Most of the time, cerebral palsy is the result of something traumatic happening to a child at birth that causes brain damage. Infection like meningitis, bleeding into the brain, or an extended lack of oxygen causes neurological damage to a child's developing brain.
Our little girl - our adopted grandaughter - has cerebral palsy from this kind of injury. But it didn't happen at birth. It happened when she was ten months old when she was shaken and squeezed by her father. During this horrible event, Allie stopped breathing, and had to be artificially assisted to draw breath as paramedics "bagged" her and then, in an intensive care unit in a San Fransisco hospital, by a machine.
Here are some symptoms of cerebral palsy:
- Doesn't walk or crawl
- Abnormal muscle tone ("tone" refers to the usually normal ability to flex and relax muscles)
- Startles easily
- Seizures (with Allie, startling often triggers seizures - today that happened five times in four hours)
- Lies in awkward positions
- Difficulty feeding, sucking, and swallowing
- Favors one side of the body over the other
- Some muscles are over developed and some muscles under developed (Allie has an an abdominal six pack and strength I covet)
- Bad coordination (this may be inherited from me)
- Hearing trouble (Allie has acutly sensitive hearing)
- Vision problems (Allie sees but is seriously visually impaired)
- Limited range of movement
From time to time, I'm asked questions about Allie's condition and prognosis. Some of you read this blog and know our story. Some of you have just come across this blog maybe randomly or from clicking through my Facebook page or something.
I'll be honest: I'm writing about this here because it's emotionally and spiritually therapeutic. Today was rough because Allie had several seizures. Two of them occurred while having a little get together next door for Memorial Day. A five year old little girl having seizures in the living room brings the mood of the party way down. Our wonderful hostess cried.
I just hold Allie and talk to her and sing her our song:
Lord prepare me
To be a sanctuary
Pure and holy
Tried and true
With thanksgiving I'll be a living
I don't know what else to do. It's a prayer and a soothing song. I know the Lord hears it.
I used to get really mad at God for allowing such horror to happen. I'm not sure why I don't get mad any more. I don't have a canned answer for the question "how could a loving God let this happen?" If you have the answer, kindly keep it to yourself because it will probably fall flat unless you've walked through something like this. I'm not trying to be rude. I'm trying to be helpful. But now I'm a little sidetracked.
I'm not mad at God because this little girl brings my wife and me incredible joy. We love to love her. I'm glad I'm the one who is there when she has seizures. Or is sick. Or can't sleep because her muscles cramp and ache. She's a gift. I can't imagine my life without her in it and I can't imagine my marriage to the Charming and Beautiful Susan if this trial had not come our way. I don't have the answer to how God could have let this happen, but I do know that Allie is the mission God has given us - gifted us - during the second half of our lives. And instead of question Him, I think I'll praise Him.