Sam. Conqueror. Overcomer.

On the 15th May 2009, Samuel Christian made his way into this world...two month's premature and in severe respiratory distress. Within hours, Sam was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome - a very rare congenital disorder, of which little was known. The diagnosis together with the immediate challenges Sam faced to thrive became our core focus and it was with joy and thankfulness that we eventually brought Sam home, after nine weeks in the NICU.

As time pressed on, it became obvious that Sam's development was falling behind that of his RTS peers. Shortly before his 5th birthday Sam underwent a brain scan and it was confirmed by a paediatric neurologist that in addition to Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, Sam also has Cerebral Palsy related to his premature birth, as well as Autism.

This blog chronicles our journey through these challenges...
Our world has crashed, been blown apart.
This can't be happening....why us? Why now?
Your fragile life shaken before it could barely start,
How do we get through this...please, Lord, tell us how?

Drowning in our sorrow, waiting for answers that just don't come.
Our baby "special needs"? It simply can't be true!
The heartache overwhelms us, we're left feeling cold and numb.
The diagnosis tells us little - these children are so few.

But then we finallyget to touch you, to see your precious face
And all the heartache and questions fade, replaced with love and pride.
It's obvious from the very start you're showered in God's grace,
And with His love and guidance, we'll take this challenge in stride.

When once we couldn't pronounce it, Rubinstein-Taybi's become our norm.
When once the future seemed dark, we now welcome the journey as having an RTS angel brings lessons in unexpected form.

Our world has crashed, been blown apart!
This IS us.....right now!
We've been blessed with a gift, so precious from the very start. How do we get through this? Here's how.....
By believing in a God, so merciful and great,
By trusting that He's right beside us as we journey through the narrow gate.
By believing His love for us is not determined by a human frame,
By trusting that we draw Him near by merely calling His name. This precious baby we asked God for,
Prayed he'd be perfect and complete.
And, as Samuel means "God hears", He's laid His answer at our feet.

(Nicky de Beer : 27/05/2010)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Special" Connections

Earlier on this week a friend and ex-colleague and I connected up on Facebook. I glanced briefly at our "mutual friends" expecting to see only people we had both worked with several years ago. Surprise is not an adequate-enough word to explain my reaction at seeing a completely unexpected friend, Lloyd Tooke, daddy to Sam's RTS brother Matt Tooke . Those of you familiar with our RTS community will know there are not many people around who can say they know an RTS family, let alone one single person being able to boast at knowing not just one, but two RTS families...purely out of randomness, without having met the one through the other. Awesome! After a super brief catch-up we discovered yet another "special" connection, Alan and his wife, Carien, have a very special angel of their own...Catherine Jamie Harcombe. Jamie, as she is known, has Down's Syndrome and at the tender young age of just four months has already endured a major heart operation as well as another surgery just days later to remedy the build-up of fluid surrounding the heart, which surgeries has left her mom and dad with an almost impossibly outrageous medical bill, for which they are receiving no assistance from their medical insurers. Please go have a look at Jamie's webpage to read more about the Harcombe's plight...and go ahead, make a donation....I dare ya!

Life here in Smurfville continues much as it has over the past few weeks...we are in the middle of Meghan's final exams for which the studying, I had thought, was going to go pretty amicably. But alas, even though she was super-enthusiastic about studying for all the revision tests for which she got mostly fullmarks or just one or two incorrect answers, the studying for the actual exams is proving (for some odd reason) to be so much more troublesome for Meg. As I sit typing this, it is pouring with rain outside as Spring battles to uphold a permanent presence here in Cape Town although I am pretty certain that in just a month or two's time I will be complaining about the Summer heat.

As for our Sam, he is still protesting solidly against his physio sessions and, quite often now, his occupational therapy sessions as well. Speech therapy is going remarkably well, mostly due to Tanya's quick-as-a-flash movements when she "sneaks" a subtle speech prompt in while Sam plays. I haven't quite got the hang of it yet and first try and maneauver Sam into an easily-receptive position, then have to co-ordinate my fingers into the required position and then slowly "go in" for the actual contact on Sam's which time Sam has seen me coming from a mile. Luckily though Sam's defensiveness is much less-guarded with me so even though I sometimes have to repeat the prompt once or twice before I get it right, he's actually quite tolerant. Sam's eating habits stay pretty much unchanged, we're still predominantly on Stage 2 baby food. Sam has seemed to warm up to his slightly-distorted notion that whatever is on our plate is guaranteed to be tastier than what is in his bowl. The amusing part is that often we are eating the same thing! His sleeping is still as disruptive as always and Chris is almost convinced by now that Sam has restless leg syndrome as he tosses, turns and thrashes around literally the whole night. I am not convinced that it is not some kind of spin-off of something that is happening with that right testicle. Either way, I can count on one hand the number of nights over the past few months that Sam has slept through without me having to get up sometimes as regularly as every 20 minutes to re-settle him...but I've blogged about this before, so let's just leave it at that ;)

Chris and I are battling to decide on a Christmas pressie for Sam, who is unable to provide us with a detailed, in-order-of-wanted value list, approximately four month's in Meghan has done. We've considered buying him a walker, but he frightens even when walking with one of us holding his torso, which is a great deal more secure than a walker - so the walker is out. He already has several educational, noise-making toys of which most can hold his attention for a maximum of about two minutes. Ride-on's are definitely out as the one we bought him for his birthday is only good for being pushed by a crawling Sam, he refuses to actually sit on it let alone ride on it. The chances are by the time he's conquered his sensory issues enough to actually enjoy such a toy, his little legs will be too long for it anyway. We'll have to put a great deal more thought into this one, without forgetting that Christmas presents this year are largely going to depend on our ever-so-giving South African Revenue Services who recently advised us that we have to pay in an amount of R15,000.00 for incorrectly claiming medical costs for a child with disabilities.

But there is awesome news, folks! According to SARS and contrary to the belief and advices of many specialists and doctors who have obviously wasted their hard-earned degress (nevermind the living proof of actual RTS patients)  - Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome is NOT permanent. Yes, you read approximately five years Samuel is going to be cured and will be a "normal" boy because, according to SARS, RTS is not a permanent disability. How amazing is that? In five years time Sam is going to walk and talk and be potty trained and eat normal food and have magically-straightened thumbs and feet, no red mark on his forehead....none of that at all (mmm...wonder if those tiny little indentations/holes behind the back of his ears will also disappear). Well, with news like this, who needs Christmas presents, right! Let's hear a Whoop! Whoop! for SARS.

On that slightly-disturbing note.....a random pic of a smurf wearing a smurf!

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