First day jitters (all around)

On the eve of Nathan’s first day in a new school, I pray that he encounters children who are kind to him.  All he has ever known his whole life at school is getting ready to change.  You hear the anxiety in his questions that he asks.  He is asking if his old friends will be at his new school.  He is confused about new friends being there.  New teachers, a new classroom, a new layout to the school that he is unfamiliar with.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.  I hope tomorrow is a wonderful day for him.
Madison starts High School tomorrow which brings another set of fears.  Hers are more vocal, she is able to express her anxiety.  I am so beyond proud of her for facing a huge fear of hers, but knowing she is going to do amazing.

A favorite song of ours is “Humble and Kind”. I hope my kids are always Humble and Kind.  I hope if Madison ever saw someone hurting or alone, she would be a friend.  I hope if someone sees Nathan lonely or afraid that they might be that friend to him. ♡♡

http://momastery.com/blog/2015/08/18/before-school-conversation/

The funny thing about hope

You would think that a family like ours who has been given a diagnosis of a terminal illness with no treatment or cure would cling to any and all ideas of hope.  And trust me when I say we do.  But let’s back up a step.  On June 10, 2015, our world changed forever.  When we were given the diagnosis of Juvenile Batten disease we were told there was no treatment or cure for this disease. We were told what symptoms to expect and how the disease normally progresses. We left with a 6 month follow up appointment to track symptoms and that was pretty much it.

Thirty days later we were on a plane to Chicago to attend the annual Batten Disease conference.  Again, we went in with hope. We spent countless hours listening to doctors, researchers, scientists and other parents searching for answers, looking for  hope.  We found a commonality among everyone who attended.  They all had children who were slowly slipping away from them.  We were all there for the same purpose.  We want to save our children.  I remember sitting in a session with all the researchers anxiously awaiting for them to talk about CLN3 ( the version of Batten disease that Nathan has).  They went through all the research and upcoming trials for different versions of Batten.  Finally in what seemes like the last 10 minutes they talked about CLN3.  I don’t remember all they said, but left feeling like there was not any hope.  I remember leaving the conference so excited about the connections I had made with other families, but still felt there was no hope for Nathan in the future.

Fast forward a year to July, 2016.  We were now attending the conference in St. Louis.  Again, we were in a room with researchers and we waited until the end to hear about CLN3.  This time it turns out there is hope.  There is some promissing research in the mice model showing that it could potentially stop the progression of this disease.  However, that is really all we know.  It is currently under review with the FDA and hoping to have it fast tracked.  That means it could be available as soon as six months.  That is amazing news to think that there MAY be hope.  The problem is that it is up to principal investigators to determine who will be involved in this trial.  We do not know what the criteria is.  Do they want participants that are in the early stages, later stages, a certain age or a certain progression of the disease?  We have no idea.  We left the conference with this amazing feeling that we might be on the brink of something life changing for Nathan.  However, the more time that has gone by, the more we have thought about it.  What happens if he is not accepted into the trial?  There is a carrot dangling in front of us and we want it so bad, all of these parents do.  How does anyone possibly decide who gets it and who doesn’t?  Again, WE ALL WANT TO SAVE OUR CHILDREN!  We have been at the lowest of lows and have some indication that something great may be coming, but I am afraid to have hope. I am afraid to allow myself to feel that out of the utter despair that may follow if Nathan doesn’t get in.  I think that would absolutely devastate us all over again.

So this is where truly the hardest part comes in, one that I admittedly am not good with, Trust!  I like to have control over situations, to know that I can do something.  I have to allow myself to trust that there is a bigger picture, one that we may never even know.  I know that Nathan’s life has such a purpose and that God is the author of his story, not me.  It has already been written, we are just the ones reading along.

Pray for our family, that we are able to continue to look forward to a future of hope!

Stacey

Our upcoming trip

This week we will be traveling to St. Louis for the annual Batten Disease conference. This will be our second time attending.  Last year was such a surreal experience for all of us.  Nathan had only been diagnosed for 30 days and we were thrown into this unknown world. We felt like deer in headlights most of the time and it felt like we were getting CPR for our souls.  I remember leaving and wishing I had relaxed more.  These were people who got it, they knew our story,  they lived our lives and they welcomed us with open arms.

I am not sure why, but I almost feel more nervous this year. Don’t get me wrong, I am really looking forward to it and would not want to be anywhere else, but it is still raw.  We have an opportunity to listen to researchers and Doctors and scientists and all the experts in the field of Batten.  You talk with other parents and caretakers.  You see people who are where you are and others who have been where we are.  You see parents who have lost their child or children.  You see children in all stages of this hideous disease.  But most importantly,  you see love.  You see a big group of people who come together to fight the same fight.  We ALL want to save our children.

I am thrilled for Madison as this is such a great opportunity for her to connect with other siblings who get it, who feel the same sorrow that she feels.  It is 4 days that she gets to be herself and not have to put up any defenses and can talk freely about Nathan if she wants without being made to feel as if her world is not a problem. For other kids to realize what really goes on day in and day out and not have the biggest issue be if the Pokémon Go server is down.

I am excited for Nathan as he will get to hang out with kids that he remembers from last year and meet new kids as well.  They have a daycare program that it wonderful and provides him opportunities to be him and us the freedom to listen to others without him hearing all the scary stuff.  He always enjoys his time and will leave with a few more girlfriends than he started with.

I am excited for me and Jay as it is our opportunity to speak with all the experts and other parents and have some time of real connections.  These are all people we speak to, sometimes on a daily basis through Facebook. We know their children and their struggles, we all feel each other’s pain.

I am excited for my Mom.  It is a chance for her to connect with other Grandparent’s.  To talk about the pain and grief they are dealing with.  This does not just affect me, Jay and Madison.  This affects our entire extended family so much.  They have all witnessed who Nathan was and who he is now and it is nothing short of heartbreaking. 

I would ask that you please keep us and all the familes that are attending this year in your thoughts and prayers as this is a pivotal moment in time for us all.  Please pray for safe travels for all.  Please say a special prayer for us as we are flying and have not had the greatest luck with that the last couple of times we have flown with Nathan. 

I am sure it will take some time to process and decompress once we return, but as soon as I am able, I will let everyone know all about it.

With much love,

Stacey

Batten Disease Awareness

June 4 – 5, 2016 is Batten Disease awareness weekend.  All we ask is that you share Nathan’s story with one person.  Tell one person about Batten Disease. We need more awareness for this disease to help push forward to find a cure.  Share our page with someone (https://facebook.com/sothathecansee) and let them read about his struggles and triumphs.  There are far too many children who are affected by this disease and are losing their fight or have already gained their  wings.  We need a cure and we need it now!  This is an important weekend for all Batten families.
Thank you,
Stacey

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To the 6th grade class who changed Nathan’s life

Today marked another milestone for Nathan.  He graduated from 6th grade!!  For 7 years he has been a member of this school and of this community.  We have had some of the greatest moments within those walls and some of the worst.  Some of the most amazing people have come into his life and ours and for that we are forever thankful.

We are part of a small community that has shown such love and grace towards Nathan.

These are kids that knew him as a little Kindie, played with him, invited him to all the parties.  They played sports with him, had playdates and had sleepovers. They watched him change, some grew weary of him during those years and some stayed.  They days of playdates and sleepovers ended and then the diagnosis came but so did maturity.  These children all have a heart for Nathan and have rallied back around him and shown such love to him.  Love that makes this Mama want to sit down with each one and thank them from the bottom of my heart.  For making him feel loved, for making him feel special, for letting him KNOW he has friends and for not letting something as scary as Batten Disease keep them from loving on Nathan.  We hear all of your names at night.  The ones who sat with him at lunch or played with him at recess or helped him through the school.  He never felt alone. We thank you.  I don’t know if any of you will know the impact you not only had on his life, but ours as well.  It truly has meant the world to us.  You are all destined to be great.  We look forward to watching each of you grow and pray that you always stay humble and kind.

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Disappointed

I am so incredibly disappointed.   We finally were able to hire a CNA to help with Nathan in the afternoon hours.  She was a perfect fit for our family. Nathan bonded with her right away and she was really good with him.  It finally gave us a little room to breathe in the afternoons.   I was able to run errands, make dinner, spend some time with Madison.  It was working out great for about 2 weeks.  She then gave us her 2 week notice.   She had another job and between the long hours, the pay was not enough to make it viable for her.  Since we go through Medicaid, our hands were tied regarding the pay scale.

This was supposed to be her last week with us.  All day today, Nathan was looking forward to seeing her.  He was waiting by the front door, saying her name and excited to play with her.  Imagine how disappointed we were when she didn’t show up or even bother to call.  We sent her a text and called her with no response.  Nathan becomes very attached very easily and we cannot afford to have a revolving door of people come in and out of his life.  He deserves to have someone who wants to spend time with him.  Jay and I had to tell him that she would not be coming back anymore.  This was a conversation we had hoped to have the CNA involved in so he could properly say goodbye to her.  Now, he is left to wonder why she won’t come back.

I understand if the money is so important and you couldn’t make it work, but do not give two weeks notice and then not show up or have the decency to call.  You are a grown up, make grown up decisions!! My child is the only one who suffers from your poor choices.

Silent auction

Don’t forget our online auction goes live at 10:00 PM MST tonight and runs through May 6th at 8:00 PM MST. This will greatly help with the future costs associated with Batten disease.  It will allow us to renovate our home to make it wheelchair accessible, convert my van to be wheelchair accessible and the many other things that we know will come up.

We thank you all for everyone’s support.  It means so much to us.
Stacey

https://www.32auctions.com/organizations/24427/auctions/28968?reset_filter=1

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