Friday, March 26, 2010

All in Good Fun

It has become obvious lately that Cara has gained some new fine motor and cognitive skills. The notes that come home from her therapists are so encouraging...matching, playing games, imitating sounds and learning new signs.

So, when a box of goodies for the girls (and I) from my life-long best friend included two age-appropriate games for Cara, I was excited to see if she could play along.

The first game is a shape & color matching game based off of Candy Land. It's called Candy Land Castle and kiddos get a little gingerbread child with shapes on it and they have to match the shapes on the gingerbread with shapes that come out of the castle. The game teaches color & shape recognition as well as turn-taking. Cara had previously played this game in a small group setting with her therapist, so she was familiar with the game. What completely surprised me was how well Cara could play! She knew that she had to chose one gingerbread kid, pull down on the handle and then, when the piece came out, determine whether or not she had a match. She also did really well with taking turns with me. We played probably 6 rounds that day and we both truly enjoyed ourselves!

Cara also received Hi Ho Cherry-O! With some instruction throughout the game, Cara & I were able to play and have a lot of fun. She tried to vocalize with me when we were counting her fruit and quickly figured out that the goal was to put all of her fruit in the little bucket. I think, with more practice, Cara will become a whiz at playing this game too.

It is so nice that Cara has developed the skills necessary to play some structured games. Even 3 months ago, this wasn't really a possibility for us. I love when I can plainly see the results that all the therapy is having on Cara!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


A dream came true this past weekend for a certain 6 year old in our house. Thanks to our own personal Hero, Caitlin & I got to see the musical Mary Poppins on Saturday in Downtown Denver. Let me explain the back story a bit...

Caitlin has been wanting to see Mary Poppins every since we first saw the posters announcing that they musical was coming to Denver back before Christmas, I want to say. I looked into it and the tickets were just out of reach for us, as I'm sure they would be for a lot of people right now, due the state of our economy and it's effect on numerous families.

Anyway, this was something that I really wanted to do for Caitlin since I felt bad for having to say no to a lot of her (sometimes very simple) requests so I decided to reach out and make a wish at this wonderful website called WishUponAHero. Basically, the site is similar to Make A Wish. People can sign up and post wishes for everything from cards for their elderly parent's birthday to help with rent or other things. In the past, I have granted several wishes for others, so I thought, maybe someone would grant mine...what goes around...

I posted a wish asking if someone would like to make a little 6 year old girl's wish come true and help us go see Mary Poppins. I posted it, not expecting to ever get a reply. I mean, honestly, who has the money to cough up theatre tickets? But, someone upstairs read my post and decided we were worthy because about 24 hours later, a sweet woman named Ellen contacted me and said that she wanted to grant our wish. She said she would arrange everything and get back to me. I was so excited, I was crying but still, didn't want to get my hopes up. But, Ellen more than followed through, she did something totally amazing!

Not only did she buy us tickets, but she purchased VIP tickets for the 4th row center! All we had to do was show up at Will Call the day of the show and we were good to go. After getting all dressed up (Caitlin anyway) and taking the Light Rail downtown and walking a block or so to the Buell Theatre, we received our tickets and headed to the concession area. There, we learned that our VIP tickets entitled us to two free programs! Caitlin was tickled pink to get hers and carefully looked through it, oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the pictures and centerfold poster. Next, we went down the the orchestra level to find our seats and settled in. Caitlin was so excited, she could hardly sit still. Before we knew it, the lights dimmed and the orchestra started to play (we could see the conductor from our seats). Caitlin's face lit up when the curtain rose and the play started. She was transfixed from beginning to end and kept moving in her seat to get the best possible view. We loved the sets & props in the movie, how they changed from one scene to the next was just so cool! I saw Caitlin singing along to the familiar songs (especially Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious & Go Fly A Kite), laugh and exclaim at various parts of the movie. I think her favorite parts where when Mary Poppins flew in, when they flew the kites, and then when Mary Poppins made her exit by flying via umbrella up over the audience. She also liked the special effects. All in all, it was an amazing performance, one that neither of of us likely to ever forget. We were so close to the stage that we could almost reach out and touch the characters. In fact, Caitlin was so bummed that we couldn't get autographs as she wanted to hug Mary Poppins.

I can't thank our Hero, Ellen, enough for granting our wish and allowing me to have this wonderful day with Caitlin!

Here are some pictures from our magical experience:

And the strep exits the stage!

Cara is back to normal! After a trip to the emergency room over concern for swelling above her eye and lethargy, Cara made a rebound and returned to her normal, destructive self. From the ER visit, we learned that Cara is allergic to the antibiotic that her doctor prescribed in good faith in an attempt to prevent Cara's body from building an immunity against the frequently prescribed Amoxicillin. Once we ruled out any neurological problems causing the swelling, it became apparent that we were dealing with a nasty allergic reaction. Once Cara was switched back to good old Amox and given some antihistamine, she was herself again within 36 hours, no sign of the strep throat! It was hard to remember that she had been a lifeless little girl for almost a week. She was up playing, eating & drinking in no time. Yay, major potential crisis averted!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Go away strep, you are not welcome here!

Poor Cara is sick once again. The kiddo seems to get hit with something about every couple of months. This time, it's our good buddy, strep throat, once again. This time, it seems to have reared it's nasty, ugly head and knocked Cara out cold. She's been down & out for about 5 days now with no sign of improvement.

We ended up in the ER yesterday afternoon because Cara woke up with a large amount of swelling over her right eye (her shunt side) and she was pointing to her head along with lots of whining. Not wanting to blow this off, we packed up and headed to Children's Hospital. We were quickly assigned a room and had a neurosurgery resident in to examine Cara and talk with us. The concern, initially, was for inter cranial pressure due to Cara's low heart rate and high blood pressure in triage. The doctor ordered a rapid MRI (only takes 3 minutes to complete) to check on her ventricles which would insure that he shunt was working properly. Cara did really well with the MRI and we were soon back in our room awaiting the results. Her ER doctor come back after about 30 minutes of waiting for the MRI results to tell us that everything appeared to be fine and that, most likely, Cara is suffering from an allergic reaction to the antibiotics that were prescribed to her the previous day by our family practitioner.

She prescribed something called Cefdinir which was new to us since, in the past, Cara has always had Amoxicillin, which quickly did it's job and made her better. Her doctor's reasoning for trying the new drug as a good one, she didn't want Cara to build up an immunity to the Amoxicillin since she's had so many doses in the past 12 months (strep, ear infection, etc). However, it appears that the new drug didn't agree with Cara, thus causing the swelling and other symptoms.

The ER equipped us with an prescription for Amoxicillin (better to stick with what you know works and deal with the consequences later than switch to something that doesn't) which we quickly filled at the in-house Walgreen's and sent us home to be seen by the neurosurgery clinic next week. We are to watch for any signs that she is worsening or not getting any better despite the medication switch. A big thing that we are watching for is swelling along her shunt tract which runs from the top of her head, behind her ear and into her stomach. The doctor did say that it could take 72 hours for the Cefdinir to get out of her system, so we may have a long wait to see any improvement.

That said, it is so hard to sit here and watch Cara sleep and be so lifeless. She hasn't had any solid food since Monday evening and only drinks about 24oz of milk a day. She sleeps probably 20 out of 24 hours and if she is awake, she is tossing and turning, whining and just looking so uncomfortable. It just breaks my heart. I want nothing more than to have our usual Cara back. Even if that means the little terror who whips through our house like a tornado, leaving toy piles and other destruction in her wake. Right now, that would be a welcomed sight! Hopefully, by Monday, she will be back to her old self and all of this will just be a memory.

So, can I ask for positive thoughts, crossed fingers and prayers for Cara's speedy recovery? Goodness knows this little girl has been through enough! I really don't want the ER ward to become our second home, nor the pharmacy.

On a side note, we are going to look into a sulfur allergy for Cara. It seems that the Cefdinir has sulfur in it while Amoxicillin does not. Sulfur (sulfa, sulfate) is in so many things and would explain a prevalent skin "rash" that Cara seems to have. I have read that this is a very common allergy and some family members are even allergic so, who knows...maybe we solved the mystery of the eye swelling as well as the rash. I plan to bring this up to her neurosurgeon as well as our family practitioner.


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