Tag: batten disease

It has been 139 days since my daughter died and I still haven’t been able to write her obituary.  I don’t want anyone else to write it or any offers of help, it’s something I feel I must do on my own. 139 days feels like a grain of sand on a very large beach.  Like no time has passed.  Like it was yesterday.  It still surprises me how much harder it gets with the more time that passes.

I need a road trip.  Maybe that will give me some inspiration to write a tribute to my daughter, one that she really deserves.

The triplets are taking a bike class at a recent Rec center all week. I didn’t know it was there, about 2 blocks from where Rachel was in school.

I have to drive past it 20 times this week. She isn’t inside in a classroom, waiting for donuts or me to bring her something. She isn’t anywhere.

My mind still lives in escape mode, that she is alive, she will just be back later. Passing buildings where she might be existing inside and return from “later” tears open my mind’s game and rips me back into reality.

The worst feeling I’ve ever felt.

I hate this life. The only escape is sleep and alcohol.

It’s amazing and terrifying the difference a year makes.
2017

2016 is at the top.

Another Batten family sent us free tickets again this year and the boys were so excited to go.  I am very grateful for kind gestures like these and swallow my grief so the boys can attend without pain or grief themselves. 

Thank you Kristine! <3

It’s easier said than done.  Having your child die.

For years I could speak about having a terminally ill child quite easily as I had clearly removed myself from what that really meant.  I sit here next to a box of ashes that holds the true meaning of “terminally ill” and I am frozen.

After she was diagnosed with Juvenile Batten Disease I set out on many road trips to take her and my other 3 kids places, while we could.  Making the most of life, making loads of awesome memories.  On every road trip, as the kids were listening to books on tapes or watching a movie, my mind would always wander and I would think long and hard about what I wanted to do to celebrate her life when the time came.

My rule, without question, was to spread her ashes within 48 hours.

I have had her ashes for a week.

They sit next to me while I work, sit in my lap while I stare at the wall from the couch and they either lay next to me in bed or on the table next to where I sleep.

48 hours is long since gone and I can’t seem to part with her.  I’m a very pragmatic person but I guess the Mum in me has beat out the pragmatic side of me because I still can’t bring myself to let her ashes go.  I have gone on amazon and looked at urn necklaces and have purchased two of them.  They’re quite inexpensive, in comparison to how much an urn costs at a funeral home.  I think Julie would like one also and I think she is old enough to carry it around with her, emotionally.  She has had to live through this right along side me.

Here are the two necklaces that I have found and purchased so far (pics from amazon.com):

Tree of Life

(I think Julie will like this one):

Butterfly

I like this one.  When she was definitely dying I told her many times that it was ok to fly away like a butterfly. My friend, Anna, was right there with me and has a new butterfly tattoo in Rachel’s memory.  If this butterfly necklace does not suck I will get one for Anna also.  Friends like her don’t come around very often.

Well.  What do you think?

It’s crazy.  A positive pregnancy test turns into an ultrasound with a fetus.  Soon followed by kicks then a screaming baby.  Hopes and dreams for the future.  Milestones met.  First words, walking, running.  Getting into everything.

Difficult times in school.  ADD. Autism.  Encopresis.

Blindness

Batten Disease

Every possible hope and dream. My child.  Erased.  Literally turned into ashes.

Apparently, death is a big business, I kind of already knew this as my sister in law died when Rachel was only a few months old.  Rachel’s body will be cremated on the 19th and her ashes ready a week after.  I’m not sure what the kids and I want to do to celebrate her life.  Maybe something just us, maybe go back to Hull. It is a pretty emotional time.  To be honest I went to get the mail today and found a condolences card.  I thought to myself about those t-shirts you can buy for your friends on vacation that say something like “My Mum went to London and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”  That turned into my kid just died and all I got was a card.  I just want my kid back.  Healthy. The loss is barely just touching me, I can’t process that she has died and probably won’t be able to until after I have her ashes back.

The loss is barely just touching me, I can’t process that she has died and probably won’t be able to until after I have her ashes back.  We have had a vacation to Moab, Utah planned for several months now and we leave on the 22nd.  If I could get the money back (VRBO), I probably would.  It doesn’t feel like the right time to be on a vacation and I am not looking forward to it.  I kind of just want to stay on the couch for forever.

When we get home it will be May and Rachel’s birthday was May 18th.  My friend started a memorial fund for Rachel through Go Fund Me.  I think, once the kids are really ready to talk about it, we’ll do something on her birthday.  I just have to figure out WHAT. I think the WHEN is her birthday.

This still doesn’t feel real.

Rachel started 10th grade this week and is having a great time. She has a new teacher named Ms. Nicole and 3 bus drivers and aids! She is doing great and enjoying being back to school and I am having a bit of a break and Rachel having a break from me.

Her walking is quite impossible, watching her fall apart has been killing me.  It’s emotionally hard, physically hard on me and on Rachel but her appetite is great and is enjoying her movies and iCarly.

She is dying to meet Miranda Cosgrove and Jimmy Fallon.  Any suggestions for making this happen would be great!

Look no further.  They exist and are made by a company called Access Unlimited in New York. Now I have to win the lottery or sell a kidney.  I don’t think organ sales are legal?

Here is a link to the pdf quote I got to have this made for our Jeep to suit Rachel. $6500

Not being able to do the things we used to do and go the places we used to be able to go is taking its toll on me and the kids. We have the van which was generously donated by our friends, family and wonderful strangers through GoFundMe but it’s 20 years old and not reliable enough to go long distances.

Does anyone out there have one of these? What do you think?

www.accessunlimited.com

In many places here in Denver we have community mailboxes. I like to call them mailbox trees (Rachel is photographed near one of the trees near our house).

Within these plastic boxes, (yellow and blue) are small USB books on tape provided to her by the library of Congress. Audio books. Books on tape. They come in the mail, for free, and this library has extensive content for all ages.

So imagine how ironic it is that these books are mailed, for free, to blind people all over the United States, yet the “outgoing” slot is too small to fit them.

Are blind people supposed to drive to the post office?

Just a morning WTF moment.

Rachel trying to mail her books on tape for the blind

For Rachel’s Birthday, my mother requested a “Feel Better Friend” through their website and organization based in Olathe, Kansas.  Here is Rachel with her friend who was hand made to look like Rachel.  So cool! Rachel turned 16 last week was diagnosed in 2009 with Juvenile Batten Disease, a very rare and progression brain disease which has caused her blindness, cognitive and speech loss as well as worsening memory and swallowing issues.

For Rachel’s Birthday, my mother requested a “Feel Better Friend” through their website and organization based in Olathe, Kansas.  Here is Rachel with her friend who was hand made to look like Rachel.  So cool! Rachel turned 16 last week was diagnosed in 2009 with Juvenile Batten Disease, a very rare and progression brain disease which has caused her blindness, cognitive and speech loss as well as worsening memory and swallowing issues.

Rachel Vontungeln 15

I haven’t blogged in forever and I owe myself an apology.  I need this blog.  For posterity’s sake (my memory is shot) and to get my feelings out.  Feelings. I sound like such a bitch.  Feelings. FML.

I texted my landlord in December to see if she had any larger homes for rent and within a few weeks I was starting to move my kids and all of our crap to a new home in Northeast Denver. Continue reading “2016 is here and so are we” »

Time is a funny little concept that drives so much of our actions, interactions and stress.  I’ve signed onto my blog tonight to share a picture of my oldest daughter whose hourglass is running far too quickly.  I’m turning 37 on Monday and I can’t remember much of my life since getting my driver’s license over 20 years ago.

I’ve done a lot in my 37 years.   I’ve made my parents proud and I’ve made them feel beyond disappointed.  Worse than that are the moments in my life I’ve made myself disappointed.  You relive them over and over and over.

I never finished this blog entry that I wrote two years ago, almost to the day.

My daughter’s hourglass ran out.  I’m still here, fighting to live every single day.

Blog entry completed 8/23/17.

I put my three younger children into public school for the last 7 weeks of school as I have been taking a “Nursing Assistant” course for Rachel.  Both school and the course ended on the same day and I’m catching up on work.  I need to apply for and pass the state exam, hopefully I will get an appointment quickly. Continue reading “School is out for the summer” »

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