FOUR!!! As of two weeks ago this past Sunday, Wade is four. Unfortunately, I was wrapped up emotionally in Wade's annual ARD (IEP meeting), so I haven't had the energy to post an update. So, here we go!
The first few days of Wade's life were filled with anxiety, to say the least. I honestly didn't know whether he was going to live or not. Every time the phone rang, my heart stopped while I listened to Curtis talk to one of the doctors. We found out when Wade was four days old that he did in fact have significant brain damage, much to one of the doctor's surprise. At that point though, I was just so relieved that he seemed to be out of the woods. The grim diagnosis was actually a relief, because at that point we knew what we were dealing with and we could move forward. It was definitely the most difficult thing I have ever dealt with, but I was just so very thankful that Wade had survived. We'd deal with everything else as it came along.
On that Saturday, May 26, 2007, we were told that Wade would never walk. He would never talk. He would be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. He would never throw a baseball. I suppose the doctors have to tell you worse case scenario, but I just felt numb as I sat there listening to those words. I didn't have anything to say, but in my heart of hearts I knew that Wade would be more than what these doctors were saying. I saw that glimmer in his eyes, and I knew there was more to him than the doctors could see on their tests.
Looking back, I can say that we've seen the biggest changes in Wade this past year. The first year to two years, we were in survival mode. We had a routine, and we followed it well. We went to scheduled doctors appointments, and I did a lot of research on the computer. I learned a lot about cerebral palsy while cycling through the grieving process. During Wade's third year, I started branching out a little more. I started to get a little more involved in advocacy, and I started pushing the limits a little bit more. I was learning more and more about alternative treatments while trying to find the line between too much therapy and just living a "normal" life.
In spring of 2010, right before Wade's third birthday, I was able to submit my resignation as a special education teacher. It was a bittersweet decision, but it has been such a blessing. I've been able to focus so much more energy on Wade instead of balancing my two lives. Although I was so sad to say goodbye to a job I loved, I was thrilled at the idea of being able to do things with Wade that I hadn't been able to do because of work obligations. I believe it was perfect timing. Emotionally I was ready to conquer the world with Wade. In the past year Wade has gotten an iPad to begin communicating better with us. He has also gotten his first wheelchair--a power chair at that! He started school, and he has flourished in that environment. We traveled to VA for Magnetic Therapy, which we followed up with an intensive session of MEDEK Therapy in NJ. I've thrown myself into advocacy and learning, and we've even made several trips to our state capital in Austin to fight against the budget cuts which affect people with disabilities. The combination of all of these things has made such an impact on Wade. He is absolutely thriving, and he is making progress in leaps and bounds! No, he's not walking or talking in the conventional sense, but with the help of a wheelchair and AAC devices, he's holding his own rather well! And I never give up hope that one day those pieces of equipment will only supplement his own legs and his own voice. Never underestimate what a difference a year can make!
The Faces of AAC: Paula and Brian
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