Sam. Conqueror. Overcomer.

On the 15th May 2009, Samuel Christian made his way into this world...two month's premature and in severe respiratory distress. Within hours, Sam was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome - a very rare congenital disorder, of which little was known. The diagnosis together with the immediate challenges Sam faced to thrive became our core focus and it was with joy and thankfulness that we eventually brought Sam home, after nine weeks in the NICU.

As time pressed on, it became obvious that Sam's development was falling behind that of his RTS peers. Shortly before his 5th birthday Sam underwent a brain scan and it was confirmed by a paediatric neurologist that in addition to Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, Sam also has Cerebral Palsy related to his premature birth, as well as Autism.

This blog chronicles our journey through these challenges...
Our world has crashed, been blown apart.
This can't be happening....why us? Why now?
Your fragile life shaken before it could barely start,
How do we get through this...please, Lord, tell us how?

Drowning in our sorrow, waiting for answers that just don't come.
Our baby "special needs"? It simply can't be true!
The heartache overwhelms us, we're left feeling cold and numb.
The diagnosis tells us little - these children are so few.

But then we finallyget to touch you, to see your precious face
And all the heartache and questions fade, replaced with love and pride.
It's obvious from the very start you're showered in God's grace,
And with His love and guidance, we'll take this challenge in stride.

When once we couldn't pronounce it, Rubinstein-Taybi's become our norm.
When once the future seemed dark, we now welcome the journey as having an RTS angel brings lessons in unexpected form.

Our world has crashed, been blown apart!
This IS us.....right now!
We've been blessed with a gift, so precious from the very start. How do we get through this? Here's how.....
By believing in a God, so merciful and great,
By trusting that He's right beside us as we journey through the narrow gate.
By believing His love for us is not determined by a human frame,
By trusting that we draw Him near by merely calling His name. This precious baby we asked God for,
Prayed he'd be perfect and complete.
And, as Samuel means "God hears", He's laid His answer at our feet.

(Nicky de Beer : 27/05/2010)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

All a mom wants :)

I was absolutely determined to hold out posting until I got an opportunity to do so from my pc...well that worked out well, so here we are :/

Iris House Childrens Hospice contacted me last week to say they're coming to do a respite care sit yesterday morning so I had mentally prepared a jampacked four hours of ironing, taking up the hems of the several pants hung over my chair that I can't wear (would be hysterically happy to one day buy a pair of pants that don't need shortening) and then of course had at least a two hour blogging session in mind. However, the IH ladies arrived and Sam seemed so completely relaxed and 'okay' and there were a few errands I needed to run yesterday which were going to be a bit tricky with Sam, like needing to have a few docs certified at the local police station for Meg's high school application (Eek). Which local police station has only 2 very steep, very short steps at the ramp in sight...very disabled friendly. I also then needed to go deliver the application which would entail having to strap Sam into his pushchair to walk up a sloped driveway with my dodgy, braced ankle just to literally hand the envelope over and leave again. Unfortunately, while the idea of a nicely laid out post with neatly, appropriately detailed pictures was attractive, the thought of ironing and sewing compared to an hour to myself was not. And so Sam had his very first 'solo' respite sit! And it went really well. He refused to drink his Pediasure which was sort of expected but I was only gone for just under an hour-and-a-half so that wasn't a huge trainsmash.

And the dodgy ankle brace means that I can finally drive again. Big whoop whoop! Which means that Sam could return to his therapies for the first time in  almost 8 weeks. I anticipated a really resistance-filled physio session on Friday but Sam surprised both Heidi and myself. Of course there was some moaning, but there always is. I actually think it would be fair to say it was one of Sam's most fruitful sessions yet and with him having four-and-a-half years of therapy under the belt, that's no careless statement! With my ankle taking so long to heal I've had to push Sam to see walking as the first choice of movement and not so much mom's hip. So wherever we've needed to go, whether it's the short distance to the bathroom or the much longer distance from the car to the door, I've insisted Sam walks it with me holding him steady on his waist. Realistically, he's still not going to walk any time soon (even though his 5th birthday looms barely a month away) but he's definitely becoming less afraid and fear is ultimately what's holding him back right now. Last week I needed to pop into our local Spar and decided to take Sam's walker along. It was the most entertaining trip we've ever had to such a basic store. Of course Sam loved that he was navigating his own way and gestured wildly while exclaiming with delight, in an especially sing-songy voice, at things he recognised like bananas. At the end of the trip the five items we purchased took us more than 45 mins but it was well worth it. 

We're still battling to secure an appointment with the neurosurgeon who operated on Sam's tethered spinal cord which is becoming increasingly frustrating for a host of valid reasons, not least of which would be that as he performed the surgery he is obviously the person you'd most like to do the follow-ups and also, we really liked him and his caring and compassionate nature, which is probably the reason why he's chosen to discontinue private practice and focus only on his work at the state hospital, where we are not welcome. Thankfully, by way of kindness, we've been referred to a new neurosurgeon. The orthopaedic surgeon taking care of my ankle insisted on giving Sam an impromptu and free examination at my last follow-up. He completely agreed with the need to have Sam undergo a follow-up MRI of his spinal cord and immediately requested his assistant schedule an appointment for us with the neurosurgeon just down the passage, who he highly recommends. So we see the neuro this coming Monday...finally!

I do tend to become emotionally attached to Sam's specialists. It takes me a long while to establish trust, so to have to keep rebuilding relationships can be a bit exhausting, not to mention the nagging guilt. But I do have to admit that I now absolutely advocate the need for very occasionally acquiring a new perspective. For eighteen months we have battled, unsuccessfully, to try and resolve Sam's sleep problems and find out once and for all what prevents him from resting peacefully and drives him to such extreme frustration that he resorts to hours of harmful body bashing, despite us having tried almost every medication available. As I mentioned in my last post (I think?) the prof paed we saw on 10th March changed Sam's reflux meds from Losec to Nexium. Sounds kinda insignificant, right? Well for fourteen consecutive nights Sam slept through most of every night. There would be an occasional 30 seconds bashing here and there but nothing even as remotely distressing as before. He's now unfortunately got a bit of a snotty nose so we're back to disrupted sleep again, but still very manageable. He's even been taking afternoon naps again, the shortest one being today of just over an hour while the others have lasted up to two/two-and-a-half hours. And a kid who's finally getting some decent sleep makes for a much more relaxed little dude all round... whether it's at therapy, in shops or spending five hours next to a hockey field each day for Meg's recent hockey tour.

Sam also seemed to be in a bit of a eating slump at the time we saw Prof paed so he suggested putting Sam back on Cipla-Actin and what a barrel of laughs that has been, he's now constantly starving. And where we had found ourselves back at that place where I was pureeing things like cooked-to-the-point-of-being-mush oats and even shop bought baby food (Yes, really), all of a sudden Sam was eating pieces of apple, jelly tots and even chocstix (chocolate covered pretzels). And anyone eating in his presence without his own mouth chewing is a no-no. We were at a braai (BBQ) one night, Sam having had his dins much earlier, and I was just about to bite into my rib when a little hand reached over and slowly guided the meat to his own mouth. If it wasn't for the chilli spice on it I might have let him take a nibble just to see his reaction. 

Sleeping and eating.... what more could a mother want for her child? Okay... maybe pooping. Oh...and talking...and walking would be nice too :)

Ending off with pics ♡

For a kid with such major sensory issues,  Sam is very tactile and usually needs to be holding onto someone whether it's Meg's hand in the car, Mom's hand while he iPads or Mom's arm while he sleeps. I adore this part of Sam ♡  

  Another cute habit Sam has is what's commonly referred to by our RTS community as 'twinning'. Twinning is basically when, for instance, our kiddos want to watch the same thing on tv and their ipad at the same time. It can be quite tricky successfully timing both devices perfectly but I have to say we've quite near mastered it.  

   It's such a 'smally' for some but the fact that the lil smurfy dude can transition into a sitting position independently again still makes me so happy. No achievement is sweeter than when accomplished despite challenges, lost through trauma and then mastered again ♡

    Sam getting some much-missed flapping in next to the hockey field

     Making himself at home at Overmeer Guesthouse    

      Dad kinda loved the kingsize bed... less chance of being whacked by a stray,  thrashing arm  

       The only time Sam slept during the six hours there and the six hours back - and this snooze lasted all of about 15 mins. 

        Meg on the other hand slept almost the whole way... not unusual for her
Sam's early birthday pressie from Bramps 

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