Tag Archives: rubinstein-taybi syndrome

Braxton’s Birthday Project

Can you believe Braxton is going to be 3 years old already?! Time has flown by and our little man has certainly come a long way!

Every year, we have some very nice people who contact us via our blog or Facebook to ask for an address to send cards or gifts to Braxton on his Birthday or for Holidays.  While we are very appreciative of such kindness, this year, we’d rather you do something a little different to honor Braxton on his birthday.  Without further ado, here is this year’s project for Braxton’s 3rd Birthday, which is on June 24th!

Braxton's Birthday Mission

 

Braxton’s birthday theme this year is Superheroes and with that in mind, you have all just been given a Top Secret Mission.  Only, it’s not so secret! We encourage you to share this far and wide to spread some kindness and tap in to your own super powers.

This year, if you are not local, instead of sending Braxton a card or gift, we are asking that you make a donation in his honor to one of the organizations who has touched our life deeply. Any amount is appreciated! Even $5 can go a long way.  If everyone gives a little, it adds up to a lot that these organizations can do for their community.  These are the organizations we’ve chosen:

U.R. Our Hope

U.R. Our Hope – U.R. Our Hope is a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit based in Austin, TX that assists families on the journey to finding a diagnosis or helps them navigate the healthcare system with a rare diagnosis.  They provide meals for families during hospitalizations, help facilitate research and medical referrals, provide gift cards to families traveling for medical appointments, and are hoping to raise money to gift Whole Exome Sequencing to families still searching for a diagnosis.  U.R. Our Hope was instrumental in not only helping us find a diagnosis, but helping us connect with other families.  That face-to-face support was exactly what I needed to cope and empowered me to be the mom you all admire now.  I was very scared and alone at the beginning of this journey, but with the help of U.R. Our Hope I found my footing and have now helped others walk the path as well. I’ve also been honored to be a member of the board of directors for the past year. Although we have now found a diagnosis, we are forever indebted to U.R. Our Hope and hope you will consider supporting them as they have helped us.

Undiagnosed Documentary

Undiagnosed: Medical Refugees – This is the documentary we were honored to be a part of this year.  We were able to share our diagnostic journey with the team to help others understand why finding a diagnosis is so important.  Countless families are struggling to find a diagnosis and sadly, some have lost their children without ever knowing the reason.  Our journey was MUCH shorter than average and I’m so grateful for the help we’ve had along the way.  This documentary would be so revolutionary and change the way medicine is practiced today.  A donation to the film would go toward helping them complete the project so that the world can learn what we have experienced firsthand.

Special Friends Foundation

Special Friends Foundation – Special Friends is also a registered 501 (c)(3) organization who serves families with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, which is Braxton’s diagnosis.  Special Friends provides financial assistance with medical bills, uncovered medical expenses, special therapies, augmentative communication and so much more.  A donation to them would help the fellow members of our RTS family.

Tinysuperheroes

Tinysuperheroes – This extraordinary organization provides capes for children fighting big battles. Capes are sent to children battling life threatening illnesses, lifelong disabilities, and other chronic medical conditions.  Parents of children with special needs already see their children as superheroes and a cape shows the rest of the world just how strong our kids are.  Braxton received his cape last year and has seen him through surgeries and doctors appointments.  You can empower a Tinysuperhero for just $35! There are so many waiting to receive their cape.

Sammy’s House Austin

Sammy’s House Austin – Last, but certainly not least, is Braxton’s amazing daycare.  Sammy’s House is also a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.  They provide childcare services for children who are medically complex.  When our daycare closed last August, I could not find a provider who would take Braxton and that I trusted with his medical care.  Sammy’s was a godsend.  Their director lost a child to Down Syndrome many years ago and he was the inspiration behind Sammy’s House.  She, too, could not find a provider she could trust or who had enough experience to work with her medically complex child, so she started a center all on her own.  Sammy’s operates entirely off of donations and serves children with a variety of disabilities.  When Braxton started last August he was crawling and pulling up to stand, but had minimal cruising and no desire to walk.  In 9 months, Braxton has made tremendous progress! He is walking with minimal assistance, cruising longer distances, eating by mouth, understanding language a lot more, and just overall growing every day.  The staff is constantly pushing the kids to unlock their full potential and have done wonders for Braxton.  A donation to this organization ensures that other kids can reach their potential as Braxton has and continues to do.

 

 

We appreciate all of you for loving and supporting Braxton along this journey.  While we love the cards and gifts, Braxton already has so much and we would love to spread the generosity.  These organizations have all touched our life in one way or another and it would mean the world to us if you could spare a few dollars to one, two or all of them! I don’t need proof of your kindness, but when you donate to any of the organizations, please make sure to leave a note that your donation is in honor of Braxton so that they know who sent you.

We hope you will join in this mission and open your hearts!

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One Year After the Diagnosis

It’s hard to believe that it has been exactly one year since we finally learned Braxton’s diagnosis.

I went back and read my entries leading up to the day we received our results and even a few weeks after, and I recognize that there has been so much personal growth.  I am in a very different place now and continue to grow with every passing day.

Before we received our diagnosis, life was full of questions, uncertainty, fear, confusion, frustration, and a host of many other unpleasant feelings.  It was so difficult to have to go to the doctor and tell them that I had no idea what was going on with my son.  Braxton’s care was entirely symptomatic.  As new things came up, we treated that specific issue, but had no idea how it fit in to “the big picture.”  It was as if we were grasping at straws just hoping that something would work.

Outwardly, we presented our best face and tried to remain positive, but the battle within was constant.  There were so many sleepless nights and nights full of tears simply because I felt as though I’d failed as a parent and felt that the medical community had failed us.  I was always grateful for our team of doctors, but always, always felt like more could have been done, like more should have been done.  But, alas, “coulda, shoulda, woulda” changes nothing.

Life after the diagnosis has been a dramatic difference.  Sitting in the doctor’s office one year ago, I remember my uneasy breathing and grasping the chair beneath me until my knuckles were white, until the doctor walked in.  When she finally delivered the news, I remember exhaling, a weight being lifted, and even smiling because I had already known what the doctor just told me.  I will always be grateful to the few people who reached out to us through our blog to suggest Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome.  Doing my research then, helped me accept the diagnosis in the office that day.  It was familiar, it was not life-threatening, I was at peace.  I was relieved.

BraxtonThe first few weeks of researching and trying to explain things to our family was very difficult.  Our family members learned and dealt with it in their own way.  Some are still coping.  Some still believe that Braxton will magically be “cured” of RTS, although there is nothing to cure.  You can’t change genetics.  Braxton is who Braxton is going to be for the rest of his life.  He is loving. He is full of joy. He is full of spirit. He is full of drive and determination. He is a fighter. He is just like any other 2-yr old daredevil little boy. He may not move as fast, but he is well on his way.  Our family has been supportive every step of the way.  We have all grown and we have all come together.

Every day is a little bit easier.  Life is still full of therapy, but the doctor’s visits are less than before the diagnosis.  Most of the doctors are now seeing Braxton on an annual basis, with the exception of his Cardiologist who still monitors his heart closely.  Now that we have a diagnosis, our care is more focused.  I know some of the issues we will face and how other families have dealt with them, which has helped tremendously.  I can make informed suggestions to our doctors based on real experiences.

Our therapy goals are now geared toward the things we know will present difficulty.  We know Braxton will walk, so we are really pushing that goal and even his daycare is doing everything they can to get Braxton there.  We purchased a medical stroller instead of a wheelchair because we know Braxton will walk soon.   We know that Speech will be our greatest difficulty so we are trying many different methods of communication.  Braxton is still not picking up any sign language, but he has taken to the iPad and successfully demonstrated purposeful choice-making.  We’re now moving forward with a grant to purchase an iPad and augmentative communication program.  We’re still using sign language and picture cards, but we know this is what he is going to need long term, so we are able to provide medical documentation for a grant.  Before the diagnosis it may not have been so easy.

There is a whole other world of possibilities that has opened up for us now that we have some insight in to exactly what is going on with Braxton.  I can make decisions with more confidence and have more options available.  I felt stuck before the diagnosis and just accepted most of what the doctors recommended, because I didn’t want to look back in hindsight and wish I would have done more.

We have a new support group that has been fantastic.  In the first few weeks after the diagnosis, I asked A LOT of questions on the Facebook group and Listserv. Thankfully, so many shared their experiences and put my worries at ease.  A year later, I can now welcome new parents and share our own experiences. I’ve had parents reach out and tell me that my blog helped them come to terms with the diagnosis and to a place of acceptance. We have come full-circle.  There is a sense of family among our diagnosis and at any given time I can reach out for support and answers.  That is, perhaps, one of the most important differences in life before and after the diagnosis.  Before, I could reach out to families who had similar experiences but due to their specific diagnosis, it was handled differently than Braxton would have been.  I was thankful for the support and guidance, but it never really quite fit exactly.  After diagnosis, I see/hear stories and think “Oh my, that is EXACTLY how it happened with Braxton.  Here is what worked for us…” We finally have a “medical home,” a group of people who truly understand, people who have “been there, done that” who can offer advice and words of wisdom. It has truly made such a difference.

Braxton has grown tremendously and is making wonderful progress.  His receptive language is getting better every day and he is finally showing real signs of understanding.  His gross motor skills are taking off as well.  He is cruising like a champ, “knee-walking” all over the place and taking independent steps during therapy.  His is eating almost completely on his own now.  He will eat about 30 ounces a day by mouth and he gets one bottle via g-tube just to supplement calories.  He is even starting to drink now! With most of my worries gone, I can focus on all of the amazing things Braxton is doing and just be in the moment.  And the moments are incredible. Positivity is no longer something we pretend, it just comes naturally.  We are still going to have hard days ahead, but I am better equipped to face them and I know I don’t have to face them alone.

 

 

This anniversary comes just before “Undiagnosed Children’s Day” and I am reminded that there are still so many searching for what we have found.  The average journey to rare diagnosis takes about 7 years.  Yes, SEVEN years.  Our diagnostic journey was significantly shorter than the average but still took quite a toll on us. I can only imagine the families who are in agony and still searching.  To those families, I say please don’t ever give up hope.  Soon the answers you seek will find you.

To everyone else, I say please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers.  Continue to support the organizations who serve the Undiagnosed and Rare community because it is those organizations that helped lift us through the hard times.  I don’t know where we would be were it not for U.R. Our Hope and our Physical Therapist who helped guide our journey.  I’m grateful to them for fighting the fight.  And I’m so proud of the documentary team who is filming “Undiagnosed: Medical Refugees.” I hope this film comes to fruition and the world learns what we have had to face and why answers are so important.  More can be done and more needs to be done for these families.

 

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Rare Disease Day 2014

Today is the 6th annual Rare Disease Day, which is a day to bring awareness for all rare diseases/conditions.  The theme for this year is “Join Together for Better Care” and I cannot think of a more fitting goal this year.  The more people we can get to come together and be aware of different conditions, the better we will be able to serve individuals through medical care and funding for research.

NORD-Who-Does-Rare-Disease-Affect_DRAFT-2.19.14-e1393025442778In the United States, 30 million Americans have a rare disease.  This breaks down to 1 in 10 Americans, so chances are, someone in your life is struggling with a little known condition. Almost 2/3 of those affected are children.  (Source: NORD)

While the conditions may vary, the experiences for those with rare diseases is very similar for all who are affected.  Imagine going to the doctor and having to explain everything a doctor SHOULD know just so they can treat your child for an illness or operate on your child safely.  This is a reality parents of children with rare disease face day-in and day-out.

When we go to the doctor and I tell them that Braxton has Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, the usual response from medical professionals is something like, “It probably won’t surprise you that I don’t know what that is.”  And when Braxton has surgery, I have to educate the anesthesiologist and the nurses about the possible complications Braxton could face while under anesthesia.  It is sad that we live in a society where parents are more educated about conditions than the very doctors they trust with their children. We have made so many advancements in technology, but it is impossible for medical professionals to keep up. Because many people don’t know about RTS, I can’t simply choose another doctor who is familiar with the condition.   With over 7,000 rare diseases, it’s no wonder that doctors are unable to keep up.  They only learn about conditions as they come in contact with them through their patients.

But, we can all help this situation.  As YOU learn about rare diseases, YOU can help spread that knowledge.  Carry some facts with you and when you have the opportunity to share the information, do it! It’s true that simply changing your profile picture does nothing for Braxton’s immediate care, but when you change your picture and provide information about his condition, then you are teaching others and that does help us.  When you share our story, like our photos, comment on our Facebook page, that reaches others and at least exposes them to RTS.  The more people who know about RTS and other rare conditions the more likely it is these patients can find quality care and money to fund research opportunities.  Money is what is standing in the way of finding cures for children who face life threatening illnesses.  Braxton’s condition isn’t terminal, but there are countless children who are fighting big battles just hoping for cures.  Rare Disease Day provides an opportunity for these conditions to be known and hopefully find people to support them.

Rare Disease Day is an opportunity for awareness.  Why does awareness matter? Take a look at this graphic from Siren Interactive about the diagnostic journey.  Did you know that on average, it takes 7 years for a proper diagnosis of a rare disease? SEVEN YEARS!

Click to view the full graphic

Click to view the full graphic

Awareness matters for those who are just waiting for answers.  There are children with Braxton’s condition who were diagnosed at birth or shortly after, and then there are some who weren’t diagnosed until years later.  If more people knew about RTS, these children would be diagnosed right away and the proper medical care could begin immediately.  We could have known from the beginning and I wouldn’t have had so many sleepless night wondering if Braxton was going to live.  This is why awareness matters.  If we knew early on I could have plugged in to all the resources I now have.

Global Genes GraphicWe have to find a way to speed up the diagnostic process.  Many children without a diagnosis die before their 5th birthday, so waiting the average 7 years for a diagnosis is unacceptable.  What’s worse is finding out your child died from a disease that had treatments available and they could have been saved if a diagnosis had been made earlier.  That is just heartbreaking! WE have to do better. WE have to come together for all the children and families searching for answers and cures.  We can all make a difference.

Make the effort to learn about a rare disease today.  If you participate in the “Wear that You Care” campaign today and wear jeans, make sure you tell people who and why you are wearing jeans.  Take that chance to educate, because if even one more person knows about Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, that is a success for us.  It would be nice to meet someone and not have to explain my child’s condition, I just want them to say, “hey, I’ve heard of that!”

Spread the word and celebrate Rare Disease Day!

Support Rare Disease Day

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He Sees You When You’re Sleeping

Supposedly Santa watches us when we are sleeping, but tonight, someone else is watching Braxton.  He is having a sleep study done at the hospital.

We saw a sleep doctor a couple weeks ago for a consultation to see if Braxton even needed a sleep study.  Surprisingly, the doctor said he had actually worked with 4-5 children who had Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, so he was familiar with the sleep apnea risk these kids often have.  Due to Braxton’s RTS diagnosis and the fact that his tonsils are so enlarged, the doctor said we absolutely need to have a sleep study done.  Thankfully, they were able to get us scheduled before the end of the year.

Waiting We checked in tonight just before 8:30 and they got us in to a room pretty quickly.  I had Braxton all set in his mandatory 2-piece pajamas.  Admittedly, I am still terrified about the possibility of him pulling at his g-tube  in the middle of the night and me not finding out until the morning, so he still sleeps in a onesie.  Gave me a good excuse to go out and buy him some new cute pj’s! 😉 Braxton was quite patient and cooperative!

Luckily, I remembered to bring his iPad, and he played happily while the tech got him all set up for the study.  She marked his head so she knew where to place the EEG leads.  Then, she cleaned the areas.  Finally, she placed the leads and glued them in place.  Braxton was a total champ during the process.  The iPad kept him distracted and content.

Braxton really only got upset when she had to put the nasal cannula on him which monitors his breathing as he sleeps.  He tugged at it a few times, and then he left it alone.  Amazingly, Braxton fell asleep almost right away! I’m not sure how, but he is fast asleep.

Fast asleep

The tech is really nice and said she will be coming in periodically to check the leads and the respiratory monitor.  I am somehow supposed to make myself comfy in a big chair and get some sleep tonight, but not sure that’s happening! They said they usually stop the study at about 6 am and then get him all cleaned up from all the gunk in his hair.  We should be on our way out of here around 7am tomorrow.

We follow up with the sleep doctor in mid-January to get the results of tonight’s test.  The sleep study will tell us if Braxton has sleep apnea.  If he does, the doctor will need to determine how severe it is and if any intervention is necessary (like a CPAP machine).  It will also give us a better idea about whether or not Braxton needs to have his tonsils removed. If he is having sleep apnea, he does not need his enlarged tonsils blocking his airway as well.

Just another piece of the puzzle.  Here’s to hoping I get some sleep tonight! I’m a tad jealous that Braxton can pretty much sleep anywhere, at any time, no matter the circumstances.

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