The Last Six Weeks

I find it’s always hard to come back to the blog after taking a bit of a break: where do I pick up? Do I skip everything we’ve done since our last post or do I go back and cover every single little thing?

I’ve decided this time around to do a quick recap of the end of the year as we did some noteworthy things that I want to mention.

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Enjoying Nashville in the late Fall

In short, the last six weeks were a blur. Here’s what we did: Continue reading

Head of Ring Security

This past weekend, my eldest nephew, Reid, married his best friend, Katie. The wedding party included eleven beautiful bridesmaids, eleven handsome groomsmen, a very sweet flower girl, and Solly as the ring bearer.

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Solly and Reid

My heart soared when Reid and Katie asked Solly to be their ring bearer late last year, especially when I overheard Katie tell him: “Now, Solly, we don’t care how you get down the aisle. You can walk, you can ride in a wagon, you can be carried, we don’t care. We just want you to be a part of our day.” (How lucky are we that Katie is now a part of our family?!) And the inclusion didn’t stop there: every time anyone in their wedding party saw Solly at any of the wedding events and over the wedding weekend, it was “oh, hey Solly, how’s it going?” even though every single person who said hi to him knew it was very likely that Solly would just respond with a “hi” and a wave. This approach to including Solly is how I wish the world would include anyone with a physical or intellectual disability.  Continue reading

Our Stem Cell Therapy Experience

I’ve struggled with this post. I’ve debated on how much medical detail I should go into on a topic that I truly don’t know that much about. I also worried about sharing too much because, as I’ve learned by participating in support groups on Facebook, stem cell therapy is still very much in a research phase and, as such, it is a polarizing topic. However, because we did our own research and have had wonderful results with our first round of stem cell therapy, it’s important to share our experience. Here it is.

I never thought stem cell therapy would be an option for Sol. When I was pregnant with him, we didn’t make the necessary arrangements ahead of time to bank his cord blood. Honestly, we had a perfectly healthy pregnancy, so there didn’t seem to be a need for it.

After Solly was born and we started seeking out less traditional treatments, I kept hearing about stem cells, not entirely knowing how it worked. When I found that an ongoing clinical trial at Duke University was only for children with cerebral palsy using stem cells from their own cord blood (here are some of the results from that trial), I put the entire idea on the back burner. Around the time that I was pregnant with Bea, I heard whispers that Duke’s next stem cell study for cerebral palsy would be testing sibling cord blood, so we arranged to bank Bea’s cord blood so we would be prepared when this treatment was available to us.

Continue reading

The Right Kind of Support

Before I had Solly in my life, social media was a place to simply share photos, articles, humblebrag, and occasionally whine. Back then, even though I was working in digital marketing, I felt myself growing increasingly annoyed with all the oversharing on all platforms and was particularly ready to pull the plug on Facebook (hello, addiction!).

Then, I had a special needs child. Because of HIPPA, our doctors and therapists couldn’t connect me with other parents going through a similar journey. I connected with a few parents while in waiting rooms, but their child’s diagnosis wasn’t always the same, so I still had questions and craved advice from parents who had been there, done that. So, I started googling and realized how many special needs parents were making those kinds of connections on social media – mostly, Facebook, but also Instagram and Twitter. Over the past three years, I’ve started one support group and have followed and participated in several others. These groups not only help me discover new therapies, new medical treatments, and doctors that can help Solly, but they also give me a place to vent and share wins with people who go through similar ups and downs every day. Plus, I’ve even gotten to meet several local parents who I’ve since met up with in person! (These meet ups are refreshing – it’s always like reconnecting with a long-lost friend.)

A daily walk in the shoes of a special needs parent is certainly not an easy one. But I’ve found that with the right support group, life has gotten a little less scary and, in most cases, I’ve even felt empowered when making decisions for Solly.

If you’re new to a cerebral palsy or stroke diagnosis, or you’re simply looking for help with some of the alternative therapies, here’s a list of my go-to support groups on Facebook:

General

KISS Pediatric Stroke Support (I started this support group with two other stroke Mamas so we could not only connect parents with one another and share experiences, but so we could also follow what non-profits were doing to advance pediatric stroke awareness. We’ve grown to over 1,000 members and have parents from all over the world.)
Mom’s of Pediatric Stroke Survivors (If you’re local to the middle Tennessee area, be sure to join this one. It’s based in Nashville and gives lots of good resources on local therapies and doctors, plus the Mama who started it puts together a meet up every few months.)
CP Warriors, Mommies, Daddies, Grandparents, and Caregivers
2014 Cerebral Palsy Babies Support

Medical & Alternative Procedures

SPML – Selective Percutaneous Myofascial Lengthening
HBOT for Pediatric Neurological Conditions
Parents for HBOT
Stem Cell Therapy for Cerebral Palsy and Brain Injury (Parents Information)
Pediatric Cannabis for CP & Other NeuroMuscular Disorders
Pediatric Cannabis Therapy
Anat Baniel Method Parents/Caregivers

Know of any others I should add to the list? Feel free to send them my way!

As I mentioned above, I’ve also met some parents and gotten great info on other social media platforms. I’ll do my best to put together a post with my favorites, so if Facebook isn’t your thing, stay tuned!

Solly and Bea

Another type of support often seen in our house: sister helping brother!