An Anniversary to Forget

It has now been a little more than a year since Jackson was diagnosed with lissencephaly.  I can still remember the day as if it were yesterday.  It was April 11th, 2012.  We had an appointment at Children’s Hospital for an EEG.  That is a test where they hook about 30 electrodes up to the head to get a picture of the brain’s electrical, ie neurological, activity.  Jackson was just over six months old at this point, had started to show some slight developmental delay, and had just started to have spasms, although we didn’t know what those were yet.  Santina and I were totally expecting to have the tests ran and then go to work, as my parents took Jackson home.  That didn’t happen; we ended up staying at the hospital for  over 36 hours.

After the EEG, the technician, an affable Russian the size of a small mountain,  said that he had to go “back up the tests.”  After 15 minutes or so he walked in with a neurologist.  Bad sign number one.  The neurologist ordered an additional EEG, this time after Jackson woke up so that the test could document a spasm cluster.  After that test, we were admitted to the in-patient part of Children’s.  Bad sign number two.  As an aside, this neurologist spoke like the “low talker” from Seinfeld.  I felt like Jackie Chiles asking for a microphone for this guy. Quite the juxtaposition to the boisterous tech.

When we were admitted, an MRI, some sort of spinal exam, and an ECG were ordered for Jackson.  The really awesome part was that Jackson was an add-on for the MRI, scheduling-wise.  This meant they would fit him in when able.  And since he had to be sedated for the test, it meant no food or drink until the test…which ended up being about 12 hours later.  As any parent knows, six-month old children who don’t eat or drink for 12 hours are super content and quiet.  We tried calling various people who may have influence at Children’s (wealthy donors, duh) but to no avail.  We eventually did get the MRI and were brought up to discuss the results.  While on this walk, the doctor mentioned that they weren’t going to do the spinal exam thing, which I found strange.  Bad sign number three.

We sat down with our neurologist (not the low talker), and were told that Jackson has lissencephaly, that he is likely to never walk or talk.  There is no good way to give or receive this news.  All you can really think is “What the fuck?’ (apologies for the language, as I know my Aunt Jane is reading this)  I believe there are formal steps of grief with pedantic, clinical names for each step, which I will avoid here.  For me, it was 1) really sad 2) really angry and then 3) realizing that things aren’t really that bad.  Plus, I am only grieving the loss of expectations, nothing more.

After the MRI, while Jackson was coming out of sedation, he had his first bona fide seizure.  Pretty much the last thing I needed at that point.  After a sleepless night spent thinking horrible thoughts (the first of many), we got a lot more information on his condition and prognosis.  Jackson’s condition is both quite rare and serious, which increases the number of medical professionals that need to or want to see him.  At one point there were 17 people in our room, from doctors to nurses to social workers to who knows who else.  We were finally discharged with a slew of appointments scheduled over the next few days, weeks, months, etc.

When we got home, our family and friends were so great, taking care of pretty much anything we needed.  A special shout out to Sara Tawil Hermanson who really went above and beyond.  Also to Barrett Spraggings, Rob Donald, and Oliver Davidson who travelled great lengths just to show their support; it was much appreciated.

Now, over twelve months later, things are not nearly as dire.  In fact, they are not dire at all.  Jackson is happy and healthy and the light of our life.  Our family and friends are still a great help and we are still eternally grateful.  In business, the quote is anything is possible with time and money.  In life, the quote should be anything is possible with love, a great family, caring friends, a top-ranked hospital nearby, a little money, a great nanny, and hope.  Or maybe just anything is possible with love.  Let’s go with that.Expanda SeatHarnessEaster 2013Jackson Suit


10 responses to “An Anniversary to Forget

  1. I was fortunate enough to meet your little man on Sunday while your mom was watching him! She brought him over so my mom, my kids, and I could meet him! What an amazing family you have…I even got a few adorable smirks out of him!!!

  2. Yes, Aunt Jane read it. You two are an amazing couple. I don’t think I had read of your reactions to the diagnosis. I know my reaction. I cried as George held me and he prayed for all of us. There isn’t a day that goes by that Jackson isn’t on our hearts as well as the entire family. We are so thankful for the help you have received and for the sustenance you have recei ved. Jackson is a fortunate guy to have such loving family. We love you. Aunt Jane & George

  3. Perhaps this anniversary was not the best in your life but you gave life to Jackson and you are giving him hope. That is a great gift. You are special parents and he is a special little boy. You both are amazing and hopefully God will always give strength to go on. Prayers and special thoughts are always with you. God bless for your special challenge in your life.

  4. It’s always great to read this blog and see the pictures you post. And you are right, I can see that Jackson is the light of your life. He’s a beautiful little boy and as Santina recently said to me, he is a true blessing. Best always.

  5. Jackson is leading you guys through a life of love and support. Love you all, Uncle Joe & Aunt Pam

  6. Maybe he is not the baby we expected, but definitely the one we all needed. Who wouldn’t want a child who rocks Harry Potter glasses and rarely cries?

  7. I love Jackson. I love you and Santina. Your message boards are so honest and I feel like I was there by your side. Then I realized, my heart has and still is with my family.

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