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August is SMA Awareness Month

From Kate:  August is national SMA Awareness Month. The designation of a month, gives a community like ours a chance to focus on where we are and where we are going. First of all, I am just so thankful there is a month reserved for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It seems to me when a cause is allocated a national month, it kind of offers more legitimacy? It is a chance to have a collective voice for a certain time span. For the entire month of August, people around the US can share all kinds of facts and personal experiences. There is a sense of peace knowing that collectively there are hundreds, if not thousands of people offering to share all aspects of SMA as well. So it really feels cool to know that for at least for 31 days, there is a collective focus and voice.  The facts about SMA are always important aspects of SMA Awareness Month, as they should, but this month I would also like to highlight some other aspects of SMA that perhaps the rest of the planet might not be in tune to or have experienced. This month I would like to highlight the practical aspects for caring for a child with SMA. I will start by mentioning that it is complicated. ๐Ÿ™‚ Perhaps the biggest issue I have in regards to explaining what our life is like can almost sound contradictory. “In a nutshell, Getty was diagnosed with SMA, type 1 at the age of 4 months. Most, if not all of her external muscles are not functioning as an average child and so she depends on others for all aspects of her physical life. She is fed exclusively by gastric-tube, she depends on several machines that support her ability to breathe, and she is unable to swallow on her own and so a suction machine is needed every few minutes to make sure her airway is clear. Getty must lay flat due to her compromised lung capacity. We monitor her saturations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Getty is considered non-verbal.”  What I would suggest is that after explaining what “is” happening to Getty, isn’t who Getty is. Nothing about the above description offers any explanation of who Getty is. The above are the logistics to solidifying Getty an incredible life. The machines she depends upon does not define or hamper her spirit or zest for life or ours as family. Average or normal was thrown out a very long time ago and this is and will always be our normal. We don’t dwell, we don’t want pity, we would just like to live among the world and its people in our way and to be celebrate for her life in the now, not in the later.  This month will be focused on what our lives are as a community and how the rest of the world can take note and adapt to our way of living, not the other way around. Because this is our normal and while it can be very difficult, we love in our own way. ๐Ÿ™‚  I hope you enjoy this month’s blog posts. I hope readers will take away with is a better understanding of what life looks like in our area of wonderful. I hope from the stories you read, those not living in the world of SMA, can gain a much better understanding, appreciation, and in turn, a new or renewed motivation to advocate for all individuals with all abilities. My hope is to offer a safe place for people to ask questions and to gain a better understanding of a world that you may or may not know much about.   I’d like to introduce you to our sweet and sassy 8 year old, Getty Storm.         

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The Delivery

From Kate,  It has been very difficult to get a chance to sit down long enough to write. I am finding it more and more difficult to collect my thoughts and then to type it out for those reading to understand how we are doing, what Getty is up to, and how life has manifested for the last few years. I think in certain ways too much has happened and so I get overwhelmed with how to cut it up in small posts allow a reader to keep up with life over here. I consume too many cups off coffee in a day, however currently I am on my first cup which is kind of a blessing. My brain is still slowly coming into speed, so I am going to take advantage of the slower processing effects.  Yesterday (July 30th) is the day our DNA was altered eight years ago. It is the day in which all plans, dreams, and hopes, were thrown out the window. It is the day that life became really cruel. New parents given news that there was nothing they could do for their child and if they were lucky, they had about a year, maybe two, so go and make as many memories as possible. Clearly this wasn’t in the plans.  If I just focused on the cruel part for a moment, I would offer the cruelty is in a few aspects. For sure the cruelness comes from the notion that there is even a disease/disorder like Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I mean come on, you have a perfect pregnancy, perfect birth, baby shows literally no sign of worry and then you give a brand new family this news. Yeah man, that is cruel. But aside from the science, I think what is and was most cruel was the offering of the diagnosis itself. While I am not in this doctor’s shoes, I would suggest that the prognosis and execution of the diagnosis could have been less dire. I go back and forth every once in awhile to ask myself, “what would you have wanted to hear from the doctor in order to be content with the delivery of the diagnosis?” I think for me it would have been so “helpful” to hear our Getty’s doctor say this, “Getty has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I am really sorry to be the one to tell you this. What I want you to know is that while this disorder/disease can have a variable life span, there are things we can all do to give Getty a good fulfilled life. I know you all have a lot to think about and I want you to know that while you are making plans and figuring out what kind of decisions you would like to make, we are here help you with whatever questions you may have. We have a team of doctors here that care for other SMA patients and while this could be considered a rare diagnosis, we will certainly do our best to work with you. Getty is our main concern.”  A little too emotional huh? Yep, I wonder if I am asking too much. I am not in the medical field, so I wonder if a doctor is limited in the way a diagnosis is offered. Okay maybe this would be a better option. “Getty has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, (insert some facts), I know this is a lot to take in right now but….. You know what I am realizing that there isn’t a right way to have heard it. How do you merge emotion and direct medical information in a way that doesn’t sound robotic or too compassionate? What a hard thing to balance. I don’t envy any doctor that has to offer any kind bad news to a family. However, I would suggest that in the very least this doctor could have offered some kind of hope. Some sliver of light that could offer us some kind of hope. The manner in which it was offered, the diagnosis literally was read verbatim from a medical textbook. Maybe that is what I will probably always have issues with. It was sterile, it was finite, it was without options.  Every single family I have met on this journey has had a similar scenario. They share a similar indifference and frustration. With the emergence of a treatment for SMA I am truly hoping the conversation between doctor and family changes. I hope with the introduction of Spinraza, a new and progressive conversation can happen and a family is offered medical hope instead of being forced to create their own internal hope. Because as long as SMA is not cured, more families will be sitting in a neurology office hearing the words, Spinal Muscular Atrophy for the first time. The shock and utter disorientation of this diagnosis can often be too much to handle. What an opportunity a doctor has now to offer the option of a treatment and a sliver of hope.  To all the SMA parents and adults out there we send you love and hope that today is filled with love and endless amounts of hope.   
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Swing Giveaway Recipients Announced!

From Kate:  Hello from Getty Owl Foundation! Well here we go, below are the kiddos that are the newest swing giveaway recipients. Thank you to the over 60 entries. We wish we could more, but since we can’t right now………………….another awesome foundation has decided to also hold their own giveaway and gift 20 swings as well! Jadon’s Hope Foundation founded by the Burks Family. Jadon’s Hope Foundation supports SMA families in so many ways, we are so in awe of their constant advocacy and support!  So for all SMA families interested in entering Jadon’s Hope Foundation Swing Giveaway, CLICK HERE, for details and submission.  Without further ado, here are our 20 Sky Curve Swing Giveaway Recipients! Congrats kiddos! Have a terrific summer, get swinging, and go make some memories! 
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Swing Into Summer Giveaway!

From Kate:  Well summer is already in full swing here in Sacramento. The heat is coming with gusto and that gives us some challenges. Looking forward to some night walks around the neighborhood as well as air conditioned activities. Getty will be going to her first roller skating birthday party today. She is very excited and we are so excited for her that she can celebrate with one of her close friends and get a few laps around the skating rink.  We hope everyone has a terrific summer. Make tons of memories, laugh, hug, and laugh some more!  In celebration of summer, Getty Owl Foundation wanted to do a giveaway for SMA families who wanted to also find new ways to help their child enjoy the summer months. Swing Into Summer Giveaway is really simple. We will be gifting 20 swings to individuals with SMA. The Sky Curve Platform Swing is a terrific option for positioning, space and accessibility for many of our SMA kiddos.  Giveaways can only happen with the gracious support of donations from individuals and businesses who support our efforts to help assist SMA families. We would like to thank Henderson Construction Fabrics and the amazing Sniezek Family who supported Getty Owl Foundation to make this giveaway a reality.   *Before getting to the details, I think it is important to note that this swing (Sky Curve Platform Swing) has a weight consideration and also have fixed measurements. If you could do us a huge favor and consider the following information and whether the swing would be good for your SMA kiddo, we would appreciate it. Click below to check out the swing descriptions.  Measurements Details    So let’s get to the details!    Details: -One entry per SMA individual.  -Giveaway only for USA and Canada SMA families.  -Entires can be submitted now until the deadline on Thursday, June 7th @ 6pm PT. -Giveaway recipients will be announced on Friday, June 8th @ 6pm PT.  -Enteries can be emailed to hoot@gettyowl.org                  -Name (Your name and the SMA child’s name)                  -Address                  -Age                  -Type                   -Please attach a picture of the SMA Kiddo!                   
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SMA Mother’s Day Giveaway Announced!

From Kate: I would like to thank everyone who participated in the SMA Mother’s Day Giveaway. Your stories were so wonderful to read. What I found most interesting was that many, if not all nominators with the acceptation of a few, were nominated by fellow SMA Moms. Who, rightly so, could have been nominees as well. Imagine that, giving before thinking of yourself, seems to be a theme in this amazing community. ๐Ÿ˜‰  I would like to thank Kayla (SMA Mom) for creating such beautiful arrangements of cookies that are being shipped out as we speak to these awesome moms. Enjoy the cookies, and please to NOT share them like I know you already will. ๐Ÿ™‚ Okay, maybe just one. ๐Ÿ™‚  Happy Mother’s Day!                     
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