It was July 2007 when I was left feeling of isolated and afraid.
Brendon, my 22-month-old son, was diagnosed three months earlier with a perinatal stroke causing lasting effects, some that would take years to unfold and understand.
Completely blindsided and blown away by the new found awareness that strokes do, can, and will happen to babies, even unborn, and children, I began to desperately search for knowledge about how to help my young child. Obtaining the diagnosis, in and of itself, was a desperate struggle.
Now what do I do in this race against time? I felt that we had already lost 19 precious months.
It was a mistake to think that once we got a diagnosis answers and treatments would fall into place. So I took the diagnosis and started to inquire about what to do, where to turn, how to help Brendon, who deserves the very best life possible - as does every young precious child.
Door after door was slammed in my face. My loved ones felt overwhelmed by me, or they didn't fully comprehend the extent to what I was dealing with. My husband, Brendon’s father, was in denial.
It was only after Brendon took an eye-opening, unexpected turn backwards when I was finally able to prove that this was serious!
You couldn’t see his damaged brain from the outside. What you did see were his beautiful big blue eyes, his huge soft blond curls and his captivating smile.
You didn't look at Brendon and see the big black spot on the left side of his brain and the blood vessels that filled in the void. When I saw my child’s brain scan it elicited feelings deep from within my gut as if I were looking a swollen battered and bruised picture of his beautiful face. I cried every time I looked at it or thought of it for years.
When a child one day can't walk because of the pain he was enduring in his right leg, from a growth spurt, and all you hear is him screaming and crying, you take a stance. You vow to do everything you can to help your child.
I took it a step further and vowed to do everything I could (and can) to never let this happen to anyone else's child and to do everything possible to keep other parents from feeling confused, helpless and vulnerable.
I decided, with the support of my husband, Stephen, that we needed to celebrate Brendon's life, not take this stroke our precious baby endured in vain. Also, we needed do everything we can to make it known that this happens to so very many humans in the perinatal phase of life, aka in utero, during birth, and within 30 days after. Some experts have shared that that a stroke happens more at this age than in any other time of a person's life.
Sharing and teaching others about pediatric strokes is simply empowering!
I went from powerless to empowered, and along the way, Brendon and I have helped countless people.
Everyone can do their own part…no act is ever too small!