Dean was born in December of 2007, our first child. He developed typically, until he had a seizure at daycare when he was two years old. A few months later, he had his second seizure and was diagnosed with Epilepsy. Over the next couple months, the seizures occurred more frequently and we tried several different medications, none of which seemed to work. At three and a half years old, he was having over 10 seizures a day in which his whole body would tense up followed by shaking up to five minutes.
We had several trips to neurologists and checked in to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston for EEGs multiple times. After five medications where tried without help, the next step was to put Dean on the Ketogenic Diet, a diet in which all his food had to be measured and weighed to be sure he received the correct amount of protein and fat. He was not allowed any carbs; in other words, he could not eat anything with sugar and no bread or cereal.
The Keto diet did not provide a cure, but it did help. During the year and a half he was on the diet and since then, his seizure mostly occurred at night, so, he could go to school during the day. The seizures zapped his energy and affected his coordination; he had a hard time walking, but every day from four years old in pre-school at Russell Elementary through last year in first grade at Nickajack Elementary, he summoned the strength to walk to this classroom to see his friends.
While Dean was learning to live with his seizures, he wasn’t developing at the same rate as other kids his age – he wasn’t talking as well, wasn’t as active, and he didn’t have the same level of coordination and motor skills. So, after multiple evaluations, he was diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum. Last summer, Dean’s mother, Lisa, noticed he had some strange bruising and he had small cut that looked infected; so, a trip to the pediatrician’s office led to a blood test and on June 28th his mother’s fears were realized, he was diagnosed with Leukemia.
We went to CHOA at Scottish Rite that night and they confirmed the diagnosis and we spend the next two weeks in the AFLAC cancer center. Chemotherapy started within a couple days and antibiotics were given for the whole two weeks to fight the infection. Infections are a major concern for someone with Leukemia and after being home for a week, Dean developed a fever, a sign of infection, so he took an ambulance ride back to Scottish Rite and had another week long stay.
August and September were filled with weekly and sometimes daily trips to the cancer clinic at Scottish Rite, but he was able to stay at home. When the Horizon Baseball season started this fall, he looked forward to playing and he was able to make it to most of the games for his team, the Cardinals. Every Friday, he asked if we were going to play baseball Saturday morning and he smiled and laughed when our answer was yes.