Jackson's been having a lot of health issues lately and we've been seeing some new doctors as well. I wanted to update family and friends on how he's doing but it's difficult when most don't understand whats going on. Also some people have been asking questions about what exactly is going on with Jackson and why things are the way they are, so I wanted to explain a little bit about what it is Jackson is dealing with.
Ever since Jackson was born he's had a variety of symptoms, seen countless doctors, had lots of tests and procedures. His current main diagnosis is mitochondrial disease. Mito is a difficult thing to diagnose and, for many people, requires many tests over long period of time to find out for certain if they have it. A lot of doctors say that it's "as clear as mud" in trying to figure things out. For Jackson we are still in the process of finding the exact cause, so he has a "clinical" mito diagnosis. We haven't found the exact genetic mutation, but the doctors feel Jackson meets the clinical picture, and many tests point to mito being what he has. Because of the nature of this disease we are treating him as if we know for sure he has it.
I wanted to explain a little bit about what mitochondrial disease is.
What is Mitochondrial Disease
Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common.
Diseases of the mitochondria appear to cause the most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and the endocrine and respiratory systems.
Depending on which cells are affected, symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastro-intestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection
As more research dollars are raised to find more effective treatments and ultimately a cure, some of the affected children and adults are living fairly normal lives with mitochondrial disease. At the opposite end of the spectrum, many are severely affected, and some children do not live past their teenage years.
When are they at greatest risk?
The child or adult is at risk for neurological or organ damage during and for the two weeks following an illness. Therefore even a simple flu or cold virus can have devastating effects on the patient, even death. Any illness must be treated immediately with medical interventions, like IV fluids and IV antibiotics.
You can find out more about mito on the website umdf.org
There is no cure for mitochondrial disease. The only treatments are treating symptoms that can be managed and taking the "mito cocktail". The cocktail is group of supplements that help the body improve function and may slow the progression of the disease. Jackson has recently started taking some of the supplements and we've some great improvements.
Some of the symptoms that Jackson deals with that are common in mito:
Developmental delays, autistic features, dysautonomia(temperature,blood pressure and blood sugars mostly), seizures, Weakness, cramping, dysmotility, hypotonia, muscle pain, diarrhea/constipation, fatigue, cyclic vomiting syndrome and other various symptoms.
Jackson is getting a stroller/wheelchair very soon. This is very common for children that have mito. It's mostly because of how quickly he fatigues and gets weak. Its also for his pain. Jackson's fatigue varies day to day. Some days he's able to walk and play then there's days that he needs help walking more then 10 yards. The stroller will allow him to do more on the days he's to weak to walk and also on the days that aren't too bad preserve his energy for more important things.