Port a cath

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I have been dragging my feet for a while on this update.

We have waffled so much with the decision to place a port a cath. Last week Mattie ended up needing an IV to maintain her blood pressure. After talking with her dysautonomia docs, we changed some protocols for treating her blood pressure. We upped her medication used to regulate her BP and also added more salt tablets. The protocol also called for an additional liter of fluids by mouth daily. Mattie only consumes the required amount a few days a week. Even with the suggested changes, Mattie’s blood pressure is still dipping into the low end of things. She is hitting IV levels at least once or twice a day. Adding salt has brought it up after the dips, but it is clear that more IV’s are in our future. We are giving her the maximum amount of salt a day, and have doubled the blood pressure regulation medications.

So what is a port a cath??? A port a cath is small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Under the skin, the port has a septum through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times, usually with less discomfort for the patient than a more typical “needle stick”.

Mattie will be having the port placed on March 16th at CHOA. We are planning on the surgery being an outpatient stay, but are being smart and packing bags.

Mattie will also be having a direct laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy to check out her airway. It is always nice when we can do a two-for-one sedation to minimize how often she is being put under sedation. Mattie has been having a lot of breathlessness with very minimal physical activity. They are doing the scopes just to make sure that nothing is going on besides just the typical mito muscle weakness.

Please also be praying for Steve. He had a spot under his eye removed a couple of weeks ago. The pathology report came back showing that is it a basal cell carcinoma. This is the most mild of skin cancers….but it is still cancer. The growth has been on his face for several years, and has been removed before. He will be undergoing the Mohs Micrographic Surgery on March 23rd to remove the remaining cancer.

I have a friend that is in need of prayers. I don’t think she is ready for her name to be thrown out there… but please add her to your prayer lists. She was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a young mom, and amazing lady. Cancer doesn’t know who it is messing with!

Thank you for keeping up with our updates and just loving our family,


PS. We will walking with the UMDF again this year. Keep an eye out for information on how you can donate or join our team to walk with us.



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Hello again… I haven’t forgotten about you.

Mattie has been doing really well for a while. We have not used IV’s at home in a little over a month now. We have had a few labs come back abnormal, but nothing earth shattering. They found an MTHFR genetic mutation…… I am still researching that one.. but it doesn’t seem to be anything that will cause Mattie any major issues. We have added a new med that is given to everyone with the defect.

They also discovered that Mattie’s iron is low. She started supplementing this week and I hope that getting her levels higher will help with her energy level and sleep. She was diagnosed with periodic limb movement disorder after her last sleep study. The doc thinks the correcting the iron levels may also correct her movement at night. In addition to the movement, we added sleep apnea to her list. She is sleeping with c-pap and it has much improved her sleep. We now lovingly refer to her as Darth Mattie.

Mattie is continuing to struggle with breath support and temperature regulation. I am really at a loss as to what we can do to regulate her temperatures. I have spoken with all of her docs and no one really seems to have an answer. We can up her already huge amount of daily fluids, dose her with valium, and just cool her off and keep her quiet. That really seems to be the only option. If you are reading this and struggle with thermoregulation…. I am totally open to suggestions. This is the one area that is really holding us back right now. It is is hard to let her play and let her be a kid when everything she does causes a fever.

As for the breath support, we are teaching her techniques to get a deeper fuller breath. Reminding her to breathe properly, and upping asthma meds. The ENT is going to scope her nose and upper airway in March to be sure we aren’t missing something. She has developed a really loud nose breathing sound the last few months. This will just check to make sure this is truly a mito issue, and that we aren’t missing a different piece to the puzzle.

We are scheduled to see a neurologist in Florida in July. I need to talk more to our doc before I give much more of an update on this trip. I am still trying to wrap my brain around the reason for the visit. Nothing new, or anything to really worry about.. I am just not sure I fully understand it yet, so I want to update when I can actually give intelligent information.

In true Mattie form, we have been introduced to a new condition I had never heard of. The girl really strives for different. 😉 Mattie is still wearing her airway clearance vest twice a day to help keep her lungs clear. One day during a session Mattie got really upset and insisted it was burning her. I took it off and she was covered in hives under the vest. After several more episodes and a trip to the doc, M was diagnosed with pressure uticaria. A fancy way of saying that her body will react to pressure on her skin with an allergic type reaction. She has also broken out in hives from something as simple as a pair of pants that were tight on her belly. It is crazy… We swapped out her antihistamine and she has been hive free for a while.

Mattie is scheduled for a port a cath surgery in March. I am really struggling with this being the right decision. Honestly, I am thankful that they scheduled so far out. This gives us time to think about, pray about, and talk about it being the right decision. If you had asked me a month ago I wouldn’t have flinched. The last couple of weeks have been so good. I hate to have the port put in and then discover that we don’t really need it. This would be surgery number 15. Mattie says she is ready, and wants to have it done. The docs all seem to think it is a good choice. I am just not sure. I will keep you updated on the final decision and will post info if we decide to move forward with the procedure.

We started in home nursing care almost a month ago. It is a huge adjustment for all of us! The nurses are a huge blessing to us. I didn’t realize how much I was doing until I got to watch someone else do half of it. I don’t’ think Mattie would be doing as well as she is without the care they are providing. . She doesn’t have to run out every time I do. She has more opportunity to rest, more eyes watching her vitals and appearance. We are blessed with nurses that really love M.

We are still waiting on the results from the hemiplegic migraine and genetic mitochondrial myopathy testing. I will update if and when they come in.

This week is feeding tube awareness week. If you have anything you want to know about feeding tubes, please ask! I think Mattie plans on writing something up about using a feeding tube. Keep an eye out for her blog post this week. http://www.memosfrommattie.blogspot.com/


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Hey guys!I am working on trying to win an Ipad for Mattie. Please help out if you can. If you have a child with special needs (or work with them) and you haven’t yet found A4cwsn please check out their FB page and like them. This is a great group that has already given over 90 iPads to special needs kids/professionals this year.  If you like what you see please say I sent you and also friend request Gary James– it is his page.

One of those days

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Days like yesterday make me wonder if I am too hyper vigilant.. If I worry too much. Is her mito really having all the affects on her that I think it is. I know it is crazy.. but you would be amazed at how much time my brain spends on just these types of questions. She hates all of the vital checks and restrictions. When I see her playing without pause and smiling.. it makes me wonder.

Then we have days like today where she wakes up puffy and sore and tells me she only has two marbles/spoons.. That is not a good start to the day. She tells me to please call and let them know she can’t make it to aquatic therapy. She lays down on the couch and cries if you look at her wrong. Today, she is paying for yesterday’s fun. She HATES naps, but I know that is what she needs. So the dance begins. I find a way to clear the house of all the other family members. I offer to snuggle her on the bed if she is interested… then I sneak away as soon as she starts to sleep.

I find myself in those quiet moments praying for healing.. begging for healing. Then praying for God’s will. I am never quite sure which prayer is the right one. I know that our God is a healing God. I know that God can work miracles, and can do anything. I also know that sometimes the answer to our cry for help is sometimes just going to be no. Not that he doesn’t help.. just not always in the way we ask him to. It sure can make a person crazy. I pray for healing, then his will, then find myself wondering if too much doubt in my mind and heart is why God says no. I realize that their is no truth in the statement.. but man it is hard. I feel like my prayers go round and round with these same lines. I wonder if it is this difficult for me to wrap my mind around what it must be like for Mattie. She is on fire for God! I have also seen her yell and shake her fists at him. In the end she probably has it right. I am sure that God doesn’t mind us being mad.. he is enjoying the conversation.

No real aha moment in this post.. just venting a bit I guess.


Wordless Wednesday… okay.. so it has a few words.

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Originally uploaded by ShellyPlus4

Wordless Wednesday

Mattie, James, and Hasty the puppet.

Stats Week Five

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This was another slow week. I am trying not to get too disappointed. I am down 0.4 pounds. I have to remind myself that having a smaller amount to lose that it is just going to be a slower process. I can’t expect to see the big numbers some of my friends are pulling.
I am still struggling with the motivation to work out. Seeing all the swim wear in the stores is making me more and more interested in picking up the weights. That’s all for now.


Winter Wonderland

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Getting Ready to go out and play


Before they were soaked and frozen


Trying to make a snowman


The house after the kids had been running in the yard for an hour or so


Mattie got tired and took a break in the tree


James working on the snowman


Snow Angel