Second Annual “Blogging for TSC Awareness Month” Day 18
by guest blogger Sarah Burton (Highland, California)
Our journey with TSC began on November 3, 2012. When Jackson was 3 months old, he had his first seizure. His
eyes rolled back and his body fell limp. I just remember holding him up and crying to my husband, “What’s wrong with him!” The pediatrician said it didn’t sound like a seizure and to monitor him at home. The next afternoon he had another episode, so went immediately went to the ER. They admitted him right away, and he had four more seizures that night. He was pumped full of Phenobarb, which quickly controlled them. After a normal EEG, an MRI was ordered and we were diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.
We experienced all the normal reactions…disbelief, anger, sadness, confusion. Those feelings did not go away for a long time, and some still linger. After four days in the hospital, I came home with Jackson. I walked into our bedroom, looked at his bassinette, his baby calendar, and felt an immediate sense of loss. I was lingering in this dark fog between life before the diagnosis and life after the diagnosis. Nothing of Jackson’s looked real or familiar.
It was a horrible feeling.
As I was attempting to deal with this news, I was comforted by my amazing family and friends. Everyone wanted to help, to reach out, and to be there for us in any way they could. But it wasn’t enough. No one would ever begin to know what I was going through, what I was feeling. Our lives were forever changed overnight, and I needed to find a way to cope. I needed to stop looking at my son and seeing only the disease. I needed to stop looking online where all I seemed to come across was devastating information. I needed to find someone who understood my pain.
About three months in, I found Inspire. I starting reading other people’s stories, other people’s struggles with TSC, and it brought me closer to a human connection that I desperately needed. I reached out to a few people, asked some questions, and it felt good. But it wasn’t enough. I still felt alone, like all I could think about was the disease, and Jackson’s future.
I had Facebook, but never used it for anything relevant. I decided to try and search TSC. And I found Becky and Connor. A mother and her son with TSC (who reminded me so much of my little Jackson). Her stories of the struggles and triumphs with TSC had a funny, sarcastic twist which brought some much needed humor into my world. It was a reality that I could relate to. That’s what I needed. I needed someone to walk along side of during this journey, someone who understands. I had plenty of people in my life who sympathized with me; I needed someone who could empathize. I continued to search out TSC on Facebook, joined the TS Alliance group, and connected with more and more people. I found an amazing group of women, viewed pictures of their beautiful families, and read their stories. I saw the faces behind the disease and finally began to accept that this was our new normal. Two of the pieces of advice I was given: “do not let TS define your child” and “one day at a time” still guide my daily attitude.
When my first born Isaac was two years old, running around and getting into everything, I must have expressed exhaustion to my mother. She said, “Honey, you want your child to be getting into everything, that’s what they are supposed to do.” She then told me about her friend who had a special needs child who was not “getting into things.” I think about that conversation all the time.
Jackson is now 21 months old. He is mobile, but not walking independently yet. He can crawl, pull up and cruise really well. He is finding his balance, so we hope to be walking soon! We had seizure freedom for seven months, but this past November his infantile spasms came back with a force. We have tried numerous meds, Prednisone and ACTH, but nothing has worked. It has taken a toll on his development. We have a wonderful neurologist at UCLA who we absolutely love! We will start testing in two weeks to see if Jackson is a candidate for surgery. But our story does not end here, this is only the beginning. My sweet Jackson. He gives the best hugs and kisses, and when I smile at him, he smiles back. That’s all that I could ask, for my son to be happy and to feel loved.
So “thank you” to all of you, my “virtual” friends and TSC family. You ultimately helped me cope; you are what I needed. Thank you to my amazing husband Caleb, and my two other beautiful children Isaac and Ava, who help me on a daily basis take the best care of Jackson possible. We are so fortunate to have a close knit family and circle of friends, who lift us up with their constant outpouring of love and support. Another TS mom emailed a video that included the following quote. For all of the TSC fighters and their families, for a cure one day…
“Love is just the antidote when nothing else can cure me.”