2 years since the day that change ALL of our lives

 

It has been a long time since i have posted. Apologies for that, life has got in the way.

I can not believe that 2 years ago today Seth made it to transplant and he got ‘the magic’ from his daddy. The difference in him in those 2 years is unbelievable! I don’t think Nik or I ever thought we would be raising a ‘normal’ boisterous cheeky child – who hasn’t been hospitalised with illness in OVER A YEAR!!!!!! – that would never ever happen! We spent 5 years in hospitals, just thinking this was how parenting was. Knowing nursing staff on sight, where as now I doubt the nurses in our local hospital would recognise us!

So Seth – medically is doing really well. In terms of his immunology he is fine! Great in fact! He has now had all of his immunisations (he had to start all over again as if he is a new born) and has managed them fine. We are also now on ANNUAL visits to the Great North Children’s Hospital!!!!!!!! – in 6 years we never thought this would ever be possible!

He had period where he suffered with a sickness bug. For two or three days he was ill, but recovered well. Although, he stopped eating and it took us a few days to get him back to eating anything. This worried me and I was anxious that we should be ringing the hospital. However, he came out of it and is now back to eating EVERYTHING in sight – which is another first for us as he has always been fussy with his food. I think his taste buds are finally recovering from the years of steroids and the chemo. He is trying new foods and enjoying them, he is looking forward to certain types of food for the first time ever! So for those of you coming out of chemo and going through that phase of being desperate for your child to eat and not understanding why they won’t eat the slightest thing – don’t worry – eventually they will! People told us this, but at the time it seemed like there would be no end. That Seth would always only eat ham and pretzels! But now he loves Chicken Curry, Fajitas, a roast dinner, lasagne – all sorts of sauce based food! Only recently has he been able to eat sweet food. Seth has never been partial to chocolate or anything sweet, however, in the past few weeks he has started to ask for sweet treats! This is something we are trying to manage well as we don’t want his teeth rotting away – especially when the dentist has been so pleased with the quality of his teeth because he had not had sugar!

Seth is growing as well. He is still small for his age, more like a 3-4 year old. However, he is finally growing! I have had to buy new shoes and clothes for him because he has grown out of things- I have never had to do this before! (well only previously because the steroids made his belly so large that I had to buy a bigger size in tops!). His legs have also grown and he is much more in proportion. He is still on a night feed of milk to help with his calorie intake (and hopefully growth).

Physically Seth is improving all the time. A few weeks ago he walked to school for the first time. It was his request and we didn’t think he would make it the whole way. But he did, and he really enjoyed it! He does have a bowing to his legs where his bones that go into his knee joints have grown at different speeds – so the outside has grown faster than the inside causing his lower leg to come out at an angle rather than being straight. We have been to a specialist about that and they have noted some improvement so are not going to interfere at present. I can also see an improvement as he is running and able to do small jumps now, where as previously he couldn’t do that at all.

All in all his quality of life is infinitely better than what it was 2 years ago and we have The Great North Children’s Hospital, the nursing staff and doctors on Ward 5 and of course Andy Gennery and the other immunology consultants who worked so hard to get him through transplant.

Although things are going better than expected, you still get your worries, the niggles that you have developed over time worrying about a child with health problems. However, they aren’t as strong and less frequent. Life becomes fun again and planning for the future doesn’t require the careful planning and commitment that it once did. Seth has ongoing battles to face in relation to finding his place socially and catching up educationally. He missed so much as a child that he is not as developed or sophisticated as his peers and it is hard as a parent to watch your child try and figure his way through this maze. He wants to socialise with peers his age, but he is smaller and not as mature, but then children younger than him he struggles to understand and accept their unpredictability. Educationally he struggles sometimes but he is catching up so hopefully he will get there. We will do what we can do to support him, but unfortunately these things we can’t do for him.

I am afraid this is likely to be my last post on here. With work, family life and another baby on the way I am struggling with time!!! Thank you to every single one of you for the support you have shown Seth over the past 2 and a bit years. You can never know how much it helped us help him.

Thanks

Leanne, Nik, Seth and Hugo.

This is how Seth has been spending some of his time since transplant!

IMG_9158

Guitar playing

IMG_9275

Making the most of a hot and sunny day in England at the beach!

IMG_9290

IMG_9761

IMG_0197

IMG_0754

IMG_0930

Giving his brother a lift!

IMG_1163

IMG_1264

IMG_1387

IMG_1388

IMG_1389

First Ski lesson!

IMG_1391

Has there ever been anyone more excited to meet Santa?!?!

Advertisements

T+407…we did it! Over a year since transplant! 

So it’s been over a month since the one year anniversary of Seth’s bone marrow transplant. 

Since my last blog (which was a while ago- apologies!) we have stopped quite a few medicines and stopped the immunglobulin infusions. Which is amazing progress! After Seth’s first transplant we were told that he would need the immunglobulin infusions for life because he would never produce B cells. However, this transplant has basically reset everything and he now produces his own B cells! Amazing! 

Also no sign of GVHD! So we can relax a bit. 

Seth is continuing to love school and we have been able to have our first family holiday since the transplant and Seth has been able to have his first plane ride!!! It was such a lovely holiday Seth has the best time! 
However, as per ‘sods law’ two weeks before we were due to lace for holiday Seth started spiking high temps of 39 and 40. Paracetamol wasn’t bringing it down but ibuprofen was. He was started on antibiotics for a potential infection in his button (a line foof into his stomach for his milk feeds and medicines). This helped and the temperatures stopped. But then on the Monday before we were due to leave on the Friday Seth woke in the night screaming in pain in his right hand side. Investigations identified a kidney stone 😩. But he was immediately put on the right antibiotics and within 48 hours his blood markers were back in the normal range thankfully!!! We were given the go ahead to take him away 18 hours before we flew! Cutting it fine!!! 

We had a bit of a rubbish time with our flights- long delays and lost luggage but we had a lovely time in Malta. 

helping mummy at the yard

attending a masqurade themed family birthday

Making cakes for the school bake sale

ready to fly…a bit nervous until we started moving then he loved it!

Making the most of the time waiting for the flight

absolutely loving the swimming pool

dunking daddy

making the most of a warm and sunny day in England!

T+335

I know it hasn’t been that long since my last but I though I would do more of a medical update for those who are interested in the medical side of things.

Before I start though, today is a sad day as the President of the Bubble Foundation sadly passed away. Denise Robertson worked tirelessly with the charity for over 20 years helping many children like Seth and parents like Nik and I deal with SCID and a bone marrow transplant.

Here is a word from the Bubble Foundation:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/bubble-foundation-uk/denise-we-will-all-miss-you/10153593400104716

So this week Seth went back to The Great North Children’s hospital for a routine appointment with his consultant, Dr Andy Gennery. Whilst there he had a Synacthen test. This is a test to ascertain whether or not the body is producing a hormone known as Cortisol. Cortisol is important because it helps to regulate blood pressure, the immune system helps the body deal with stress and regulate blood sugar level. The Synacthen test uses a chemical to stimulate the glands into producing Cortisol. It requires three blood tests throughout a day. The results take a bit of time to come back so we don’t know if Seth is producing Cortisol.

The importance of this for Seth is steroids! Seth has been on Prednisolone, a steroid that is a synthetic Cortisol since he was 6 months old, sometimes prolonged use of Predisolone can cause the body to stop pricing Cortisol. At times he has been on a very large amount of this in order to try and control the Graft Versus Host Disease that he had prior to this transplant. As a result Seth is, as you know, very small for his age – he is currently just in 2 to 3 years old clothing, when he is 6 years old. He also has soft bones prone to breaking as a result of prolonged steroid use. So really, we would like for him to never have to use them again – they have been a necessary evil and been a primary medication for Seth’s treatment.

So again we wait – but this time, I am not thinking about it daily/hourly or getting anxious – I might even forget about it……. well maybe not quite!

Also during this appointment Andy made a decision about the immunoglobulin that I give Seth on a weekly basis. This involves two needles being put into his legs just under the skin (subcutaneously), the medication is a thick liquid and stings when it starts infusing into his legs so he gets quite upset. But he has needed it since he was diagnosed on Friday 13th August 2010. But today – 294 weeks later – he had his last dose! This has made Seth a very happy boy! He hates it, he cries when we put the needles in until about 10 minutes after it has started, and then again taking the stickers off and the needles out at the end. This was worse when his skin was bad with the GVHD.

 http://youtu.be/RYAnd5tSZJ8 – But also I think Daddy is grateful for the end – maybe he will grow back some arm hair. Haha.

We have also been able to stop 2 more of Seth’s medicines. This means that I have been able to send more stuff to the shed cleaning out the medicine cupboard!

 

two boxes head for the shed!

 

T+326!!

Well…..we are coming up to the first anniversary of Seth’s transplant (1st May), however, this weekend marks the anniversary of #wearyellowforseth. We have been looking back over the pictures and messages and I think we are only just beginning to realise how big the # was! I have been blown away again by your amazing support. Thank you.

Seth is well, despite Hugo being ill recently and Seth has stayed well! It seems that daddy’s magic is working well!!!

Seth is eating really well, but I don’t think he is putting on enough weight. So I am concerned about that – i guess worry never ends as a parent!

Seth has lost his first tooth this last week! However, he doesn’t have a gap because he had already grown his replacement!!! He was very proud of his little tooth and left it under his pillow for the tooth fairy (also called the princess by Seth). He was so excited he forgot about it in the morning and I had to remind him to check if the tooth fairy had been!!!!


A short update this time – but I am seeing that as a good thing as for the first time in 6 years….things are settled – long may it stay that way!!!!

Here is a little video to say THANK YOU and recap on Seth’s year!

T:298 Boy turns 6!!

So a quick and cheeky update no The past two weeks have been very busy for our little soldier! He has had his 6th Birthday! A very different experience than last year when he was allowed out of the room to open his presents, but he got ill whilst he was out so had to go back to his room. That was the last time he left his room until after transplant.

This year he had a party with a children’s entertainer, cake, food, music and face painting!

img_0765

Tom and Jerry AND Octonauts cake – because he couldn’t decide!!! (not made by mummy – Cake making is NOT a talent of mine! haha

img_0736

Helping make the food for the buffet!

img_0737img_0750

img_0744

Doing tricks with ‘Mr Custard’!

img_0747img_0767

img_0752

BATMAN!

img_0757

Playing with his new toys

img_0770

A VERY serious game of Chairs!

img_0775

Out and about…boys and their Wellies!

+272….

Its been 38 days since my last update and during that time we have had a wonderful christmas and welcomed in 2016!

I hope you all enjoyed the festive season. I know some of my readers will have spent it in hospital nursing their own children through bone marrow transplants, but I hope that everything is going smoothly for you all. I remember spending Seth’s first christmas in Great Ormond Street. We were lucky enough that he had his transplant 8 weeks earlier so we were given permission to return home for the day. It was a 2 hour drive so it was a busy day but it was lovely to be home all together. A very quiet Christmas Day but it was everything we wanted at the time. As you can see from the photo’s at the time Seth was on a very high dose of steroid as he had already got GVHD.

img_0638

Christmas 2010 – Just after transplant

Last Christmas, i will be honest, I spoiled Seth. I couldn’t admit why, but I wasn’t convinced he would get another Christmas. Although a few weeks before I had asked Seth’s consultant if I was watching him die, and was assured I wasn’t; I still was not convinced. My dad had come over for Christmas as he lived abroad, it was a good happy Christmas, but there was a dull ache or worry inside me.

img_0637

Christmas 2014 – When things had started to go wrong

Then fast forward to Christmas 2015!! The best one yet! A child’s first Christmas is considered memorable, as should be every single one after…… we always thought we had great Christmas’ with Seth, but this one proves that the rest he did not have the energy to enjoy fully. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are children in the world who’s Christmas and life do are far from as privileged as Seth. But as a parent you want to do what you can to make everything memorable. When he was feeling so rubbish, that ability was taken away from us.

December was a flurry of excitement for Seth. This is the first year he has really got excited about the build up, he talked about Santa and his Elves a lot and made up stories about what they would be doing. He loved counting down to ‘the big day’! On Christmas Eve I thought he might actually explode!!! He put a carrot and some food out for Rudolph and the rest of the reindeers, and a bottle of beer and mince pie for Santa. I was surprised at how easily he went to sleep and that he did not wake us up too early in the morning! When we went downstairs he entered the living room and whispered to himself “he’s been” with a big smile! It was amazing to see!

 

We then said goodbye to 2015. As we all do I reflected on the year, and I have to say…… what an amazing year! Starting the year with devastating news, we did not think Seth would see 2016, and yet I am sat her typing this with him asleep upstairs after he has spent the day at school! We never thought we could have got this far! Also 2015 was the year we saw amazing support for #wearyellowforseth from around the world. It helped us through some very hard times. We have recently seen another increase in interest as Seth’s video has been posted on Ellen Nation. You can vote by pressing on the green up arrow above the video (if you like) for it to be on the Ellen Show.

Seth is back in school full time now, mixing with the class like an ordinary healthy child. He loves it. He started the year just going a few hours a day, but then when he spent the whole day there for a dinosaur visitor he did really well and he has done full days since. He got a certificate in the assembly at the end of the first full week for trying hard at everything and for bringing his smile to school.

I have returned to work full time as well, so it’s strange not being home all day with the boys, but it is nice to get a bit of normality – although there are never enough hours in the day!!!! So apologies if I don’t get updates all that regularly.

Energy wise Seth is improving all the time. His hyper mobility is still there and he does still struggle to jump and run, but he is doing more and more each week.

His skin is still very good, we haven’t seen any signs of GVHD (touch wood).

His hair had started to fall out again and the white patches were once again growing. This was making me feel really anxious, this happened on the build up to his last transplant finally failing. However, it turns out his scalp has overgrown skin, almost like cradle cap (but not) which is common for people who have had a compromised immune system for a long period of time. At present we are trying to treat it with a special shampoo, it seems to be improving slowly. If it doesn’t work though we will have to try a sort of acid that we would need to put on his head for an hour a day.

Immunology wise things are great! We had a visit to Newcastle today to see Andy and he is very pleased with him, he says that its now time to concentrate more on the secondary concerns like his growth and weight. Seth has been growing in the last 6 months, but his weight has been pretty static, he is currently 12.8kg, only 2kg heavier that he was a year ago and three months ago he was 13.6kg. He is still on an overnight milk feed of 500ml (a high calorie milk feed) and his relationship with food has improved significantly. He is now eating 3 meals a day, however, he won’t eat anything with sauce so getting high calorie food into him is a NIGHTMARE! His favourite foods are Carrots, ham sandwich (no butter), Popadoms, Popcorn, sliced ham and cous cous…..its really difficult to get anything else in him. So we keep persevering and encouraging to try new things.

I no longer take it day by day, i am still on edge if something happens, but now its more about giving Seth the opportunity to live, rather than fighting for his life.

T+234….HURRAYYYY!!

So time has been ticking and the days seem to be flying by. Seth is still doing really well. We have all been ill in the house, except Seth who has been fine!!!

In the past month Seth has started back at school! It is only 1 hour a day for a one on one session with a teacher. But he loves it. It has given him more energy and his behaviour at home has improved.  The teachers are really pleased with him and say he is very dedicated. However, when I collect him each day and ask him what he has done he says “I don’t know”! 
  
However, you may notice that he has a cast on his foot in this picture….Seth broke his leg. Another side effect of his complicated health history and long term use of steroids has led to him having osteoporosis. So his bones are very prone to breaking. He was running down the hall to me and just slipped. He landed funny on his leg and unfortunately caused a very small fracture. Luckily he only needed the cast for 2 weeks. But he was happy and walking on it a few days after having it put on (with the permission of his doctor!!!)

  
Immunology wise the numbers are continuing to go in the right direction….and…..finally….we have evidence that the thymus is working! There are educated T cells now coming through. The numbers are still low but it’s a start. 

All of his bloods look good at the minute and finally he is getting his appetite back. I never thought I would get excited at Seth saying “mummy my tummy is rumbling”. 

The one thing that is worrying me at the moment is that his skin has gone a little dry. The hospital say that this is because of the change in weather and that his skin is still very sensitive. But with Seth’s history I automatically started worrying about GVHD again. 

Also his hair is thinning. He has lost his eyelashes, although there are some new short ones there, and his eyebrows have thinned. A few months prior to him being admitted this time he was losing his hair. So again I started to worry. But Seth’s doctor again thinks that this is more related to his body having been through a trauma that it is still recovering from. Reminding me that it is only 6 months since his body had to battle very hard, and that major changes are still happening internally. 

I guess that’s the struggle with a bone marrow transplant- you don’t see the changes, it’s not like they have a scar on their chest as a reminder of the transplant. 

So, I’m trying to remain positive. The champagne is still in the fridge, but I am not ready to open it yet 😉

Halloween- Surgeon Seth

 

Building a tent and watching an iPad with a snack   
Christmas is coming and Seth is very excited!!!   

Showing off the big muscles he has from all his eating.   

    

The first book from his advent (he doesn’t like chocolate and sweets so we do books)