Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pediatric Rheumatologist Appointment

Goodness gracious, it has been hot and humid lately. It was 95 degrees with 98% humidity the other day, and we were miserable in the sultry heat. Living in Western NY, we don't have central air conditioning, because summer typically lasts approximately 5 minutes and winter lasts for the rest of the year. Nolan sweats more than most kids, so he was literally soaked through in this weather.

Three days ago, a dear friend called to tell me that our beloved ENT was canceling all of her appointments. More specifically, her office was canceling the appointments on her behalf. There has been some sort of catastrophe and they do not know if she will be seeing patients again. I still have no idea what has happened, but I am worried for her and for her family. Of course, this leaves us in a bit of a lurch, as Matthew still has significant sleep apnea after his supraglottoplasty. Nolan is fairly complex as an ENT patient as well, so we need to find a replacement that can handle the boys' issues. I have a call into our ENT's nurse practitioner and we will see what she recommends.

Since Nolan had a pediatric rheumatology appointment, I thought I'd ask her opinion, too. His rheumatologist is fantastic, and always takes a good deal of time with our family.

We talked about our latest concerns, which include:
  • Bradycardia (slow heart rate) when sleeping - his heart rate dips into the 30's on some occasions.
  • Difficulty with sustained walking.
  • Hearing loss and management.
  • Periodic leg movements and waking at night.
Nolan's weight is hanging in there at 42 pounds, and he is 45.5 inches tall. His nighttime feeds are going well, so that part of his care is fine.

She wants Nolan to see a cardiologist, because his last echocardiogram and EKG were when he was 3 years old, before he had developed the heart murmur he has now. Adding in the bradycardia, it would be good to get a consultation. It is likely that everything will be reported as fine, but kids with connective tissue disorders have a higher risk of having cardiac issues. Better safe than sorry, in any case.

As far as his hearing and other ENT issues, she has a few recommendations. She is going to contact a few other families in the area to see what they are doing with regard to seeing an ENT. 

The periodic leg movements are not due to electrolyte deficiencies or to anemia (he had had blood work during the same time period as his sleep study), so it is likely there is a muscular or nervous system issue at work there. He has some minor central apnea as well as the gastroparesis, so there is something "going on" with his autonomic system. They can treat leg movements with amitriptyline, but this relaxes the palate and airways... which makes the medication a bad idea for a child with congenitally floppy airways. We'll just ignore the problem for now - there isn't much we can do about it. I am driving him to school, which lets him sleep a bit longer in the mornings.

Nolan's lack of endurance and fatigue is becoming a serious issue. Currently, we are carrying him when we are in a city or on vacation. As he grows, carrying him is becoming more difficult. He doesn't fit into a standard umbrella stroller anymore, so the time has come to look into a medical stroller. He won't need to be fitted for a pediatric wheelchair, as he doesn't need full-time use - he just needs a mode of transportation when his legs and body give out. 

We're going to look for one second-hand (Maclaren makes a medical stroller called the "Major," which isn't horrifically expensive - less than $1,000). With Nolan's complexity and mounting medical costs, she wants to investigate acquiring Medicaid as a back-up for covering medical costs. Most medically complex children have Medicaid, because private insurance does not cover DME - in the past, we have paid for Nolan's g-tubes, C-pap, and hearing aids out of pocket. Now we're adding a medical stroller. If he qualifies, we'd use our private insurance for most things, but the Medicaid for the surprising number of things private insurance doesn't cover. His medical costs can be staggering at times, so having a little help for things our insurance company won't cover.

It was a very productive appointment, and she gave us a few good ideas on where to look for a second-hand medical stroller.

We return to Buffalo on Saturday for Nolan's MRI (inner ear). 


Herding Grasshoppers said...

Hi Leah,

What an update! So sorry to hear about losing your ENT - wonder what happened.

Hope people are understanding about the medical stroller... on the one hand, you don't want to draw attention to Nolan, but on the other hand his fatigue issues aren't very visible. I guess it would be nice if there were some way to alert people to the fact that it's a medical stroller and he's not lazy!

Anyway, my heart is with you. Hope you find a GREAT new ENT.


Magic Ear Kids said...

I hope your ENT is back in action by now or you've found a great replacement. It's so tough to find a doctor in the first place - it really stinks to lose one.

Hope you're enjoying this cooler weather!

dlefler said...

I really need to write more often. Nolan's ENT is not back into the office, and it appears a devastating accident has happened. I don't know all of the details, but we are in constant prayer for her. We have been moved to another ENT in the same practice.

I had a bid on a medical stroller on eBay, but didn't snag it. Oh, well... we aren't going to a city anytime soon, but will be traveling in June to Washington, D.C. again. We'll want one by then, as there is no way Nolan can handle all the walking in the city!