Mason is two and a half years old. Like me, he was born with cerebral palsy. Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) to be more specific. It means Mason experienced oxygen deprivation to his brain. We were introduced through our chiropractor and his mom. After 36 years of life, it was my first time sitting down with someone else who has cerebral palsy. It was also the first time talking with a parent of someone with CP. There was little hesitation about meeting with Mason and his mom. Our chiropractor, who has been adjusting me for years, has also become a trusted friend. So, when the idea came about, it was simple to believe in his inclination. The idea seemed to include helping Jessica with my perspective of living with cerebral palsy. Meeting someone else who faces similar challenges was my motivation. There was also curiosity around learning Mason’s story from the start. Maybe having the opportunity to tell some of it. The story of my early years seems slightly clouded, so learning his could also teach me more about mine. Plus, making new friends is always good.
An email connection was first to be established. It contained information around the birth of Mason. Terms that weren’t familiar to me, caused some research before meeting the little man. The medical jargon felt overwhelming at first. Cerebral palsy naturally hits close to home and information could become startling. The simple Google searches pertaining to Mason’s birth did peak interest. One of the factors coming to mind was just how much technology has progressed. There is much more that can be done today in helping a child who experiences brain damage around their birth. Mason was placed on a Cool Cap system eight hours after he was born. Designed for brain cooling, while maintaining the core temperature, it helps reduce the severity of neurological injury associated with HIE. He was placed on the system for 72 hours. It’s probably safe to say, the technology advancement producing this system helped reduce the severity of Mason’s cerebral palsy.
Learning more about Mason before meeting him. The communication went on explaining his immediate start of motor therapy. Mason’s parents were told he had significant brain damage after performing an MRI. Doctors were concerned he may never be able to walk, talk, or feed himself. My parents were warned of similar concerns not long after my birth. Yet another thing Mason and I share in common. After being notified of the concerning future, Mason went straight to work. It feels strange to refer to a toddler as being a hard worker, Jessica wrote in the email, but that’s exactly what he is. Going from birth, into the NICU, then discharging from a hospital into motor therapy isn’t anything we would wish on a child. However, these first couple years of Mason’s life have made him a fighter. Someone who has learned through sheer determination not to give up. How many people learn those things before the age of three…
The hard work Mason has put in was immediately obvious. It wasn’t easy to tell something was different. The little guy seemed to move about with curiosity similar to other kids. He turned in toward his mom with the usual shyness of a child, as I said hello for the first time. Mason warmed up as time went on, by the end laughing and joking. His young smile already lighting up the small coffee shop. Mason’s younger brother was also part of our gathering. At nine months, his smile just as infectious. There was a difference in the movement patterns of the two little guys. Jessica commenting things just seem much easier for his younger brother. It was a relatable comment for me, as my brother is just two years younger as well. Throughout life things have simply been easier for my brother, as they will be for Mason’s younger brother. But, there’s nothing better than the blessing of having a brother with you. They help ease the burden in ways that cannot be described. It seems likely, his brother will do the same for him.
Some examples of the work in Mason’s life came up in conversation. Not only has he worked hard to improve cerebral palsy. But, his parents have been there with him. Already at 2, Mason can walk and talk. The movement patterns being developed through hard work. Jessica talking about literally moving his hand and legs for him. Doing so, while teaching her young boy how to crawl. The next step was learning to walk on his own, and he conquered that as well. He has been put through challenges his mother doesn’t know how she would take on. Already exemplifying his ability to inspire those around him. Mason has learned to ride a bike far ahead of the schedule doctors came up with. Who knows how many other milestones this little guy will achieve. He has developed the work ethic to achieve goals others have left in doubt.
Mason takes on the world, but thankfully he is not alone. The team of doctors around him help guide movements to improve his battle. His parents help while no one is watching. Doing their own research, trying to find ways for him to fight through the adversity. It seems most anything that might help is worth a shot. Which can lead down unforeseen paths. Chiropractic was something worth exploring. Working with a chiropractor has helped both Mason and myself. For him, starting at such a young age could only improve the benefits as he grows. Treatment with a chiropractic didn’t begin for me until my late 20’s. It has improved my CP symptoms, making life easier. Working with a chiropractor has also helped Mason’s movement patterns. Helping speed up his time table, accomplishing challenging milestones earlier than expected. The little guy was projected six months to learn the skill of riding a bike. He proceeded to accomplish the task in just two weeks. It’s quickly becoming apparent that he enjoys a challenge.
It was the first-time cerebral palsy brought someone into my life. Meeting others who face similar challenges has often caused me to shy away. This time felt different when being asked by the chiropractor who works with me. Dana thought it would be good for both of us to interact. His instincts where correct I thought, as we walked out of the coffee shop. The fall sun shining down with crisp cold air caused Jessica’s children to snuggle under a blanket. We planned to meet again in a few weeks. After the laughter of Thanksgiving and before the joy of Christmas. It would take time to process this first interaction of ours. Time for me to begin writing some thoughts and creating a post. Maybe the story of Mason triggers different things than my story. Or inspires and provides comfort to you. As our friendship grows, my hope is we can all gain something from Mason. He has already given to me in ways he probably won’t understand just yet. During this time of giving thanks, there seems unlimited amounts to go around. Our hour of coffee and conversation was a gift, maybe the beginning of an unforeseen journey.