Saturday, March 21, 2015

I am now a MAD mom

Many friends joined us in praying during Evie's last inpatient stay at Children's Hospital in Denver (Aurora) since it didn't go as we expected. So, here's a brief overview of what happened.

We've been trying to figure out Evie's seizures for two years now.

A while back, we had a spinal tap done that showed that Evie is "probable" for a certain metabolic disorder where her brain can't process sugar as fuel. Her seizures may be the result of her brain not getting fed. The idea of this diet was then put on the table as a way to properly fuel her body and brain with fat instead of sugar.

Kids who haven't been able to have their seizures successfully controlled with medicines usually see better results with changing to a Ketogenic Diet.

I guess I think of it this way... the rest of us can function properly on unleaded. Our sweet girl requires premium. ;)

So, we decided to give it a shot.

The view from our room

She fasted the night before we got there and drank a special shake during the first day.

We took lots of wagon rides and trips to the library and toy rooms.

We even had some special visitors!

The general idea is to starve the body to get it into a state of ketosis. This happens when the body starts using fat for fuel instead of the sugars we eat.

From WedMd:
Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn't have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones.
We can monitor that she is still in ketosis by checking to see how many ketones she *expels* during the day. (I'll let your mind figure out how we'd test for that) ;)

The diet works on a ratio high in fat, moderate/low in protein and carbs. On the second day, I was taught how to use a special computer program to figure out the ratios. I then measured her foods to the exact grams or ounces on a scale. Her calories needed to be strictly limited, too, to maintain the state of ketosis. 

Her breakfast on the Ketogenic diet.

Unfortunately, she did not handle this diet well at all. 

The main staple of this diet is heavy cream. It's carb free and high in fat. But, we quickly found that her body aggressively rejects raw cream. (I can cook with it, but if it is mixed into anything cold - like using it to make creamsicles - her body expels it as quickly as possible.)

Our poor girl spent the next four days being so sick and out of it. 

I'll spare you all the details, but it was horrible. She wasn't herself. She refused to eat, drink, walk, etc. She was a sad, sometimes angry, limp noodle. She wouldn't even talk. She just cried, grunted, screamed. 

It was horrible. 

Dear Doc McStuffins, THANK YOU!

(why is it that kids look so much smaller when they are in those big hospital beds?)

So, the team decided to switch her to a Modified Atkins diet to see if that would help. 

The first smile I'd seen in 4 days... talking to her daddy. 

She would continue to have very limited carbs, but she'd be able to eat as much fat and protein as she wants and there would not be such an emphasis on the cream.

THIS GIRL. What a sweetie. She was so content and awesome so that I could focus on her sister.

Just about the time she started to rally, John was able to come up to be with us. By that point, I was was EXHAUSTED. I'm so grateful he came. 

Seeing him in real life (vs. talking the phone or video chatting) gave her the boost she needed to get well enough to be discharged from the hospital. 

We've been home for about a week and a half and she's doing really well! She was seizure free for a week and her seizures have been minimal the last few days. 

There is a lot of trial and error with this diet. We are learning and making adjustments as we go.

But, let me say this: ANY reduction in the frequency of her seizures is a WIN in our book. Her eyes are so bright and her sentence structure is already improving. She seems so much clearer. The fact that we saw a drastic reduction in seizures but then saw a few is not as discouraging as it sounds. She was having probably 100s per day and now we see 5 or less. So, yes, the diet may be high maintenance, but she is not on an extra medicine and there was not surgery or anything like that involved. We are SO grateful!

***Special thank you to my sweet cousin Bri, for spending time in the hospital with me and my girls, to Mindi and her family for taking the time to come down to say hi even though they have so much going on, Christine for always being a light in a dark time, Ric and Deb for your help, the Rieger's for letting John come down and taking care of our Jake, and to the greatest CA in the world, De'Ja.***

De'Ja and me when we finally got to leave.
It was a really hard 9 days and the diet is definitely requiring me to spend a lot of time researching, preparing, etc, but I'm so grateful for the relief it has provided Evie so far. 

Thanks to Children's Hospital in Denver and, more specifically, Dr. Park, Chelsey and Jenn! 
If you happen to run into a nurse, CA, CNA, etc, today, give them a hug. They are the unsung heroes of hospitals.



  1. Kelley - you hardly would know me or my husband, other than we went to college around the same time and more importantly - the same church, so we watched your journey as missionaries from there. I'm not sure how I stumbled on your blog several years ago, probably from a mutual friend on FB or something- but I continue to pop back to see updates on Little Miss. And for the beautiful pictures from a beautiful part of the country. :) That said, I just wanted to encourage you today - we've been part of the Epilepsy program at Froedtert and although I don't have the same emotions as a mother, watching your husband go through the things they do - all for answers - is a journey I never expected. And when I read your updates I can literally feel the victories, the fatigue, the thankfulness and the overall confidence in the purpose to the plan - and while you don't know me, just know that while I pray for my husband and our situation, Little Miss automatically comes to heart as well- and you get a random dose of prayer from someone you don't even know. All our best as you continue on - In Him Alone (greg & linsay tinberg)

    1. Wow. Thank you. This is so soothing to my soul. We're doing the best we can, but coming up with new food choices for her is so hard. We have good days and bad days. Some days bring more seizures. Some days we may only see one or two. But, everyday you wonder what that day will hold, so John and I hold onto the fact that God created Evie exactly as He wanted to and He is the one holding her present and future in His hand. We try to participate in as much anonymous research as we can to hopefully be finding answers for her and other kids in the future. Thank you again for your sweet words.


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