Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life Went On So We Moved On

I usually don't talk about what happened after we brought Lizzy home. The reason may be that I don't get to time to talk about it or maybe I don't want to remember it. Either way, I have time and reason now:-)

We brought Lizzy home thinking she was a normal baby. We were told that she needed to be on medicine to control her seizures. That's it. So she was on an anti-convulsant medicine that made her very lethargic. She would just stare at lights, had horrible acid reflux, and wouldn't smile for sometime.  I loved taking her out, it made me feel like a real momma. Holding her, rocking her, walking her, and having people fall all over her. Lizzy was a beautiful baby. C-section full term baby. Perfect. While she was staying at the children's hospital, she had every test known to man. One of those tests was an MRI of her brain. It came back normal. They wanted a follow up MRI a month later. No problem there. We scheduled a three month check up for her at the pediatrition. I was excited for these because I loved seeing how much she had grown. They did the normal checks....weight, height, head circumference, etc. Lizzy's pediatrition was a friend of ours and said everything looked good!

Almost a week later, I get a phone call at home from the neurologist at the children's hospital telling me that her brain is bleeding and that we need to get to the hospital in Columbia as soon as possible. He sounded very serious. I immediately began to cry and without any sensitivity the doctor asked me when I would be there. I gather some things for Lizzy and we drive to the high school where Damon is having basketball practice. I tell him about the phone call and we are immediately on the road for the next 45 minutes. We get to the hospital and we wait for an hour for a room. By this point, Damon was determined that Lizzy was fine and wasn't hurting.

We stayed in the hospital for two days. We were told that the some of her brain was missing, something was eating her brain (my personal favorite), and that she would be a vegetable the rest of her life. The pediatric neurosurgeon. So smart. So educated. Zero bedside manner. It was at this point, I was like....so I don't have a normal baby? 

Bottom line? Lizzy was put in the hospital under protective custody. They watched Damon and I with her all day. With the first hospital MRI, her brain was normal. No it wasn't. Her brain was swollen so it looked normal. By the time the follow up MRI took place, the swelling had gone down. However, when that happened, blood vessels were torn and bleeding occurred. This is where we looked like we had hurt Lizzy and the reason for protective custody. Horrible experience but it was then we knew that Lizzy has some needs. She would never be labeled with CP however.

Within a few months we were set up with occupational, vision, speech, and physical therapies. Lizzy was placed on medicaid. Her first opthamologist appointment was discouraging. We then knew why she loved the lights so much. Lizzy couldn't see and would be labeled legally blind.

Adjusting to this new way of life was a bit difficult. I felt different from every mom. I was beginning to wonder if this was going to be my life. I was teaching at the time and was talking after school one day to a friend of mine (teacher also), Debbie Sweat. She asked me if I ever thought of getting Lizzy's records from the hospital? I am so blessed that God placed her in my life at that time. So thankful! So I retrieved my records from the hospital. It took about 4 weeks.

I came home with the records and told Damon I wanted to contact an attorney. He immediately said no. We went back and forth for a few hours and told him I was doing it anyway. I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach and it was telling me to do it. So I called a local attorney, who connected us with a well known attorney that dealt with.........gulp........medical malpractice lawsuits. The next five years would prove to be the most challenging years of our marriage. Depositions, meetings, having another baby, caring for Lizzy, teaching, Damon getting his national board certification, and eventually me stepping away from teaching.  From the moment I made the phone call to the attorney, I KNEW I was doing the right thing. I just knew it.

About five months before we were to go to court for the trial, we received a letter from our attorney's office. Out of no where, they decided that Lizzy's condition was because of abuse and they are dropping our case! I was devastated. After reading the letter, Damon looked at me and said, "it's over Lis...... it's over." Over? I cried. How can we come all this way for nothing? For the second time in my life, I was angry with God.

I was so angry. I called that attorney and told them to depose everyone that EVER had contact with Lizzy. I told them that this isn't over and to keep working on it. I was THE  mother of Lizzy and it ain't over! Within the week they received a call back from an OB expert that shed some light on what he think happened.

In April 2005, we went to court to fight for Lizzy. We had jurors, witnesses, experts, a judge, everything that you see on television. It was real. It was scary. The jury took two hours to decide that abuse did not play a role in her condition and that the hospital and doctor were negligent.  It was a warm and sunny Thursday afternoon when we left the courthouse. We met some of the jurors crying and telling us that they were so sorry and wishing us the best.

The burden was lifted from us that day. We will be able to care for Lizzy and have her with us for the rest of her life. We would eventually have a house built with a wing just for her. She loves her ball pit so much and it's so therapeutic. It has 8,000 balls in it and entertains Lizzy for a period of time. Seeing Lizzy happy makes us happy.

So now you know. When and how did you realize Lizzy was a child with special needs? What prompted us to demand accountability with those involved in Lizzy's birth? We are an open book when it comes to Lizzy.

Remember when I said I was good with God? I am good with God because God is good.

God bless!

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