Olivia's journey has been rough - to say the least. Born perfectly healthy, her declining health has always been called a mystery. Fifteen years have come and gone, with no change to the daily seizures that have held our hearts hostage..... until now. Finding HOPE and healing for our girl began with the introduction of Medicinal Cannabis - A controversial treatment for untreatable seizure disorders.

Her story briefly -

At 18-months she developed little "shaking spells" in the middle of the night. Olivia's journey has been rough - to say the least. Born perfectly healthy, her declining health has always been called a mystery. Fifteen years have come and gone, with no change to the daily seizures that have held our hearts hostage..... until now. Finding HOPE and healing for our girl began with the introduction of Medicinal Cannabis - A controversial treatment for untreatable seizure disorders.The Neurologist called them "Generalized Myoclonic Seizures". In many cases this can be the beginning of a degenerative condition, but month after month Olivia “defied” this inaccurate diagnosis by continuing to develop normally. Several months later, after a medical procedure, the little "shakes" became large jerks that would catapult her to the floor. She stopped talking, stopped responding to our voice and appeared have entered her own little world. The seizures continued to change. They soon became "drop" seizures and would come on with no warning and she would fall or crash into whatever was in front or below her. They continued to worsen into classic tonic clonic seizures that would last anywhere between 40 to 90 seconds.

Complexity was the word often used to describe Olivia's condition. We've done our due diligence.....we tried all the medications, none worked. We tried the supplement route through a well-known clinic in Chicago. We then tried the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), to which the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet is developed from. We saw such amazing results from this diet we decided to take her off the many supplements she was taking because we didn't think she needed them. Well, we were wrong, and she crashed. Apparently, the supplements were helping her --- it was not a coincidence. It made sense that to get her back (at least to the place before pulling the supplements away), we should just put her back on the supplements -- but it didn't happen that way. The complexity often used to describe her was now ten fold, any change we made "upset" her fragile hypersensitivity to change and her path became even more confusing and "crooked". The Medicinal Cannabis has finally given us a mechanism to control the extreme Neurological Inflammation racing through her little body -- something every anticonvulsant medication failed to deliver on.

Our beautiful girl

Our beautiful girl

As a parent to a severely autistic child who has daily uncontrolled seizures, the memory of her being "normal" has never been forgotten. The hope of helping, if not stopping her daily suffering has been an uphill journey. Approaching her situation from a diet perspective is not an entirely new idea. Olivia was on a version of the SCD diet in 2005 with some success because I never introduced the homemade yogurt, which is the main healing modality. The main difference between then and now is the knowledge base of Dr. McBride and her ability to share the wealth of information she personally gathered as she cured her own severely autistic child with the SCD diet.

I do respect and am thankful for the excellent emergency practices of the conventional medical institution. Their services have literally saved Olivia's life on numerous occasions. Alternative care has taught me so much about the power of your own immune system, and the tragedy that can follow when the immune system is damaged. Why these two worlds can't work together to shape and protect us all is a shame.

This blog is really about our journey over the last 15 years. Although the focus is Olivia and her recovery, I will also include how this has affected our whole family and how we have dealt with this unexpected interruption in our lives.

Hebrews 11:1 -

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Have a question or comment for me?

If you have a question or comment for me feel free to leave it under the "comments" section on the bottom of each individual post. If you would like to leave a private comment you can email me at kellynjohnson94@gmail.com.

Friday, November 11, 2016

More pieces to her puzzle ---- so now what?

New tests. New results....with different findings. New Pieces to her puzzle!!!

Specific, individualized testing that is 100% Olivia, her genes and only hers. This is the kind of information I wish I had 16 years ago. With new information comes a new strategy...one that has emerged in the last couple months. A new strategy pointing her and I down a new path.

For so many years, everything I tried for her was based on information for the "masses". We tried medication that worked wonderfully for most kids, but it didn't work for her. Biochemical supplement regime's that miraculously healed many children who regressed during toddler hood, but nope, not for her.  Olivia always was the one that the intervention did not work.

Searching for answers to complex health issues is never easy.  Right? Often times these answers are referred to as "pieces to a puzzle" since most stories like Olivia's seem to be "mysterious" conditions that are not identified and/or explained in the medical community. Sigh.

Sometimes, I think that I find new pieces and am hopeful for a moment until trial periods pass without any significant change. More recently though,  I have learned that the medicines she's been on are like wrong pieces jammed into place, forcing adaptation of her unique puzzle until the edges are bulging out of place. Bulging and......causing problems. But, as we know, a puzzle piece either fits or doesn't fit - there is no in between.

I've referred to her chronic illness in past posts as "Metabolic Mayhem" and there is a reason. Her hypersensitivity to any changes in her system sets her back until homeostasis is reached again. Dictionary.com defines homeostasis as : "the maintenance of metabolic equilibrium within an animal by a tendency to compensate for disrupting changes."

Many times this can take days (magic number seems to be 4) or in some cases weeks. Why am I telling you this? Well.....even though I have new test results with new pieces, making the necessary changes in her diet, her medicine and her supplements mess up any homeostasis she has. I kind of liken it to turning a big semi around on a two lane highway. Although seemingly impossible, with the right care and time it most certainly could be done.

Moving forward with hope, I view these new test results as the straight-edged pieces that, when locked together will construct the outline or the border separating where the remaining pieces will be housed, with hope they will interlock perfectly. I have always done my puzzles that way - get the frame done first, then fill in with groups of related colors/images. Not only do I have a new direction with new information, but also, I finally have several different doctors/experts who understand what went wrong and may know how to systematically piece Olivia's fragile little body back together - piece-by-piece.

Although weaning her off the Keppra has been a rough piece withdrawal, it must be done. Her inability to break it down leaves a bigger mess for her fragile system to deal with. So many changes.....such little time. Yes, I am still weaning her. Ugh.

I must admit something. I haven't written because I feel somewhat embarrassed. My pride envisions amazing updates for you, but the material just isn't here yet. Right now her story looks pretty much the same. Really good weeks are followed by an illness that takes her down for a week or more. I feel a wave of relief when she is finally able to crawl out of the black hole that sucked the life out of her. I continue to be eternally grateful for the Medical Cannabis, it is the only thing that has given her the monthly reprieve.

She has gone from not being able to get out of her wheelchair as depicted here:

To walking on her own for days on end as depicted here:

Medical Cannabis is a miracle maker! I'm thankful and I want more of this sort of good!

I'm not very good with disappointment and setbacks.  God has sort of been silent at this stage of the game, and that's ok. I choose to go deeper with him. I pray. I repent. I forgive. I believe. I withhold the will of my struggling heart to shout "What's taking so long Lord"?!

I was talking with a friend the other day. A friend that knows the difficulties Olivia has faced with non compliance of almost everything we've tried. She said such a profound statement. She said, "It's like feeling your way in the dark." That is my journey in one sentence. Feeling my way in the dark. Remember.....I've been walking this road for 16 years, not 16 days. Being alone in the dark isn't fun; it can be down right scary. No wonder I'm always so scared. Scared of making the wrong change. Scared of making too large of a change. Scared I'm not moving fast enough. Scared I am moving too fast. Scared I'm not giving her body a chance to adjust. It's just so exhausting isn't it?

Olivia's path to wellness isn't clear, like so many other people who suffer from complex chronic illness. We pray for that miracle. We partner with God with faith. And we wait.

Remember the story of the missing axe head in 2 Kings 6:1-7? It's the story of a couple of men who are set to build a house. While working, their borrowed axe head flew off the handle and landed at the bottom of the Jordan River. The most important tool for them to move forward with their plans of rebuilding is lost - down in the deep, dark water. There is no way they could find that master piece on their own. I can relate......it's like feeling your way in the dark.

Their answer was Elisha - a powerful prophet of God's. After learning where it had fallen, he took a stick and threw it to that spot and the axe head floated up to the top where they were able to grab it and move on with their building. They wouldn't have found it without him.

They had Elisha, we have Jesus. Only the True Healer knows the way out of the dark and that is who I am trusting.  Remember, his "perfect love drives out fear" (I John 4:18), which includes my fear in the dark corners.....the dark shadows of her complex puzzle. He stops me from expressing the human reaction to fear --- the feeling of needing to run away, abandon my hope and take flight.

So what do I do? I wait - preferably patiently. I identify with Habakkuk. He was told:

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3)

Onward is over rated - I point you Upward until next time!


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