I have written to you (Bill Leaver and Kevin Vermeer) several times since June with no response. Julia is listed as a contact for media on the Unity Point website and I have not received a response from her either. I called and left a message for Mr. Vermeer's assistant last week and did not receive a response that way either. Incase you didn't receive them before, you can find them by scrolling past this email to the bottom as they are also included in this email.
I have shared my story with the Des Moines Register, Associated Press, the President of the Iowa Senate as well as with all of the Republican House and Senate Members. Senator Grassley's office admitted that they were aware of your hospital policy not allowing your physicians to sign off on the CBD cards, which I found shocking. I also have contacts at most of the major news outlets for television as well. I am sure Iowans would be interested in hearing that the non-profit and publicly funded hospital who touts in their commercials about how much they care for sick kids are blocking an already extremely limited bill that parents fought so hard to get.
Perhaps my last emails were too lengthy but it is difficult to share my son's story without it. I am not going to write why I think CBD is a good choice for my child. Your hospital has made it clear with its policy that you don't trust your own doctors let alone the parents of your own patients to decide what is best for their children.
So I will just share with you some facts about my child's healthcare journey. My son just turned 3 this month. In those three years he has had to fight so hard to do things that other kids and families take for granted. Two years ago, I was informed that he has a mass growing in his brain and that the mass would most likely cause seizures and that it would require surgical intervention at some point in his life.
The mass is circled in yellow below. Due to that mass, my son has to go through routine MRIs which are dangerous in so many ways to a young body. Yet, your hospital won't let us have legal access to a medicine which is anti-tumoural and anti-seizure. Instead - you would rather us put him through MRIs and multiple sedations to make sure it isn't growing. So every six to nine months we have to say goodbye to our son and pray that he wakes up from sedation and that he doesn't stop breathing during the procedure again.
In addition to the mass in his brain he also suffers a Rare Chromosome Disorder called 7q31.31 which deleted the KCND2 gene, which also pre-disposes him to Epilepsy. He is just ONE of THIRTY-FIVE people in the world who are known to have this.
We learned all of this before he turned 18 months old. However, on top of that he was also diagnosed with Hypotonia (he was unable to walk until he was 30 months old), Sensory Processing Disorder, Microganthia and more. His diagnosis list doesn't stop there but due to the fact that you have zero care in the world for what my son is going through or what my family is going through. After all, your paid Lobbyist/Employee/Manager of Child Protection at your hospital stated publicly that “We don’t know if families use it for their children that maybe four years from now they could contract cancer or something like that.”
We have seen three Neurologists and five Neurosurgeons. We have been to two Nephrologists (one who incorrectly diagnosed my son at YOUR hospital - forcing us to go to Iowa City), we have been to the CDD to meet OTs, PTs, STs, Developmental Specialists, we have put him through FOUR EEGs and FOUR MRIs and we have seen countless other specialists like Endocrinology, Orthopaedic Surgeons and Cranio-Facial Surgeons. We have been to the MN Epilepsy Group and are heading to Mayo for their diagnostic clinic in the upcoming months as well due to the fact that no one in Iowa can put the pieces together for us.
I am writing you because I think that if you even took one look at these kids and the lives that they live you would understand that they need help NOW. My son needs reprieve.
His Generalized Seizures and Abnormal Brain activity make is so that he never gets a break. Can you imagine getting shocked all day, every day and even while you are sleeping? Could you imagine how the lack of sleep would make a person feel? My son has never had a full good day. My son has never had a full night's sleep. My son has never had a summer or a spring or a winter without countless appointments and that doesn't even count his therapies. Can you imagine working for months and even years on learning words only to have them taken away by a seizure? Can you imagine how hard it is as a parent not to hear your child call you Mama?
It is heart breaking to try to share his story with people who are so against a medicine that may have the chance of changing his entire quality of life. A medicine that has been proven in other countries and other states to be effective on Epilepsy. However, my son doesn't just have Epilepsy. He also has that mass in his brain that I shared with you.
If that were your child - wouldn't you rather take the slight risk of giving him a medicine that could have the possibility of not only taking away his seizures but also shrinking that mass in his brain? A mass that all of our specialists are waiting to grow. A mass that has doubled in size since 2013. A mass that can cause life threatening and irreversible neurological damage.
If that were your son's brain - wouldn't you want to take the risk of giving him a plant in lieu of waiting for the most invasive brain surgery there is for your toddler?
If that were your son - wouldn't you appreciate the Executives at your own child's hospital taking the time to respond to your concerns?
Please sirs. Change your policy on CBD. Please help my son.
<<< That is Abram during his EEG when his Gramps called him to check in on him! He got so excited!
I haven't put an update on here in a little while. Life has been insanely busy and hectic.
The Short Version is: we are still waiting on the results of Abe's most recent EEG as well as the results of the first MicroArray test we did at the beginning of November.
(If you want to hear all the Blah Blah Blah...)
The Long Version Is:
We are hoping that with the results of both tests we will be on the right track as to what we can do to help Abram the best we can. We are hoping that the results from the MicroArray Test will give us some answers and guide us in answering why Abram has Hypotonia along with Sensory Processing Disorder, Macrocephaly and a host of numerous physical markers that our Developmental Specialist pointed out. From what I have learned though, Genetic testing is a long long road to find an answer and we may never be able to FIND an answer... which makes it a daunting task.
I've had a lot of folks ask why we chose to go ahead with genetic testing since there is nothing we can do to "fix" it even with a diagnosis. So, I just want to sort of explain that even if there is no "cure" or way to "fix what is wrong" the point of the testing is to rule out certain other genetic defects and syndromes and to know what to look out for in the future. Knowing what "it" is will help us to know whether our son faces other serious ailments we would need to know to watch out for (like heart defects) or to know if his life span will change. I honestly had to STOP reading through all of the Genetic Defect information because almost all of them are scary, have heart issues and shorter life spans.
To the mamas reading this who are going through this same thing - I'm just starting on this journey but your help, kind words and advice have been so helpful and have meant more than you will ever know. Not many people know what we are going through and it seems like every single mama I have met who just KNEW something was "off" about their babies were deemed crazy by friends, family and even their doctors. It has been a non-stop confrontation to even get the help we needed from certain hospitals but having this little boy to fight for has changed me entirely as a human being. I am now aggressive about our needs and expectations when it comes to our son's medical care!
To the mamas reading this who may think there isn't something right with your child trust your gut. Go with your instincts. You know your child the best. My son had a rough start but even after he was deemed healthy enough to go home from the NICU, I knew the first night home that something wasn't right and I haven't stopped fighting since. If your Pediatrician isn't doing their job, get another one and ANOTHER ONE until you have someone that sits down and listens to you and looks at your face when you are telling them what is going on. Film anything you can that shows any behaviors or things that you may think are a little strange. Document everything. If they still don't want to help you - file a complaint. These are all things that I have had to do and have done in the last five months. I had to become a pest in order to get the care my son deserved to get in the first place!
In addition to waiting for the blood work to come back from the Geneticist we are also waiting to hear back from our Neurologist regarding the results of his most recent EEG. Two weeks ago we were admitted to the Children's Hospital for what I thought would be a 24 hour ordeal and we were unable to leave for three days. It was a loooong three days too. Poor Abe didn't know what to do all connected to a little machine and he did not sleep much so by the second night he was a wreck and officially traumatized by all people in scrubs or white! He still won't let me touch his head and there is one patch of glue left but sometimes you just have to pick your battles. Our Neuro saw him the second night and was concerned because of how he looked and kept repeating he wasn't himself. In the three days he was there he had five of his episodes and when they occurred, we were to hit a button on his equipment so it would mark the video and the EEG on where to look extra closely so we can try to rule out seizures.
Our Neuro did mention that the one we marked the first night did NOT have peaks on the EEG so I am hoping that Dr. Shahinian (the Skull Base Surgeon) is correct in thinking that the vision disturbances he has are due to the cyst in his brain and not seizures at all. I obviously don't want my son to be having either but it would be a relief to know for certain that his episodes are not seizures just so we can check that off of his list of symptoms.
So that's where we are! STILL MORE WAITING!
I have come to absolutely LOVE Tuesdays, as these are the days we alternate Occupational Therapy with Physical Therapy! Today his two teachers/Occupational Therapists came to introduce to him a new realm of toys to help him with his sensory issues. What's best is the fact that these ladies are teaching ME so much on how to deal with him being freaked out by certain textures and how get him to play with toys that typically would for no better explanation - freak him out.
You know how you always see the home videos of kids devouring their cake at their birthdays or grabbing handfuls of food to shove in their face? Not this kid. When he touched the frosting on his little cupcake at his birthday party he pulled his hand back in absolute disgust and looked as if he had stuck his hand on a cactus. He did not enjoy it and he wanted to have nothing to do with his cute monster themed cupcake.
So today, the Occuplational Therapists introduced new toys and textures to him to see how he'd react. There were a few toys he wanted nothing to do with (a squishy rubber frog and two things resembling kush balls) but he enjoyed playing with a crinkly mylar balloon, a small slinky and a crinkly spiral ribbon that looked like an old gift wrapping bow. He does not do squishy, apparently.
It was interesting to watch how he'd explore the toy with his feet and how he'd hide his little hands behind his back so the icky toy couldn't touch him. However, if it was a toy he became okay with, he would eventually grab it to further inspect it with his hands. He of course is a baby and gets bored easily so within the course of an hour we did a lot but they are confident that they are seeing great improvements in his behavior so that made this mama feel pretty good about that end of things.
I try to spend the majority of my day with him on the floor playing. He loathes walkers, jumparoos, bumbos and the door frame jumpers. He does not like the feeling of just being stuck in something at all. Our PT advised us against the use of those gadgets and advised us to stick with floor time and it seems to be paying off even though my neck and back may disagree.
Right now, Abram just turned one and is functioning at about a six month old level. I'm okay with this considering when I met these ladies Abram couldn't sit up at all and wasn't even attempting to crawl. He can now eat a variety of foods (not just purees) and he moves in with his mouth to indicate that he wants more. He still can't pick up small foods or drink from a sippy but he can finally hold his own bottle so that is one hurdle I consider conquered. If I concentrated on all the things he *can't* do I would become overwhelmed and wouldn't be able to see the importance of all the little things.
So, he might not be hitting his milestones but he is learning and improving every single day and those are the moments that matter the most.
Hi! I'm Erin. I'm Abe's mama, a tireless advocate for UBE2a Deficiency Syndrome and a fierce proponent for medical cannabis.
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