One appointment at a time

Yesterday was Lina’s second visit to the Vanderbilt Pediatric Down Syndrome Clinic. The visit entails a series of appointments with professionals who all specialize in Down syndrome, beginning with the pediatrician and moving on to a nutritionist and speech/feeding, physical and occupational therapists. It makes for a very long morning, but these appointments have so far been infinitely helpful, and the professionals who see Lina at the clinic know their stuff and are incredibly encouraging and supportive.

So here’s the run-down of her visit yesterday:

1.) She is growing beautifully – in the 65th percentile for height and 67th for weight on the DS charts – and is making great strides in her development, staying right on track with her speech and physical milestones.

2.) They are recommending she begin speech and physical therapy, not because of any specific concerns, but in order to best support her continued progress. A Down syndrome diagnosis alone would not qualify her for speech therapy at this age, but she does qualify based on her diagnosis of conductive hearing loss. Her physical therapy appointments will be in-home with the early intervention therapist, but we are leaning towards taking her to Vanderbilt for speech, where they have therapists specializing in kids with hearing loss. Her initial speech evaluation at Vandy is scheduled for next Thursday.

3.) They drew blood to check Lina’s thyroid function, and it came back low. Hypothyroidism is very common with Down syndrome, and thankfully, it is easily treated with a synthetic hormone she will take for the rest of her life. Didn’t prevent me from having that moment: “Great. One more thing that will make her different and require management.” She has an appointment with a Vandy pediatric endocrinologist next month. Ultimately, I’m thankful to have the knowledge and be able to treat the problem quickly to avoid complications.

4.) She now also has an appointment scheduled for September with a pediatric ophthalmologist at Vanderbilt for her first vision check.

Clearly, we are transitioning from the early days, when little was needed besides normal infant care, to a time of increasing therapy and medical needs. It’s requiring some shoring up of my courage to face the growing number of appointments, recommended therapy exercises and other expanding needs for Lina. But this is my job as her mama (with lots of help from her daddy), and I am determined to do it with all the strength I have. I came away from yesterday’s appointment encouraged. Lina is doing great, and we have such fantastic resources available to us. I love that we have the opportunity to equip her for a happy, successful life. I have big dreams for her, and they start here and now, one appointment at a time.

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