Last week Dima had his first appointment with his new pediatrician. It went well, though I had hoped to see the actual pediatrician. The pediatrician speaks Russian and would have been able to get so much more information on Dima and maybe even learn more about what kind of medical care Dima has had in the past (if any). Rather we saw a nurse practitioner who was not terribly familiar with Down Syndrome, so the appointment could have gone better. On the bright side, however, we were able to have some blood work done to see if Dima has any allergies, especially food allergies. I knew that the chances of him having Celiacs Disease were fairly high since it is common in Eastern Europeans and those with Down Syndrome; two strikes against him right there. Thankfully Dima has no food allergies and his only allergy was to ragweed (just like his brothers and his daddy)! That would explain the watery eyes, coughing, runny nose, and itchy nose. We also had an x-ray done in his neck but have yet to receive the results of that. The nurse practitioner also sent some referrals to Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville to set up appointments with an ENT, a pediatric surgeon, and a geneticist. Poor Dima's tonsils are the size of large grapes and he has trouble swallowing solid food. His adenoids are huge, making it difficult to breathe. It is also seems that Dima has sleep apnea and he sure does snore. Dima also has two hernias, one in his abdomen and one in his groin, both of which need to be fixed. And finally, we need to have a geneticist test Dima for a more formal diagnosis of Down Syndrome.
We have also taken Dima to the eye doctor. The poor child is farsighted and has been focusing on things with one eye. What is truly amazing is how all of this time he has compensated and has become very adept at closing one eye and using the other to see. I thought he was just being silly. So in about a week and a half Dima will be sporting some very adorable Miraflex frames and will be just like so many of his Reece's Rainbow buddies!
And finally we have an appointment set up with a pediatric dentist here in Ocala. Dima has a bit of a mess in his mouth and desperately needs it all taken care of. It is possible that Dima needs a tooth or two pulled and one of those teeth is in really sad shape. It looks as though it had been filled and the tooth just rotted around the filling. Over the past few weeks pieces of it have been breaking off. The there is also a mysterious "hole" in Dima's mouth. I think he had a tooth pulled not too long before we went over to the Ukraine because the day we met him he kept pointing to it and telling us all about it in Russian. So that would have been about 6 months ago- it still bleeds when Dima brushes and I have noticed that he is always sticking his tongue in there. Poor little guy!
Unfortunately with all of the medical comes some trauma for Dima. He knows what a doctor is, but he is very fearful (understandably!) and freaks out at each appointment. When we went to have his blood drawn he cried so hard but it was really pathetic. When he really cries, I mean REALLY REALLY cries, it does not sound like a normal 7 year old. It sounds like a newborn baby and it is heartbreaking to hear. These appointments have also caused Dima to regress in his behavior. He is usually a very happy, easygoing and obedient little guy but all that has changed. We have gone back to him acting out, hitting people (even complete strangers), and blatant disobedience and defiance. Our family was prepared for that all to happen so we have not been surprised, but it is sad to see. These next few months may be some of the most difficult we will face with him, but it is only a season. Would you please keep Dima in prayer? Pray for peace, comfort, and an understanding as to what is happening to him? Also please pray for Eric and I as we nurse Dima back to health after his surgeries. We could use all of the prayer we can get!
Finally, Dima has been steadily gaining weight and getting taller. He weighed a little over 34 pounds when he came home. As of last week he weighed 43 pounds! I can tell that he is getting taller since quite a bit of his clothing is beginning to like too small for him. He is growing like a weed!
On a non-medical note, I am in the process of getting Dima signed up for ASL classes through Citrus Hearing Impaired Services. We do not know if the classes will work for him, but at the very least we can try, right? Dima has been breezing through all of his Signing Time videos and he is certainly capable of learning. He is crazy smart! I should add that Dima is not hearing impaired, but he is still learning how to speak English and his speech is not very clear. He will need speech therapy but this will help him communicate with ease. Many people with Down Syndrome learn sign language and communicate quite well.
Again, as I have said many times, the adoption of a special needs child is not easy, but is is doable. You need patience, understanding, and solid support network. I am so grateful for my fellow Reece's Rainbow mommas who "get it". Without them I would feel pretty inept and lost. Most of all I am grateful that Dima is home where he belongs. This time last year we were still in the process of committing to him. So much can happen in a year's time! Just think how well Dima will be doing this time next year.