April 11, 2005
Day two. We were told to wear clothes that we would wear to work. So Damon looked like he was going to school everyday and I looked...presentable. I was a stay at home mom so my go to clothes were leggings and a sweatshirt. Our attorneys would explain to us what would happen that day. Experts they would call. Just keeping us in the mix. Really, we just sat there and listened. We really had no part in these first two days. Day three would be our time.
We had our friend/pediatrician take the stand. He was great. He was there at her birth. I remember him coming into my recovery room with Damon. It was 7:00 at night and I still had not seen Lizzy. She was born at 9:00 that morning. Damon shut the tv off and sat down in the chair in the corner of the room and put his head in his hands. Dr. Key sat on my bed and took my hand. He told me that there was nothing more they could do for her here at this hospital and that she needed to be transported to the children’s hospital. I had no idea that there was anything wrong. I cried and begged to see her before she left. They rolled in this tube with her in it. They opened it up and I was able to touch her toe. I would hold her three days later.
Damon coached his son in basketball. However, there was a time when he had to make a tough medical decision with us, and it was painful.
Lizzy had a well baby check up with Dr. Key. She was three months old. He did the normal checks with her. Weigh, height, head circumference, and asked how she was with her seizure medicine. The only side effect was that she was a lethargic baby. Phenobarbital is a strong seizure medicine and I hate it. The hospital needed to stop her seizures at birth and that is what they started her on. She would come off in a few months because she was showing no development. Her check up was uneventful and we left. A week later I get a call from the neurologist that saw her at the children’s hospital. It was after school when I got the call from him. He sounded panicked. He told me that he received her latest cat scan of her brain and she was bleeding. She had a cat scan at birth and follow up one in late December. He told me to get to children’s hospital immediately. My heart began pumping so fast and I was just crying. I scooped baby girl up and strapped her in the Astro van and we headed to the high school. Damon was in basketball practice and he saw me walk in and ran towards me. I told him what the neurologist told me and we left. We get to the children’s hospital in a panic. Oddly, no one else was. Her doctor was not there and we waited an hour to get a room. The whole situation just got weird. When we finally got a room for her, a nurse would come in here and there and check on her. Lizzy was calm and happy. So we stayed overnight because they told us to. They said the ophthalmologist would be in the next day. The ophthalmologist? Isn’t that an eye doctor? The next morning, the ophthalmologist came in to examine Lizzy. Told us she has some visual defects and gave us a referral to see a local eye doctor. This was the first that we knew of any disabilities with her. They he said “I don’t see any tears (not watery), and the cornea looks fine.” Crickets in the room. “Um, what?” I was confused. Then he just left the room. The next person to walk into the room almost made me vomit. She introduced herself as a social worker for the county. I just about lost it. What was happening here? As she examined Lizzy, she just stopped and her head dropped. She says that she is done and that she feels bad even walking into our room today. She said she was so sorry. We are a loving couple with a beautiful baby and she knows that we haven’t abused her. Now I could have lost it but felt grateful for her. She was gentle and kind with us. But, honestly, I was still confused why she was even there. We were discharged immediately after she left.
We followed up with Dr. Key a few days later and this is where he dropped the bomb. When we had seen him for her well baby check up, he measured her head. Finding that it had grown very little since birth, he was concerned. He called her neurologist and discussed her latest cat scan. Her neurologist assumed that she was being abused. Dr. Key told him he knows that that was not true but as a physician, he was legally responsible to report it. I was in tears at this point. Damon’s jaw had dropped open about two seconds into Dr. Key opening his mouth. Dr. Key was just heartbroken he had to do this. When he spoke with the neurologist he told him to get this done quick, rip it off like a band-aid. Lizzy was admitted for protective custody. They were watching us interact with her. He apologized then went on to explain the “bleeding on the brain” cat scans. Lizzy had a scan at birth. There were no issues and her brain look normal. Her late December 1999 scans showed a different brain. One that had shrunk and pulled blood vessels. Her brain at birth was swollen from the trauma and the swelling had gone down in these three months and caused bleeding from the pulling of the blood vessels. I could use medical words but won’t. This is when she was diagnosed with microcephaly. Which is a rare neurological condition in which the head is smaller than other normal heads.
April 11, 2000
Dr. Key was a great expert witness. He made us feel great, telling the jury what kind of parents we were. That our families go to church together and that Damon was a great teacher and coach. Then the defense would try to discredit everything by digging up “dirt” on us. There was none but they tried. For example, after I had Emily in 2002, I took a break from Lizzy’s therapies. Just for a few weeks. They tried to say a good mother wouldn’t have taken a break. I won’t lie, I felt a little bad taking a break after hearing that but it was four years ago at that point so I moved on.
This is how it would go for the day. We would have witnesses take the stand and the defense would refer back to their depositions and try to make them slip up. Tomorrow would be hard. Damon and I would take the stand. How do you prepare for that? You don’t.