Cadence (Cady) Noelle Rohrbaugh was born healthy on November 26, 2004. Her biological mother, a 22-year old college senior, chose us to provide Cady with the kind of love, stability, and life experience she could not. We brought our daughter home on Christmas Eve the same year. Cady charmed everyone with her bright eyes and sunny disposition. Developmentally on-track in every way, she loved to sing and had a talent for working difficult puzzles.
Years earlier, we’d returned to our hometown of Rochester, MN—home of the Mayo Clinic—to be close to family and the best healthcare around. Laura had epilepsy, and had struggled to find good neurology resources elsewhere. Though seizure-free many years, the potential risks associated with Laura’s epilepsy was also a factor in choosing to adopt. The adoption process forces you to confront delicate issues, including listing medical conditions you’re willing to accept in an adopted child. Because we knew how devastating epilepsy could be, we didn’t include epilepsy on our list. But God knew better.
Without warning, Cady had her first generalized tonic-clonic seizure on February 12, 2008. We were able to consult with Dr. Elaine Wirrell at Mayo Clinic right away. Cady’s initial EEG revealed two atypical patterns during sleep and some slowing, but Dr. Wirrell recommended we wait and see. We prayed the seizure would be an isolated incident. But two months later, on April 8, 2008, the onslaught of unrelenting seizure activity began. Cady was diagnosed with Symptomatic Generalized Epilepsy, and cycled rapidly through several medications that weren’t effective. In less than a week, Cady lost her ability to walk, talk, or feed herself. It was obvious we needed to gain control of the seizures—but we also knew that if Cady were to have the life God intended, she needed to be completely seizure-free. We gave Dr. Wirrell carte blanche to do whatever it took to meet both criteria. She stated the most effective treatment for Cady’s epilepsy was one historically reserved as a last-ditch effort, and urged us to start right away.
So just six days after the seizure onslaught began, on April 16, 2008, Cady began the ketogenic diet. The diet improved Cady’s seizures almost immediately. And after the addition of intravenous immunoglubin (IVIG) transfusion therapy for a suspected immunological issue, Cady became seizure-free on May 6, 2008. Over time, the IVIG treatments and all medications were weaned—leaving the diet alone to heal her. More than a year and a half later, Cady is still seizure-free! And her EEGs are totally normal.
We credit Dr. Wirrell and the early implementation of the ketogenic diet for saving Cady’s life, and we thank God for returning to all of us a life filled with such abundance. There are no residual effects of cognitive delay or impairment. Today, by most standards, Cady is a healthy, “ordinary” 5-year old with bright eyes and an infectious zest for life. But we know just how extraordinary Cady and her healing miracle truly are. Incredibly, Cady herself seems to have a firm grasp of this— frequently demonstrating a level of understanding and wisdom beyond her years. While playing in the bathtub recently, Cady began to sing, “How could I know? Jesus came to me. I was in the hospital then Mommy and Daddy healed me. Now I eat magic food, magic food, magic food.”