Saturday, June 18, 2016


Cerebral palsy. They were the words on his chart, translated from Chinese, a diagnosis based on observation of a 5 month-old found wrapped in a red blanket. He was three before he walked, and at 9 years old he would still struggle with steps and a steady gait.  His right hand would barely grip a pencil. But when we reviewed the thin file holding his medical history, things just didn't add up, and nine months later, this spikey haired boy would become our son.

When Milo joined our family in February, his physical therapist daddy continued to wonder about the inconsistencies. His muscles weren't spastic, they were flaccid, and the presentation of weakness was asymmetrical. Our first visits with a team of specialists in March left us with more questions than answers.

This week, we spent two more days at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Milo was delighted with the ultrasound images of his kidneys, charming the tech into letting him peek at his heart.

He passed an audiology work-up with flying colors, and surprised the nurse at his ophthalmology appointment as he tried to make words out of the strings of letters on his eye exam. X-rays of his hips were proudly shown to anyone who would look, and he made it through an unsedated, 40-minute MRI of his spine, with mama holding her breath for nearly the entirety.

As the results of his tests were collected and the neurodevelopmental/rehab team of doctors put their heads together, they invited one more doctor into the circle -- an infectious disease specialist.

We sat in the brightly lit exam room, Milo writing combinations of Chinese characters and English words on a white board. The doctor sat on a spinning stool and smiled wide. "The MRI gives us answers," she said.

Tears came, not because of his diagnosis, the word she would speak, but because his diagnosis was preventable.


My son had polio as an infant, in a country that supposedly had eradicated the disease. His limbs were ravaged, his life changed, by a disease that we can stop.

If you are reading this as a parent of young children, I am asking you today to pause. There are people passionate -- and loud -- in their feelings against vaccinating. But today, I am asking you to listen to Milo. He still believes there is a brace for his leg that will allow him to run like this brothers. And although he cannot lift both arms above his head, he longs to do the monkey-bars like his sisters. His life is forever altered by a preventable disease.

As my children's passports fill with stamps, so will their exposure to diseases that we falsely believe no longer pose a threat. Please consider carefully your decision about how to protect your children...and think of the gift of Milo's life.

1 comment:

turquoise said...

I'm so thankful that April Zimmerman gave me your blog address. And I bless you in the name of Jesus for bringing life and love and kindness and parenting and medical and dental and schooling to the children in your home. Thank you!!