Category Archives: undiagnosed

PACS1 Awareness Day

I love being a member of the PACS1 family. Our small group has grown from 14 families to over 40. Our most recent adoptee asked a reasonable question: “all these young children…I am wondering why it took so long to diagnose X”.  This mother has searched for over 13 years for an answer to what made her son unique.

Why does it take so long? Continue reading

You have a diagnosis. Now what?

In February 2015 there were 19 confirmed cases of people who have PACS1 Syndrome. As more children have Exome sequencing, we have grown to 32 (known) families. In a year. Thanks to this blog, I am sometimes the first point of contact for the newly diagnosed. It is a role I cherish yet at times feel sad that I cannot provide the answers they may be looking for.

Welcome to the PACS1 family! Now what? Continue reading

I was THAT mom

I recently received an e-mail from a mom who is just beginning her special needs journey.  She googled a few terms and this blog showed up in her search (wow!). As I read her e-mail I was suddenly taken back to that place. The place where I was completely overwhelmed and wanted Dr. Google to explain what was wrong with my child.

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I remember looking into this face and feeling so overwhelmed and ill-prepared to deal with a child who had health issues.  Not knowing in that moment that this would actually be the easy time. A time when we were cocooned with doctors and nurses just a call bell away.  Continue reading

Name change

At the beginning of the summer we took Bridget to see a Specialist 20 hours away from our home in the hopes to find an answer to Bridgetitis. We had gone on a search for our own Dr. House. We allowed them to perform Exome sequencing, where Bridget’s DNA would be (in layman’s terms since I really am not a scientist) broken down and reviewed by computer strand by strand allows the scientist to discover where the gene may have gone awry.

We got the results. Finally. Continue reading

TBT–Out of the Mouths of Babes

Welcome to Throw Back Thursday, blog style. 



(Originally posted 18-JUL-2012)

Abby is taking some summer help in math at a local school. This morning when I dropped Abby off she was telling me about the kids in her class. Some were from her current class and others she didn’t know. Abby said that there was only one other girl, a bunch of boys and one weird boy.


Weird boy, I asked, do you mean the boy with Down syndrome?

          What’s that? Abby replied.

Well he is special needs, like Boo, I explained
Oh, is that why he has a teacher just for him in the class? (Yup) That makes sense now. I thought there was something different but couldn’t figure it out. Why didn’t they tell me so I could help him?


This conversation floored me on many levels. First, Abby has intuitively known that there is something special about Boo and has accepted her without conditions. I automatically assumed that she would recognize and accept it in another child. Second, Abby attends enough of Boo’s therapy appointments to see other children like this boy. I was completely astounded that she even had to ask, or worse in her mind label this boy as “weird”.


Abby has been a staunch defender of Boo. She would never let one of her friends use that term with her sister, so why did she do it with a boy she just met? Have I failed in some way in to prepare and nurture her to accept all others like she does Boo?


Of course, I asked Abby. Not that specifically, but why she did she not understand that this boy was special. She thought because he was so big and not little like Boo he was just a boy.   I asked (just to make sure) that she hadn’t made fun of this boy. She was quick to say no, but that she wished that the teacher had told her because the other boys in the class did. Abby was so cute, telling me that she would make sure it didn’t happen again! We had a long talk about Boo and how would Abby feel if one of her classmates called Boo “weird”.


But it made me think, is inclusion working? Are the teachers and other parents explaining to their children that not all children can run, read, speak like others. Whose responsibility is it really? Mine, in some way because while I can educate/prepare Abby and she can then teach her peers. But neither Abby, her dad or I can go into Boo’s class and wake up the other children/parents. I can only be responsible for the children who interact with Boo in my presence.


Is it the teacher’s responsibility? Certainty, but how can they do this without embarrassing (not the right word, but hopefully you get my point!) the child in question. Abby thought the teacher should have let the kids know. But by privacy laws, they cannot.
I think the biggest obstacle is that the other parents are not on the playground or in the classroom with their children. So they might not even be aware, like me, that their child may be prejudging some one. Think about it, if you do not have a special child would you think to educate your ‘typical’ child about a child with Downs, CP, and autism or like Boo one who is undiagnosed? I will admit that before Boo I cannot honestly say I would have said something to Abby until she asked/made a comment in my presence.

I think as children get older they may become more aware (and yes, mean). But at Abby’s age it is just a sense of innocence where they don’t really notice differences in others until the difference is glaringly obvious.

Boo is in an integrated preschool with a not so equal ratio of special/typical kiddos. Even there I notice that some parents look at us askew when Boo is not participating like their ‘typical’ kid in the class. Once a child asked their mom what was wrong with Boo and the mother, instead of educating, told the child to ‘hush’.


So I don’t know what the answer is, if integration is worth it or how to educate the world at large that Boo just has a different sense of typical.

I Run 4

I have written before (insert too much!) about the importance of creating a village of support when you have a child with special needs. Heck, even with a typical child a support system should be included with every birth certificate.


I began running in earnest about a year ago. I ran to get away from the stress of just, well, everything. Taking 20-odd minutes to focus on nothing but breathing and trying not to trip in public.  It wasn’t always pretty, but I finally found my rhythm. I managed to avoid eating any more bugs and discovered the joy of tripping running in the woods.



Bailey& I running last fall. Or falling last fall.
Recently a friend asked me to join a group that runs for those who cannot. It is called I Run 4. This is a great non-profit that matches one runner for one buddy.The idea was sparked when the founder, Tim Boyle, began dedicating his daily run to a friend who was physically unable to run. They created such a bond a movement was born.

My friend’s daughter is a buddy. Her runner sends not just the child, but the family encouragement and emotional support to get through days that can be overwhelming. In return, my friend’s daughter provides a smile, unconditional love and gratitude that someone out there care enough to run with her spirit.  She also provides the runner with a reason to get out there and run when it would be easier to hit the snooze button.

Thus, a new village was created for my friend.  


Here’s the thing though, not enough special families know about the program. There are over 3,000 runners looking for their buddy! Buddies are those with physical or mental handicaps. Persons of all ages who are willing to be the inspiration for the runners. 

If you are in need of a village, of some support or you are just looking for a way to inspire someone, please consider signing up your child or adult with special needs to be matched. Follow this link: http://www.whoirun4.com/match-me/ to find out more information.  There is no cost to join, for the runner or the buddy.  

The runners are waiting to be a part of your village. Are you ready to be part of theirs?



The nicest thing some one ever did for me was to be my village and allow me to pay it forward.

And that is how I finished the sentence, the nicest thing some one ever did for me was….

Finish the Sentence Friday


**This post was not paid for/sponsored by IRUN4. I will not be moved up quicker on the buddy list (darn) unless more potential buddies decide to join the program. I did receive permission by IRUN4 to use their links and information to promote their program. 

Mom in the elevator

Dear Mom in the Elevator,

I’m sorry. I apologize for leaving so quickly. I saw you and your husband in the elevator at Children’s. You were wearing the badge of the NICU. You had hit the elevator for the respite floor. You looked so spent. So wiped. So scared.

As I left with Boo for her cardiology appointment I turned and said, It gets easier.

Then I left.

I’m sorry. I should have said something sooner. I should explained that it gets easier but not better. That today you are worried about your newborn and tomorrow you will be worried about you toddler.

But I swear it gets easier. You will be hit in the gut many times over the next few years decades. Right now, believe it or not, is the easiest time of your life with a sick newborn. You have the support of awesome nurses and physicians who allow you to nap, to eat, to cry and to ask questions. 

Soon, hopefully, you will be discharged. You will be scared. No, you will be terrified. As much as you looked forward to the moment of taking your baby home you are scared to your core. Because at this moment you realize you are parenting without a net. You are taking a child home that just 8 hours earlier was on a cardiac (or other) monitor. The doctors and nurses assure you that they are healthy enough to go home. As much as you (and everyone you know) prayed for this moment in time you are terrified that you are not ready.

But you are. There are just somethings you have to do to make sure you and your child stay whole.

You need to create a village. That friend that says call me, what can I do, I’m here for you. Hold them to it. Call them and say HELP ME I’M SCARED. More scared than you ever imagined. Unless you have been in the NICU you cannot describe the level of terror. They won’t get it, but they will hurt for you. They will be there for you. But only if you let them.

But I get it. I understand the moment you thought your child was going to die. The moment when you realized they would live. The moment you were told they were coming home.

It scared the crap out of me. I mean, like almost threw up I was so scared.

There will be moments in the future when you will worry, when you will cry, when you will say this is not what I signed up for…but they pale in comparison to the moment.

The moment when you go from being a parent in the NICU to a parent without a net.

Here is what you need:

  • Your partner. You are in this together. Remember that and hold them to it.
  • Your best friend. They promised to be there forever. Hold them to it.
  • Your mom. She loves you, no matter what. She might not understand what you are going through, but let her be there.
  • Your pediatrician. If you do not have one that is willing to be answer your call at 2AM find a new one. Their job is to be there for you and your child. Hold them to it.
  • Your friends. Here’s the thing. They want to be there for you. But they don’t know how. They are afraid to call and bother you, they don’t want to burden you, they are ashamed that they complain about their child talking nonstop when yours is nonverbal, they don’t know how they can help. So tell them. Tell them what you need. Be it a pizza delivered, a bathroom cleaned, a shoulder to break on or a text fest where you just spew. But let them be there. Don’t hide what you are going through because then they cannot help. You need them, it’s your job to let them know it.

Lastly, and this is the most important, listen to your inner warrior mom. You know your child better than any doctor, nurse or provider. If they smell funny to you then something is going on. I once had a nurse tell me that mother’s instinct trumps doctors order any day of the week. Remember that. 

When you gave birth to a child with a medical issue and/or special need, you didn’t just become a mom (sorry to tell you). You became a warrior mom. One who advocates, medicates, does therapy, uses Google to the ends of the research and who loves their child beyond all measure.

It does get easier. Not better, but easier. The caveat to being easier is to have your village. Go find them. Embrace them. Lean on them. I should have done it earlier. I am one of the lucky ones. My village found me. 

Dear Mom in the elevator, you are not alone. You are scared. You are terrified. You feel overwhelmed and heartsick. But you are not alone. Create your village. Embrace them. That is what makes the NICU experience bearable. I remember just 5 years ago keeping people away. I missed out on the support I needed. It took years for me to get it. That my village was there waiting to be tapped. Once I understood this journey became easier.

Not better, but easier. 

Don’t make that mistake, Dear Mom In the Elevator. Let your support system be there for you now and forever.

Love,
A parent who has been there and has the t-shirt.

A parent that is there for you, if you need.

A mom who wishes she spoke up sooner. That she said HELP. That she allowed those who love her and her child to help them.


PS–I had a different post almost ready for this Finish This Sentence Friday, Dear Mom…but then the elevator happened.

Holy crap I’m a cohost and really hope I didn’t screw this up 🙂 Please link up below!

What happens…

What happens when you begin to lose faith? In perspective we haven’t been on this journey long. Five years is nothing when compared to other children’s battles. Having a child undiagnosed with unexplained ailments compared being a parent whose child is fighting a life threatening illness is insignificant in comparison.
I apologize to all who read the Dr. House post and the Poor Me post. I promise I am not just regurgitating, or wallowing. I was just hit, yet again, by the bat that is a doctor who passed the buck.

I feel foolish and selfish for even getting upset. Let alone discussing losing faith. I try to keep this blog upbeat and fresh. I hate wallowing, repeating myself.  But I am struggling. I am second guessing myself. I am wondering if I am the mom who cried wolf.

Why am I upset if not one of the five doctors I have contacted do not think it is significant or alarming that Boo is having swelling in her arms, hands, feet and legs? 

So what do I do when I begin to lose faith? I get pissed. Seriously pissed. In all honesty I also had a healthy cry, a text-fest with Tia and a glass of wine. Maybe two.

But I got pissed and I decided that it’s not okay. I’m okay with Boo being undiagnosed but I am no longer okay with cardiology telling me to call rheumatology who tells me to call the cardiology who tell us to have our Pedi order a test. 


Which she does and then that test is cancelled by radiology who doesn’t think it is necessary.

Because really, why should we investigate why a child is having intermittent swelling in their extremities for no reason? 

So I got pissed. I did some more research (cause I have spare time) and found another specialist to contact. I am making cardiology see her next week and not leaving until he refers us some where. Any where.

I have reached out to two different “Dr. House” type doctors that are not local but I don’t care. I have e-mailed yet another doctor whose blog I read to ask for a recommendation. I found through my own searching of Children’s Hospital a center that deals with disorders of the vascular system. 

I am not giving up. I am not crying wolf. I am not waving the white flag.

Some day. Some how. My child will have a doctor look at her as a whole child and not say call another doctor who will then cancel a test.

Just because her various ailments are not deadly doesn’t make them any less significant. They just make it easy to put into perspective. I know what Boo is experiencing isn’t life threatening. But it is impacting her life. 

And that’s enough for me to get my big girl pants on.

Some people lose faith and curl up in a ball. There is nothing wrong with regrouping. Me? 

I get pissed.

Thank you to everyone who reached out last week. Who gave me ideas, support and were just there being my village. I am using all of the tools you give me to stop wallowing and instead remembering the warrior mom creed:


You will not dismiss my child. She is too important.


Okay, if it’s not our creed it should be.

Paging Dr. House!

Recently I took Boo for a follow-up with neurology. The best part of the visit was when Boo hit the ALARM button in the hospital elevator. In a crowded hospital elevator. The day would have to get better, yes? We were only going for a routine follow-up.

Maybe with other children. But nothing with Boo is as easy as it appears.


I adore her neurologist. I trust her more than any other physician Boo sees. We had a long talk about the autism diagnosis and what it means for Boo. She asked about Boo’s chronic low blood pressure and is surprised that no one is too concerned about it. She asked about Boo’s chronic color changes and again showed surprise that no one is too concerned. That although her Raynaud’s is manageable it is odd that it presents so young and without any rhyme or reason.

I told her about Boo’s newest development: intermittent swelling. That her wrists and hands would swell for no reason. I had taken her to the general pediatrician but by the time I had made it his office she was no longer swelling. As the neuro examined Boo she agreed that one of her hands appeared swollen and asked about her legs. Um…she is always in jeans and sneakers. Honestly (my bad) I never checked. I did say that her legs do get “tight” but we have been stretching them.

Disrobing Boo her neuro said: She isn’t tight she is swollen. Very swollen. But it doesn’t seem to bother her. (That should be Boo’s theme song)

So a parent would think okay what do we do about this?

Her response: call some one else. Okay, not really. But she told me to follow-up with two of Boo’s other specialists. That this wasn’t really her field.

Deep breath. I called Boo’s rheumatologist and was told it (based on a phone conversation) that this swelling does not appear to be rheumatological (is that a word? If not I just made it up like undiagnosed) in nature to “give it a couple of weeks” and then go back to our general pediatrician.

I called Boo’s cardiologist and left a message. No return call yet, they must not think it is anything to be concerned about.

But I am. And I am frustrated. How can one little girl have so many abnormalities. Isn’t one enough? Does she really need 15? I’m thinking she is getting greedy. 

So here is what I am looking for Dr. House. I am looking for someone with a medical degree to give a crap. I want them to look over Boo’s entire history. I want her examined from head to toe and not say they don’t know. We are okay with being undiagnosed. We are not okay with no one exploring why.