Getting Started with Medical Cannabis

This is one of those posts that took me approximately one million years to write. It’s a post about starting Solly on medical cannabis, a subject that I’m still on the cusp of beginning to understand even though I’ve researched it for years. Before I begin the post, it’s important for me to note that, despite the stigma around marijuana, cannabis is a powerful medicine for many ailments, especially some of the challenges associated with pediatric stroke and cerebral palsy. Because each compound produced by the plant, or cannabinoid, can be used medically and in conjunction with other cannabinoids, and treatment for each person can vary widely, I highly recommend teaming with a doctor who understands how each cannabinoid can be used within a specific population. This is our story of how we’re getting started with medical cannabis under the guidance of a well-respected, very experienced doctor.  

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, chances are you’ve seen a few recent posts about Solly’s rapidly emerging expressive speech. After struggling to communicate with him for 5 years, I can’t even begin to put into words the impact this development has on our lives and how beyond excited we are that we’re starting to better understand Solly’s wants and needs.

Here’s one of the videos I shared earlier this year:

Most of Solly’s bilateral brain damage is in the left hemisphere where, in a typical brain, much of the speech center is located. There is quite a bit of research that indicates that if one side of the brain is impacted by stroke in childhood, the other side of the brain will rewire to take over these capabilities (here’s one publication with more details), but because Solly’s brain damage is extensive and widespread on both sides of the brain, we weren’t sure that would ever be the case.

As we’ve tried alternative therapies and procedures over the years – mainly hyperbaric oxygen therapy and stem cell therapy – in combination with traditional speech therapy, we’ve seen big gains in cognition and receptive speech and some small gains in expressive speech. While we’ve always been adamant that Solly’s cognition is right on track, his expressive speech has lagged significantly and everything we’ve done in the past has helped him in little spurts, but no huge gains. That is, not until lately. Continue reading

SDR: Four Months In

Nearly four months ago, we went into the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery with the mindset that it could have great benefits for Solly, but the most likely case is that he’d simply be more comfortable.  Dr. Park, the surgeon at the Saint Louis Children’s Hospital who performed Solly’s SDR in May, requires all US-based patients to come back 4 months after SDR so he can review progress and make any suggestions on physical therapy, bracing, equipment, and additional surgeries to support his patients. We had this appointment this week, so I thought now would be a good time to check in and report back on how Solly is doing post-SDR. Continue reading

Our SDR Experience

Nothing could really prepare us for Solly’s Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy. That’s not to say that I totally unprepared: I’d read countless personal stories about the surgery, devoured anything the doctor’s office sent to us, and asked plenty of questions of fellow Mama’s whose babies had already had the surgery. Those Mamas were even kind enough to give me tips and tricks for the hardest part of the surgery: the recovery. I’ve said it before: the Special Needs community is awesome.

All that said and done, next to our time in the NICU, this surgery was the hardest thing we’ve been through to date with Solly. There were a lot of unhappy moments, quite a few tears, and many sleepless nights. Solly is one of the happiest kids I’ve ever met, so when I see him crying or in pain, I will do anything to stop it.

It was an exhausting few days.

There’s a lot to cover. Here’s what went down before and during surgery: Continue reading

A belated post. SDR: It’s On!

Let me let you in on a little secret: when I take a little break from Solly’s blog, it’s usually because I’m so anxious about something that I am struggling to put an experience into words. While we’re currently in the hospital with Solly recovering from SDR (spoiler!), I wanted to document our entire experience with this potentially life-changing surgery. So before I write about the actually surgery, this post, which I started writing over a month ago but never finished, picks up where the last post left off – our SDR consultation.

When Solly and I walked into Dr. Park’s office at the end of February, I was convinced that the appointment would be short, that, on the negative, we’d quick a quick “no” that would allow me to cross SDR off our list of possible interventions, and, on the positive, we’d finally – finally! – get some clarity around the type of cerebral palsy Solly has. Continue reading