The day our world changed

Nathan was born a very healthy baby.  He met his milestones on time, he was a very happy, easy baby.  Nothing was off, I never thought anything was different.  It wasn’t until Kindergarten where things started to seem off to me.  Behaviorally, he was very challenging.  He seemed more “strong willed” than the other boys in his class.  But as his Mom, I just felt like something was not right.  I took him to his pediatrician to express my concerns.  She just told us that this was normal behavior for a boy and he would grow out of it.  Still, I felt that we were missing something.  I took him to Behavioral Specialists.  I took him to some of the best Doctors at Children’s Hospital.  It felt like they all dismissed my concerns.  But still, something nagged at me that something wasn’t right.  I thought that Nathan might have Autism.  I took him to his Pediatrician again to express my concerns and she pointed and him and said” That child does not have Autism.”

Nathan started having trouble with his eyes in Kindergarten in 2009.  It was picked up in a school screening.  We took him to the eye Doctor and he was prescribed glasses.  Again, I didn’t feel that the prescription was correct.  He was still having a hard time. We took him to another eye Doctor who wrote a different prescription that again didn’t feel right.  We finally got on board witht the Chief Opthomologist at Children’s Hospital, who started to perform more tests.  He came back with a diagnosis of Optic Atrophy.  His vision went from 20/40 to 20/800 in a matter of months.  It was not long after that diagnosis that Nathan was considered light perceptive only.  Our son had lost his ability to see.  This broke our hearts in a way that words cannot describe.

In July of 2012, Nathan was admitted to the Nueropsych facility of Children’s Hospital for evaluation.  They wanted to take him off all his medications in a safe environment and see what they could do to help him.  They performed the ADOS test which confirmed that Nathan did have Autism.  They changed his medications and we were sent home and went about life.

We now were dealing with two diagnosis, Autism and blindness.  We felt like we could deal with Autism.  But to be hit with your child not being able to see was doubly devastating.  This is a little boy who use to play soccer and was good at it.  He played basketball and loved it and now he was no longer able to to those things.  It broke my husbands heart.  He didn’t have a little boy to play catch with or go play golf with.  That was something that every father deserves to be able to do with his son and now Jay couldn’t.  They were both robbed of that opportunity.  My heart aches for both of them that they missed out on that.  My daughter does not have a brother that can play with her in the same way that she sees her friends play with her siblings.  That breaks my heart for her.  My son can’t see me when I talk to him and that breaks my heart for me.

We have been going through rigorous DNA testing with Nathan for three years.  It has been such a long process full of blood draws, sking biopsys, MRI’s, EEG’s, and numerous misdiagnosises and taken us in so many directions that at times I didn’t know which way was up.  In December of 2014, Children’s Hospital in Denver did a full exome panel to see if they could find out what was happening with Nathan.  He was regressing in areas that were concerning.  This was the last test that they could perform to see if they could find anything.  On April 8, 2015 we went in for the results.  They told us that this was the first time that anything had ever shown up on his DNA testing. They had a lead. Since the results were done on a computer based program they didn’t have the ability to study the gene directly.  They told us what they suspected it might be and wanted to do one more blood test to confirm it.  They would have to send the blood to Baylor so that a set of scientists could look at the gene directly.  This would take another 6 weeks to get confirmation or denial of their suspicions.

At that time we were not willing to share what they thought it might be.  Some part of me thought that if I said it out loud it would be true.  If I kept it to myself, then of course it would be negative.  I prayed harder than I have prayed before.  I worried inside and hoped that this would not be what they found.  We set our follow up appointment for June 10, 2015 and sat on pins and needles in anticipation of that day.  They requested that we not bring Nathan to this appointment as we never want to discuss such important matters in front of him.  We have always wanted to protect him and his innocence.

I received a call on June 9 saying the results were not back yet and that we may have to reschedule the appointment.  As you could imagine, my heart sank.  We had geared ourselves up for this day and I don’t know that we could have gone any longer.  She said she would call me in the morning if we needed to reschedule.  We never got a call, so we knew it was time to go heart the news.  We went to the hospital and I don’t think Jay and I spoke much on that drive.  We were both so anxious of what we would hear.  In my heart, I really thought that they were going to tell us that it was negative.  The genetic counselor came in and said we have an answer.  Jay and I both absolutely broke down.  All the fears that we were dreading just came true.  We sobbed and held eachother and cried out No!  She left us alone for awhile to ourselves to process the news.  Then her and the geneticist came in to talk about what it all meant.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to let everyone know that Nathan was diagnosed with Juvenille Batten Disease.  Batten disease is a neurodegenerative disorder.  There is no treatment, there is no cure, it is fatal.  It is usually first diagnosed with vision loss.  Eventually, he will develop seizures.  Then his muscles will weaken to the point where he will no longer be able to walk or talk and he will be bedridden.  Eventually, he will need a feeding tube as he will no longer be able to feed himself.  And then, eventually, he will die.  The lifespan for this horrible disease is late teens to early twenties. There is too much to even write about this horrible disease so if you want to research it you can go to http://www.bdsra.org.

I do not have to words to convey how broken hearted we are. You never plan on hearing news like this for your child.  You want everything for your kids.  You want them to be healthy and live a long happy life, well past your own life.  You do not want to bury your own child.  This is now something that we have to worry about.  This is our worst nightmare and we really don’t know what to do.

I ask that you share this page with at least one person in the hopes of spreading more awareness.  This is such a rare disease that it is hard to connect with other families.  If we can spread the word, then maybe more awareness will come to this and reasearching and funding will become more prevalent.

We thank you for keeping our family in your thoughts and prayers.  We need them now more than ever.  Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us.  We are so thankful for the support that we have received.

Stacey

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7 responses to “The day our world changed

  1. Dear Stacy and Jay and Diana I just read your post and I am overwhelmed with sadness and sorrow—I will pray with you and especially to St Anthony of Padua whose feast day is today for his intercession for Nathan And a miraculous Healing since St Anthony is known for miracles..I love you guys and pray for PEACE for you—-Mary Bihm

  2. I am really sorry that this is happening to your son , I will be praying for all of you, God make miracles everyday don’t loose your hope.

  3. As a mother of my own Infantile Battens child I understand all to well what you are going through. BDSRA.org is staffed with wonderful supportive people. You are in for more joy and sadness in the coming years. Take those joyful times and hold them close they will mean even more later. All Battens children are blessed with a little extra grace if you watch you will see your child touch the lives of so many people. He is a gift and you are his champion.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. My best friend passed away 3 years ago at age 22 from Juv. Battens. Her little sister is still living with it, at age 16.
    As heartbreaking as this diagnosis is, children with this disease are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. My friend Catie loved in a way I have never experienced before. It is very pure whole hearted love. Because of her blindness she saw peoples hearts, not their physical selves.
    It is truly an honor to have had her as a friend. She is the person who has impacted my life the very most.
    You are in my prayers.

  5. Dear Stacey, I read your blog and I want to personally pray complete healing over your son in Jesus Name, and I want you to know that no matter what, God is our Strength and comforter and I know God will see you through this time. My heart goes out to you and your family. I have no doubt your son is a true Angel, God Bless

  6. Dear Stacy and Jay and Diana – I Pray to the creator of all! His name is Jesus Christ. He does not promise that there will be no sorrows or hardships. But He does promise that we will always be with you and NEVER will forsake you. The strange thing is that through these times – times of tears and disappointments- raindrops of blessings come. Remember that He and He alone is your refuge and strength and He is your high tower. Rest in His promises for the are as if you hide under His wings or protections. Blessings are many times disguised and hard to see, but they are there. Seek His face and you will find Him and he will walk though the shadow of death until the very end!

  7. Holding you in my heart and prayers. What a beautiful tribute to your son you wrote. Thank you for sharing your story. May God give you peace, hope and joy as the days unfold.

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