When Annie was first diagnosed with Rett Syndrome I was devistated. I was also 5 months pregnant so I wasn't able to "flip out" like I really wanted to, which in a way, was a good thing. I had to pull myself together and keep myself sane for the sake of Gracie. This was 2006, while we had a little hope for treatment, because in 1999 the gene for rett syndrome was found, we were still way off from thinking that Annie would ever be CURED. We thought maybe there would be something at some time to help her but really we were just trying to wrap our heads around that fact that we had a 15 month old who couldn't walk, barely crawl and spoke only a handful of words and we were told that she was going to regress. Regress? We thought, what could possibly be taken away?
Stupid question, the months that followed brought our answer and we realized all the awesome accomplishments a physically delayed 15 month old baby girl had (lesson learned - never take ANYTHING for granted). So we regressed, we got breathing problems, our immune system dropped, our weight dropped, our swallowing and hydration became difficult, and all of our awesome hand function slowly diminished.
Scott and I had watched our middle child regress and go through some major health issues all while bringing a new baby into the world and trying to enjoy every second of this new miracle, not to mention cherishing our oldest, James, 3 years old at the time. We had learned a great deal about Rett Syndrome and the devistation but were intrigued by the research and the fact that there was actually a faulty gene that caused this. We got a lot of comfort in the fact that there was a reason for all of this, a reason that we could see and that was being researched, and if there's a reason for it, if we know what causes this why can't we just fight against it? We were on the internet daily - many times a day checking pub med and researching how the brain works and what is this MECP2 thing and Annie certainly has digestion and nutritional issues, what's with that? Why isn't she sleeping? There were no doctors to turn to, we had been to so many that told us "sorry, we don't know a lot about Rett Syndrome yet". So, we took it upon ourselves to find out. I think it was actually therapeutic, at least for me. I like to know what's in store and I wanted to just solve the problem, I wanted to just fight against the illness. The problem was that there was no treatment and really, researching, it didn't seem like there would really BE any real treatment. The girls that were already affected would be really hard to treat, they were working on trying to help the symptoms. In my heart I realized that there were just too many symptoms and that this was only going to get worse. I held on to God, the only one who could turn this around. but I was torn between believing God could work miracles and the fact that "God doesn't make mistakes".
Enter February 2007.
I got on the internet for probably the 3rd time that day to check if anything came across rettnet, or my news feeds or pub med, anything, I was looking for some sort of glimmer of hope. Scott was at work at a new job, I had a 3 year old, a 2 year old that was in the throws of regression and screaming endlessly, and a 4 month old new born baby. I got on the computer and read: RESEARCH BREAKTHROUGH - Dr. Adrian Bird had succesfully REVERSED the symptoms of Rett Syndrome in a mouse model. It is possible that the girls already affected by rett can be CURED! Oh dear God! I hit my knees and thanked God for answered prayer.
Since that time the research for Rett Syndrome has been moving at "breakneck speed". Much of this is due to the dilligent, tireless work of Monica Coenraads at the RSRT. Rett Syndrome has a known cause - a mutation/deletion in the MECP2 gene, Rett Syndrome has been REVERSED in a mouse model. There is every reason to believe that Rett Syndrome WILL be CURED and not only that but cured within our lifetime, not just our lifetime but, if we can continue to fund research, potentially our girls could be cured within just a few years. Equally exciting is that a cure for some of our symptoms may even be closer - not a help for symptoms, not a way to help some of the motor issues, or a med that "may help some girls try to communicate" but an actual CURE for some of the symptoms of Rett. This is exciting! This is an answer to prayers. This is a miracle. This is straight from God. There really is no other way to explain how fast the research has moved in such little time.
So did God change is mind? I don't think so. Is Jesus still alive? Does He still perform miracles today? Why are we so quick to believe that someone could recover from a stroke or from cancer, why is there hope there but no hope when it comes to childhood diseases, genetic disease and chronic diseases like diabetes? Do we think that God is capable of healing when it has to do with some diseases but not others? Where's the cut off? If it's genetic then His mind is made up but if it's something environmental then He is capable of devine healing? or is it chronic vs. acute? I do not consider myself a well versed Christian, I haven't been studying the bible long but I do know that I have come across LOTS of verses that show Jesus healing, I'm not sure I've come across any scripture where someone was sick, believed in the Lord, asked for healing and had a response from God "you know what, I can't help you with that disease". With God ALL things are possible and that's what I've chosen to believe. I believe He will cure our Annie, I believe that we all play a part in that cure. I believe Annie is here for a reason, she has shown not to take anything for granted and I believe she will show that to everyone she encounters, this is her purpose and her healing will be a testimony that God is still working miracles today. I believe that she could be cured tonight, just a touch from the Lord is all it takes but she also may be cured in a couple years through the research that is being conducted and allowed through the hands of God.
I have always believed strongly of this miracle and thankfully God has given us the research to sort of "back us up" but we encounter so many people who look at us with pitty when we tell them our cure is coming. Some say "that's right, you keep believing that" or just sort of pat us on the shoulder as if to say "it's been 5 years and she just keeps getting worse, if that's what you need to say to make yourself feel better". Recently I ran into a friend, she asked about Annie and I told her of the research and that we were certain to have a treatment within just a year or so, she looked at me and said "I'm glad you're being realistic and talking about a treatment and not thinking she's going to be cured". Ouch. I went home a little disheartened and realized her comment didn't shake my faith in a cure in the slightest, I was actually sorry for her because she didn't know the God that I know, that ALL things are possible to those who believe Mark 9:23 and that faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen Hebrews 11:1 If Annie truly is a testimony that God can still perform miracles today then of course there are going to be those who don't believe, if everyone believed there would be no reason for a testimony.
So we will continue to believe that our Annie is trapped in this body, we will continue to love her and treat her as the perfect 6 year old that she is. We will continue to pray and believe for the cure. We will continue to try to convince others of her understanding, intelligence and beautiful personality. But it will be so much more exciting when she can actually speak of these things all by herself.
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Thank you to all who are praying for Annie, for Rett Syndrome and believing for our Cure!