Tag Archives: low tone

Do you like apples? Connor went to Boston! How do you like them apples!?

Connor's first airplane ride.
Connor’s first airplane ride.

We flew to Boston so Connor could take part in a TSC study through Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard. It helps us by potentially identifying areas in which he might be showing delays so we can intervene, and in exchange we are helping the study identify early markers of how TSC might progress. Since there is such a wide variation in how TSC presents, from people leading competely normal lives to round the clock care and everything in between, the earlier doctors can identify who might go down certain paths, the better.

I was worried about flying with a baby. Ever since 9/11, I have had a decidedly contentious relationship with TSA. Apparently I resemble p. 33 of The Big Book of Terrorists. It’s gotten better since right after 9/11 when I was one of the randomly chosen few for the arbitrary secondary search at the gate (every. single. time), I guess because I so perfectly fulfilled the role of “white girl” in a politically correct collection of humans to pat down. So I’d be chilling with Asian Dad, Black Grandmother, Hispanic Mom, and various other people wearing t-shirts that said “Just Do It: Blow up the Plane.” TSA relaxed with me after a few years and mostly only chose to arbitrarily search my bag even though I had cleared security, finally prompting me to remove my bomb-shaped luggage tag and collection of Middle East flag patches meticulously sewn all over.

Who knew a baby would make it easier?! First, we got to bypass the security line in Atlanta. When we returned our Hertz rental car at Boston Logan, they drove us to the terminal instead of making us catch the bus. Then I got to bypass the full body scanner since I was holding him (I’ve successfully avoided these ever since implementation! Score! knock on wood). We got to board early.  Rather than making us choose peanuts, pretzels, or cookies, the flight attendant gave us two of everything. And finally, getting to enjoy that intense look of fear in passengers’ eyes when they see you. Pure awesomeness.

It was Connor’s first flight, and generally, he’s not a fussy baby, so we weren’t too worried. Naturally, as soon as we sat down on the plane, he whined and shrieked, until we got him to sleep. From there it was smooth sailing. On the flight back, we had a standard rough Delta landing which he loved. As we bounced and jerked, he laughed and laughed.

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We arrived Sunday night (oh no, I’m sorry. It was only 4:30, it just happened to look like night already) and went to pick up our rental car from Hertz. We were upgraded to a Hyundai Elantra. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cute sporty little car, but the key word is still little. Were we getting a moped before? No complaints though. We had a great experience with them (see above about how they drive people with kids to the terminal). I’d detail our adventures of trying to navigate the big dig and poorly lit Boston roads with tiny street signs to the Holiday Inn, but I try to keep the four letter words to a minimum in the blog.

We finally found it though, only to discover they didn’t have our reservation. Apparently, the hotel made the reservation for the day they received the request from the study, not the dates we would be there. So we were a couple months late for our reservation. Fortunately they had plenty of rooms, with windows into the interior lobby, not to the outside. Deep breath. I will not freak out that I’m going to suffocate and die in here. The study ladies were unthrilled to hear that this occurred (seemingly not the first time) and we are being reimbursed for this as well. So we enjoyed a “not bad” hotel dinner, followed by some extremely questionable eggs benedict in the morning, and to the study we went.

What are these tiny pillows on a king bed?!!
What are these tiny pillows on a king bed?!!

Unfortunately Connor had one of his eye rolling episodes during breakfast which meant he was gonna be a little bit on the tired side. They started with the EEG net on his head, a very expensive and newer version that delightfully didn’t require the glue of the standard EEG. The computer tracked his eyes while a screen flashed pictures of shapes, me and a random woman.

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Then he sat on my lap at a table and they watched how he interacted with certain toys. He was given particular tasks to complete with objects, but at that point he had more eye rolls and it was sleep time. We had to cut the cognitive test short and do it based on parent report. The final part was an examination by the neurologist, who noted his slightly low tone, but otherwise thought he looked good. She was impressed that despite his surgery on the right frontal lobe, he showed no weakness on either side, which can occur.

All this took place in just under 2.5 hours and we had several hours to fill before catching our flight home. We decided to tour the campuses of our backup schools, Harvard and MIT. As we both got into our first choices, Chris into Marquette, and myself into the University of Georgia, fortunately neither of us were forced to go to these second rate institutions. Harvard does have a beautiful campus, although that does little to negate their horrendous academic reputation.

This is a Harvard snowman. I rest my case.
This is a Harvard snowman. I rest my case.

We received the assessment results within a couple days. Areas of concern: visual reception (have to look into this more, I think it means he wasn’t paying much attention to the screen with flashing pics-we’re hoping a factor in this was that he was quite tired and not really wanting to keep his head up to look at the screen), expressive language (already looking into speech therapy, since he can certainly be noisy, but isn’t yet making consonant sounds), and gross motor (already getting PT). Not really major surprises. Receptive language was a slighter delay, meaning while he seems to recognize some words, he doesn’t consistently respond to them. I definitely notice that when he’s in a good mood, he’s pretty responsive. If he’s tired or disinterested, he’s pretty good at ignoring me. Interestingly, his fine motor skills were right on target, something I already thought to be the case.

His 12 month follow up looks like it will be the last week of March. We’re extending this trip into a little family vacay. I look forward to building my positive relationship further with TSA. If they stop feeling me up permanently, maybe we can even be friends…

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Boston or bust!

I just went to pick up Connor, and as I hoisted this 7.5 month old that wears 12-18 month clothing, it struck me. As his body weight succumbed to gravity and my hands pushed up into his armpits, I realized how much more tightly his arms were clamped down over my hands, that his shoulders and arms weren’t doing that slight slide upward that used to force me to clamp down a little tighter. His doctors and physical therapist have mentioned his improvement in tone, but today’s realization makes me realize how far he has come with surgery. His tone was not so low that he was diagnosed with floppy baby syndrome or anything, but neurological issues can cause somewhat low tone which means it takes him a little longer to master some physical activities. He has to build more strength first when doing something new. While his degree of low tone wasn’t expected to be  problematic long term, I love to see these little improvements.

He’s also loving his feet these days!

Naked baby loves his toes!

I also spoke with the people doing the study in Boston and it looks like we will be traveling in early January for our first visit. We ended up not qualifying for the initial study we thought we would take part in because his brain surgery disqualified him. Instead they referred us to another TSC study that didn’t have that as a disqualifier, but has similar goals. We have the option to extend our stay in Boston and have a  little mini-vacay as long as we pay for any additional hotel nights. But something tells me we may bypass that in the frigid month of January and wait until our next trip at 12 months old.

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I have a hard time not getting violent with TSA when I fly alone. This oughtta be good with a baby. If I end up in prison, tell Connor I love him.