Monday, June 30, 2008

Day by Day

...Xian is showing little improvements. One big change is that she's returned to her former cuddliness---wanting to sit on my lap, enjoying Rachel's hugs and not minding touch on her head most of the time. (One of the things her illness did was make her super sensitive to touch on her head--it's been obviously uncomfortable and maybe even painful for her). She's also seeming a bit more aware of her surroundings, and that seems to make her feel a bit more anxious and clingy---something that was sometimes an issue for the 'old Xian' too. Rachel has been noticing all the little changes as well and keeps remarking that, "Xian's spell is breaking because she likes cuddles now." Xian's expression has changed as well---hard to put my finger on it, but she just looks more "there" and like her light is turning on a little more each day, when prior to the antibiotics she always had a glazed/foggy expression even when she was happy, and her expression was often very 'flat', without emotion. Yesterday after dinner we went out with my cousin to the Legislature wading pools (which Rachel loved---no deep water so she could do a lot of 'swimming'!), and when my cousin took pictures of the girls Xian even gave her that old familiar 'cheesy' smile that was a common feature in a lot of our old photos. (While Xian's been sick, for some reason, cameras have sometimes provoked odd behaviour---panic attacks or frantic behaviour, and she's often not wanted her picture taken.)

Tomorrow we add her Mepron to the azithromycin. So far, Xian's not had any nasty effects from the azith, though the probiotics and digestive enzymes are probably helping, too. Mepron is known to cause nausea and I've heard that it can be a challenging one to get kids to take--Xian's been very good about her meds and the supplements, so crossing fingers that will continue.

Off to get the sleeping beauty out of bed. We have a playdate with her old daycare 'boyfriend', so hoping that she has a good morning.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The treatment begins....

We're back in Edmonton now.

Xian started on her first medication (azithromycin, an antibiotic) the night we returned from Seattle. One of the things that can happen, and indeed is a clue that treatment is 'working', is something called a 'herx reaction' or herxheimer reaction -- with spirochete bacteria, they are known to release toxins as they die off and so symptoms will often get worse before they get better. On Xian's 2nd day of medicine she began having sudden crying fits, something that's happened in periods when she's been more ill---these aren't like the food reactions, just little bouts of crying and being in pain. Yesterday (day three of azith) she had them on and off over the day, plus had a couple of laughing fits, which we haven't seen for a while, but were a key part of her symptoms in December and January. Since 'day 2' she's also been having what I'm pretty sure are hallucinations, on and off -- but the real difference on the medication is that she's been quite able to talk about what's going on and will say that she's scared, or that she sees scary things. In Victoria we went into a Chinese restaurant and they had music on---she made the usual move to plug her ears, but said, "That hurts my ears!" something that's huge for her---while we've all noticed her auditory and visual sensitivities through her actions, she's never been able to articulate anything about what's going on. Yesterday there were a few moments where she simply looked 'clearer', more focused and aware of her surroundings---hard to say exactly what it was, but just looking a bit more like the 'old Xian'. Yesterday afternoon Xian handed me a book and wanted me to read to her---one of the consequences of her illness has been that she's had no ability to focus on reading and little interest in something that used to give her pleasure--I can't even remember the last time she wanted me to read to her, she stopped being interested in books in the early fall, and while she 'tolerated' read aloud time at the PLAI program, that was often the time that she'd begin closing her eyes and doing odd visual sorts of things. I've wondered if sometimes the bright colours/contrasts in picture books made her headaches and visual symptoms worse. After one reading of Puff the Magic Dragon she wanted me to read it again, too.

Yesterday Xian also started on most of the supplements that Dr. M. is suggesting: she's on probiotics and digestive enzymes to help counteract the effects of the antibiotics, some vitamins, plus some homeopathics to address her symptoms. Probably a bit too early to tell how they are working, but she did seem to have a 'good' evening in terms of eating dinner and feeling fairly good. Sure would be nice if some of her tummy issues improve!

I'm going to try to keep track of Xian's responses/improvements etc. on the blog---figured I could keep people informed and also keep a record of what happens for any future use, whatever that might be.

A couple of people have asked about the potential course of treatment. Dr. M. said that we could be looking at about two years of treatment, but changing medications along the way to deal with coinfections, and then likely tapering into supplements and keeping an eye on symptoms to see how Xian's immune system copes with things. The mom of the Edmonton teenager treated for Lyme, said that he had some initial setbacks (probably due to Herx reactions) but that they saw big improvements in a matter of about two months, though he did need to continue antibiotic treatment for almost a year.

Xian's sleep pattern is also changing on the medication. While she's still struggling a little to fall asleep, she's now sleeping a lot longer. She crashed last night sometime after 10:30 (we're still dealing with the hour time change from BC, so not as bad as it sounds), but is still asleep this morning at 10:40. This is the first 12 hour night she's had since before her illness, aside from a couple of nights when she was medicated and had a high fever in the hospital. Now the trick will be to move the bedtime up, but that we can manage. Rachel is taking advantage of Xian's big sleep by eating fruit and chocolate---the things that are off of Xian's menu at the moment.

So, things are looking fairly optimistic. After the travel and shelling out the big bucks for medication (let's just say that Mepron, the babesia medication, is the price of liquid gold!) I wondered if we'd see any effects at all, so the past few days of seeing Xian have some reactions has been pretty darned good. When she's having a bad experience I keep telling her that her medicine is working and she needs to be brave, and it does seem to sink in. (We saw a Disney channel movie in Seattle where a Chinese teenager discovered she was a kung fu warrior princess---I missed the title, but it was a good movie, both for Xian in her current situation, and for blasting the 'compliant Asian girl' stereotypes. Will have to see if I can find it on the on-line Disney Channel schedule and report back.)

Today is also a special day for us---the anniversary of Xian's adoption four years ago. We'll try to find some way to celebrate---probably order in from our favourite Chinese restaurant, though I might forgo the cake this year (my gluten free baking skills are not quite there yet, though we might have a GF mix kicking around somewhere in the pantry). I'm sure we can stick candles in something!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The "Good Witch"

This will be short, as it was a pretty intense and busy day. Both the clinical picture and the test results were enough to get the Lyme doc to start treatment. Xian's Lyme result showed a mild positive (not enough for a CDC positive, but enough for the doctor to begin treatment based on the whole picture), and she tested strongly positive for one of the Lyme coinfections (something known as babesiosis or babesia), which was pretty much the clincher, since it doesn't appear you get a coinfection all on its own. The interesting thing is that this coinfection is known as a sort of North American form of malaria (it's a protazoa that infects the blood), and one of the big signs is...heavy night sweats, which has been a big problem for Xian ever since she first got sick. The doctor also suspects she may have a couple of additional coinfections, but she said that one of them has a number of variants so it can be hard to get a positive unless the test is specific.

She did a physical exam of Xian and picked up on a few things that no other doctor has made any sense of, if they even noticed. She did a couple of balance/equilibrium tests--while I've noticed the differences in Xian's play and figured that her lack of climbing was due to some problem in that area, it was good to see it confirmed as a 'real' issue. She also noticed (and named--but I've forgotten already what it's called) Xian's 'crunchy' sounds when she bends her arms or you hold her hand, and noticed the dilated pupils and 'off' colouring (circles under her eyes etc.), and her weak pulse (Xian's slowed heart rate came up as an issue during anaesthetic). And of course, noticed the language/memory/neuro issues. I told her how Xian earlier had been interpreting her illness, the "bad spell" given to her by a "bad witch"---and she told Xian that she would be the "good witch Glinda" (of Wizard of Oz fame---Xian happened to bring a little "Dorothy" doll with her) and would help to break her spell with some medicine. confused and 'scrambled' as Xian is now, she was very cooperative and friendly with the doctor---and once we returned to our hotel room she was wanting me to give her some of the supplements (vitamins, probiotics etc.) we'd gotten from the doctor. (We pick up the antibiotics at the pharmacy tomorrow). So, I'm sure she was aware of that conversation---and the mind is a powerful thing, so probably a helpful little 'seed' to plant.

Hoping everything goes smoothly with medication pick up and getting us to the Clipper and to Victoria. We had a harder day today with getting food into her and she's tired so sounds/light seems to be bothering her more. Will try to take things as easy as possible...but looking forward to being back at "Grandma's house".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Crossing fingers

Just killing some time in our hotel room before we head off for Xian's appointment. I did contact Xian's ped's office on Monday, but the nurse said nothing had come in for the Lyme test, though the test for celiac disease was negative (which I guess is why she left the message?). Really hoping that the Seattle doctor will have receive the test results or at least be able to access them.

Our trip over went well. Much easier to take the Clipper than to drive and the cab ride from the pier to our hotel was short. The hotel is working out fine---right beside a big shopping plaza with lots of little restaurants. I had been a bit worried about finding things Xian could eat (given she's now severely gluten intolerant and not tolerating fructose/sugars very well, either) but there are quite a few we can choose from. She had a big bowl of chicken noodle soup at an Asian restaurant and they substituted rice noodles for her. Found a bookstore and bought Pamela Weintraub's Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic -- read the first six chapters last night and it describes Xian's medical experiences thus far, though from the range of illness described it does seem like if she has Lyme, she has a severe form of it.

She's had a bit of a rough morning -- she's had about five days now of bad insomnia with early waking, so am sure part is fatigue. She's been asking for 'medicine' (Tylenol) a lot, and having little bursts of crying and rolling around on the floor, so we are sticking to the hotel room until her appointment. Hopefully she'll keep it together until we get to the doctor's office.

Will report back later as soon as I have a quiet moment.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Waiting impatiently....

Just a quick update--I know a few folks have been checking for news, though not too much to report aside from some small glimmers....which I am trying not to over interpret. On Weds. I called Xian's ped's office---I'd received the statement from the lab, which included the breakdown of the billing and some descriptions of the tests (no results, though, as that must come via a doctor), so figured if I got my piece it was likely to be at Xian's doctor's office as well. The nurse returned my message to say that there was nothing in yet, though I have to wonder if it just wasn't in Xian's file yet---but maybe on someone's desk or in box? I checked my voicemail yesterday morning (we're at my parents' getting ready for Xian's appointment in Seattle) and there was a new message from someone at the ped's office asking me to call them. So, sounds like the results are in. Wish I could remember the names of all the nurses---it was 'Marci' who left the message, not someone I recall as one of the names of the nurses there. So am thinking it was one of the receptionists---which might mean they're calling to ask me to make an appointment rather than doing any sharing of results. Anyway, guess I'll see when I can talk to someone there. Will try to call them before we head off on the fast ferry tomorrow morning....

Hope to manage an update after we see the doctor there. Crossing fingers that she'll have the results and will have a good idea of what Xian's been suffering from all these months.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...

Have been getting transport and such organized for the Seattle trip. Xian and I are taking the Clipper from downtown Victoria to downtown Seattle---certainly a better deal than flying or car rentals and ferry rides. (The Clipper is a fast ferry and the trip takes about two and a half hours---so saves us time, too.) The hotel where we're staying has free wireless, so hopefully I'll be able to update the day of Xian's appointment. Xian's got a passport (as do I) so just have to bring along the copies of her adoption records verifying that I am her sole parent---good luck to any custom's agent trying to get Xian to answer questions about who I am and what's going on. (The last time someone asked her that question -- in her last Emerg visit in April she told them I was "Uncle Bill"!) I do have a letter from her pediatrician mentioning that she's ill, so guess that might be worth bringing along, too.

Rachel's had a bad cold all weekend, so we've been close to home. She's feeling better today aside from coughing fits and being a bit needy. She's reminded me a few times that "it's not a bad spell, though. It's just a cold and a froggy throat." Xian was headachy yesterday and was irritable most of the day, not eating much, and wanting to lie with her head on the tile floor, though she did have a couple of good periods where she was playing with some little Dora figures in a game set Rachel has---the interesting thing I notice when she does imaginary play is that often her vocabulary improves, temporarily, but then she's back to getting frustrated that we don't understand what she's asking for minutes after the play ends. (Lately she'll say, "I want it. Get it for me," giving no clue what the "it" is -- so we go through twenty questions or asking her to take us and show us.) She was happier today--I was also more careful about her diet -- she did have a touch more sugar yesterday and that didn't help things much--but also seemed to have sore hands a lot of the day. She has them clenched tightly and they get very hot and sweaty, and she has more trouble holding objects. (I had to feed her part of her dinner---and she also had trouble climbing in and out of the car earlier in the afternoon.) Sometimes it will be one hand and not the other. It's a bit better now--enough that she can pick up potato chips;-), but will get her into a warm bath tonight and see if it helps.

On Friday I heard back from the director of the school I originally had wanted Xian to attend before she got sick. We had a good chat and I shared some of the complexity of her condition, the changing diagnoses that no one can agree on etc., and she said that they have space in their afternoon Kindergarten (our preference, given Xian's at her worst in the morning) and she's willing to do the legwork to get an assistant in place before the start of the school year. (The director is a former Ministry of Education bureacrat and if there's anyone who knows how to get something in place, she's the one -- as I shared with her what's now being investigated in terms of Lyme disease, her comment was, "Well if it is, someone in Alberta gov't needs to hear about what's happened.") So, the plan is that Xian will begin there, with support, and we'll review in a month to make sure it's working for her and the best option in terms of whatever needs she has at that point. After my conversation with the speech therapist at Xian's preschool program at the Glenrose (who was telling me we need to find a special program---and get her wait listed etc., and perhaps not start her in K. in the fall until a space appears), I started thinking about what they've seen in that program (two afternoons a week) -- Xian's been very quiet and nonverbal there, though will speak to the adults. But, in the program the rest of the kids are boys (7 of them), a number of them have their own speech/communication issues and the others have social communication/behaviour issues -- so not kids who are going to elicit conversation from Xian, although she certainly smiles and makes eye contact and will play alongside them. When I contrast that with what generally happens after her program (we leave to pick up Rachel at daycare where they are usually playing in the playground)--normally she ends up pulling littler kids in the wagon, or playing chase/tag games with the kids her age, or getting involved in something because her old friends engage her--I have some doubts about the benefits of a segregated classroom. And, while she certainly has speech issues a lot of the time -- the lucid periods she has seem to indicate that her speech is still intact, just not really accessible to her all the time. So, not really sure that lots of speech therapy would be the answer, if what's going on (Lyme, or whatever) is the real cause of the problem. I contacted a friend who is the head of the SLP program on campus to get a bit of a second opinion--and she agrees (and she also volunteered to see if she can find anything about speech/language issues and Lyme disease---so it'll be interesting to see what comes up, and if there are ideas that might work for Xian). I figure that a) if Xian does have Lyme and begins treatment soon that she may be in a very different state come September, or b) even if she doesn't, she's made gradual improvements since her very low point in February, so that whatever is going on she does seem to be fighting it off gradually--and so she could improve regardless and c) a month in a regular classroom, with support will probably provide a lot more useful information about what's actually going on, including the fluctuations, if she does end up needing a special placement---the problem with most of her assessments is that they can't be taken as "typical" for her, because there's really very little that is constant. A number of Xian's good friends from daycare will be in the same Kindergarten and I think that familiarity is very important to her now, given that her memory is patchy. Hopefully all will work out, but it seems a much better idea than running around frantically trying to find nonexistent special placements without knowledge of their programs---the only spaces I could find in the calls I made were for preschool programs rather than Kindergarten. Now if someone was giving me a "for sure" diagnosis with any sort of proof it would be a different story, but we're still in the realm of everyone waiting for someone else to come up with one and in the meantime using small windows of observation to come up with something just for the sake of providing a label.

Will be trying to contact Xian's ped's office next week to see if her lab results are in and if they'll give me copies to take with me. I can bet they'll find some way to prevent me having them right away---either because no one there will understand them and will want to consult someone else, or if there are positives they'll want us to have an appointment first (but none will be available for weeks), or no one will be able to get someone to consent to give them to me, or....I'm sure I could have a contest to come up with possible reasons! But we'll see, maybe I'm just getting cynical. Good to know that the Seattle doctor can access them, so at least I should find out the results through her---they are supposed to be faxing them, I think? I just hope that they are positive and clearly so---weird to want to see something show up, but Lyme is at least a treatable option.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Appointment

We have some positive news -- and since I got it have been too darned busy to post, what with booking flights etc. I contacted the Seattle Lyme doctor (she's a also a pediatric Lyme specialist and worked for many years in Connecticut, or 'ground zero' for Lyme). When she called me back she wanted to know why I suspected Lyme -- after giving her the summary version of the long story (I'm getting pretty good at that by now---the usual response of all Xian's specialists is normally, "That's very strange," or even to question my memory/interpretation/observations with skepticism.). Well, by the time I got to the end of it, she said that Xian's case was pretty urgent and she needed to see her as soon as possible -- we have an appointment on the 24th! (I'd heard she was booking into late July, so had sort of expected that---but sooner is much, much better.) I've also faxed a letter to the lab requesting them to send her a copy of the test results once they are available, so that's another big relief. My worry has been that a) Xian's pediatricians won't have any idea how to interpret the results and so won't give them over to me directly until they consult with someone and b) if they turn out to be at all positive they will get "infectious diseases" involved (and they've refused to treat in positive cases where the provincial test was negative) and c) if infectious diseases get involved we will first wait for an appointment, and then be required to have the ELISA test (which apparently rarely picks up Lyme in Alberta) and that test can take weeks to come back. The doctor Xian is going to see will treat based on the clinical picture, even if test results are inconclusive, and then retest. From what I am reading, Lyme can be a sneaky bacteria and go deep into muscles and organs and not be picked up in blood depending on the stage of the disease. I figure that there's really nothing to be lost from at least an initial course of treatment to see what happens, and potentially lots to be gained. (And heck, if Rachel can go on heavy antibiotics for nine months--Izoniazid--for mere exposure to TB, with no clinic signs, for a 10% of conversion to active TB, treating initially seems like a no brainer, at the very least to be able to definitely rule it out as a cause of Xian's issues!)

Have been reading about Amy Tan and Lyme disease -- as my mother has commented, her experience sounds quite similar to Xian's, only Xian's been unable to express what's going on and Amy Tan is an adult with keen communication abilities.

Oh, and remember, way back, my mention of seeing "Munchausen's by Proxy" in Xian's hospital chart. Well, this is quite interesting, especially given that the label has turned up in both Xian's chart and Ed's (Janet Sterling's son).

Yesterday the Glenrose team provided Xian with a new diagnosis (while admitting it's mostly to deal with school placement/school services and descriptive rather than diagnostic) -- "severe language and communication impairment". So, we've gone from "sensory integration disorder and neurological degenerative condition of unknown origin" to "childhood disintegration disorder/late onset autism", to "Severe behaviour disorder and suspected psychiatric/affective disorder", back to the autism diagnosis, and now this one. The Glenrose folks know I'm taking her to Seattle for treatment (hopefully that's what will be recommended!) and while I think they are still somewhat skeptical they aren't sharing that with me directly, and they do acknowledge that Xian may be in a very different condition come September. Because they've seen her improve quite a lot from their first encounter (Xian was coming off of her really big decline when they first met her), at least they acknowledge that things are still fluctuating. The frustrating part, though, is that I never get the same story around getting Xian into kindergarten -- first told, yes, Xian can attend the rehab kindergarten (but then she improved too much), then told, "try to find a school and we'll help hook you up with services, or maybe she can start at the Glenrose and transition", to now, "call the specialized placement schools and bring a list to our meeting next week". Um, yeah -- right now I'm scrambling to get our travel plans confirmed etc., and we have the usual series of appointments before then (Xian's urologist, Rachel's audiology and limb difference group)---do you think they might have possibly given me the brochure a month ago? In this province, K isn't mandated, which also complicates matters---basically no one really cares if she doesn't have a placement for September! So much for living in the 'wealthy' province.... I did mention to the SLP that since nothing at all is confirmed for Xian in terms of services and programing or schooling I'm not able to return to work and am on leave without pay, so maybe they will get the piece that the lack of supports, lack of diagnosis, and the general 'failure' of the system has some profound impacts. (And of course, Xian's been the last kid tested in her program---though from the start I've said we need to know what's possible for her in terms of school programs as soon as possible, and I need at least a functional diagnosis to bring to a school! ARGH!!) least we seem to be moving within the medical realm.

Going to try to add a picture from Victoria...hope it works!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tick tock, tick tock....

Well, I imagine that by now Xian's tests might be complete---though I don't know how long such things take. Wish I had some psychic skills, or had dreams like the woman on "Medium". (The best I've done is dream Xian and I were at an unfamiliar doctor's office and were getting dates for IV treatment...which is probably just from reading about such things.) Hopefully I'll be able to get a copy of the results by the end of next week. I did get a couple of interesting pieces of information late last week -- through a couple of contacts I found out about a Seattle Lyme specialist who also apparently studied under one of the foremost pediatric Lyme specialists. Also heard about a Toronto Infectious Diseases specialist who sees Lyme patients. Both doctors seem to be well regarded from what I've been able to check out. One of the women I spoke with (she has a son with Lyme -- they moved here from BC) suggested I might contact the Seattle doctor and get her to interpret the test results. She's been going to her every two months, which is what is required for the prescriptions. So, debating our options, in the case that Xian's results are positive and we can't get treatment locally right away---from what I've heard, while some people have received local treatment, it's sometimes taken months to get someone who will do it, and then you generally need someone to consult with the local doctor. While I'd certainly push to get local treatment, I also wouldn't want to have Xian wait any longer than she already has. While there would probably be more likelihood of getting medical to cover something if I went to Toronto, any gains there would be offset by the costs of travel and accommodation---Seattle's a lot closer, and closer to family in Victoria or friends in Vancouver. Killing some time during the wait for results by adding to and organizing the document I've put together with the summary of all that's happened to her. Hard to believe this has gone on for so long and that her pediatrician hasn't so much as left a voicemail message for us in months (and I should have received a couple of referrals for appointments, too---there were plans for both girls to see an allergist). Months ago the psychiatrist told me that our case was keeping the pediatrician up at nights---hmmm, guess she's past the insomnia!

Friday, June 6, 2008

10 business days

Last night during dinner the phone rang -- it was an 800 number which usually means someone doing a political poll or some sort of person I don't usually want to talk to. I picked up in a hurry, though, when I heard "It's ___ calling from IGeneX." Anyway, the pleasant young woman was calling to confirm that Xian's blood work had arrived and they were ready to start running the tests and just needed approval on the amount they are charging on my credit card. I figure it will be money well spent if it provides us with some clues as to Xian's condition. The woman said that the results should be back at the doctor's office in 10 working days (from yesterday). Which is the 19th. I can already tell it's going to be a long couple of weeks. (There's only so much time that one can spend on willing particular test results and reading up on Lyme testing!) Well, good time to try to clean up some of the chaos in the house, getting my winter tires off, and of course, look into what our options are for medical treatment if she does have Lyme. Apparently Lyme treatment is hard to come by in Alberta and in most of Western Canada, though there are a few doctors who will treat based on consultation with other experts.

Yesterday Xian was feeling crummy most of the day and wouldn't eat except for a couple of small snacks, but she did manage to fall asleep before 10 and was quite relaxed for the hours preceding sleep (sometimes she'll get quite restless, especially when she's having the heavy sweats). Last night for the first time in many nights she didn't have the night sweats and she woke up quite "clear" as well and with a big appetite and quite playful with Rachel. Even a bit more talkative than usual---normally she's pretty silent and foggy when she first gets up, or, worse will be very irritable and obviously not feeling good. Anyway, nice to see after having a week when a lot of her symptoms seemed to be worsening again---when that starts to happen I worry that she'll hit another big decline like she did in February.

So, nine more "working days" to go -- or, 14 days total....not that I'm counting or anything!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Waiting....and Appointments

Time is crawling by while we wait for the Lyme test results, but we had a few appointments. Xian's psychiatrist was quite interested in the Lyme possibility, but passed on that the psychiatrist at the Alex was wanting to provide an autistic spectrum disorder label---not anything psychiatric. However, while we were there she could see some of Xian's changes, so I don't think even she believes it. Xian was not feeling well and had her head on my lap--and while not talkative, she was making good eye contact. Today we met with Xian's FSCD social worker (family support for children with disabilities---they provide respite funding and some other supports). She said that it's very unlikely Xian would get the autism label, since an autism specialist would need to support it, and Xian's seen one of the respected ones here--which basically leaves her in no man's land for autism services (though Xian's ped and the psychiatrists all decided Dr. G. suddenly didn't know anything after he disagreed with them!). The SW also said, and she has a lot of clients with autism, that Xian simply doesn't fit that diagnosis. She was very interested in the Lyme possibility, partly because it's something treatable, and also because she too says that Xian's fluctuations and physical symptoms just don't fit with the developmental problems that she's used to seeing. And, she got to witness a little---Xian was feeling unwell and lying on the couch covering her eyes, being irritable, not speaking and in the big fog. She started asking for "bandaids" and I figured out that what she meant was "medicine" and gave her some Motrin. Within about 15 minutes she was sitting up again, playing and speaking and looking quite a bit better. Sort of proved what I was saying during our interview about suspecting a lot of Xian's odd behaviours are related to discomfort, pain, and odd sensory things going on, as well as something that's fluctuating in relation to her brain. I also mentioned what I'd heard about potentially running into difficulties in terms of getting treatment here, even if her results are clearly positive, and she was quite funny---she wants me to call her right away and figures that it would be something to make very public.

Have been doing a little on line research (okay, for those who know me, more than a little!) and found some clips of a new US documentary on Lyme. Very eye opening...

Here are a few of the links:

UNDER OUR SKIN: An Infectious Film about Microbes, Money, and Medicine

Film Trailer:

Excerpt #1 - Patients Abandoned:

Excerpt #2 - The Perfect Storm of Diseases:

Excerpt #3 - The Price of Misdiagnosis:

Excerpt #4 - Physicians Under Attack:

Excerpt #5 - Lyme Journey:

Monday, June 2, 2008

Breaking the Spell

There’s been a lot of conversation at our house lately about “bad spells”. Rachel says frequently, “It’s just the bad spell,” when Xian behaves erratically or is having a bout of crying/irritability. Xian’s been talking about bad spells, too – saying “I want to break the spell,” or talking about it in her play. Last night when she was struggling to fall asleep her hands became characters (she named each hand, and one had a deep voice, too---using “voices” is another old skill that’s coming back) trying to get rid of a bad spell. Xian has mentioned more than a few times that she wants a blood test to break the spell---we are heading to the lab this morning for the Lyme test (as well as one for celiac disease---since Xian’s become gluten intolerant it’s worth ruling out) and it’s certainly my hope that we’ll get some information “about the spell”. We’ll also get Xian’s repeat abdominal x-ray while we’re at the hospital---will be curious to see what shows up there, as her belly is quite distended these days, though she’s certainly not constipated. (Yeah, I know, too much information!)

Xian’s keen interest in Disney movies has returned---she’s asking to see both “old favourites” (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Mulan) and also now interested in some that were a bit too mature for her previously (e.g. The Little Mermaid – though we still need to fast forward past the seawitch scenes!).With all the viewings of these movies I can’t help but notice how often there’s mention of spells being cast and then broken, so it’s not surprising it’s become “the explanation” for what’s going on with Xian, at least from the kids’ perspective. (Heck, talking about “the bad spell” is a lot simple than the full sentence or two other explanations require, given that we don’t have anything remotely resembling a diagnosis.) And, when Xian’s symptoms are considered they really do seem spell-like – periods when she’s unable to break out of the fog that descends on her, periods when something (pain, strange sensations) grips her so firmly that all she can do is scream and fight it off. Now of course I don’t believe that Xian’s condition is caused by an encounter with a bad witch (something Xian’s talked about), but it’s looking more like an encounter with a nasty microbe or bacteria or some sort of parasite. Xian’s still having heavy night sweats and times during the day where she spikes a little fever and her colour suddenly drains. Really hoping that some of today’s results will help her doctors to pay some attention. I did send a video clip of her playing with Rachel (imaginary play with the doctor kit) to her psychiatrist, plus the name of the psychiatrist who treated the boy with Lyme, and just really hope that I’m taken seriously and not dismissed as being in denial of the autism diagnosis. If Xian really seemed autistic all of the time, I’d certainly be open to it, but I simply don’t think that she fits the diagnostic criteria. Hopefully Xian’s psychiatrist will see that, as well, but by now I’ve learned to keep my expectations pretty low when it comes to her doctors.