The Real Superman Part XII

The Real Superman Part XII

By Jeff King

We began hearing a term called VNS. This procedure was supposed to be working miracles for people who suffered from intractable epilepsy. I didn’t even know what VNS was, let alone how it was done, so I began to research it. I went to the Epilepsy website and began to read about this new and innovative procedure that was helping tens of thousands of people who suffered from epilepsy. They termed this new procedure as, “the pacemaker for the brain” (Schachter, 2013). This device is placed under the skin on the left side of the chest. The wire runs to the Vagus nerve which is a part of the autonomic nervous system. This nerve controls functions of the body which are not under voluntary control. The neurologist sets the devices impulse to send a small jolt of electricity to the Vagus nerve. In theory this can stop a seizure from happening. You are also given a magnet that you can use for any onset signs of seizures, or when a seizure comes on. You placed the magnet over the stimulator outside the chest and in theory, it stops the seizure. You can learn more about it at http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/devices/vagus-nerve-stimulation-vns. This sounded wonderful, a very promising weapon against seizures. The more I read about it as well as testimonies from patients and parents and family members of patients the more I liked it. My wife had also checked it out and we were determined to talk to Dr. Rubenstein about it.

On Dylan’s next appointment to see him he asked us how everything had been going for Dylan, we explained how Dylan just laid around very lethargic and was continuing to have up to 40 seizures a day even on the medicine. We asked him to help us order a special wheelchair for Dylan, because, I could no longer carry him around because, he was getting so heavy, plus he was dead weight. He agreed and put a request into Medicaid. He started talking about maybe introducing a new medication into the mix. Terri and I quickly cut him off and almost in unison said that we wanted to try the VNS on Dylan. He listened patiently and then said, “I couldn’t agree more.” I am glad that you both are very pro-active in Dylan’s health and you both are well informed. I definitely believe that he is an excellent candidate for this procedure.” We talked a little more about it and he gave us all the details about what to expect and what side effects could also occur with this procedure. We all came to the agreement that Dylan would be fitted with the VNS and we began to plan the date of his procedure. His surgery was set for December 22nd, 2011. Which was about three months away.

Medicaid had approved him for his wheelchair, which was great for us, because now we were able to go to the store and take Dylan in with us. Before that I would sit in the car with him while Terri went inside to do the grocery shopping, which was okay, but I believe it was better if Dylan was able to go into the stores too. I mean his life consisted entirely of laying around having seizures. He no longer watched any TV. He was just there. It sounds cold and harsh, but that’s the best way I can describe him. I can tell you as a father, I cried many tears as I watched him slowly disappear his whole personality was vanquished. It was a very sad and horrible existence that he was living. I thought about the Metallica song “One” “Darkness imprisoning me All that I see Absolute horror I cannot live I cannot die Trapped in myself Body my holding cell” (James Hetfield Lars Ulrich, 1993).

I thought how sad, his body was his holding cell! This made me weep hot tears of sorrow ran down my face! I was sure hoping that the VNS would deliver my son from that darkened abyss that he disappeared into.

When we got his wheelchair we decided to go shopping at our local grocery store. I got the chair out of the trunk and set it up. I got him out of the back seat and placed him in his chair. We went grocery shopping. He just sat there impassively, but at least he was out and about, so that was a good thing. We finished shopping and we go outside. I was pushing Dylan and Terri was pushing the shopping cart. There was a car blocking the handicap aisle that was in front of the store. Terri yelled out, “How rude!” The driver of the vehicle pulled up out of the way, but started cussing us out. I told the lady that she didn’t want to mess with my wife and that she was illegally parked there anyway. She got out of her car, but stood inside her car door and hurled insults at us. Then she says to me, “You’re not even a real man, because you couldn’t even create a whole child!” Man I was enraged, but Terri was twice as angry. She wanted to go after this vulgar extremely evil women, but she didn’t. She just walked away! What an offensive wicked thing she had said! I am not going to lie, I cursed her and said that one day, that she would reap what she had sown. She reaped hate she will definitely sow that same hate! This was just another of the many incidents we would have along this journey. The hate and the evil that spews from the mouth of people against people with special needs, children with special needs! I never hated anyone in my entire life, but as God is my witness, if that woman would have choked to death on her hateful words, I would have begun to cheer right then and there. Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t wish those type of things on anyone, but it was very hurtful. It just made me hurt for my son and I just couldn’t believe this woman would say such an ugly thing about a child. (To be continued.)

The Real Superman Part XI

By Jeff King

The Real Superman Part XI

By Jeff King

Between the seizures and the meds that Dylan was on, he had regressed; mentally he was possibly 6 to perhaps 9 months in his mind. He no longer talked he would just lay around. We tried to get him up and around, but his muscles would no longer allow him to move fluidly. We were going to try a new medication trileptal. It was very promising. Right away he began to have an allergic reaction to this drug and broke out in hives. We stopped giving it to him right away and called his neurologist. He called us back and told us to continue giving it to him for the next couple of days, but we didn’t. We made another appointment with the neurologist and while we were in his office he began to argue with another neurologist that he shared an office with. It was very unprofessional and the office was full of patients. After he called us in the back to see him, he asked what we were seeing him for. Everything that we told him previously he seemed to have forgotten. We had to explain things all over again to him. He asked us are we still giving Dylan the trileptal and we told him no we stopped a few days ago! He looked at us like there was something wrong with us. I became angry and told him that I wasn’t going to keep giving Dylan the medicine after he was clearly having an allergic reaction to it. We promptly walked out of the office.

When we got home I began to search for a new Neurologist. We found one who worked out of Kennedy Krieger Institute and was a neurologist at John Hopkins University also. Dr. James Rubenstein. This guy was wonderful! He was very caring. He listened to all of our concerns. This wonderful doctor had an amazing bed-side manner reminiscent of the old time country doctors. You could see the empathy he felt towards Dylan. He didn’t look at Dylan as just another patient, one more number. No this gentleman was the real deal and he was very caring. He also answered every question or concern that we had. He took extensive notes and would ask us questions too. The other neurologist was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide. I will just refer him to that name, because, I don’t want a law suit against me for deformation of character, but this other Dr. was completely terrible when it came to Dylan. We had a wonderful first meeting with Dr. Rubenstein and He said that we will continue Dylan on the Keppra and slowly wean him off the Clonazepam, because we were sure that this was making him very lethargic. We went home thinking that we have finally found the right neurologist for Dylan and we were absolutely right.

Dylan didn’t make too much progress as we slowly weaned him off the Clonazepam. He still was very lethargic, but the seizures seemed to only worsen. He was having seizures where he would go into full grand mal seizures and when he came out of them he could no longer walk, or stand. His whole right side was like he was paralyzed. These seizures really frightened us and we noted each and every one that he had. He had also had some that were so severe that we had to give him Diazepam anally to force them to stop. Then he was rushed to the hospital several times to be checked out only to have him released in a few hours. This was very emotionally draining on us.

It was around then I was researching seizures when I first heard the term intractable epilepsy, which meant epilepsy resistant to all drugs. As I was reading about this I also found an article on SUDEP, which is an acronym for Sudden Death in Epilepsy patients. This scared me half to death and I filed it away, I hadn’t wanted to share it with Terri, because, it would only make her cry. Then Unique which was the rare chromosome disorder support group started running an article on children with Idic 15 dying un-expectantly in their sleep. This brought tears to my eyes. I read about a little ten-year old boy who had went to sleep only to never awake the next morning. I didn’t want to tell Terri any of that, but little did I know, she had already read the article. Dylan would never again sleep in his own bed for fear he would have a seizure and we would not hear him. He has been sleeping in our bed ever since.

Parents shouldn’t have to fear these things, but this is the cruel hand that fate has dealt us. We could sit back and be passive victims or we could take this fight on tooth and nail being proactive and gaining as much knowledge as we could possibly gain. Dylan needed us to be the best parents that we could be and that is exactly what we were going to do! We would never give up on him! Surrender was not an option! We were only getting started on this fight and I’ll be damned if we weren’t going to do everything in our power to make sure Dylan would fight this too! (To be continued.)