Friday, October 30, 2009

31 for 21: Day 30 {Prayer and Support}

I know I have mentioned before how overwhelmed I am ... in a good way ... by the power of the internet, the blogging world and the Down syndrome community as a whole. Along the way, I have met some of my best friends, made acquaintances and maintained resources.

And I want to highlight two of them here today.


I met Gillian several years ago on Downsyn, an online forum for parents of kids with Down syndrome. I remember when she joined so clearly ... she, her husband, Sergei, and their three girls had just moved back to the United States from Ukraine. Their youngest daughter, Polly, has Down syndrome and she is close in age to Payton. For some reason I was just totally intrigued by their family.

Fast forward to 2008, when we were trying to decide whether or not to adopt Nika. We had some Russian medical documents that we wanted translated and Sergei did that for us. We were so thankful to have him as a resource! Fast forward several months later and I found out that Gillian and Sergei had decided to adopt a little girl with Down syndrome from Ukraine ... a little girl that is just six days younger than Nika.

Sounds weird, but we are connected in more ways than one. Their little girl from Ukraine, Evie, has been home now for a couple months and they have been spending this time trying to adjust to their new little one.

A couple weeks ago, their world was rocked when Polly was diagnosed with Moyamoya Disease.

"The Doctor explained that it had to do with blood vessels in Polly’s brain progressively narrowing, resulting in strokes. The disease worsens with age. And the only way to combat it is brain surgery.

Please pray with me as Polly and her family go through this difficult time. Polly will ultimately need two brain surgeries ... one for each side of her brain. I know Gillian and her family would appreciate all the support that we can give them.


I also met Renee several years ago on Downsyn ... popular place, I know! Okay, okay ... we have even met in person twice, I believe? Ha.

Renee and her husband have four children, one of which has Down syndrome ... that would be Kennedy. And now ... they are getting ready to leave ... as in today ... for Eastern Europe to adopt Kellsey, a little girl with Down syndrome.
Bringing Kellsey Home
Kellsey sort of holds a special place in my heart. Before we had learned about Nika on Reece's Rainbow, I always had my eye on Kellsey. She was such a cute little girl and I wanted her! Unfortunately, at that time, another family was committed to her and had planned to adopt her. And either way we ended up finding out about Nika and adopting her ... obviously.

The family that was committed to Kellsey ended up not being able to adopt her ... so now Kellsey is being adopted by Renee and her family! I could not be more ecstatic and I can't wait to meet this little princess.

As I mentioned, Renee and her husband are leaving today! Having been in their shoes, I know how ridiculously expensive adoption is, so I wanted to try to help them spread the word about their fundraising efforts.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation. I know Renee and her family are so appreciative of your support!
Get It Down; 31 for 21

Thursday, October 29, 2009

31 for 21: Day 29 {Pumpkin Carving}

Mason came home from school earlier this week and told me he wanted to carve his pumpkin. While I normally want him to wait for a time that we can do it as a family, I told him he could since family time seems to be a rarity these days ... we have been so busy!

Here he is scooping out his pumpkin ... all by himself!


IMG_3101wmAfter Kyle got home, he helped Mason carve his pumpkin into a wolf ... ROAR!
Get It Down; 31 for 21

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

31 for 21: Day 28 {Molluscum}

Uh ... Mason has Molluscum.

, my typical kid (ya know, versus my kids with special needs ... verbiage people, verbiage) isn't allowed to have anything wrong. Not that Molluscum really ranks up there in the serious department, but ... ya know. I just am so not used to dealing with medical issues with him ... I don't have that hard core for him that I have for the girls.


A couple months ago, I started noticing these small, little zit type, blistery bumps on him. A nurse at our ENT office told me she thought it was Molluscum. I had never heard of it, but after asking about it on Facebook, I found out it is pretty common. I called the dermatologist and they said, "Sure, we can see him in October."

Seriously? We have to wait that long? I had read that the bumps will eventually disappear, so I was secretly hoping that would happen. Yeah, not so much. His bumps were also pretty much only on his back (which is strange, since they are typically known to be on the stomach), so they were covered by his shirt and not a contagious threat to anyone. His sisters have not even come down with it ... and they have close contact. I think Mason got it at the pool, but that is my own little theory. I mean, where else would he have been without a shirt on in order for his back to be infected, so to speak? Ugh.

Fast forward to this week, it was time for his dermatologist appointment. The bumps have grown in number and in size, so I'm glad it was finally time to see the doctor. She applied Canthacur to each bump, which causes them to blister and then go away.

Poor Mason was either really scared or embarrassed ... I'm not sure which. He was standing in a room with three women, practically naked. And he knew the doctor was about to apply the stuff to each bump, so I think he was afraid it would hurt.

He cried. I almost cried because I felt so bad. I mean, I can go through so much more with the girls and not even blink because I am so hardened with them ... I am used to it and I am prepared for it. With Mason? Not so much.

Once they started applying the stuff, Mason realized it did not hurt. He just couldn't wait to get the heck out of there and get to Target to get his toy I promised him. Ha.

Fast forward about 24 hours later, the bumps are a mess. Some are blistering, some have the skin torn off ... poor kid. I really hope it all heals quickly and goes away!
Get It Down; 31 for 21

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

31 for 21: Day 27 {Preventing Swine Flu}

The swine flu is all over the place right now ... and all over the media. In my opinion, they are hyping it up in a ridiculous way ... in the end, it makes the pharmaceutical companies more money by scaring more people into vaccinating.

Anyway. Not to get sidetracked in any way.

Tips for preventing the swine flu ...

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications). I am making my kids also wash their hands when they come home from school, which we do not normally do. Also carrying anti-bacterial hand wash in my purse, which I do not normally do.

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat or bathe). No fingers in the mouth!

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population. Sinus rinse kits are available at the drug store and relatively inexpensive ... we use the NeilMed kits on the kids twice a day.

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6. Drink as much warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

7. Take your Vitamin D3! A good reference for dosing information is 2000 IU for kids per day and 5000 IU for adults per day.
Get It Down; 31 for 21

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

31 for 21: Day 21 {Nika's 3rd Birthday}

Dear Nika ...

Three years ago today, October 21, 2006, you were born at 36 weeks gestation in a hospital somewhere in the middle of St. Petersburg, Russia. You weighed 4 pounds 3 ounces and were 18.1 inches long. At birth, you were classified as being in serious condition and you were also diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Your birth parents were married and you had a four year old sister. After finding out that you have Down syndrome, your birth parents deserted you at the hospital and relinquished their rights to you.

When you were four days old, you were transferred to the Pediatric Medical Academy, where you remained for the next couple months. On December 12, 2006, you entered a baby home in St. Petersburg, where you were classified as an orphan. Although nobody from your birth family ever visited you, you had lots of caregivers and friends that loved you very much.

On September 24, 2008, just one month shy of your 2nd birthday, your dad and I met you for the first time. To say it was love at first sight is an understatement. You were perfect in every stretch of the word and we could not wait to show you how much you deserved to be loved.

On November 13, 2008, you left your baby home forever. Six days later, you arrived home and met your brother and sister. Trying to imagine now what you were like at that time boggles my mind. You have grown in so many ways ... it is amazing.

With that, I would like to wish you a very happy 3rd birthday ... your first birthday here at home. You have blessed our family a million times over. I hope your day is as special as you are, because you deserve nothing less!

With love,
Get It Down; 31 for 21

Saturday, October 17, 2009

31 for 21: Day 17 {Buddy Walk 2009}

Today was our Buddy Walk ... this was our family's 4th annual Buddy Walk and our first year as Two Girls Tribe (previously known as Payton's Posse). I was on the committee this year, so I have come to learn all that goes into planning an event like this!

Who knew?

Although being on the committee is something that is very important to me, it has also allowed me to expand my local network greatly ... and for that I am thankful. I have come to find some awesome friends along the way.


While we raised a lot of money from pre-event fundraising ... over 150K ... we were totally bummed to have rain and cold on the day of the Buddy Walk. Not only for fundraising purposes, but for fun purposes!

Instead of enjoying the weather and letting the kids run and play, we saw a lot of this ...

And this ...

We had some pretty amazing entertainment and guests this year, including Rachel Coleman from Signing Time ...
Photo courtesy of Blueberry Shoes Productions LLC

Erin Thompson ...

Diego and other characters ...
And a local marching band to lead us on our walk! So fun.
Photo courtesy of Blueberry Shoes Productions LLC

The girls enjoyed their view of the walk from under a rain cover ... that rain was such a bummer.

After the walk, the committee got to spend a little bit of time with Rachel. She and her husband were very sweet. Here is a lovely shot of my friend, Linda, and I with Rachel. Unfortunately all of our kids had already gone home, so none of them got to meet her.
Thank you so much to everyone who supported our team this year. We raised a little over $3,000 all because of you! Every team that raised over $2,000 got a personalized mile marker. Here is ours, although we were not able to decorate it because of the rain ...
Our stars for the day ...

Get It Down; 31 for 21

Thursday, October 15, 2009

31 for 21: Day 15 {Updates all around}

Things have been so crazy around here. Let's see ...

This past weekend, we spent time at a friend's lake house. We had a lot of fun and I loved being at the lake and out on the boat, since I did a lot of that growing up at a friend's lake house. I'm soliciting investors for my own lake house ... anyone interested? Ha.


Since my accident, I have been seeing a chiropractor three times a week for my neck and back. Although it is time consuming, it has helped so much. I have a couple more weeks of this intense treatment and then we will go from there. I have yet to settle with the insurance company, so we will see how that goes when the time comes.

Despite the kids school starting, I continue to be very busy here on the home front ... and running kids here, running kids there. I also am on the Buddy Walk committee this year, so that is consuming some of my time. Come this Saturday, that will be over and then I will be planning Nika's 3rd birthday party. After that is over, I'll be planning my sister's baby shower. Then Christmas and two more birthday parties in January. Sigh.

Oh ... and by the way ... today I won fan passes to see Tim McGraw at the Today Show next week. And I love me some Tim McGraw! So several of my friends and I will be driving up to New York City for the night ... and then waking up at the crack of dawn to freeze our butts off head to the show to see him perform in concert. With the fan passes, we will get in to the concert area first ... should be fun times!


Mason is doing great in school. His behavior has continued to be very good, with the exception of this past Friday, when he apparently couldn't keep his hands to himself. All things considered, I am very pleased. He seems to be learning a lot and he loves to go to school. He is currently line leader for his class, which makes him very happy. His teacher told me that Mason is her little teacher's pet and that he aims to please her, so I guess that is good? Better than the opposite, I suppose.

Me (as I'm leaving the room): Here bud, wear this shirt to school.
Mason (as he enters my room wearing a different shirt that clashes with his pants): Okay Mommy, I'm ready for school.
Me: Bud, you can't wear that shirt with those pants. Go put on the other shirt that I laid out for you.
Mason (in an exaggerated voice): But Mom ... that shirt isn't stylin! *sobs*

Mason: Mommy, can I be a car rider? I don't want to ride the bus anymore.
Me: Why, what is wrong with the bus?
Mason: We always have to stand in line for so long.
Me: Sorry bud, I can't drive you because I have to be here with the girls.
Fast forward to the next day.
Me: Bud, hurry up! We have to go, or you are going to miss your bus!
Mason: That's okay, then I can just be a car rider.
Me (thinks to self): Ummm no, I think you are missing the point here.


Payton is doing excellent ... in school and otherwise. She is basically potty trained and I just need to take the plunge into panties. It is hard because I still don't trust her and we have to take her to the potty still, versus her telling us she has to go. She is such a busy body, she just doesn't think to tell us all the time. But she is staying dry. So I know I need to do it, I just hate to deal with the mess of an accident. Oh vey. I do know, however, that getting rid of the bulk from her pull up would help her pants fit a lot better! Haha.

Payton had a little issue down there last week that sort of has me concerned. She kept pointing down there and saying, "Oww." I noticed that the area was a little irritated, however one day as I was wiping her after she went potty, I noticed blood on the toilet paper. That sort of freaked me out, so I had her pediatrician test her urine to see if she had a urinary tract infection, but she didn't. We treated the irritation with baking soda baths and it went away ... and she stopped complaining that it hurt. I'm still a bit perplexed where the blood came from, as there didn't seem to be any cracks and the irritation was not that bad, just a little red. Not sure on this ... still keeping an eye out.


Nika is doing fantabulous. I feel like the bond between her and I has grown immensely since school started. Having the other two kids in school for longer hours has allowed Nika and I to bond more ... it has been great. I also have been so proud of Nika for how well she has done with school ... and I think that proudness factor has contributed to our bond, as weird as that might sound. I can't believe next month is our one year anniversary of bringing her home from Russia! Craziness.

On a little side note, I think I may have curbed Nika's finger sucking ... *knock on wood*. She has not really been sucking her fingers at all. I have been testing her during nap time and she is passing with flying colors! Her finger sucking could easily have gotten to a point where it would have consumed her, if we let it. Her teacher got to see some of this too. Basically Nika would sit and suck on her fingers for hours at a time if you let her ... interfering with her daily functioning, basically. That is why it is such a problem ... for me at least. Anyway, I really wonder if her closer bonding with me has affected this and lessened her need for her finger sucking ... makes sense to me!


I have continued to see progress with both of the girls since starting them on Gingko and Omega 3. Their cognition, awareness, speech, concentration ... these are all differences and improvements I have seen. Payton's speech therapist continues to be thrilled with the changes ... fingers crossed that it continues!


Chocolate chip cookie, anyone? Ha.
Get It Down; 31 for 21

31 for 21: Day 15 {Buddy Walk}

This Saturday, our family will be walking in the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia's annual Buddy Walk. The Buddy Walk is an event to promote education and awareness for all people with Down syndrome ... obviously something that is very important to us.

As you know, our two daughters are blessed with an extra chromosome. It is events like the Buddy Walk that help families like ours to raise our girls in the best way possible. As previously noted ... and most importantly ... it promotes education and awareness for our girls. It also helps to provide the financial assistance necessary for things like therapy, adaptive equipment (if needed), resources that we wouldn't otherwise have, among other things.

We are asking for your support of our team, Two Girls Tribe! Every penny helps, so please consider supporting our girls or coming out to walk with us! Click here to make a donation.

Thank you so much to everyone that has supported us ... we appreciate it more than words can say!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

31 for 21: Day 14 {The Name Game}

I was tagged by Cheri over at Raising Reid to talk about how my kids got their names. So here we go ...

Mason James ... When we found out we were having a boy, I made of list of names that I liked ... it looked something like this ... Kaden, Aiden, Mason, Camden, etc. There seemed to be a trend, in that I liked names that ended in -en, -an, -in or -on. We knew the middle name would be James, as that is Kyle's middle name and we wanted to stick with tradition.

For most of my pregnancy, we had decided on the name Kaden James. I loved the name Kaden, however by the end of my pregnancy I was bored with it, so we switched to Mason James. There was nothing really special about the meaning of it, we just simply loved the name. And so Mason James it was.

Payton Lynn ... When we found out we were having a girl, I wasn't really sure what to do, as I have always liked boys names better. Even as I went into labor, we weren't really sure what our little girl's name would be. I think we had narrowed it down to Mya and Payton ... me sort of pulling for Mya and Kyle pulling for Payton. I really wasn't sure though, since I tend to like those -on, -en, -in, -an names ... Mya didn't fit the bill on that one.

Kyle actually had made a bet with me that if Peyton Manning had broke some record that season, then our little girl would be named Payton. Ha. Peyton Manning did not break the record though ... too bad, so sad.

So fast forward to the birth of our daughter ... lo and behold, we find out she has Down syndrome. As we discussed her name, I told Kyle I wanted her to have a strong name. She was going to have to fight her whole life and she needed a strong name.

Payton it was. Payton Lynn. I had originally wanted our little girl to have my middle name, which is Ann. However I didn't like how Payton Ann sounded, so we gave her the middle name Lynn, which is the same middle name that my sister and Kyle's younger sister have.

Addison "Nika" Veronika ... From the time that we decided to adopt a little girl, I knew her name would be Addison. I loved the name and it went with my -on, -in, -en, -an name trend. Her birth name was Veronika, so we decided to keep that as her middle name ... with the same spelling.

It is no surprise that we pretty much call her "Nika" 99% of the time. When she was in the baby home, her caregivers and the other children called her "Nika", which is a shortened version of Veronika. And the name stuck. We continued to call her "Nika" after we brought her home, only because that is what she knew and we wanted her transition to go as smooth as possible. We still haven't really transitioned out of that name either ... while I think she knows her name is Addison, "Nika" is what we use when we really want her attention.

So there ya have it!
Get It Down; 31 for 21

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

31 for 21: Day 6 {Let's Educate}

On October 8, 2008, President Bush signed the Kennedy-Brownback bill ... otherwise known as the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act. Essentially, the act provides that families receiving a prenatal or postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or other conditions will be offered accurate and up-to-date information about the nature of the condition and also connected with support services.

This is something that is now imperative, since there has been a recent push for all pregnant women (versus just older women) to do early screening for Down syndrome ... typically around 12 weeks of pregnancy. Blood work and an ultrasound are involved in telling them whether or not their baby may have Down syndrome.

This is all fine and dandy ... however, women who learn that they are at high risk are often not given accurate and up-to-date information about Down syndrome. Thus causing them to terminate their pregnancy, sometimes after being pushed to do so by their OBGYN.

And that makes me want to throw up.

Because at the end of the day, these women are terminating their pregnancies without being properly educated. And in the end, that means that the Down syndrome population is slowly dwindling.

So what does that mean for my girls? Again, it makes me want to throw up.

Many people may not understand my stance on this, but really ... does it really look like my girls have such a horrible life, that they deserve to not be here?

I'm done. I don't even want to talk about it anymore.

Although, I will soon be talking about it a lot since my friend, Linda, and I are spearheading the Changing Lives Program here in Northern Virginia since it has yet to really been taken off the ground. I honestly cannot wait to get out there and talk with OBGYNs, give them accurate info and maybe even bring along my daughters so the doctors can have them permanently etched in their mind.

Things are so different today for people with Down syndrome, so different than even 10 years ago, let alone 30 years ago. Most people have such a negative connotation of what people with Down syndrome are like, what they will be like. Times are changing folks and I will admit that I am not someone who is cheering for the Down syndrome population to be eliminated on earth.

Wouldn't you feel that way if you were in my shoes?
Get It Down; 31 for 21

Monday, October 5, 2009

31 for 21: Day 5 {Everything you never wanted to know about Down syndrome}

Understanding Down Syndrome Features
By Craig Stellpflug NDC

In the Down Syndrome Child it is imperative that the parents become educated to
understand what is happening inside their child’s body and cells. It does help to have a
basic knowledge of cell biology, and also a basic knowledge of biochemistry, before
attempting to master this important subject. It is the parent's responsibility to become
educated in their child's condition to stay abreast of the dynamic needs of the Down
Syndrome child.

Down Syndrome behaves much like a degenerative disease. In the Down Syndrome
patient there is much biochemical damage done to the cells because of the replicated
21st chromosome that is a part of the patient's genetic make-up.

In order to gain an overview of this subject we will first discuss basic biology and cellular
structure as it relates to Down Syndrome. This will be followed up by cellular function as
it relates to Down Syndrome with a particular focus on nerve cells and neurotransmitters.

Cellular structure

The cell consists of an outer cell membrane, the liquid cytoplasm interior, the nucleus
which contains the DNA, and various organelles to perform different tasks within the cell.

The Cell Membrane

The cell membrane is composed of a bi-layer of phospholipids. These phospholipids
repel water on one end of the phospholipids and attract water on the other end. The
outer ends of the phospholipid membrane is hydrophilic or "water loving". The other end
is hydrophobic or "water hating" and is comprised of fatty acid chains. These fatty acid
chains make up the inside of the phospholipids membrane.

These phospholipids spontaneously line up to form the cell membrane in bilipid layers by
putting their heads outward and butts tail to tail with another phospholipid to form a
unique selectively-permeable membrane.
This membrane has the ability to keep fat and water-based chemicals out of the cell
while still allowing water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide and other nutrients to pass
through. It also allows enough flexibility to incorporate different transport proteins among

Some transport proteins move nutrients and chemicals into the cell while other transport
proteins move waste material out of the cell. This is critical for healthy function of the
cell. For the transport to work correctly, the cell membrane must remain fluid for the
proteins to change shape as it transports different shape and sized nutrients, chemicals,
and wastes in or out of the cell. If the proteins are limited in their flexibility by limited
flexibility of the cell wall they cannot properly perform their functions. Fluid movement of
the cell walls is lost in the natural aging process of the body and also by transfatty acid
incorporation into the cell membrane. Loss of fluid movement in the cell wall is
accelerated in the Down Syndrome patient and is a particular problem for Down
Syndrome patients.

In the Down Syndrome patient, the fatty acid portions of the cell membrane are more
prone to chemical damage than the genetically “normal” subject. This damage is a
process called lipoid peroxidation, or "oxidative stress." The end result of this oxidative
stress is that the cell membrane loses its flexibility and the transport proteins can no
longer function properly. When transport proteins do not function properly, chemical
waste begins to accumulate inside the cell and will ultimately kill the cell. The cell also
starves for nutrients because it can no longer effectively transport its food from the
outside world in.

Vitamin E, along with other antioxidants, is essential to protect against oxidative stress.
While dietary intake of essential fatty acids provides material to repair damaged cell

The Cell Nucleus

The cell nucleus is where the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) resides in a cell. This is
where the process of "protein synthesis” begins.

To make a protein, a portion of the DNA inside of the nucleus unzips to generate a
section of RNA (a molecule similar to DNA but which is used in the making of proteins).
A new strand of RNA is formed to encode the unzipped DNA portion. Amino acids are
the building blocks of proteins that are then strung together according to the instructions
in the RNA to make the protein.

Once the protein is made, it moves to its place in the cell where it is designed to perform
a specific job.

DNA production in Down Syndrome is one of the places where the extra 21st
chromosome comes into play. Chromosomes are made of DNA. But because there is an
extra copy of the 21st chromosome in each cell of the Down Syndrome patient, therefore
there are more copies of proteins produced than are needed for the normal chemical
reactions that occur in a cell. In some cases, these extra proteins cause metabolic
imbalances, which lead to an excess (over-expression) of some chemicals and a
deficiency (under-expression) of others in the body. (Metabolism is the sum total of all
the chemical reactions in the body.)

An example of an excess that causes metabolic imbalance is the superoxide dismutase
or SOD gene which is on the 21st chromosome. SOD is half of a two-step process to
take a poisonous form of oxygen, called superoxide, and turn it into oxygen and water.
This SOD, because it is manufactured on the replicated 21st chromosome in Down
Syndrome, is made in larger quantities than normal. The enzymes used in the second
half of this process are either catalase or glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione peroxidase
and catalase are not over-replicated as is SOD and is therefore not expressed in
balance to SOD.

In the first step of this two-step process, SOD takes the toxic superoxide and turns it into
hydrogen peroxide. However, in step two of the Down Syndrome patient, there is not
enough glutathione peroxidase and catalase to break down the hydrogen peroxide into
oxygen and water fast enough. This leaves excess hydrogen peroxide in the cells until it
finally reaches toxic levels and eventually destroys the cell from within. This is called
Oxidation ( the same process that rusts metals and turns apples brown). Hydrogen
Peroxide is especially toxic to nerve cells. Hydrogen peroxide also reacts when exposed
to other chemicals and elements in the body such as iron that can cause even more
cellular damage.

To address this problem what is required is a variety of anti-oxidants, (mostly vitamins
and minerals) that keep the oxidative damage from occuring, and in some cases, even
repair the cellular damage and loss of fluidity that has occurred.

Antioxidants include Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E, the minerals zinc and
selenium, alpha Lipoic Acid, Co-Q10, inositol and bioflavonoids.

Structure of a Nerve Cell

One significant difference between nerve cells (neurons) and other body cells is that
mature neurons do not typically reproduce. If a neuron dies, if for example by oxidative
damage, then that cell is normally lost forever.

The brain and spinal cord are comprised mainly of nerve cells (neurons). There are
significant differences between a nerve cell and other cells in the body. Nerve cells have
a number of "tentacles" which stick out from the cell body called dendrites. Dendrites
receive messages from other nerve cells. Then there is the axon of the nerve cell that
protrudes farther away from the cell body than do the dendrites. The axon sends the
message to be picked up by other cell’s dendrites. There are many dendrites on a nerve
cell but there is only one axon.

The nerve impulse always flows to a dendrite, through the cell body, and down the axon
to the next cell’s dendrites. The next cell repeats the process until the message reaches
its destination at the end of the neural pathway. At the end of a peripheral neural
pathway, the nerve cell will connect to a muscle or an organ, etc in the body system.
The process of learning causes new connections to be made from one neuron to
another. As the connections are repeated over and over, the cells form a deeper, wider
neural pathway much like a cow-trail in a pasture. The more cows that repeatedly use
the trail the deeper and wider the trail becomes. When connections are unused for a
period of time, they begin to die off and are pruned by the body much like the cow-trail
will fade and overgrow when the cows quit using it.

These neural pathways are ultimately covered with an insulating coating called myelin.
Myelin is a fatty sheath that is formed by another type of cell called a Schwann cell. The
whole human brain takes years to myelinate starting in the lower parts of the brain and
insulating upwards to finally myelinate the cerebral cortices. This process starts soon
after conception and continues on until about 20-23 years of age. The myelin sheath
forms by wrapping itself tightly around the axon like wrapping electrical tape around a
live electrical wire. Myelin assists the neuron to send neural chemical messages more
quickly and keeps the signals from bleeding over into other impulses from proximal

Myelination of the brain has a direct correlation to brain development and lack of
myelination or slow myelination correlates directly to developmental delays. Beginning at
about two months of age, myelin formation in Down Syndrome slows in the brain as
compared to genetically normal children.

The Schwann cells which make up the myelin sheath consist mainly of the cell
membrane and very little cytoplasm. The cell membranes of these cells are made up of
a lipid-protein mixture that is slightly different than other types of cells. This makes the
myelin to consist of a higher proportion of lipids or fats than any other type of cell. A
majority of these fats are docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. DHA is an essential fatty acid
and part of the omega 3,6,9 supplements.

Function of Nerve Cells

When a neuron is stimulated, an electrical/chemical impulse is made which travels down
the dendrites, through the cell body and then down the axon. At the end of the axon are
bell-shaped synaptic knobs which connect to other neurons. The synaptic knobs contain
the chemicals called neurotransmitters. The synapse is the gap between the two nerve
cells where the exchange of neurotransmitter chemicals takes place. When the neuro
impulse reaches the synaptic knob, the synaptic knob releases a neurotransmitter into
the synapse. The next neuron in line uses receptors to detect the neurotransmitter. If
enough neurotransmitter chemical has been released for the next nerve to fire then the
neuro/chemical transmission continues through that neuron and then on to the next
neuron and so on.

After the neurotransmitter has been released into the synaptic gap, the neurotransmitter
is either reabsorbed into the synaptic knob or is destroyed by enzymes in the synapse.
This process of removing the neurotransmitter from the synaptic gap prevents the
recipient neuron from being continuously stimulated.

The end result of the synaptic firing of neurotransmitters is thought processes, muscle
movement, organ and glandular function, and pain sensation to name a few.

Function of Neurotransmitters in Down Syndrome


Acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter in the central nervous system that activates
muscle fibers, releases hormones, and is essential in the learning and memory
processes of the brain. Choline and inositol are what the body uses to produce
acetylcholine and can be supplemented to help overcome a shortfall in the body.
In Down Syndrome there are fewer acetylcholine receptors in the brain causing some of
the memory and learning problems seen in Down Syndrome. This is because the nerves
involved in these two processes are stimulated with less frequency and therefore have
less opportunity to develop normally.

A lack of acetylcholine also accounts for faulty communications in the endocrine system
resulting in glandular and hormonal shortfalls in the Down Syndrome patient. One such
shortfall is in Human Growth Hormone (HGH) causing problems as short stature.


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls blood pressure, sleep cycles, peristalsis
(the movements of the intestines), and control of behavior (mood and aggression).
Tryptophan is a primary amino acid which is converted into serotonin and requires
vitamins B-6 and C for that conversion. Serotonin levels in the blood and cerebral spinal
fluid are deficient in the Down Syndrome patient.

Serotonin is also used to produce Melatonin which works in the sleep center of the brain
to promote proper sleep. The brain releases the highest levels of Human Growth
Hormone during the stage of sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which
helps to provide normal growth.


Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is involved what is called high order association
which is the process in the brain that brings two separate pieces of information together
for critical thinking. Dopamine is very important to the reward/pleasure sensation.
Dopamine also controls physical movements and coordinates processes in the brain.
Tyrosine is a precursor to the production of dopamine.

Dopamine levels are decreased in some Down Syndrome patients Though not all Down
Syndrome are found to be deficient. Dopamine is also converted to another
neurotransmitter called norepinephrine and then further converted to another
neurotransmitter called norepinephrine.


Norepinephrine helps the brain to process sensory input from eyes and ears and tactile
functions. It also regulates sleep cycles and influences anxiety and arousal.

Tyrosine supplements help to increase the levels of norepinephrine which is found to be
decreased in Down Syndrome patients.

In conclusion: A comprehensive Neuro Development plan along with an appropriate diet
and supplementation plan specific to the individual Down Syndrome patient are critical
for the health and well-being of the Down Syndrome patient.
Get It Down; 31 for 21

Sunday, October 4, 2009

31 for 21: Day 4 {My baseball player ... I mean players}

Mason decided that he wanted to play t-ball again. He played his first season last fall ... what a difference a year makes! Instead of wanting to play in the dirt much of the time, he actually plays ... as in gets in ready stance, catches the ball, throws the ball ... you catch my drift.

So much fun to see him being such a rock star out on the field!
Mason is pretty much the largest kid on the team ... um, imagine that! Here he is after getting the team ball ...
Chicky loves to go watch her brother play ball. She gets so excited when we pull into the fields and says, "Yay!"

The other morning, Payton came walking in the kitchen wearing Mason's t-ball hat and carrying a bat ... soo stinkin cute! She took my hand and pulled me outside, where she said ball ... I guess that was my cue? Haha.
So I got a ball and she held the bat out for me to throw it to her. Basically she held the bat out so I could just bounce the ball off it ... so funny.

Maybe it is time to enroll her in t-ball? Hmm, I wonder how that would work out.
Get It Down; 31 for 21