IEP (Day +505)

When Clark turned 3, not only was he a year older, but it was also time for him to switch over to another special education program. The Regional Center only helps children from birth until their 3rd birthday. With their help, they transitioned Clark to receive help through the school district.

Our school district set up meetings and evaluations. Clark was evaluated by a speech therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist and a physical therapist. He was evaluated twice with each group. I also had multiple meetings with them to explain the process and sign papers. It was a long, tedious process, but they made sure we were able to complete everything before Clark’s birthday. We are still waiting for an evaluation from the vision specialist though. Once Clark was approved for special education, the school set up an IEP for him.

An IEP  (Individualized Education Program) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. This is an important legal document that spells out Clark’s learning needs, the services the school will provide and how progress will be measured. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP.

Clark is now taking Speech therapy 4 hours a week.  In 2 hour sessions, twice a week. He is also taking physical therapy for 30 minutes, once a week. In the short period of time Clark has been in therapy, I have already noticed improvement. We are extremely happy that Clark is able to get such great care in the areas where he needs help to thrive.


Eye Surgery (Day +499)

Ophthalmology insisted on taking a closer look at Clark’s eye before Christmas. We were scheduled for December 21st, but the boys caught a cold. As it turns out, an upper respiratory infection mixed with anesthesia can cause blocked airways. Something everyone would like to avoid.  We were able to push Clark’s procedure to December 30th.

So far, all of Clark’s surgeries have been relatively minor. Getting his central line (twice- once for a single lumen, and once for a double lumen), and having them removed, bone marrow biopsies, and now an eye exam under anesthesia. But even though these are all considered safe, they still scare us. There are studies showing a link between anesthesia before the age of 3, with ADHD, learning disabilities, and language delays. This will be Clark’s 7th surgery, and he only turned 3 this month.

Surgery went relatively well. Dr. Moore dilated Clark’s good (right) eye, before going under. Once he was asleep, they put orange dye through his veins to watch where the blood clots/leak was coming from. Then they took pictures, and lasered the leaking veins to prevent further leakage. The fluid coming out of the vessels in his eye can lead to a hormone release, which can cause blindness. This is why the laser treatment is so necessary.

Clark will come in for a follow up surgery to make sure the leak has stopped, and the blood clots are gone. If not, there will be more laser treatment. Lets hope this leak has disappeared, or at least shrunk!


Merry Christmas!

If you recall, last Christmas was bittersweet. Clark had an infection in his central line, and we were sent to the hospital for IV antibiotics and close monitoring. The downside- we were in the hospital for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. The up- side? Santa came to deliver gifts to all the children in the hospital, and Clark had his central line removed.

Clark was scared of Santa, so Connor sat between them <3
Clark was scared of Santa, so Connor sat between them <3

This Christmas was very different. It was perfect! No illness, no hospital trips, and 100% joy and love. We enjoyed a morning walk, followed by a delicious (and easy!) breakfast. Then we opened gifts. It took the boys almost all day to open their presents. They took their time, while they played with each new toy. We ate (way too much!), read stories, sang Christmas carols (while Patrick played the tin whistle), and watched the train go around the Christmas tree.


I couldn’t have asked for a merrier Christmas.

Ophthalmology Check-up (Day +484)

Since Clark only has 1 working eye, we need to be very careful with it. Thankfully his Ophthalmologist is in 100% agreement. Because of this, Clark wears glasses for protection. Clark is so active, it would be very easy for him to get a stick in the eye, or damage it from a fall or hit. Another proactive measure we take, is by visiting ophthalmology every 3-6 months. Just so they can monitor his right (good) eye.

Today we had our visit. It has been 5 months since the last appointment. And things don’t look good. It looks like Clark has a blood clot, or leak inside his eye. Dr. Moore needs to have a better look, which is only possible with anesthesia. No one likes to have their eyes pried open while a bright light is blinding you. Let alone a toddler! Considering the situation, Clark actually sat very still for his check up, but it was still too difficult for the doctor to understand what is going on.

These appointments usually take up half of our day, and then we are stuck in traffic on our way home. I guess that means we’re ordering in pizza tonight!

The Regional Center (Day +397 )

The Regional Center is a program through the government to help children, up to the age of 3. There are many programs they provide, such as speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, help for the blind, deaf, and more. The child has to qualify to be accepted. Usually the kids need help because of medical issues, or an accident.  To apply, all they need is a referral from a doctor OR a parent! In Clark’s case, I referred him.

After filling out a LOT of paperwork describing Clark’s medical background and sending previous medical evaluations (speech, occupational and auditory), Clark was able to be evaluated first hand through the regional center. To be approved, Clark needed to be at least 33% behind what is normal for his age.

Clark was approved for Speech and Occupational Therapy, as well as approval to see a Vision Specialist (I didn’t even know there was such a thing!).  Occupational Therapy is once per week with Joanna, a lovely lady who comes to our house. She brings a huge bag of toys, and has Clark do activities with her, such as puzzles, drawing, play dough and more. Then we see Elizabeth once every 2 weeks. She is Clark’s Vision Specialist. Elizabeth takes Clark to different local playgrounds and helps to make sure he can safely play. Since he only has vision in 1 eye, Clark doesn’t have depth perception. So she works on key words to help him understand, such as “slope”, “Step”, “drop off”, etc… For Clark, this is definitely more play than work.

Clark was approved for speech therapy. However, there is no one available to help him! From what I understand, the Regional Center hires out local therapists. And it looks like everyone is full. This is very frustrating because speech is the main reason I had Clark evaluated in the first place.

On top of that, Clark’s evaluation for physical therapy showed that he doesn’t need help. He was slightly better than where he needed to be. I think Clark needs help. He can’t jump, has trouble walking up or down the stairs, and can’t run without tripping. Under normal circumstances, I would have him re-evaluated, but it wouldn’t help much. Clark will be 3 in December, and all of his therapy will be transferred to the school district, where they will re-evaluate him. Again.

I love the help Clark is getting. I just wish it was a little easier to navigate.


Speech Therapy (Day +309)

Clark finally had his 1st appointment with Speech Therapy since his BMT. This was more of an evaluation, instead of helping Clark out. They need to see how well he is doing, if he needs help, and what the best methods to help him might be.

We learned from this evaluation, that Clark’s cognitive skills are above average! He understands what we say to him, and can follow directions. We already knew this, but its always nice to hear it from a professional. :)

As for his speech… he is behind, but very interested in learning. He can say the first part of words, or has special sounds for words.  For example, when he says “sit down” it sounds exactly like “sit down”, but when he says “milk”, it sounds like “emm”.

As it turns out, UCSF’s Speech Therapy only helps temporarily. They do not do long term therapy. So now I need to find a local speech therapist that is covered by insurance. This is turning out to be a difficult task. I have already called a few local offices, and they either have a very long wait list, or don’t accept health insurance. And since each session will cost approximately $120, and Clark has been recommended to go twice per week…. that doesn’t sound like an option. I am not done looking though! I will be making more calls this week. :)

On a positive note, there is a Regional Center that is government funded. They do Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy, as well as other programs. Clark is currently in the process of being evaluated. This may take a couple months before he is approved for help. If he is approved, Clark will have a speech therapist until he is 3, and I believe it is free of charge. This would be a huge help for him!

Pre-Vaccine: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (Day +305)

The boys have both been overdue for a haircut for a couple weeks now. We have never bothered taking them to a barber before, so Patrick, or I are the ones who do the cutting. Nothing fancy, but I think we do a decent job.

When Clark started wearing his pressure bandage, his hair would get stuck in the cohesive bandage wrap we used. Now, don’t hate on the wrap. I actually love them so much, I’m now searching to buy a case for our (giant) 1st aid kit!


Since the wrap was getting stuck in Clark’s hair, and since the heat is already here for summer, we decided to buzz cut Clark’s hair! Turns out Connor loved Clark’s new cut so much, he asked for the same haircut!


I am happy with the results, but I think I will let their hair grow like before to give them the “California” look. :)


Getting ready for a (minor) operation still takes some prep time. The day before, I was able to buy snacks for the hospital, and pack our bags. We woke up at 4am to make it to the hospital by 6am. Clark wasn’t even scheduled until 7:30am, but they needed us in early for check-in, signing wavers, and meeting the OR team.

Thankfully surgery went well, and Clark now has a blood free face with a clean line of stitches. Clark received his factor in the OR after the anesthesiologist put him to sleep. Then the doctor pulled out Clark’s scab, and made about 3 stitches on the inside layer, and another 8-10 on the surface. He will be wearing a bandage for 10 days to 3 weeks, depending on how quickly he is healing. We don’t want this active toddler to tear out his stitches!

The chance of infection increases after only 6 hours of getting an open wound.  Since Clark cut himself over 2 weeks ago, we decided to be on the safe side, and start antibiotics. Thankfully, before getting stitched up, Clark’s wound was clean, and always covered with bandages.

Clark woke up irritated and groggy after the surgery. This is a pretty common side effect. But with a little cuddling and patience, he started to calm down. And once he found out he was getting a Popsicle, he definitely perked up! Around 10am, when Clark was back to his old self, and the nurse had taken out his IV, we were finally able to head home.


Plastic Surgeon

After Clark had his dose of factor, we waited the 72 hours before pulling off Clark’s pressure bandage… the bleeding has stopped. However, there is a giant protruding scab, and  it doesn’t look normal.

So to get some answers, Clark met with the Chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery today. After hearing about the events over the last 2 weeks, and taking a look at Clark’s eyebrow, the doctor decided the best plan is for Clark to get stitches.

As it turns out, Clark’s scab is preventing his cut from fusing back together. The scab is actually in-between the 2 broken sides of skin. His eyebrow will not heal properly if left this way.

When I hear stitches, I think back to when I was 18, and needed 3 stitches on my hand. The nurse numbed the area, put in the stitches, and I was good to go! Apparently Clark’s case isn’t so simple. Since Clark is only 2 years old, and fights like a champ, Clark needs to get general anesthesia. He is actually going in for “surgery” at the hospital. They will wipe away the scab (you know, the one we worked so hard at getting in the first place), wash out the wound, and then stitch his eyebrow back together. Most likely 2 layers of stitches. “Surgery” is at 7:30am tomorrow morning, but we need to be at the hospital by 6am. Please have Clark in your thoughts. Even though he’s been through minor surgeries before, we still hate the idea of putting him to sleep.

Anyone reading this who has Hemophilia, or a child with Hemophilia: If in doubt, call your hematologist. The Surgeon doesn’t seem to think Clark needs factor before his stitches, due to the fact that he only has mild hemophilia. That didn’t sit well with me considering all of the bleeding Clark has had this week. So I decided to call Hematology myself. They were VERY glad I called to let them know about the stitches. And definitely want Clark to receive factor while he is under anesthesia. The nurse practitioner is now in the process of making sure that factor will be available, and that it is in the anesthesiologists notes. She is also calling to make sure everyone is on board.

Pre-Vaccine: Thrill Seeker, Part 3 (Day +288)

14 hours after Clark’s pressure bandage was placed, I took it off. Clark had been itching to take it off all day because it covered some of his vision. As I took the bandage off,  I held my breath- hoping to see a big scab, with no bleeding. As the the pressure was released, there was a “pop” as blood squirted out onto the sidewalk. It wasn’t the actual sound of a “pop”, nor was it the scab “popping” off. The pop was more like popping a zit. Gross, I know., but the best description I could think of.

Blood continued to run down his face as I re-wrapped his cut. I knew that Clark needed to get his factor today, but I also knew that it wasn’t “urgent” since I was able to stop the bleeding with his pressure bandage. So before we headed to the Treatment Center at UCSF, we took an hour detour for Connor’s kindergarten evaluation. Which he did amazingly btw. :)

The treatment center did a great job. They distracted both my boys with toys, and played Planes on the giant tv. Before even attempting to poke Clark, they checked his veins, and put a numbing cream in the areas they thought would work best. Then we had to wait for 45 minutes for the cream to do its magic. It took 3 attempts to finally get Clark his factor. This was not fun for poor Clarkie. But I am so glad they were successful. Then they washed Clark’s cut, and put another pressure bandage on it.

Our new plan for Clark, is to have him wear the pressure bandage for 72 hours. I will also be taking Clark in to see Plastic Surgery on Monday. Hematology thinks that they may have more options to help close his cut, without making him scar too much.