October came and lots of appointments came with it. By this point Dixie had already had two hip ultrasounds, and one on her kidneys and brain. A spinal X-ray, two echo’s on her heart and an appointment with a hospital optician and ophthalmologist (eye doctor).
She was one busy little lady! She was 4 months old.
We kicked off the month with two appointments with the speech therapist I mentioned previously, and a second colleague. The first was at the hospital and didn’t go very well. I went through the whole pregnancy, birth and early weeks with one therapist while another prodded and poked Dixie’s mouth. They wanted to assess her feeding by listening to her throat as she swallowed her milk. This was not an easy task. Not only was she tired. She had spent the previous 10 minutes with someone’s fingers in her mouth. And I hadn’t left the thickener in her feed for long enough. This resulted in a very unhappy, uncooperative Dixie. One who cried, squirmed and choked her way through the test. Safe to say we failed.
The therapist who’d been examining Dixie asked to come to our home the following day and see if she was calmer in her home environment. And so the next day she came. And she listened. And we passed. Well almost.
Despite her doing better, speech still wanted to refer her for a Videofluroscopy (when barium is added to different liquid consistencies/purées and X-rays are taken while they swallow) I figured everything was worth ruling in or out at this point so was happy for the test.
Our next big appointment was the first with Dixie’s community paediatrician. Dr community. We had been referred to him from Dr diagnosis back in July. He would be our go to guy and oversee all of Dixie’s appointments and development.
The appointment itself was mixed. I liked Dr community. He had a nice way with Dixie. No doom and gloom. No making negative future predictions. Lots of questions and interest in her. He moved on to an examination which I willed her to pass.
I watched as he attempted to sit her small floppy body on his table, her head lolling slowly to the right. I watched as he pulled her up softly by her hands, and she swayed from side to side. I watched as he laid her on her tummy and she tried in frustration to lift her head. I watched as he used both flashing and noisy toys to observe her fix and follow. I watched as he passed her little hands tiny toys to hold that she instantly dropped. It.Was.Heartbreaking.
The appointment finished up with a prescription for extra medication for her reflux. And lastly he told me Dixie qualified for a referral to Portage (more about that later) and a full board assessment. Qualified? What did that actually mean? The answer was a bit of a shock. Dixie was over 50% delayed in two or more areas. Her vision was that of a 5/6 week old baby and her motor skills a 6/7 week – she was 19 weeks old.
Her final appointment that month was a follow up with the optician at the hospital. Again it was more tests I willed her to pass. Finally there was some good news. She had showed a slight improvement from her initial appointment 6 weeks previous. Of course this news was followed by the no guarantees for the future speech. I wasn’t bothered. She was doing better, and although still delayed she had potential.