Monday, November 24, 2014

Three Years Ago

It was on this day in 2011 when Doug and I sat in the pediatrician's office waiting to hear the results of Sarah's most recent MRI which had been a couple weeks earlier. I can remember entering the room and expecting or hoping that we'd be told that the tests showed nothing abnormal. I can also recall the shocked and slightly stunned feeling when he delivered the news to us.
This is what I wrote three years ago:

"Medically speaking, Sarah's "corpus callosum" is slightly thinned.  This means that the connection between the two halves of the brain is not as thick as it should be, therefore causing the delays. In Doug's not so medical terms, he confirmed that Sarah's brain is simply wired differently.  Not wrong or bad, just different. They also found that there is "periventricular white matter" , consistent with "periventricular gliosis", which is likely the cause of her balance issues. All these findings are likely caused by a lack of oxygen to Sarah's brain while I was pregnant with her.  The doctor told us that his diagnosis for Sarah is a mild form of Cerebral Palsy."  

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). Cerebral palsy can also lead to other health issues, including vision, hearing, and speech problems, and learning disabilities.

CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a child's birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child's life. There is no cure for CP, but treatment, therapy, and special equipment can help a child who is living with the condition.  Cerebral palsy affects muscle control and coordination, so even simple movements like standing still are difficult. Other vital functions that also involve motor skills and muscles such as breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating, and learning may also be affected when a child has CP. Cerebral palsy does not get worse over time.

So, back to present day. Where are we now and what have we learned? Over time, the shock wore off. I was reminded by family and friends that the label doesn't change who Sarah is, nor does it define her. We went through two and a half years in the Early Intervention Program until Sarah turned five. They were memorable times and I learned a lot about how Sarah was and is developing. 

Sarah experiences most of the symptoms that CP displays. Her learning is slower than others which is also due to the severe microcephaly, but that's another post in itself. She has a very unbalanced diet which is high in carbohydrates and low in meats and veggies. It's not for a lack of effort on my part that's for sure. Her muscle tone, movements and motor skills are also compromised because of the cerebral palsy. 

I am thankful that she knows no different though. What Sarah lacks in many skills, she excels in others. She can love in ways that even I can't comprehend. She is loveable, charming and a delight to be around. Her laugh is contagious and she knows how to make anyone smile. She loves going to church and the people there have become like her second family. She is so eager to play outside with her friend Mr. Bruce and she even brought her snow clothes to church on Sunday so he could take her out. She loves people deeply and many of them have a special place in her heart.

As for me, there are occasionally moments and even days where I find myself hurting inside again. It's tough to know that she likely will not ever meet her peers' developmental level and always be behind. In fact, that gap will continue to get larger as time goes on. Watching her alongside other kids her age or even younger is hard at times. 

But, I am so thankful for the encouragement of friends and the love and support they provide. It's been quite the journey so far and I look forward to seeing where we continue to go.

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