Owen had his PEG tube replaced with a Mic-Key button today. It was a 15 minute procedure although he was anesthetized for the process as the PEG removal can sometimes be painful. What a sweet swap! The 12" long PEG tube was always getting caught on things, was unsightly, and impossible to "tuck" into his clothes. The button is great and is no more than 1/2' high and about 1' wide. We just plug the tube in and out of the button as needed. It's almost like a second, higher profile belly button. Since part of the procedure utilizes a scope, I requested that the GI doctor look for any signs of scarring in the esophagus from the prolonged, severe GERD (reflux) and for any potential ulcers in the stomach from the prednisone. The photos are gorgeous (yes, I am referring to those of my son's stomach, esophagus and entry into the intestines) - pink, smooth and perfect. Dr. Whabeh said everything looked just as it should and gave Owen a clean bill of health. A clean bill of health!!!
Oral feeding progression. Owen loves cantaloupe and watermelon. Partly, I think, because he is teething like crazy. His two bottom teeth are about to pop and we discovered last week that he loves to gnaw on cold, sweet melon. He also allowed me to give him a significant amount of water today by mouth. These are HUGE progressions for us.
Weight gain. As I've mentioned in previous recent postings, Owen's weight flat-lined for two months, from the day he got the PEG tube until about three weeks ago. He was hanging out at around 14 lbs. At today's weigh-in at Children's, with his t-shirt and pants... 16 pounds. Oh yeah. Eighteen pounds by one year of age and he'll be in the third percentile - the first time he will have been on the charts since he was about three months old. We have three weeks until Owen's first birthday.
Smiles... Oh my. The last few days, Owen smiles regularly, predictably and INTENTIONALLY. He smiles when you say hello to him, when you sweet talk to him, and when you laugh. He focuses, pauses and then the smile begins, a bit lopsided, curling up from the left side of his mouth and spreads wide across his face to his eyes and ends with a smile so big that his mouth is open wide. It is so adorable it makes me crazy-happy. Kelsey can't stop taking photos.
Keto diet. No word yet from Dr. Sotero or his nurse. Strange, given their usual responsiveness, yet we suspect that they are trying to either locate a private RD to work with or have convinced Swedish to move forward with bringing one on to help manage the diet. Our understanding - through the grapevine - is that Dr. Sotero prefers to have control over the treatments his patients receive and since he was the PI on a keto study at Children's and knows this diet well, it would also make sense that he would want to manage Owen's care himself. It has been a week since I left the second message with Patti (Sotero's nurse) and if I don't heard back by Wednesday, I will call again. But this issue feels less urgent as...
We made a mistake with the Vigabatrin. It actually works. The first two days that we gave it two Owen, we crushed the calcium-size pills, mixed them with water and administered the solution to Owen, immediately. This is when we saw the seizures decrease by about 90%. Then, after a couple of days, we changed things a bit. We would get busy prepping Owen for bed and would split the pill in half and soak it in 5mL of water while we got everything else ready, sometimes taking 10-15 minutes before giving him the solution. This is when we noticed the seizures returning - full-force. Kelsey said to me on Thursday of last week... "What if soaking the Vigabatrin makes it ineffective?" So we went back to crushing it, adding water and administering it to Owen immediately. Since Friday, Owen's seizures have tapered to one or two before he falls asleep (down from 20-40). He falls asleep so much faster, is sleeping more soundly, is smiling more, and has longer alert periods - all since Friday. I read online this last weekend that Vigabatrin becomes "chemically unstable" when left in a solution and that it must be "administered immediately" when mixed with water. We should have known this, however, it was not on any of the accompanying paperwork that you get with prescriptions. The Vigabatrin works!!!!!
Vigabatrin's effectiveness for Owen is a big, big deal - it is not like ACTH in that it will only "work" for a short period of time. Over a longer period of time, such as a year or two, it may lose its effectiveness, but for now, we can count on it to work for him. We won't know for another couple of weeks whether it will completely eliminate the seizures as it takes a few weeks at the full dose to see its potential, but it has already changed our lives dramatically. We will still proceed with the keto diet in the future, but will prioritize weight gain (which is minimal on the diet) and enjoy our happy Owen.
This is the best it has felt to post in a long time. Thank you for all of the good wishes, thoughts and crossing of fingers and toes. It helped - tremendously. We really needed these positive changes and regardless of the challenges we may face in the future, right now, today, things feel really good.