Wednesday, March 14, 2007

First Appointment with Dr. Bow Tie

So yesterday morning, we had our 1st appointment w/Dr. Bow Tie. He was rapidly inducted to the "family appointment" as my mom, dad & brother all joined Todd & I for the appointment.

I'm just going to do stream-of-consciousness style to update the visit, so this may jump around a bit.

Lily's EEG showed spike & wave activity plus modified hypsarrhythmia while sleeping. It's improved over her initial diagnosis (when she had hyps all the time), and it is good that she doesn't have the hyps while awake. But, of course we're going for seizure free & clear EEG.

The activity appears to be even across all hemispheres of the brain, and therefore he does not think surgery is an option. I would eventually still like to pursure a consult with Dr. Detroit to get his opinion. There are many, many stories of local neuros saying "not a surgical candidate" but then Dr. Detroit works his magic & does surgery & child becomes seizure free.

Dr. Bow Tie thinks that the skin/muscle biopsy is definitely a worthwhile test as apparently metabolic/mitochondrial disorders can also show hypometabolism on a PET (which is what Lily's showed). Of course, cortical dysplasia also shows as hypometabolism on a PET, so it could still be either. My gut tells me we're working with some sort of dysplasia as opposed to a metabolic/mito disorder, but then who knows? So, there isn't an urgency to get the surgery and/or 3T-MRI, so we can put that off a bit.

The biggest news, perhaps, is that we've added Prednisone back into the mix and lowered her Topamax. Dr. Bow Tie didn't even flinch when I said that I had backed off a bit on the top, and was very agreeable to lowering it to the level she was at when she had the 24-hr EEG (75mg 2x/day). In all, we've lowered the dose by about 45% which I'm pleased about. I've already seen a big improvement in her level of alertness this morning, and her playfulness. We started the prednisone this morning, and so far I don't think I've seen any spasms this mroning. We'll see how the afternoon goes, of course.

We also talked about Ganaxolone. We think that actually Lily won't qualify for the study because she's tried more than two AED's over the course of her treatment. So I'm going to email the director & ask about that, and if she does NOT qualify, I'm going to ask about "compassionate care". Compassionate care is apparently where someone who doesn't qualify for the study, but would sitll benefit from the drug, can appeal to the FDA to get an exemption & start the med. Hopefully I'll hear back from the director soon.

That's pretty much it. Oh, I guess if the prednisone doesn't work in controlling the spasms, and if we can't get Ganaxolone, the Keto Diet is our next move. Cameran's Mommy, Karen, posted a great description in Cam's blog of what their typical day on the diet is like, complete with diet menu. Starting the Keto Diet would be a HUGE committment, and very time consuming & tricky (with a brother who likes to "share" his food with Luh-leee), but if it helped control the spasms, we'll make it work.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I could be (am?) a neurologist

Since getting the results of Lily's labs last week, I've been pondering what I want to do wiht her care until the Ganaxolone arrives at Children's. I think I want to take her off of all meds, or at least decrease the meds to the lowest amount, and get a real, true baseline of where she's at. She's been on dozens of medications since she was diagnosed in November of 2005. THat's a year and a half of medications.

So, I took her Topamax down by 20% a couple days ago. I'll probably get my hands slapped by our neuro on Tuesday, but there is just NO SENSE in medicating her this heavily when it's not working. I'd like to take the drugs down & give her learining & alertness a chance to pick up.

I am a neurologist Mom, after all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

New Trial Drug + Lily bloodwork

Late last week I was given a lead to the manufacturer of Ganaxolone, the med that Dr. Bow Tie wants to try with Lily. He's been working on getting a study at our hospital for Ganaxolone at least since Lily's 24-hr EEG. Well, the lead I got last week, from the owner of Infantile Spasms, was for the director of the clinical trials.

I emailed her yesterday to try & get Lily started on Ganaxolone from a different angle. She wasn't able to get Lily on the new med, but did provide a little more information about the study at our hospital than I've been able to get from Dr. Bow Tie. Basically, the study will be coming to our hospital, but not for about a couple months. In the mean time, if we wanted to start Lily on Ganaxolone, we'd have to transfer her care to Children's of Los Angeles & basically live in LA for two months as the study requires several 24-hour EEG's over a period of three weeks.

No, thank you.

So we'll wait until Seattle gets it.

Last week we had labs drawn for Lily after our surgery consult. I spoke w/the nurse today about the results. Everything, including all metabolic testing, is completely normal with two exceptions: Lily's RBC & WBC counts were a little low. The RBC's are only slightly low & they weren't concerned with that (just need to get Lily to eat more iron-rich foods). There was mild concern over the low WBC's. Apparently this can be a common side effect of AED's. Lily's level was 938 & they like to see 1500+. She (the nurse) was going to email Dr. Bow Tie about it. I told her that we have an appointment wiht him next Tuesday & to please call if we need to address it sooner.

The other piece to Lily's labs was that we checked her Topamax blood level. Therapeutic blood levels are 15-20. Last we checked, we were slightly above a 15, and we increased the dose a bit to really push the topamax to the fullest. Well, her level came back at 22.5. So, at a FULL load of topamax, she's still having 4-8 clusters of spams each day, so clearly that's not working for us.

So, next Tuesday we'll be discussing what, if anything, we do in the mean time before getting Ganaxolone, plus the WBC issue. The other biggie to discuss is whether Lily actually needs this skin/muscle biopsy surgery or not.

More info on that:
Basically, the ONLY test Lily hasn't had to find a specific cause of her spasms is the skin/muscle biopsy. This test is kind of the final step in ruling out a mitochondrial reason for the spasms. It involves taking a sample of muscle from the thigh (from a 1" incision), and a small sample of skin near the under arm (smaller than 1" incision).

At the same time, we'd also do a 3T-MRI which uses a bigger, stronger magnet to look for structural abnormalities in Lily's brain that would be the cause of her spasms (and potentially make her a surgical candidate).

ALL of Lily's labs & urinalysis have come back normal for metabolic/mitochondrial testing. The only thing indicating a mito disorder was when her 2nd MRI, about a year ago, showed signal changes in the deep tissue of her brain. We have since attributed this to a very rare (unpublished) side effect of the vigabatrin she was on at the time, weaned her off that drug, and the changes have resovled (thus, it was not a mito disease).

Since all of her labs have been normal, PLUS we have the PET scan which shows some evidence of coritcal displaysia (fancy name for structural abnormality in the brain), I'm feeling like putting Lily through a surgery isn't really necessary. Dr. Bow Tie is the expert at our hospital in mitochondrial disorders, so if he has very good reasoning for the test, I'll reconsider. But when Nurse Wonderful suggested the test (on his behalf), she indicated that he was himming & hawing about whether she really needed it. So if he wasn't convinced then, and now her newest round of labs is still normal, I'm gonna push back on that.

No sense subjecting Lily to surgery if it isn't 100% warranted.

For now, she continues to do well. She's had a rough 24 hours as far as seizures are concerned, but she's still playing & eating well. We had OT with Leah yesterday afternoon at Little Red Schoolhouse, and she did really well with taking toys out of containers (something we're working on with her). She had a longer attention span, despite having several clusters during therapy, than I've seen for a while.

The weather out here is simply glorious right now -- currently 67 & sunny. I think we'll play outside this afternoon.