Friday, May 6, 2011

Medical Necessity

Well, that whole what to do about speech therapy question might get cleared up for us after all.  Just got a call that our insurance hasn't covered any of Roo's feeding therapy since the beginning of February.  They covered it up until February "in error" and fortunately they have not asked for their money back.  Yet.

Apparently Roo's feeding therapy is neither restorative nor medically necessary and to top it off they claim he has no underlying conditions which should impair his swallowing.  Like say, eosinophilic esophagitis or the laryngeal cleft the ENT found.  Forgive me but I'm about to send my puking, gagging, failing to thrive, hour and a half to eat a decent meal kid over to their offices for a quick demo.

We're appealing the decision but at $400 a pop for weekly sessions, this isn't going to be cheap if we lose.  If you need me today I'll be busy gathering letters of medical necessity from our slew of doctors.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feeding Therapy

Our speech therapist thinks Roo has made big progress in the past few months and isn't sure she needs to see him anymore.  I agree that he often eats well in her office.  All the games of Connect 4, sticker charts, balloon timer, and the pretty young speech therapist provide exactly the level of incentive he requires to finish a decent meal.  She believes that at this point it's largely a matter of keeping him motivated.  He can eat.  He just chooses not to most of the time.  And she's right. 

But I'm torn. He can eat when he sets his mind to it.  He crunches up Dum Dum lollipops like nobody's business.  He can eat raw carrots, Ruffles potato chips, pork, bacon, grape tomatoes, and all kinds of other foods that require ample chewing.  But without fail, he still gags on yogurt.  Muffins, most cookies, and soft breads, pancakes and the like are still off limits.  And while we know that his esophagus is clear right now, he still threw up after a single bite of ice cream with sprinkes this weekend.  My theory is that it was a textural issue...the mixing of tiny crunchy pellets along with soft, cold, mushy ice cream.  That kind of stuff still happens a lot.  

If we are to believe the scopes, GI's, ENT, and speech therapist, there's not really a physical cause remaining at this point for the frequent vomiting and general food aversion.  He still takes Prevacid because I think with or without the EoE he suffers from reflux too. I'm thinking of continuing the speech because I don't really know what else to do with him. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Props for Grampy

Budesonide, or Pulmicort, if you prefer, is an asthma medication.  It comes in individual packets or respules dissolved in a couple of milliters of liquid that are meant to be used in a nebulizer specifically for inhalation to treat, well, asthma, of course.  For eosinophilic esophagitis, the protocol is a bit different.  You have to drink the stuff.  To make it more palatable and stick-to-your-esophagus thick, GI specialists the world over have recommended mixing it with a few packets of Splenda to create a sickly sweet sludge-like consistency which is supposed to adhere to the esophagus walls, thus maximizing the effectiveness of the steroid.  Anyone out there ever eat a whole packet of Splenda?  How about five at a time? 

A few months ago when we were first looking at a budesonide trial for Roo, we were dreading it.  See, we were the teeniest bit skeptical that we could get this kid, who at age three, has yet to ingest a dose of Children's Tylenol successfully due to a hyper-sensitive gag reflex, to swallow five packets of Splenda mixed with medicine.  Not once, but twice a day for eight weeks. 

As I was hemming and hawing about how to make this happen, and whining just a bit perhaps about the unfairness of it all over the phone to my parents, my dad, Grampy to Roo, Bean, and Looly, devised his own brilliant solution.  Sorbet.  Roo can't get enough.  It's thick, tangy, sweet but not too sweet, icy enough to dull the flavor, has few ingredients, and let's face it, way more fun to eat than Splenda.  After one horrifically unsuccessful attempt with the Splenda, I nervously approached our GI team with Grampy's idea and to my surprise they agreed to let us try it.  Roo literally ate it up.  For what ended up being more than ten weeks due to scheduling difficulties with the scope. 

And get this, as it turns out, our GI team is now passing along Grampy's new recommendation to other families starting on budesonide for EoE.  Turns out sorbet is the new Splenda.  And Grampy is the Man!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Free and clear...for now

The biopsy results are in and Roo is officially a responder!  Following a ten week trial of drinking budesonide respules stirred into a tablespoon of lemon sorbet two times a day, his esophageal tissue is healed up and eosinophil-free, at least for the moment.  Psyched is an understatement.  Apparently, about 70-85 percent of people do respond to the steroid treatment, but can you blame me for not being terribly optimistic?  This is the best news we've had for a while.

He's off the budesonide now until symptoms reappear (not that they've exactly disappeared, but more on that another time).  Plans for a feeding tube are on hold as he's put on a little weight.  In fact, he jumped up slightly on the growth chart.  He's still below first percentile for weight, but he's closing in a bit.  He hit 25 pounds for the first time this week!  After more than eight months of stagnation, he grew almost an inch and his height is back tracking around the 5th percentile.  We're starting to retire the size 12-18 month pants.  And as if that's not enough, one of his two year molars is finally peeking through the gums.  Yes, he's nearly 38 months and just getting his two year molars.  Bean's had hers for about a year now. 

We're keeping dairy in his diet bringing his list of forbidden foods is down to:
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • eggs
  • apple
  • peach
  • beef
Now we wait and see.  His symptoms will probably return as the allergens we haven't yet discovered continue to eat away at his esophagus but we can put him back on the budesonide then.  He's still vomiting sometimes, doesn't have a huge appetite, loathes many various textures in his mouth, probably has some environmental allergies, and obviously still struggles to gain weight but this was a big step.  I'll be enjoying that champagne now.