Thursday, September 16, 2010

SMA Blog Party! What is SMA?

What is SMA?

SMA stands for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. A disease my husband and I had never heard of until our daughter was diagnosed more than three years ago. Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1 (SMA1) is a genetic disorder that occurs in 1 in 4 children born to parents who both carry a recessive gene for it. (1 person in 40 carries such a gene.) There are five main types of SMA, type 1 being the most severe and the most common. SMA affects one in every 6,000 live births. This disease is degenerative and affects the motor nerves, resulting in muscle wasting and weakness. Children born with the disorder gradually lose strength in their nervous systems and become paralysed. The paralysis includes the chest and therefore Type 1 children die from repiratory related illness, usually by the age of two. There is no known cure or long-term treatment.

After learning Kaitlyn’s diagnosis we went home and researched anything we could find on the internet about SMA. The information was overwhelming for us and there were no options given to us from our local hospital about approaches we could take in caring for our daughter. There are really three options when caring for a type 1 child:
-Let nature take it’s course
-Using NIV approach (the method we chose for our daughter)

Kaitlyn has been through a great deal in her short life. She has become dependant on machines to help her breathe, to keep her lungs cleaned out, to feed her, to monitor her 24/7, and to help her move. She has had four surgeries and was intubated for each. One intubation was for major bowel surgery to repair a torn and perforated bowel from a misplaced J-tube. Kaitlyn has never been intubated for an illness (a bit of a rarity for Type 1 children). She has a port-a-cath, an internal catheter, placed for venous access. She has a blood disorder that causes her blood vessels to form clots. She has two holes in her heart (also a bit rare, so we are told).

And in light of all this.....she laughs. Kaitlyn laughs because she is happy, because she is smart enough to know she has a reason....a right to be here! She is precocious, she is determined and she is strong. We adore how strong she is and how she never gives up (AKA stubborn). She is a joy and we are enjoying each and every moment with her!

But what would Kaitlyn wish for....what would she most want, if she could tell us? I think she would ask us for a cure. A cure for this horrible disease! She would ask each of us to do what we can to spread the word about SMA, raise awareness, and help fund a cure for SMA. Well guess what folks...Here's an easy way to help Kaitlyn in our quest for a cure!! Go to: and vote for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation in the Jimmie Johnson Helmet of Hope Contest as they are trying to win $20,000 towards a CURE for SMA. Please vote every day until the 29th of September. Ask your friends to join us in voting and feel free to join our blog party and tell your readers about SMA. You can talk about Kaitlyn :)

Thanks for your time, and happy voting :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kaitlyn Goes to Pre-school

Kaitlyn had her first day of pre-school today :) The entire day was packed with excitement! We started Kaitlyn's day early to finish her respiratory care before we had to leave the house. Tim did Kaitlyn's care while I got both boys ready for school and caught the live bird flying around in our living room. .....Wait a minute...did I say a live bird??? YES!!! I walked into the living room to see what had the cats all in a fit! Who was staring me back from the back of my couch but a real live bird!!! The poor thing was crashing into our big picture window in our living room and freaking out as our two cats were staring it down. The poor thing MUST have made it's way down our chimney! I have no idea HOW, but no doors had been open before I discovered him. Anyway, I got a towel and trapped him in the window. Then boys both wanted to see him up close and then I took him outside and he promptly flew away. He paused for a breather in a tree not too far from our deck, but was otherwise unharmed :) It's a miracle the poor thing didn't get hurt!

We made it to pre-school on time and Kaitlyn enjoyed most of her day. She liked the free play time first thing in the morning. I layed her on the floor with a pile of toys and a few of the kids came right over and started playing with her. A couple of girls in particular played for extended periods of time :) Kaitlyn can already say one of their names and was asking for her tonight after supper. She kept saying the little girl's name and then saying please!! Then she called for the little girl.....Oh Iya! Oh Iya! We played with playdough, built block towers, played with dinosaurs (STOMP, STOMP, STOMP...good times:), sat in circle time, painted a picture during group time, and "ate" a snack! Kaitlyn got to "eat" cucumber slices with the rest of the kids :) Then the worst part of the day was watching the rest of the kids line up single file to go out through a door in the back of the classroom that leads to their inaccessable playground :( We got to go outside and around the building to watch the kids play, but could not participate. I think we will have to use this time for something more constructive for Kaitlyn, as it was quite sad.

The plan is to attend pre-school two days a week for now and see how it goes. It is tiring and risky being exposed to so many germs, but to see our girl's face when she got to do what the rest of the kids were doing....priceless :) I am not sure if we will attend for the entire winter or not. I guess we will have to see how the winter unfolds.