Category Archives: Stories

Looking Back: Graduating High School with CP

by Crystal McClure

Beautiful dresses and tuxedos have been donned by teens all across the nation for the Spring 2014 Prom season. Caps have been tossed into the air as a way of celebrating the biggest milestone of a teen’s life: graduating. Congratulations Class of 2014!

Twelve years ago, I was one of those teens. As mentioned in a previous blog for Cerebral Palsy Family Network, I was the first in my family on my father’s side to graduate from high school. I am also the only person in my family with a physical disability. Getting to this point in my life was not without struggles, but I fought strong all the way.

Prom was a unique situation all its own. I was not able to attend my Junior prom because it was held in a location that is not accessible for someone who uses a wheelchair. As you can imagine I was very upset by this as were my parents and some of the faculty at school. They all made sure the Senior prom was held in a location that was accessible for me. For that I will always be grateful. However, finding a date to the prom proved to be a challenge. I asked a few people whom I had interest in and they essentially said no. As time for the prom grew near I still didn’t have a date. Then a good friend of mine asked someone she knew if he would take me to prom. He said yes. I spent the day getting ready and of course we took several pictures with our families before heading out for the evening.

We had dinner where the prom was being held and then proceeded to go dance and socialize with some of my friends. When it was time for pictures to be taken I remember the photographer being a bit hesitant as I didn’t want my wheelchair in the pictures. Chris (my prom date) came to the rescue! He suggested that we do a floor pose. The pictures turned out perfect! Afterwards, we decided to leave because it was very crowded and loud. We ended the evening with a horse drawn carriage ride around downtown Chattanooga before heading home. It was a wonderful night!

Graduation was a very exciting time for me. I made it and could go on to college! The ceremony was held in an accessible location. There was a lift used to get those of us in wheelchairs up on the stage to roll across and receive our diplomas. Instead of going back down to our seats, we stayed on the stage. If I could go back I would have opted to go back down to my seat, since it was uncomfortable for those of us in wheelchairs. I also would have tried to get accessibility for Junior prom so I could have attended just like everyone else. As they say though, hindsight is 20/20.

Overall, it was an exciting and rewarding time. For those of you who just graduated, the best thing I can say is to enjoy this time and to be proud of the milestones you accomplish. The best is yet to come!

 

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A Grandmother’s Story: Seeking Answers and Help for Jakob

Rachel, the grandmother of a young boy with cerebral palsy, shares the story of her grandson’s difficult birth. After the mistakes made by hospital staff, her grandson Jakob did not get the oxygen his brain needed. This is their story of success and how attorneys uncovered the truth.

I got there (to the hospital) about an hour after my grandson, Jakob, was born and a nurse met me in the hallway and explained he had stopped breathing. I was amazed he was still alive.

The first time I laid eyes on him he was waiting to be flown to the NICU at Grady (Georgia). His little left arm was just quivering in the air. My daughter was so upset.

When I got to the NICU, it was so sad to see my only grandson with wires running everywhere out of his body. He was there 6 weeks and I was there every day. Because my daughter was having a hard time coping with everything, I became Jakob’s guardian.

I knew it would be hard. At the time I just prayed ‘Lord, give me the strength.’ But there was no turning back. He was a part of me. He was precious.

Jakob’s Struggle Was Preventable

Because of what had happened at the hospital, we suspected something was wrong. Jakob had seizures and they told us he had cerebral palsy. My daughter called a lawyer and that’s how we met Ken Suggs and Jerry Jowers of Janet, Jenner & Suggs.

Giles Manley, who was an Ob/Gyn for 20 years and is a lawyer with the firm, looked at Jakob’s records. He said the hospital should have known Jakob might need a breathing tube right after he was born because of what fetal monitoring was showing. A resuscitation team should have been right there, but they were busy with another baby and a back-up team wasn’t called. Jakob had to struggle trying to breath for eight minutes before he finally got a tube. Dr. Manley, who is also medical director for CP Family Network, told us about other mistakes, too.

It broke our hearts all over again to learn Jakob could be a well boy today if these mistakes hadn’t been made. But my daughter was relieved to learn it wasn’t her fault.

Seeking Light at the End of the Tunnel

At the trial, I’ve never seen someone so organized as Jerry, and I’ve never seen a group of people come together as a team like they did. My husband and I owned a painting company, and we never were that organized. And the way Jerry handled the trial, the evidence he showed, the witnesses he brought were amazing.

The verdict can’t repair anything, but it will allow Jakob to live with the help and equipment he needs to improve if he can. With the right kind of help and equipment, he might be able to someday walk, run or talk. That’s my prayer, and Jesus is in the healing business.

The journey has been one of into the valley and up on the mountaintop since the day we walked out of the NICU that first day. My husband passed away in 2012. He would have been so happy for Jakob. I know he’s smiling down on us.

 

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When You Believe in a Child, All Things are Possible

We’re proud to present our second “Faces of CP” video. Last year, we received hundreds of beautiful photographs and inspirational stories during our “What Works for CP Kids” contest. We created this video to show off some of our favorite photos and touching quotes we received from parents and caregivers.

Parents of children with cerebral palsy frequently tell us how deeply their children have touched their lives and their hearts. One parent shared, “He has taught me more than anyone in this world.” Another told us, “My son is a true gift of God and my angel of hope.”

To read more quotes and see photos of these beautiful children, please click the video below. We hope seeing the smiling faces of so many CP kids brightens your day and reminds you about the most important things in life: love and family.

 

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FREE MEDICAL AND LEGAL RESOURCES

The Cerebral Palsy Survival Guide is a free, state-specific resource list for everything from everyday activities to emergency situations.

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