Addison's Blog - Her Rare Reality Written by mum Angela for Rare Disease Awareness Day 2019 - ROHHAD Association

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Addison before ROHHAD Above

My Miracle baby Addison was born in December of 2008. She had a rough start to life as she was a sole surviving twin at just 6-8 weeks gestation. During this time they had run all the normal tests and found that I was a high risk for having a baby with Down’s syndrome and they felt that she may in fact have it so we went through all of the normal tests and refused others as we were willing to accept Addison for who she was.

When Addison was born she was jaundiced and had to be on the billy bed for almost a week. Not only did my baby have jaundice but she had difficulty latching and suckling as well and it was even difficult with the bottle for her. Despite all that we tried she continued not to gain much weight or grow in length. Addison seen the doctors a lot of the time because she wasn’t gaining much weight and was quite sick but the doctors really had no answers. For the first 15 months of her life she had severe reflux and GI Issues. Addison was meeting milestones but they were delayed some.

At 15 months Addison was staring out the window and all of a sudden she dropped to the floor in a tonic colonic seizure. She was turning blue and it was like a minute and a half so I started freaking out. Knowing I’m not supposed to touch her (I was an LNA at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation) I still do the mom freak out thing and pick her up and just keep saying please breathe baby breathe please.. This was all just the beginning of what was yet to come.

After that seizure we went to so many specialists. Addison had lost all speech and had difficulties running and doing all of the things that she had done prior to that day. Amazing how just a few minutes can change a whole lifetime! This started our specialist journey and there were many. We saw several neurologist and she had many EEGs and many other tests including MRI’s with results that showed abnormal white matter on her brain but with no answers as to why or what.

At this point Addison had lost all her speech except for a few words. We went from saying mum mum can we see puppies and kitties to mum mmmm. Because she was losing milestones we even brought her to developmental clinics and they were just as perplexed so they came up with global developmental delays on this list as well. One specialist actually had the audacity to tell me from one side of a window evaluating my daughter she seemed autistic but upon meeting her in person she was just a spoiled brat. Well that didn’t sit well with me.. what 15 month old would just stop talking and lose ability in things just to be a brat.

After dealing with doctors in N.H. we decided to get a second opinion at Boston Children’s Hospital. We started off having Neurologists look at her and into the seizure she had and she was still having staring spells which they have classified as a stare, absent seizure eventually. When the Neuroloenic doctor evaluated her, they thought that she had Rett Syndrome which I thought was the worst thing she could have boy was I wrong!

While seeing these doctors they had discovered that Addison did have seizures, lordosis, global developmental delays, dysphasia, asthma, low tone and a compromised immune system.
During this same time Addison was being evaluated for Autism which wouldn’t be diagnosed until she turned 5.

At about 2 ½-3 years old Addison started gaining weight and no matter what I did nutritional wise she continued to gain weight, I couldn’t make it stop. We even tried spinach meatballs and things which she won’t touch now! She would stay in the 95th -99th percentile for weight and 25th for height. No one knew why so we continued to see more specialist. We saw genetics and endocrine whom knocked out a bunch of syndromes. Gosh I remember this was the worst test after test to be told over and over no it is not that, she was tested for Cushings disease- no, Addison’s disease- no , pradar willi- no, MS (I have that so I wanted to be sure she was in the clear) the answer that came back was still no and a bunch more so many I can’t even remember truthfully. Everything that was tested for kept getting knocked out.

Finally we went to the OWL program which is Optimal weight for life at BCH.. After doing more tests and seeing how labs were the Endocrine doctor said that she believed that Addison had an atypical form of ROHHAD which I had never even heard of this syndrome (why would I when there is only 100 cases in the whole world).

The consultant told me that Addison situation was unique as she was missing any hypo -ventilation issues at this stage but fit the diagnosis other then that. At that time Addison did a sleep study and presented with tachypnea which is rapid breathing but no other issues. They ended up doing surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids which helped up until a few months ago..

Present day life for Addison includes seeing her specialist on a regular basis these days due to her weight, breathing and all other aspects of life that get affected by this. They have now found that Addison does in fact have sleep apnea which will require her possibly undergoing 2 procedures to try and correct her airway and after that she will be put on a c pap machine a form of ventilation. She will need to be ventilated for the rest of her life due to ROHHAD.

So I was told if they found this then the atypical was thrown out the window. Addison does have ROHHAD. How does this diagnosis and disease affect Addisons quality of life my answer is simple. It has changed everything for her like being able to run and play is now restricted due to how exhausted she gets, she has a light sensitivity due to abnormally large pupils, an inability to swallow liquids (they need to be thickened), her breathing which now requires a steroid inhaler (which gives her thrush every other month) during the day and at night will be a C-Pap machine to help regulate night breathing as she stops a lot.

Addison is always hot no matter what and can never cool down even in below zero she will want her window opens up to temperature instability, she is constantly thirsty which causes issues with her toileting and sodium levels, GI Motility issues, reflux, low growth hormone levels, developmental delay with regression, seizure disorder, Autism, PTSD, Seasonal Effective Disorder which impacts Addisons mood and her self confidence are effected by ROHADD.

She is more sad and introverted then she ever was and notices people looking and staring which has made her avoid piblic places as much as possible. It makes me angry and sad that people are so judgmental.

It is devastating and nothing harder to hear than your child say then “why am I so big”, “why do I look like this”, why do people stare and point at me, I wish I wasn’t alive, why can’t I just be normal (somebody tell me what is normal because I know I’m not and that is ok), and why did I have to get ROHHAD.

This Disease it also affects my families life too, it’s nothing as drastic a change as it is for Addison but it impacts us all.. Addisons immune system is always compromised and she gets frequent respiratory infections due to chocking and her immune system not being as strong. I tend to notice more things now like everyone taking pictures of fun events and all I can do is just enjoy the time we have because who knows what the future will being.

Truthfully it has become a constant thought and I’m always worried about everything that is changing and Addisons quality of life.. The worry consumes me more then I’d like it too. Not to mention all of the judgments that people pass on how you are raising you child. People telling me to change her diet and make her exercise. If only it was that simple. I would have done this years ago to save my daughter!!

We need a cure for our kids before any more children gain their angel wings! All of our ROHHAD children deserve the same quality of life as any other child. These children still have ambitions in life and need the chance to live them out. Addisons hope for the future is to be a pet owner and work with animals. She says they are the best friends you can have.

Please help Addison and her friends around the world the other ROHHAD warriors by sharing and showing support for ROHHAD.

Love Angela (Addisons mum)

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AUTHOR

Lisa Hunter

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