Vaguna Nerve Stimulation- yes, you read that correctly

Feels like it’s been weeks since my last update, but sadly it’s only been a few days.So much has happened over the course of 7 days, I feel like time stopped and just completely threw me for a loop. I believe Greyson had an ER visit when I made the last update, but that was just one of several seizures over the past week. Thursday and Friday were regular days, nothing too exciting except that I was swamped at work. Seriously, I thought my previous job was a lot of service requests, but at my current position, I feel like I have zero time to put down the phone and breathe! I love this job, I enjoy working from home and despite sitting in a basement in a dim-lit room, I feel as though I am making someone’s day better by chatting with them.

Saturday, I had an appointment to discuss the end of my lease for my 2019 Chevy Equinox, so I was gone for most of the morning. Greyson was very active and fairly irritable the entire time I was gone, so I took him up to lay down for a nap once I got home (not gonna lie- I wanted one too). It didn’t take very long until Greyson was out cold, snoring away, face down in the mattress. I was about to doze off myself, when I heard a clicking sound coming from the other side of the bed. I looked down and saw Greyson starting with his typical early seizure symptoms. I moved him down to the floor and started the timer, all typical protocol for his seizures.

When Greyson has tonic clonic seizures, he’s typically unconscious until his emergency medication takes over and he slowly comes out of the seizure. But this time was very different. After 5 minutes of seizing, I administered his meds and waited for the convulsions to stop, only this time, they weren’t. I kept looking at the clock and 30 seconds went by, then 60, once we were hitting 90 seconds, I was panicking inside. I was trying to catch my breath through the panic, that I didn’t notice Greyson was not breathing at all. His lips began to turn a blueish gray color, then I watched as his rosy cheeks went from a healthy shade of pink, to a gray, lifeless color. At this point, I had Derek call 911 and we could hear the ambulance coming from the EMS station, about a mile away. Our neighbor, who is a truck driver by day and EMS/Firefighter volunteer by night, was the first person to come rushing over. I had not met this neighbor yet, so this was quite an eventful way to introduce myself.

As the rest of the EMS crew arrive, several faces were very familiar. It only took about 5 seconds to realize that holy crap, these are the same EMS staff that were at Greyson’s school to transport him to the hospital on Wednesday! After an awkward “hello, remember us?”, Greyson was evaluated. His vitals and blood sugar was all normal and coincidentally, the ER doctor on call for emergency calls, was also the same doctor who evaluated Greyson in the ER earlier in the week. Greyson had not returned to baseline yet, though the seizure had stopped, so the staff was very concerned that he had not woken up or really even flinched when being poked at. The lead on the EMS team waited and suggested we call the on-call doctor at CHOP. While waiting for a return call, Greyson finally was able to come to and the EMS staff said they felt confident enough that he was back at baseline and that going to the ER was not really going to make a difference at that point.

After documenting the seizure and watching Greyson closely, CHOP finally called us back and the one-call doctor increased his new seizure medication, Briviact. If you read my last post, you know that when Greyson was prescribed this on Wednesday after the seizure at school, you know that we only got the medication approved by calling the insurance and pushing for an emergency authorization. That auth was approved for a five day supply of medicine. Now that the on call doc was increasing the medication, we were going to run out before the five days were over, so I immediately called the insurance to ask for more medication to be authorized. Guess that’s not a common request, so I was on the verge of tears, basically begging the customer service rep to speak to a higher up and get us an approval, which luckily worked. We began the higher dose that evening and things appeared to settle down.

Due to the increase in seizures and the new medication prescribed, the neurologist’s office reached out for us to move up Greyson’s appointment to today (Wednesday). I was swamped with phone calls in the basement office, so I had Derek do the appointment with Greyson. The neurologist seemed to be concerned about the increase in seizures and that Greyson was not responding to any medications. I’m now paraphrasing what Derek explained to me after the appointment, so I too am attempting to process and understand all of her suggestions and ideas.

The doctor explained to Derek that if Greyson continued having these breakthrough seizures, there is a third medication we could try to use to control them. Though pumping Greyson with seizure medications sounds like a temporary fix, she did recommend a more permanent treatment that could help control the epilepsy. She suggested that we consider a surgical approach to manage things. Now Greyson has not been formally diagnosed with the MIC-CAP syndrome associated with the genetic mutation he has, but more and more co-morbidities associated with the syndrome are beginning to manifest. The main signs/symptoms of the MIC-CAP syndrome are as follows:

  • Issues with brain development in-utero
  • Epilepsy that does not react to anti-seizure medications
  • Microcephaly
  • Developmental delay/Intellectual Disability
  • Capillary malformations appearing on the surface of the skin as a Port-Wine Stain birthmark
  • Abnormal nails and joints on the fingers and toes
  • Unusual hair growth patterns, such as multiple swirls
  • The affected child does not learn basic motor and developmental skills such as holding their head up independently or sitting in an upright position

Keeping up with me? If you are keeping track and read my previous post, “Isn’t that genetic?”, I explained how this genetic mutation was typically inherited by both parents and both parents are typically a carrier of the mutated gene. In Greyson’s case, he only inherited one mutated gene, so his condition does not directly look like a typical case of MIC-CAP syndrome. Truth be told, there are only a handful of studies about this condition, because it is so rare, so no one really knows if he could have a “partial” case or it’s just a big coincidence that Greyson has almost all of the symptoms, except for a small head. I do not have a PhD or any medical background other than IB biology, some psychology courses, chemistry and an anatomy class, so I am certainly not attempting to diagnose here. I just do my research, read a lot about medical stuff and always look into any sort of treatment options for Greyson before agreeing to them.

In reference to the intractable epilepsy, the neurologist is making a case to the neurosurgery team that Greyson would be a good candidate for VNS therapy. VNS stands for Vagus Nerve Stimulation therapy, which is a newer procedure, where an implant is placed in a patient’s chest (a lot like a pacemaker) with a wire leading up to the brain via the Vagus nerve in the back of the head. The implant (or generator) then sends electroshock pulses to the nerve and brain, to prevent the brain from slipping into an epileptic episode. This treatment has proven to be especially successful in patients with ASD, because it can help reduce the irritability that often comes with Autism. The only downside to this treatment is that the implant’s battery only lasts 5-10 years, so if it is working for Greyson, he would need frequent surgeries to replace the generator. He could have complications with said surgeries and that is always a huge risk.

So, our next step is to take the referral and set up an appointment with the neurosurgical team at CHOP to discuss our options. If Derek and I chose to do this and we proceed with the procedure, the potential benefits certainly outweigh the risks and we would both do everything and anything we can to improve Greyson’s quality of life. I have a lot more reading to do and questions to ask before we decide anything. For now, I will poke fun at the fact that Derek called the Vagus (pronounced like vay-gus) nerve the “Vaguna” nerve when explaining the therapy to his mom. Maybe we both should do some reading- lol.

As far as the car goes, I did turn in my little Equinox and upgraded to a mom mobile. No, I will never and won’t ever drive a mini van, so I was able to find a super nice Chevy Traverse for a very good deal. I’ve cut my lease ways and decided to buy finally. Guess we will need the bigger car, so we can fit two growing kids and a mini-sized pony (Mr Duke) in the back seat.

Greyson approves of the new family car

One thought on “Vaguna Nerve Stimulation- yes, you read that correctly

  1. You are always in my heart. I’m so glad that he has the parents that he does. I pray that you are strengthen with love and patience. I pray that whatever Grayson needs he has. Sending love your way

    Liked by 1 person

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