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
.
Trombone cake 2012
Front view of husband's 2012 birthday cake
.
Strawberry Cake
Hope & Faith - celebrating birthdays together
.
Easter Cross Cake 2011
.
Creamy Parmesan Shrimp and Okra
.
Orange Cream pastry, sliced open
.
Chocolate “Lasagna” Cake
.
Wedding Reception cake
.
Easter Cross Cake 2010
.
Side view of iPod Birthday cake 2010
.
Steelhead Trout
.
Corned Beef Brisket, Cabbage & Carrots
.
Glazed Roasted Duck a l’Orange
.
Coconut Macaroons
.
Lemon Ginger Shrimp & Scallops over Wilted Spinach
Advertisements

Off all antibiotics temporarily

As most of you know, Faith has been on antibiotics most of the past 15 months to try to eradicate the resistant strep throat infections she has, that lead, in her case, to PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections).  She’s has not attended school since mid-December & soon after a hospitalization for several days at Christmas, she started Homebound Education to keep up with her studies.  She’s worked very hard on her school work and her grades are good; I anticipate she will make honor roll and I am so proud of her!

However, the strep infections continue to resist treatment.  Thus, our pediatrician is pulling her off all antibiotics temporarily to allow them to get out of her system so that we can do a C & S (culture & sensitivity), in hopes that this will, once and for all, give us the information we need to choose the correct antibiotic(s) to eradicate this incredibly virulent Group A beta-hemolytic strep infection.

She took the last dose of her antibiotics yesterday morning.  Just as I was learning about a social situation she struggled in while at school today and we were discussing it, she declined into an episode.  This one included severe separation anxiety where she was unable to detach from me (literally and physically), unless there was a locked door between us so I could use the restroom, at which point, she became panicked (had a panic attack), tried to get through the door (in her panic to get to me) and became mute… she was able to write what she wanted to say (although with barely legible handwriting… see handwriting examples below), but could not speak for a while, and then, not clearly enough to be understood.

It lasted probably about 1/2 hour for the worst of it.  Poor child… my heart breaks for what she goes through when the antibodies attack her brain like this.  All I can do is imagine what it must be like to endure this medical condition.

Prayers for her (and the results of the strep culture that will be done this week) are especially appreciated these next few days as she is without any antibacterial support as we seek to determine our next step for that medication to eradicate these seemingly never-ending strep throat infections.  Also, she is trying to attend this final week of school (last day is Thursday, this week), making it more of a challenge for her than being home.  Hopefully, this difficult week will pay off with great results if we can gain valuable information from the C & S.

Please see below for more insight into this condition with handwriting samples of hers over the years, both when she is not afflicted with this condition and when she is.  As always, if you should have questions at any time, please feel free to comment or use the Contact Us page to email us.  Thanks for following our story; God is with us on this journey!

Second grade, spring 2008

Homework in 6th grade, Spring 2011 (taking antibiotics, but strep not yet clear)

May 8, 2011 for sample on right on card (uncertain of date for left sample on paper) Sample on right -> taking antibiotics, but not yet clear of strep infections... 2 days post IVIG infusion @ higher dosage

June 13, 2011, evening -> middle - end of episode (typical sample when episodic)

Ehrlichiosis

Faith’s PANDAS / PITAND specialist called me today about the labs she had drawn in mid-February to determine any co-infections.  The following is a breakdown of the information he gave me today:

  • Lyme Disease = Negative
  • Mycoplasma Pneumoniae = Negative (although she does show prior exposure… perhaps a result of the pneumonia/strep she had as a toddler)
  • Ehrlichiosis = Positive for exposure, which he said means we view that as a positive and treat it

She will continue the daily antibiotics via her PICC line for the strep infections; however, she is reporting that she is not seeing an improvement in symptoms.  I have more research to do to learn if the two are inter-connected (for eradicating from the host) and perhaps making it more difficult for her to clear the strep throat infections.

While adding yet another diagnosis to the list at this point seems daunting at first; I’m relieved to finally know the results of her labs and have at least an initial treatment plan in place.

Update

Well… last week was pretty good.  On Tuesday, we went out for a belated Valentine’s Day luncheon.  Faith looked so healthy and seemed so happy that day.  I don’t remember seeing her so… well… herself in a long time.  She ate a good lunch, the waitress commented on what a mature and lovely young lady she is… yes, that’s true … and thank you for noticing in front of her; she needs to hear that these days.  ♥

March 15, 2011... belated Valentine's Day Luncheon

Go ahead… click on the photo for a better look… Doesn’t she look lovely, healthy and self assured here?  🙂  She is actually… much, much more!  What a remarkable young lady my heroine is!

March 15, 2011 - belated Valentine's Day luncheon

I’ve been trying to get her out for more exercise… looking toward getting her back to school and having the stamina to get through what will likely be a modified schedule.  Also, the fresh air and exercise seem to help her.  Sometimes we take our golden retriever with us when we go for a walk or a bike ride.  Other times, it’s just the two of us and we go all over the trails near our home; we’re blessed to live in a historic, lovely area with a lot of wildlife to enjoy!  🙂

Thursday evening… March 17, Faith even went outside and rode her bike with other kids in the neighborhood.  !!!!!  😀  Dan and I were so excited for her to see her do that and have a sort of ‘normal’ evening… it’s been so long, she’s lost so much childhood… so much has happened.  Yes, I do realize what a ‘normal’ activity it is for a child to ride bikes with the neighborhood children… never take the mundane normalcy of life for granted… it’s much more fragile than we realize.  I wanted to shout from the rooftops!!!  My heart sang for her!!!  😀

 

Riding bikes with neighborhood kids – March 2011

That was three weeks after her last HD (high dose) IVIG infusion.  That week was so encouraging!!  I started thinking about her going back to school…. I asked her homebound teacher to bring her work for the core classes we had not yet caught up and had her start working on those… was aiming toward getting her back for a modified schedule, even if it could only be 2-3 days a week in the mornings, for her core classes, realizing she would be tired and need to rest after getting up so much earlier to go to school.  (She continues to sleep until about 11 am – noon; her body needs so much rest to recuperate.)

This week; however, is not as encouraging… it’s more worrisome.  She’s not looked as well, physically.  Last night, she had a severe episode of separation anxiety and seemed “thisclose” to going into one of the full blown rage episodes she was having daily (and sometimes more often) around Christmas when she was hospitalized … which is usually complete with thrashing (think seizure-like, but it’s not a seizure), eyes rolling back and going limp afterward… scary for a parent to observe.  She hasn’t had one since just before this most recent infusion…

Suddenly, she “had” to be with me and hugging me… this translates into a grip in which I sometimes can’t get a breath… sometimes, it is the precursor to a rage episode, thrashing, limp, hallucinations… I did say I would be more candid here.  I realize it’s shocking to think of this lovely Christian honor roll student who is so thoughtful of others suddenly transforming into what I describe. This is what is so alarming about PANDAS/PITAND… the dramatic changes it can bring about in such a wonderful child!  … in ANY child who has a pre-disposition to an auto-immune condition.

Today marks 29 days post her most recent HD IVIG infusion.  The half life is 21-28 days.  I ran a rapid strep test as she’s complaining of strep symptoms and is convinced that she has strep – she is rarely wrong.  The rapid test was negative.  If her symptoms do not improve within a few days, I’ll repeat that myself or take her to our pediatrician.

She is not scheduled to return for her next infusion for four more weeks.  I’m pushing sleep this weekend… pushing rest, healthy diet, fluids, exercise… everything that helps her recover.  If no improvement by the early part of the week, we’re going to have to see our Pediatrician and/or our local Immunologist, who I am working with to determine if we might be able to manage most of her HD IVIG infusions here locally.  Are her IgG levels dropping?  Does she have a new infection?  Did the rapid strep test (they have about a 20% false negative rate with no known false positive rate) miss a strep infection (she remains on twice daily antibiotics; however, she has tested + for strep while on antibiotics and just after several times)?  Has the auto-immune process not been shut down sufficiently?  I don’t know the answers to these questions… I’m praying this is merely a temporary bump and she improves quickly.

Strep is a disconcerting bacteria for my child.

Group A beta hemolytic streptococcus

  1. Strep bacteria are able to disguise themselves to avoid detection by our immune systems
  2. Our immune systems do not initially recognize it as strep; however, the immune system does it’s job and creates a “template” of this new invader, which it knows is not ‘self’.
  3. The immune systems antibodies attack this foreign invader to destroy it.
  4. Sounds like all is working as it should, right?  Yes… except…
  5. We believe that the strep has, in these cases, disguised itself in such a way that it ‘resembles’ the molecules found on cells deep in the basal ganglia of the brain.
    1. This is known as molecular mimicry and is the trigger for the cascade of events in the auto-immune process.
    2. The basal ganglia are a complex group of interconnected components that are part of neurological loops in the brain.  They are involved in processing/regulating information from almost all surrounding cerebral structures, including motor function (and voluntary motor control), learning, memory, emotion, dopamine, sensory input/sensation, motivation (known as “paralysis of will”), inhibition and dis-inhibition (excitatory), vision, judgement, personality, speech.
  6. Thus, the immune system crosses the blood brain barrier (this part is not yet fully understood as the BBB was thought to be impermeable to this) and attacks those areas of the basal ganglia as well, causing inflammation and a myriad of complex signs and symptoms…. many of which are listed on my About PANDAS & PITAND and links page… transforming a previously sweet, intelligent, polite, mature and thoughtful child into one the parents find hard to recognize … personality-wise.

Looking back over the last few weeks, I realize while she has not had a full blown rage, thrashing, limp episode in about four weeks (and we clearly see that as improvement), she continues to have these really intense separation anxiety episodes… last night’s being probably the worst in a long time; although, she had a couple intense ones with me last week as well.

I’m sometimes so eager to have her life back to normal as she has lost so much of her childhood to PANDAS/PITAND, that I forget what I know:  brain injuries take anywhere from several months to years to heal.  It is only then that we have some idea where things stand for long-term prognosis.  When injury is on-going or recurrent, as it is in the case of PANDAS/PITAND, it becomes difficult to know when the injury stops and the healing process begins.

I’ve been sitting here staring at the computer trying to think of a more positive way to complete this post… I’m at a loss.  She is where she is at the moment.  She does have a few good hours some days, but they are in the midst of a challenging recovery.  Today has been difficult as well.  Time… Time will tell….

Rare Disease Day ~ PANDAS Awareness

The PANDAS/PITAND Awareness Ribbon is currently being modified.

It will be updated soon.

Please use the “CONTACT US” form or subscribe if you wish to receive notifications about this or have ideas for it’s use.

Thanks for your interest 😀

Rare Disease Day ~ PANDAS Awareness

Monday, February 28 is Rare Disease Day.  As you will see later in this post, PANDAS is much more common than most people know; however, it is believed to be grossly under-diagnosed and mis-diagnosed at this point.

Most children have strep throat infections at some point during their childhood.  For most, a prescription of antibiotics will resolve the infection and prevent complications. This is not the case for all children.  Some develop complications, one of which is PANDAS:  Pediatric Auto-immune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus.  For more information, see my “About and Links” section by clicking it at the top of any page.

Statistics on PANDAS children:

  • Statistically speaking, Dr. Sue Swedo (Senior Investigator, NIMH) estimates 5% of the pediatric population develop PANDAS.
  • Given that there are approximately 75.6 million children in the United States alone, this represents 3,780,000 children with PANDAS in the United States alone!
  • Given a world population estimated in recent years of 2.2 billion, this number represents 110,000,000 children with PANDAS in the world!

Unfortunately, it is extremely under-diagnosed or mis-diagnosed as many of the psychiatric presentations are confused with psychiatric conditions and children are medicated with psych drugs, rather than receiving the treatment they require to eradicate the infections and help the immune system to heal by de-activating the gene that was initially activated, starting the cascade of events in the auto-immune process.

For these children, its not “just strep”.  Children’s lives are turned completely upside down… and families as well, as a result.  My child became someone whose personality I did not recognize… literally overnight!

Know the signs ~ taken from one of our doctors office cards:

You DON’T need to have a diagnosed Strep infection to have PANDAS.

  • Obsessions/preoccupations/fixed ideas/unwanted feelings/Anxiety
  • Compulsions
  • Choreiform movements
  • Emotional Lability/Rages/Fight or Flight behavior
  • Personality changes
  • Bedtime fears/rituals
  • Separation anxiety
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Tactile/sensory defensiveness
  • ADHD
  • Motor and/or vocal tics
  • Marked deterioration in handwriting and/or math skills
  • Daytime urinary frequency
  • Anorexia/fear of choking/being poisoned/contamination fears/fear of throwing up

If you have a child or know anyone who has a child with these symptoms (and who has been exposed to or might have a history of Strep Throat, Mycoplasma or Lyme Disease, please see a doctor who is able to treat the child and restore wellness – remember, you do NOT have to have a diagnosed Strep infection to have PANDAS.  Also, feel free to provide them with the link to this blog as I am happy to do whatever I can to help children and families with this condition!

For those who want to help, please see my How Can I Help? post. Thanks so much for your support in increasing awareness of this devastating disease!

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!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications (instant, daily, weekly or never) of new posts by email.

Join 70 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 33,246 hits
%d bloggers like this: