As life would have it, we have been dealing with several health and physical issues for a while now.  I figured it was time for an update.

As you may know, 4-year-old A has been in physical and occupational therapy each week for a few months now.  We never were able to get a definitive diagnosis for his issues, however, the neurologist finally concluded that it was most likely related to drugs used by his birthmother while she was pregnant with him.  The damage caused by the drugs is likely becoming apparent as he ages and begins trying to use the areas of his brain and body most affected.  So, the good news is that his condition most likely will not get any worse.  The bad news is we may not have seen all there is to see damage-wise yet.  The neurologist plans to follow up with him several times a year, and will be referring us to another pediatric neurologist once we move to Red Gate.  He is also trying to refer A for an evaluation by the hospital’s child development department, just to see exactly where he is developmentally.

In terms of his therapy, it is going quite well, I suppose.  The occupational therapist feels that he has progressed enough, and especially with the recent skills of riding a 2-wheeled bike and the extra motor-skill practice he is getting during his daily school session, she is planning to probably only work with him for another month or so.  Physical therapy, on the other hand, while OK, has had some setbacks.  If you recall a few months ago, A went through 12 full weeks of serial casting to re-stretch his leg muscles.  His muscles had begun contracting for unexplained reasons, and his range of motion in his ankles had decreased as a result.  While we know the problem is neurologically-based, we can only assume at this point that is ultimately caused by some of the brain damage done by the drugs.  A normal person’s max angle range is somewhere around 20 degrees.  A’s had decreased to -3 degrees.  Through serial casting, we got him back to around 20.  Now, 2 months later, he has decreased again to 15.  He is also starting to toe-walk again, which is so frustrating to see.  With toe-walking comes increased imbalance, which causes more falls and head injuries.  All that being said, the therapist has ordered AFO’s, or leg braces–one type to wear in the day time, and another type to sleep in.  We hope to get them in another week or two, as they are being custom made.  The braces are supposed to put enough pressure on his muscles to continually stretch his legs out.  The prediction for now is that the neurologist will follow up until he is at least 10 years old, and the AFO’s will likely be used for years to come as well.

Although it is frustrating to have to constantly hear “most likely,” “we can only assume,” or “probably” regarding A’s health and development, I do find a lot of relief in knowing that all our tests came back negative for visible damage or disorders of any sort.  While we will never know exactly what his birthmother used, how often, or how much, we have no choice but to accept it is the most likely fact, and learn to deal with the repercussions, in an attempt to help A grow and develop to his fullest potential.

Three-year-old N is also developing quite well, learning to read, and progressing just like he should be.  For years, however, he has had a bad cough.  We can’t remember exactly when it started, but I do recall him coughing from a cold when he was about 4 months old.  It turned out he had RSV, and was treated accordingly.  It seems he has had a cough ever since.  Since RSV can cause lung damage, it is possibly related.  In any case, when he was around 2, we had an allergy test done, and found out he was allergic to cats and dogs, though neither was a severe allergy.  We did what we could to clean–cleaning out all the vents and the furnace, sterilizing his room, giving him a hypo-allergenic pillow, and making his room off-limits to animals.  Nonetheless, his coughing continued to worsen.  Over the last few months, especially if he cried, played hard, or got excited in any way, it got to the point he would cough so badly that we would have to make him go sit and calm down.

This past week, we took him to the doc again, and he was diagnosed with mild asthma.  During the exam, the doc said he showed a lot of signs of allergies as well, but he couldn’t be sure if the allergies were triggering the asthma, or if we were dealing with 2 seperate issues.  In any case, N is now on two medications–zyrtec for the allergies and flovent inhaler for the asthma.  When he has a coughing spell, we also have to give him albuterol inhaler.  Naturally, I don’t like the idea of medicating him like this one bit, but the doc put him on a minimum dosage, and is hoping that the meds will give his system a break for about a month, allow it to relax, and then try to wean him off one or both.  Granted, he is coughing a lot less already.  We have only had to use the albuterol twice since in 5 days, which I see as progress.  He also isn’t up coughing for hours at night like he was previously.  The doc thinks we may have caught it early enough and that is mild enough that N stands a good chance of outgrowing it.  He also suspects that moving to Red Gate in the midwest, where it is much more humid and lower altitude (aka more oxygen) will help tremendously.

In addition to all the above, both boys are now being followed by a chiropractor as a back-up.  It certainly can’t hurt, and it may help.

Speaking of chiropractor, my tough and rugged hubby has shown some discomfort in his back for a while now, so I finally convinced him to go see my chiro.  Turns out, a previous injury from a bike accident (the pedal kind) appears to have fractured one of his vertebrae, which has calcified.  There were a few other kinks in his spine, neck, and pelvis as well, but  he is going to follow-up a couple times to try to get everything lined up properly again before much more damage is done.

Never a dull moment around here, and as always, in each of these cases, only God knows when, and only time will tell how it winds up.  We’re just hangin’ on for the ride!

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