concerned about this in her condition… she does not recall the events of the morning… he discusses the issues of concern with her and encourages bringing her into the decision-making to try to help her have some sense of control as her brain is being attacked … a situation she cannot control.  I nod understanding.  I feel drained… long past exhausted, strained and stressed… weak… empty… shell-shocked…. like her beautiful brown eyes look lately.

I stop at the market on the way home to pick up something for dinner.  More phone calls about the infusions… she’s slipping again… But, she did eat dinner, thankfully.  An odd rash appeared on her face after her bath this evening…. watching that… and all the rest.  I’ll skip the rest of the episodic evening for now… this was just the first 5 hours of our day.  It’s not the sickest she’s ever been, but I feel her slipping away again and I feel helpless to protect her from her own immune system.

Please… pray for us.  I know God is listening.  In the midst of all this while she was drinking milk earlier, I posted in a PANDAS group and asked for prayer.  Parents were on it immediately… prayers around the nation… around the world.  While they were praying for us… I received a phone call from our primary insurance company at 2:21 pm.  Primary insurance has approved her infusions at this dose for four months; we apply for extension after that or if her doctor changes the dosage or frequency.

God is with us…. God carries us… God hears… God answers… God provides.  In the midst of the worst of this, I am reminded that God is ever-faithful and in control.

We still need approval from secondary insurance before she can get this next infusion… we wait.  We still need to clear the strep before we can stop this vicious cycle of relentless attacks on her basal ganglia… that’s next on the agenda after she’s fully approved for the infusions and scheduled.

Thank you for your faithful prayers… know they are heard and we deeply appreciate them.  Blessings…

High Dose IVIG more often

As most of you are probably aware at this point, Faith improves a little more after every IVIG infusion; however, at just past three weeks from the last infusion, she starts to decline again.  Clearly, while it helps her, she is not yet stable.  Also, she continues to test positive for strep throat (as recently as Wednesday of this week), even on antibiotics and with the high dose IVIG infusions… she has not really cleared a strep infection in over a year.

I’ve been pursuing more research literature on Pubmed/Medline as well as meeting with doctors to seek help and determine what treatment plan they think would be best for her.

Our specialist (Immuno) wants to have Faith do IVIG every four weeks until she stabilizes.  At that point, he will re-evaluate and determine what she needs next.

So, this is a HUGE praise that she will finally be on a better track and we are hopeful that in time the treatment will help her.  Please keep in mind though, that this must be scheduled for the next infusion (she is already over 5 weeks since her last one at this point), so we are not looking at her being able to have this immediately.  Additionally, while repeat IVIG does WORK and help children with PANDAS, we’re talking about a child who has been sick for quite a while…. years… probably about 6 years and this is her second severe exacerbation.  We can’t anticipate healing to be immediate… it will take time – likely months… but we ARE hopeful that it WILL happen for her… at least much better than she is now… how much recovery, we do not yet know.  We continue to pray and trust that she… and we… are in God’s hands.

Thank you for your continued prayers for my sweet, precious daughter… God is listening and He is with us.  ♥

Second trip to doctor for IVIG

We arrived safely yesterday. Both flights were delayed; we were actually fortunate that the second flight was delayed because we may have missed it due to the delay of the first flight. Faith was able to sleep a little while on the first flight, which was good because she still needs a lot of sleep so her body and brain can heal.
We were ready for lunch when we arrived. Faith had never been Times Square, so we went there for lunch and ate at Bubba Gump’s – amazingly great service! She was excited to see ‘everything’ … especially the electronic ads and the ferris wheel in Toys R Us… until she realized there was not enough time for her to ride it. 😦 Otherwise, it was a fun, quick hour for her.

Times Square

Unfortunately, the pool was closed, so she was unable to swim as she’d hoped. Instead, we met another PANDAS mom and her daughter (a few years younger than Faith) so the girls could bowl.
We were up early this morning to have breakfast and get ready for her appointment first thing this morning.
The first half of her infusion went pretty well today. She slept for about an hour. She had only a slight increase in her headache today. We were better prepared in reference to hydrating her well and the wonderful nurses at the infusion center ran her IVIG slower to decrease risk of headache & nausea and also are utilizing medication to help manage symptoms… so far, that is working great. She is not having any increased nausea at this point… just the typical headache, sore throat and nausea that she usually has with strep throat.
Oh… and Vigi (her IGIV blue bear) got a new outfit today, complete with a flower for her hair and matching boots! I made it from the sticky wrap they used to secure Faith’s IV line. 😉

Vigi

We are both so tired… Mommy might be even more tired than Faith… might have to nap today in order to get through tomorrow.
We appreciate your continued prayers.

Tough day :(

Today was a difficult day, fraught with being “stuck” in many situations, unable to do numerous things and a full blown episode that lasted a little over an hour.

I have to wonder if this is the “turning back the pages” often seen post-IVIG, in which kids become more severely ill for a while before they improve.

I am exhausted and drained; I can only imagine what this must be like for her.  Oh dear Lord… I know we are in your loving hands…. please Lord, please… heal my child.  ♥

How is she doing?

I’ve received a lot of questions about how Faith is doing, especially since her hospitalization at Christmas and our recent trip to see her out of state doctor.

Faith has CVID (Common Variable Immune Deficiency) and her doctor told us that children with PANDAS who have CVID also, require IVIG to get better.  He *hopes* (asked us not to hold him to it as each case is different) to see her at 90% in about 1-2 months and back in school.  We are praying that all goes well and his estimate is accurate!

Faith had high dose IVIG infusion inpatient at Christmas.

 

IVIG in the hospital Christmas Eve & day before

She woke the next morning and told me that she felt better than she had felt in a long time.  I asked her how long and she said that she didn’t remember, but she felt ‘like myself’ again.  We saw dramatic reduction in her symptoms.  It’s important to note; however, that she was severely ill and in crisis just prior to that admission, so yes, a huge improvement, but still a long way to go.

We noticed her declining again with an increase in symptoms about 1-2 weeks before we traveled.

While we were out of town, our return flight was canceled due to the snowstorm in the area; however, this turned out to be a blessing as our doctor and staff were able to obtain approval for the high dose IVIG infusions she needs until August 2011.  She received one before we left.

IVIG in CT – Jan 27, 2011

Initially, she was exhausted from the travel and lack of sleep, as well as the infusion.  Since she’s gotten some rest, we are seeing improvements again; however, she contiues to sleep a great deal (12-14 hours at night as well as 3-5 hours during the day) and is still episodic with symptoms much of the day…. still a long way to go, but she is clearly making some progress!

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