Personal Stories
Laraine Hougen

My name is Laraine Hougen. My husband and I live on a farm in southern
Alberta, Canada with our youngest child, Joel. Our middle child, Kyle is
in university. I am the proud mother to CariAnn who is 25 years old who
has MDS. Back when my daughter was born there was very little
information on MDS. I would find a paragraph here and there. I had totally
given up until two years ago. I then I found a website in which I posted and
then Bill & Judy replied to me. They took me under their wing and we have
become wonderful friends ever since.

My pregnancy with CariAnn wasn't easy. I had severe morning
sickness at first and then I developed toxemia. I swelled very
badly and had problems with high blood pressure. I had a very
poor nursing staff that didn't monitor my blood pressure during
labor and delivery and as a result my blood pressure was
dangerously high after I delivered CariAnn. She was a beautiful,
tiny baby at 6 lb 2 oz. She was barely 18 inches long. She is
still short! She looked so much like her grandmother at her birth.
She had no features of DS that we noticed. We thought she was perfect.

However the next morning a pediatrician came in to see us and informed us that he felt CariAnn had full DS. He was very blunt and gave us no hope what so ever. But we were not sure about his diagnosis and kept it to ourselves and suffered in silence and shock. In 4 weeks time the test results came back with Mosaic DS. Well, I wasn't sure what that meant but we saw a genetic specialist shortly after and he was better explaining the situation. Our genetic specialist had never seen a baby with MDS so he took special interest in CariAnn and still continues to see her occasionally when CariAnn requests it. He insisted that we keep her diagnosis to ourselves so that she would have a better chance in life. He felt that labeling a child early on only hurts their self-esteem and people expect less of them. I do feel he was correct although it was extremely hard on our family.

CariAnn was a happy baby and very busy toddler. She reached all her milestones on time and surpassed many. At a health nurses advice we enrolled CariAnn in kindergarten a year early. It was difficult for her and we stopped sending her and waited for the proper year. The next year she was ready to go with the children her own age. She progressed very well. Her speech needed a little help but no more so than many of the children. Other than the occasional speech therapy in the early grades, CariAnn received no extra help at school.

CariAnn finished high school with a diploma. She was beautiful at the night of her graduation. We were very proud of her accomplishments. After high school CariAnn worked at a few fast food outlets. She soon tired of the restaurant business and decided to go back to school. She attended a business college graduating last year in business computerized accounting. She did very well with a GPA of 3.42 (86% average.) It did take her longer to finish than average but she did it and we are so proud of her.

Last year CariAnn was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. This is very common in individuals with MDS. We feel that she had been battling this problem for some time. Thyroid disorders can cause weight gain and disrupts emotional well-being. Since CariAnn is short 4 feet 10 ½ inches it is harder to stay slim. She tries very hard to keep active. She loves to ride her bike, swim and ski. She also has her driver's license. She passed her license on the first try!

CariAnn lives on her own in a basement suite. She has a wonderful landlady who looks out for her. She has some good friends and is the happiest we have ever seen her. We have every expectation that she will continue to live a happy, productive life.

CariAnn has taken the task of promoting the egroup and chats for kids and adults with MDS. She looks forward to corresponding with all the kids and the MDS adults. We hope that your child will join in on the fun also!

Feel free to email me. I love to hear from other parents!