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Livy's Hope Blog

Welcome to the Livy's Hope Blog!
Jonathan Scheinman

This Little Piggy

This Little Piggy

What is it about babies’ feet that are so adorable? Is it their tiny toes, the pure baby smell, or the fact that they are completely unblemished? When Livy was born, the nurses created a foot impression ornament for us. They gently placed her foot in plaster, added her name to it, and painted it pink. Since the girls were born just before Christmas, it was a perfect addition to our tree. It is still one of our favorite ornaments and hangs proudly each Christmas, a reminder of how much Livy and my family have been through over the last twelve years. Livy’s pink foot is once again getting ready to make an appearance the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I have played This Little Piggy with Livy hundreds of times. “This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy stayed home…” But she is still yet to laugh when I tickle her. Instead of smiling, she gives me a look as if to say, “Dad, what the heck are you doing? Knock it off!” I bet that is what she would say about many of my jokes if she could tell me. But none the less, I love playing with her toes. She is still my baby in so many ways.

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Jonathan Scheinman

Hope Will Set You Free

b2ap3_thumbnail_Livy_Lined_Heart_Shirt.jpgWhen I picture a prison, I see a cell with three walls and bars. I see the loss of freedoms to go where you want and when you want. I see a very structured life lived by the clock…time for breakfast, time to go into the yard, time for work responsibility. When the lights go out, you are alone. A life sentence for a crime one didn’t commit must be awful. There are continuous questions of why me. There are constant legal battles for retrials. And there is the acceptance that the life one dreamed about will be different. Living this prison life is sure to test the emotions of any sane person.

Having difficult to control epilepsy is very much like living prison life for a handful of reasons. Medications must be given at the same time every day. The freedom to complete activities is often restricted based on the risk of having a seizure. There are many legal battles being fought for those with epilepsy including inequality, discrimination, and the legalizing of cannibidiol as well as rescheduling cannabis so it can be more widely studied. People with epilepsy are innocent. They didn’t do anything that deserves epilepsy. And for many, it is a life-long struggle. But there is also hope. 

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Jonathan Scheinman

I Run 4 Livy

b2ap3_thumbnail_TracyTattoo.jpg11 years ago when Hailey and Livy were born, we started a journey that challenged us in every way imaginable. Livy's epilepsy and other disabilities tested us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Relationships with friends ended and our most sacred bond of marriage was strained to its limit. The biggest reason for us was the feeling of being alone and isolated. We felt like we were stranded on a deserted island with no escape. Was this how our lives were going to be forever? Would we always be scared to leave the house? Is there no one we can turn to for support?

It took a long time for us to get used to our new lives and to find strength in sharing our story and helping others. But that wouldn't have been possible without the support of some incredible people. One such person is Tracy, who we met several years ago when the organization I Run 4 was just starting out. The purpose is for a runner to be paired with a child with disabilities who is not able to run themselves. Athletes tend to be motivated individuals and knowing that every step is for another person can keep someone going when they think they have gone as far as possible.

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Jonathan Scheinman

Hope Is Freedom

The 4th of July is a time to celebrate America’s history and the freedom that we enjoy. That freedom has not come without a price. Millions have lost their lives defending the very concept of freedom. But with freedom comes great responsibility. And quite often, we fail in protecting our most basic beliefs that all men (people) are created equal. Our culture is full of examples where we have abused the very ideals that set us free.

What is common about freedom in almost every sense of the word is the spirit of hope that drives a person to want to be free. Robert F. Kennedy said, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope...build(ing) a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Entire movements begin by a simple act of kindness or an individual’s desire to help others. Regardless of how they start, people follow them because they are inspired to do something that matters.

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Jonathan Scheinman

A Family's Stand Against Epilepsy



We have no idea what life for our family would be like if Livy hadn't been born with epilepsy. From the moment she took her first breath, she was destined to change what we perceived to be our path in this world. We never knew what epilepsy could do to someone or to a family.

A seizure was something we saw in shows like ER or House when people were in accidents or had brain tumors. We didn't know the statistics such as 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy or that there are 3 million people in the United States and 65 million people worldwide that have epilepsy or that two thirds of people with epilepsy don’t even know the cause. We didn't know that an estimated 50,000 people in the United States die each year from status epilepticus (prolonged seizures), Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), and other seizure-related causes such as drowning and other accidents. We didn't know.

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Jonathan Scheinman

Lemonade for Livy: The Path to Peace

Ever since the girls were born, I, as a father, have constantly struggled with finding a purpose for what Livy goes through. At first it was the never ending seizures and brain surgeries. Then a broken leg, then precocious puberty and then a fractured heal. Now it is her permanently dislocated hip which causes her discomfort each day. Watching the look of pain on her otherwise glowing face is torture. For a little girl to go through so much doesn't seem fair.

Over the last nine years, I have been able to focus on various projects and my daily routine to keep me sane. I am an avid gym rat which is where I have blown off a large amount of steam when it comes to my squabbles with God, doctors and epilepsy. The latter bearing the brunt of my fury. When those we love are hurting, it is human nature to want to blame someone. But I have run out of blame. After tens of thousands of seizures, blaming someone or something seems futile and a complete waste of energy.

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Jonathan Scheinman

Don't Give Up. Give Back.


Most of us will face a traumatic experience at least once in our lives. Where we feel we can no longer keep going. Where every day seems like it is a fight just to get through. We wish our days away hoping for an answer. Am I on the right path? Am I strong enough to make it? How will I keep going? We have been in that very same position with Livy a number of times. For years, we didn’t know how we could function in a normal capacity ever again. We were angry. We were heartbroken. We were devastated, confused and lost all at the same time. And most of all, we were so sad for Livy and all she went through.

Our last major hospital stay due to uncontrolled seizures was in April of 2010. It had been a year since Livy’s hemispherectomy operation. We were gradually starting to see her seizures get worse. We asked ourselves, “What are we going to do this time? She can’t have any more surgeries?” Allison called me from the pediatrician’s office since we always follow protocol to make sure nothing else is going on. Shortly after the doctor assessed her, he said, “Get her to the hospital, now!” and off we went.

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Allison Scheinman

"Believe In Hope" Original Painting - Art by Hailey

"Believe In Hope" Original Painting - Art by Hailey

"Believe In Hope"

Hailey has created this festive holiday painting to raise money for Livy's Hope!

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Jonathan Scheinman

I Imagine A Cure

When I look into Livy’s eyes, I know more is going on than there seems to be. She can’t talk or communicate in the typical fashion, but she has her own way of letting us know how she is feeling. Most of the time, we are kissing her and hugging her. So her smile lights up the room. She is just like any kid who feels the genuine love of her family. When she is uncomfortable or hurting, she tells us by her sounds as well as increased seizure activity.

I often put my head against hers and whisper, God, please let me hear what she is thinking. Just this once. My prayers have yet to be answered but if I really listen to her sounds and look at her facial expressions, I can almost get there. Sometimes my imagination gets the best of me. Is she scared or confused. Does she feel lonely or trapped? Does she want to say something but her brain won’t let her get the words out? Does she want to tell us she loves us?

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Jonathan Scheinman

Livy's Hope For A Cure

It’s 8:00 on the morning of December 15, 2004. I stand with my arms braced against the sink staring into the mirror at myself in the men’s bathroom at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. I am haggard with red eyes and a dazed, confused look about me. This should be the happiest day of my life. I am a first time dad. My wife, Allison, gave birth to our twin daughters, Hailey and Olivia (Livy) only 4 hours earlier. Instead, tears of grief, not joy, stream down my cheeks. I have just witnessed Olivia having her first grand mal seizure in the neonatal intensive care unit. She is only hours into this world. We would later be told by a doctor that she may not live to be a year old.

After a month at All Children’s, we traveled to Boston Children’s Hospital to see a specialist. We had only been there a short time when we were asked if we had considered a DNR (do not resuscitate). Livy’s condition worsened so we baptized her in the hospital in case she never made it home. The doctors gave us a diagnosis of generalized cortical dysplasia (a brain malformation). Remarkably, three months later and with Livy subdued on five anti-seizure medications, we flew back to Florida to All Children’s while we waited for a room to become available at the Woodside Hospice House of Pinellas. We were completely unprepared both physically and emotionally to care for such a medically complicated child.

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Allison Scheinman

Days Worth Remembering

Days Worth Remembering

OK, it's a tough one...what lights up your eyes more, that smile or those socks?

It's time for an update! We have been busy all wrapped up in a very exciting project that we will be sharing with you all shortly. It's a good one, and we can't wait to share it with the world. Stay tuned...

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Jonathan Scheinman

Happy Mother's Day To The Super Moms

Happy Mother's Day To The Super Moms

Wouldn't it be nice if, when a woman got pregnant, she had the option to sign up to be a Super Mom? Isn't it only fair? No mother-to-be ever says, “Sign me up to give birth to a child with special needs. Perhaps my marriage will become extremely complicated or even end. I hope to lose many of my friends after the baby is born. I look forward to my body deteriorating much faster than women my age. Put my name down for depression.” Yet these are all common realities the Super Mom faces.

It is a fact that the majority of parental caretakers for special needs children are mothers. In today’s world, most dads go off to work not fully aware of what happens at home. Many times, dads turn their backs on their families all together because they are not able to handle it emotionally. I can’t even imagine walking in the shoes of a single mom raising a disabled child. Again, another choice these amazing moms do not get to make. Allison and I have a hard enough time and we are both engaged.

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Allison Scheinman

Hope For The Rainbow

Yesterday was a very sad and difficult day for a very special family. Gavin, a little 5-1/2 year old boy, was taken so early from them and they said their good-byes. Thousands of people are now following Kate's blog Chasing Rainbows and have become one big, supportive, online family. Many of us drew Gavin's name on our hands to remember him. It was one small gesture to let his family know we were thinking about them and to remind us how fragile and precious life is. As the day went on, Gavin's name and rainbow faded on my hand. By this morning, it had vanished. I placed my other hand over where it had been and took some deep breaths. This little boy's story hits so close to home. A friend of mine said it perfectly, "It brings our greatest fears to the surface".

Shortly after Livy was born we were told she had a limited amount of time to live. It shook Jon and me to the core and we had no idea how to handle the emotions that came afterwards. In that moment, the hope of a beautiful childhood faded away. We went to Boston Children's Hospital seeking a second opinion, holding on desperately to the idea that the first doctor was wrong. Instead, the diagnosis was confirmed. We sat down with the Ethicist at the hospital and had the most surreal conversation about signing a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) for Livy. We had come face to face with the gruesome fact that we were to decide her fate. It had actually come to that and we were beside ourselves. We were new parents making one of the worst decisions of our lives. Ultimately, we did not sign a DNR but we do understand and respect why parents do put them in place.

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Allison Scheinman

Hope For The Rainbow

Yesterday was a very sad and difficult day for a very special family. Gavin, a little 5-1/2 year old boy, was taken so early from them and they said their good-byes. Thousands of people are now following Kate's blog Chasing Rainbows and have become one big, supportive, online family. Many of us drew Gavin's name on our hands to remember him. It was one small gesture to let his family know we were thinking about them and to remind us how fragile and precious life is. As the day went on, Gavin's name and rainbow faded on my hand. By this morning, it had vanished. I placed my other hand over where it had been and took some deep breaths. This little boy's story hits so close to home. A friend of mine said it perfectly, "It brings our greatest fears to the surface".

Shortly after Livy was born we were told she had a limited amount of time to live. It shook Jon and me to the core and we had no idea how to handle the emotions that came afterwards. In that moment, the hope of a beautiful childhood faded away. We went to Boston Children's Hospital seeking a second opinion, holding on desperately to the idea that the first doctor was wrong. Instead, the diagnosis was confirmed. We sat down with the Ethicist at the hospital and had the most surreal conversation about signing a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) for Livy. We had come face to face with the gruesome fact that we were to decide her fate. It had actually come to that and we were beside ourselves. We were new parents making one of the worst decisions of our lives. Ultimately, we did not sign a DNR but we do understand and respect why parents do put them in place.

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Jonathan Scheinman

Superheroes

Superheroes

The events of the last week have left me at a loss for words. The world lost a superhero in Gavin Leong. Many have been following his story for years but even more were introduced to him recently. His battle with health related issues began from day one back on September 29th, 2007. Over the course of his short life, he inspired people with his strength and determination. His ability to beat the odds was miraculous. He constantly surprised his doctors and proved to the world what a warrior he was.

On April 10th, Gavin went into cardiac arrest. He fought valiantly to try to recover but his little body had finally had more than it could take. On April 14th, Gavin lost his battle. Throughout the five days, his mother, Kate, continued to blog and post updates to Facebook about Gavin’s final moments. As I read through her posts, I had to look away or risk a steady stream of tears washing over my keyboard. To see a little boy filled with so much good taken from all of us at such a young age is beyond my comprehension. I only knew of his story for a short period of time but those five days will stick with me forever.

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Allison Scheinman

Because of You

Because of You

We do what we do because of you. We continue to keep going because you told us we can. We get through and find peace in another day because you stand by us. We are who we are because you encourage us.

We knew we couldn't do this alone so we asked others to help, and they have.

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Jonathan Scheinman

What Is Your Message?

Happy New Year!!

2012 is now in the past. Looking back over the year, can you say that you were truly the person you wanted to be? Instead of making resolutions each year to stop doing something, I now make goals so I am motivated to achieve more. I have goals for various parts of my life including family, career, recreation and personal growth. Livy’s Hope is a big portion of personal growth.

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Jonathan Scheinman

Giving Back

When creating Livy’s Hope a few years ago, our focus was on detailing Livy and our family’s journey through the ups and downs that have accompanied Livy’s medical condition. We have learned so much about ourselves and our views on life. From Hailey’s perspective, this is the way it is supposed to be. She doesn’t know any different. We don’t take long vacations and certainly don’t travel far from home as a family. Our home is our fortress where we find comfort and security in what we know best. When we ask Hailey if she is unhappy that we haven’t done many things families usually do, she answers with a confident, “It doesn’t bother me at all. I love my family the way it is.” She is a remarkable 8 year old. I hope she continues to feel that way as she gets older.

Allison and I often discuss our inability to travel and do certain things as a family. One Saturday morning, not long ago, we were sitting in our kitchen after just having heard an advertisement for Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. Allison got really sad because it sounded like so much fun. But we know for us, it would be too difficult. The last time we took Livy to Disney, she had seizures from the afternoon through the evening. There was far too much stimulation. So I told Allison that it’s true, we can’t do many of the things other families can do. But then I added that we have the opportunity to do something extraordinary. By sharing our story on Livy’s Hope and helping others, we have the chance to change lives and to make a real difference. Spreading hope to a single individual can influence hundreds if not thousands more. It only takes one person to start something great. At that moment, I saw the light shine in her eyes like I haven’t in a long time.

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Jonathan Scheinman

Turning On A Dime

Turning On A Dime

We have been talking a lot about dimes at our house over the past few weeks. Hailey is working on a project for her gifted program and her focus is on Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Last week, for some reason, she asked me which president was on the dime. I should have known this one but my memory escaped me so I Googled it. Low and behold, it is FDR. And after a little more research, I discovered why he is on the dime. Back in 1937 FDR asked people to contribute money to fund research for Polio. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) was born. In 1945, as a result of an extremely popular marketing campaign asking Americans to send dimes to the White House to fund the NFIP, the organization was renamed the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes is now focused on preventing birth defects and infant mortality. The dime was chosen to honor FDR partly for this reason. Amazing how the smallest coin in the US played such a tremendous role.

Lately, life has been turning on a dime. Our world revolves around Livy and her medical needs. Over the last six weeks, she has had a broken heel and a cast, spent a week in the hospital and has had the flu. This coming Monday, after all the events of the past few months, she is scheduled to return to school. Before she broke her heel, she was doing the best she has ever done. One minute she is doing great, the next, we are in intensive care not knowing if we are going to be able to stop her seizures. The medications we were throwing at her were a dime a dozen. Watching her reminded me of the movie Forest Gump when Lieutenant Dan secured himself to the top of the shrimp boat mast screaming at God, "Is that all you got?" Livy's brain was saying the same thing to the doctors and the seizure meds. Her brain is a powerful enigma we truly do not understand. The odd thing is, when we finally found the correct combination, Livy's seizures stopped on a dime. They settled down as quickly as they appeared.

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Allison Scheinman

PICU vs. Party

PICU vs. Party

Yesterday morning it was becoming pretty apparent that Livy was only getting worse. We have a certain amount of "emergency" medications for seizures we can give her at home before respiratory issues can arise. I had maxed out everything and she only continued to seize. Jon came home from work and we weighed out everything. Hospital stays for Livy are never short when it comes to seizures. I am not talking days but weeks and sometimes months long. We always do whatever we can to put off going as long as possible. We looked at each other and both knew it was inevitable.

The ER stay lasted from just before lunch until after 8pm last night. It had been over two years since we had been there for seizures. All those precious months of control. They did lab test, a shunt series, x-rays and an MRI. The only thing they found was that her sodium was running a little low (128). She tends to run in the low 130s but the dip below could be cause for increased seizures. After consulting with Livy's neuro up at Shands, they decided to start her back up on the seizure med we just finished weaning last month. She was admitted just after 8:00pm.

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