A Little Blessing

My name is Brandon Burditt. I was born with a bilaterral cleft lip and cleft palate. I had three surgeries in my first year of life; but that hasn't stopped me. Some say I am a little charmer; I love to cuddle, laugh, and play.
This is my journey...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seasons Greetings!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
One of his favorite gifts this year...Brandon is obsessed with sports. Christmas 2010

Lights at the Toledo Zoo 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Operation Smile Donation:

Operation Smile: Via Sew Many Blessings Boutique...We were able to supply antibiotics and pain medication for 24 children. In addition, we donated $100 which another company matched, making it a total of $200 towards cleft related surgeries, etc...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cleft Clinic 2010

Brandon in the doctor's office...

Another great visit. We met with speech therapy, plastic surgery, oral surgery, ENT, and genetics again. Brandon is right on track. Next surgery estimated between 7-10 years of age. Speech therapy to begin sometime next year. I was super excited to see that some of our new friends at clinic would be receiving one of our special blankies.

Growth Update

Recent trip to see the endocrinologist showed moderate improvement in Brandon's growth. He is now officially on the growth chart measuring in at 27# in weight (25th percentile) and approximately 31" in height (aprx. 10th percentile). He is starting to lose his baby face more and more :(, but I'm so glad we are seeing some results.
First year of growth hormone therapy complete...
First picture was 2009, first shot. Second picture to the right is one year later.

Pulmonologist Consult

So we were referred by our pediatrician to see a pulmonologist due to Brandon's countless respiratory infections/breathing difficulties. Allergy testing was recommended by this specialist as well as for Brandon to continue his Singulair medication and inhalers. The allergy testing confirmed that Brandon has very mild (and I mean VERY mild) allergies to oak trees, cockroaches, and milk. I don't know too much about allergy testing, but obviously these indications won't mean too much for Brandon since his allergen range was so low. Oak trees...well can't avoid them in Northwest Ohio, cockroaches...none in this house nor anywhere I would like my child to be around, and milk...well let's just say he is allowed to keep drinking it. So all in all, can't say it was a bad visit. Got some helpful tips as to how to manage wheezing episodes, etc., especially during cold and flu season.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dr. Appointment in Cincinnati

On Friday, July 23rd, we headed down to Cincinnati, OH to visit a geneticist that came very highly recommended to me. In my field of work, the doctors have referred many children to genetic specialists to confirm or rule out various genetic disorders/syndromes. Since many things with Brandon appear to be a "medical mystery" to many of his doctors, and there has still been no clear answer as to why Brandon has some unusual physical features, I decided to take Brandon to see Dr. Hopkin, a genetic specialist, to see if we could get some answers. I love Brandon with all my heart and do not NEED to know any official diagnosis for why he has certain features, but being a developmental pediatric nurse I understand the benefits to research, and also how sometimes finding out more information can help parents help their children. As Brandon continues to grow and develop, I want to be able to provide him with any resources he might need to make his journey easier and more prosperous. This visit was just one more step in that process...
After a 3 1/2 hour drive we finally arrived...Brandon was acting silly in the waiting room.

Thumbs up...so far so good. Brandon was in great spirits and did very well considering the long drive and lengthy visit.

Playing with mommy as we wait in the exam room.

Finding ways to pass the time...

The doctor came in shortly after Brandon was hiding in the cabinet. Dr. Hopkin was so friendly. He greeted Brandon and kneeled down to listen to his heart and check him out as Brandon continued sitting inside the cabinet.

A little R&R after a long day. We decided it would be best to stay in a hotel that night and drive home the next day.

So...here's what we know so far. After the doctor had reviewed Brandon's history he thought of a syndrome called Opitz syndrome. He thought Brandon might qualify for this based on his reported features. After having laid eyes on Brandon, the doctor said he was shifting his thoughts towards a different syndrome called Aarskog syndrome. Brandon has very short, pudgy fingers and toes, in addition to other features which are present in this particular syndrome. Cleft lip and palate are sometimes associated with syndromes and sometimes not. Nothing has been decided. The doctor took some pictures of Brandon and will meet with his team to share and discuss further. Afterwards he will order an extensive genetic blood test to see if any specific markers show up. It is possible Brandon has one of these suspected syndromes or none. It is also possible he has something that has not yet been discovered. Regardless, those findings are more beneficial for the genetics team and their research. Whatever the outcome, it won't change who our little guy is. I love EVERYTHING about him, including his pudgy, short fingers and toes. We will continue to love, talk, read, and play with him daily...stimulating him developmentally.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Our annual trip up north

Every year, for the past seven years or so, we take a trip up north to Gaylord, MI for a little summer vacation. My family, my siblings and their families, and my parents all stay together in a large cabin that sleeps about 12-14 people. The guys like to golf, the girls like to shop, and the kids like to swim and play on the water slide. Each year is a little different; because as the kids get older, it becomes a new adventure...you never know what to expect. This year, Brandon had a blast, but experienced many time outs as he continues to express his 2 year old will power. All in all, we had a great time and made some more great memories.
And the golfing begins...
He insisted we bring along his bike ;)

Swim time with mommy...

What a little stud!

Hot tub time!

Ice cream at Mooney's...yum!

Off to see the Elk

Feeding the Elk

Friday, June 18, 2010

Another trip to the hospital...

So...Brandon spiked a fever on a Thursday night a little over a week ago. By Saturday he was at the doctor's office with what looked liked the beginning stages of an ear infection. Antibiotics were started, but by his third dose of the antibiotic, along with alternating Motrin and Tylenol, the following day his fever would not let up and he was refusing to eat all day. We ended up taking him to the ER on Sunday afternoon. All the tests came back normal so the ER doctor sent us home after Brandon had received some IV fluids. His fever continued for a few more days. Extremely worried at this point, I called his primary pediatrician who wanted to see him. Brandon had lost two pounds in two weeks and was still not eating well. He did nothing but moan in my arms the whole time we were at the doctor's office, for those who don't know Brandon well...this is very unusual for him. After his doctor took a look at him it was recommended Brandon be admitted to the hospital. We spent nearly 24 hours at St. V's where he received IV fluids to help his little body fight off this nasty virus. Luckily, no spinal tap was needed this time. Turns out Brandon had enterovirus, which is a common summer virus. The physician said without the help of the IV fluids, Brandon could have endured another 3-4 days in his uncomfortable state.

ER visit

Resting after being admitted to the hospital.

Visiting the aquarium as we pass the time in the hospital.

Thumbs up by Brandon...he is finally starting to feel better.

On our way home to rest...

A little over a week later and he is back to normal...Enjoying the day watching the parade on Father's Day.

Parade Day!

First of ten suckers throughout the parade...each had a few licks only because every time he was thrown a new sucker he wanted to trade his in :)

Such a big boy. So happy he is back to himself!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Take me out to the ball game...

After a busy week including two doctor's appointments, we ended the week with some fun at the Mud Hens game. I'm pleased to report that the orthopedic doctor has evaluated Brandon's bone structure and has informed us that his bones look great! Aside from Brandon being small in stature, his bones are healthy, proportional, and developing appropriately. One of the concerns with Brandon since birth was for possible dwarfism. At this point Brandon has NOT been diagnosed with any form of dwarfism . He will continue receiving his nightly shots for his growth hormone deficiency and continue scheduled follow up appointments with his specialists to monitor his growth and development. Now... if we could just get the upper respiratory/wheezing issues resolved. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recent Updates

First of all, I want to express how thankful I am for all of the wonderful feedback I have received about my blog. It is very rewarding to hear from others who are going through similar events in their life, as well as those who are just inspired by reading my blog. I have received several touching emails from moms around the world. From the U.S. to Australia and Peru, it’s fulfilling to know that Brandon’s journey has touched so many lives. I love receiving comments, emails, and hearing about other's stories...so keep them coming! I'm also pleased to announce that my new venture, Sew Many Blessings Boutique, is growing leaps and bounds! I am excited that I will soon be able to make my first donation from the boutique to a Cleft Charity. YAY!

As Brandon gets older, there isn’t as much new information to report regarding his cleft repairs; hence the lack of frequent status updates. I'm happy to share some additional updates though as to how Brandon is growing, developing, etc. Honestly, I see him as just any other little boy...with the exception that...he is still very little. At our last appointment with the endocrinologist, the doctor indicated that Brandon may not be responding to his growth hormone injections as well as they hoped, or he is resistant to the growth hormone. In light of that, Brandon's medication dose has been increased and we have an appointment next week with his orthopedic doctor to further evaluate his bone growth. I love that he is so little; it's very cute from a mom's perspective...but I do realize that he is a boy that will want to be bigger as he gets older. Only time will tell. We did hit a milestone this week by moving up to size 5 in shoes! In regards to Brandon’s other developments, his daycare is working with him on drinking out of a normal cup. They are also in the beginning stages of introducing potty training...OH BOY! He still has some snot/food coming out of his nose as he eats and we’re hoping to have that resolved at his next surgery when he gets his bone grafts done. However, this surgery, won't be until he is closer to 7 years of age. Brandon has made great strides in his speech development! He is saying more and more words every day. Some words are becoming much clearer and used more frequently (i.e. "No", "Stop", "Go" as well as many others), and he is also starting to express his 2 year old "attitude" lately. Regardless, there is never a day where he doesn't make me laugh and smile. He truly is a blessing!

Lastly, as I was reading some of the other blogs I follow; it brought back some memories that I wanted to share. I started this blog about Brandon's journey in an effort to reach out to others. In my personal experience as a parent of a child born with a cleft, the cleft does not define my child. It's actually amazing how quickly it becomes so "normal" for you. Sure, there are reminders when it comes to feedings and the excessive doctor's appointments, but overall, Brandon’s cleft was easily accepted by me and my family. His cleft is not something that is "an issue" in our day to day living. At times, I would forget that others who may have never seen Brandon before would be a little surprised when they took their first glance after he was born, but overall most people were very understanding and accepting. Anyone who has spent any time with Brandon knows that his personality and good nature is what draws you towards him. You can't help but fall in love with the little guy. Brandon's cleft was so familiar to me that after he had his first surgery and I laid eyes on him for the first time I cried. Seeing him so swollen with stitches made my heart hurt for him. I missed his old smile, but quickly fell in love with the new one. As a parent though, even though you love your child just as they are, you still have this part of you that feels the need to protect your child from the ignorant people in the world. I can only recall one negative comment made to me since Brandon's been born that I just couldn't forget. Brandon was 4 weeks old and I took him with me to a funeral (a funeral of an infant none-the-less). In the lobby a woman waived to me across the way. I smiled at her and she proceeded to come over in my direction to say hello. Apparently she knew who I was, but I did not recall who she was. I just figured maybe she knew my parents. As she approached me she was asking me "How are you? Is this your baby?" (keep in mind at this point, I was holding Brandon and his face was turned away from her). She walked around to take a look at him and immediately gasped quietly and said "Are you going to get that fixed?” I have to tell you, it is probably a good thing that at that particular moment the only word that could come out of my mouth before she walked away was "yes". In usual circumstances, my tongue is quick to make a tactful, yet crisp, reply. In this circumstance though, I was completely dumbfounded and shocked into silence that this woman would actually say that to me. Although her comment was hurtful it taught me a lesson on how to respond to others when they ask (or rudely comment) about Brandon’s condition. I am much more prepared now at how to respond in situations like that. I share this not to put down the woman who made this hurtful comment, but to bring awareness to others that words can hurt despite how much you have accepted something. The world can be very cruel sometimes and all I can do is teach my kids to accept people regardless of their differences.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Special Photo Shoot

Set up this photo shoot with an old friend. She is an amazing photographer and wonderful with the kids. Check her out at http://www.keenerphotography.blogspot.com/