Patrick is our miracle child. When I was pregnant with him, I had an ultrasound that appeared normal. We couldn’t see anything wrong with him at all. After he was born, they saw that he had one club foot. They didn’t tell me right away, but they told Gary about it in the nursery. I just had a feeling, so I asked him if everything was all right with his body. He told me about the club foot. I was upset, but he said the nurses told him that an orthopedist would wrap the foot several times since he would grow so fast, and I would have to soak off several casts, but the foot would straighten after we did this and everything would be fine. I was still disappointed that there was anything wrong with my baby, but I wasn’t terribly distraught. The next morning my ob-gyn came in to do the circumcision. He came rushing into my room and blurted out, “I’m not going to do a circumcision on your baby!” I was taken aback. He looked like he was frightened and worried. I wondered what could make him react that way. Was my baby some kind of monster or something? I asked why and he got a piece of paper and started drawing a picture of the male part and where the hole is supposed to be and where the hole was on my baby’s. He then explained that he was leaving the foreskin intact so that a surgeon later on could use it to reconstruct and put the hole where it was supposed to be. I couldn’t believe all of this was happening to MY baby. And then he said, “There’s something else…” I was afraid to ask what that could be.
He said that my baby couldn’t move his arms. He said that for some reason he didn’t move his arms in the womb and they didn’t grow right, so that he couldn’t bend them at the elbows and he couldn’t move them much at all. That did it. I started crying. He gave me a hug. Then he just got up and walked away. I was alone. I didn’t have anybody to share my grief with. Gary had taken our other two children home and was there with them. I called him to tell him the news I had just received. When he answered he told me that both of the kids were sick and so was he. I went ahead and told him and cried, and he was stunned. He couldn’t say anything. I think he got ten times sicker when I gave him the news. I told him I needed him to come. He didn’t know if he could. What about the kids? I about got hysterical on him. He said he would get Mom to watch the kids and come as soon as he could. I called Mom and told her what was happening. She started praying for his healing right then and there. I got up and took a shower and cried and asked God why he let this happen to my baby. I was very careful when I was pregnant. I never took any kind of medicine except thyroid medicine that the doctor insisted that I take. I couldn’t understand how God would let something like this happen to me when I had always been faithful to Him. I have always served Him and loved Him and kept Him at the center of my life from the time I was a young girl. I had a good cry, and then the Lord started to fill my heart with faith. I started proclaiming that I would believe for Patrick’s healing and that God would be glorified through this testimony of His healing power.
Word got around among the people in our church, and the pastor and his wife came to see me and several other people did, too. Gary finally got there, and he looked awful. He was sick in body and soul. He just collapsed in a chair and didn’t say much or move at all. He was too miserable to even try to comfort me. Nobody knew what to do for him. The friends from church tried to comfort me with words of sympathy and offers of help. I started proclaiming to them that God was going to heal Patrick, and that God was going to use him to show His power and that I was willing to be used in that way. They looked at me kind of skeptically, and I could tell that they felt sorry for me and thought I was going off the deep end. But I knew what I was saying, and I knew that God was going to heal him.
A pediatrician came to talk to me and told me all of the terrible possibilities for my son. She told me that he had something called arthrogryposis. She said that I would become intimately acquainted with a physical therapist and an orthopedist. She said that Patrick may never be able to walk or feed himself or take care of his own grooming. She gave me the most doom and gloom scenario possible. I wanted to throw her out the window. Later, she gave me even more reason to want to do that.
She told me I had to bring him to her office the day after I brought him home from the hospital for PKU and other things. My mom was so discombobulated that she didn’t think about me driving so soon after delivering a baby, so she stayed at my house with my other 2 kids, and I drove Patrick to the doctor myself. Nobody was thinking too clearly right then. At my first appointment in her office, this lovely pediatrician told me which immunizations I needed to give my baby. I told her that I didn’t do immunizations any more after researching it and coming to the conclusion that the possible side effects were worse than taking the chance of ever contracting the diseases. She looked at me with the most patronizing look and said that the next time I came in she would sit me down and give me a good talking-to about the benefits of immunization. At a time like that when I was so concerned about my baby and this condition called arthrogryposis and what that was going to mean for Patrick and for me, she wanted to sit me down and lecture me about shots! I couldn’t believe her insensitivity.
I did what they told me to do, apart from the shots. I took Patrick to the orthopedist. They wrapped his foot every week. I had to soak the cast off and take him back for a new one every week for the first 6 weeks of Patrick’s life. Then Dr. Albert did surgery on him and did his best to straighten the foot and loosen the heel cord. He told me after the surgery that normally that would take care of a foot like that, but the arthrogryposis might cause complications. He said that the fibrous tissue made it hard to do the cutting that he needed to do but that he did his best and we would have to wait and see how it turned out.
They also told me that I had to take him to an occupational therapist to help him bend his elbows and move his arms. The occupational therapist was another one whose bedside manner seemed to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. She tried to force me to do things with him like feed him solid food before I judged that he was ready for it because she wanted him to have motivation to put his hand to his mouth. She really was trying to get him to do things that he needed to do, but she had no regard for my opinions or desires for my child. She acted like my other two children were a nuisance and didn’t want me to bring them to the appointments. I was already having to leave them way more often than I wanted to, and I wasn’t going to make them feel like they didn’t matter or that Patrick was going to get all the attention from now on and they were just pushed aside. So I brought them anyway.
I had to fight the hospital people all the time. They didn’t like my ways of doing things, but I didn’t like theirs, either. I nursed Patrick, so he didn’t take a bottle. The therapist wanted me to have him take a bottle so that he would have to bend his elbows to feed himself. Not happening. I nurse all my babies. We just had to find other ways to get him to put his hands to his mouth. I knew that God was healing him all along, too. I wasn’t scared that he was not going to make the proper progress before it was too late, because I knew that with God, all things are possible. She tried lots of different things and taught me how to bend his elbows and supinate them, and I did therapy on him at home. At one appointment she said she thought he had plateaued on the range of motion of his elbows. She didn’t think he was going to make any more gains. He was at about 90° with his right elbow and a little less with his left. I was glad to hear that. I wasn’t going to take him to any more appointments with those rude, pushy people. I was going to continue doing therapy on him myself and praying for a complete healing for him. We had people at lots of different churches praying for him. We prayed for him every day.
He was the sweetest, happiest baby I ever saw. When he was in the hospital for one of the surgeries, I felt so bad for him. He just took everything in stride. He didn’t deserve any of this. After the first surgery on his foot, he spiked a really high fever after I took him home. I took him to the pediatrician right away. They got the fever down. They told me I had to bring him back in two days. After he was home, he was fine. I knew he was fine, so I called and canceled the appointment. That pediatrician called me and said that I HAD to bring him in to be seen, no matter what. I took him, but it was very inconvenient and unnecessary, and I was very unhappy about it. When I took him into the examining room, she could tell by looking at him that he was fine. She said, “Oh, he’s a different child!” I thought she meant I had brought another child to her. I was still not thinking too clearly at that point. But I was so indignant that she would never trust my judgment about anything.
Needless to say, I changed pediatricians after that. I don’t have much use for them any more. I know when my child is sick, and I know how to treat them. I know that I don’t have to rush them to an expert every time they have a sniffle. My husband is a really good “Dr. Daddy”. We only go to the doctor when something hangs on for a long time and we just can’t beat it, or something is out of our league. We trust the Lord to take care of us and keep us well, and He has. We pray for each other for healing when we get sick, and the Lord heals us.
Patrick was a little daredevil from the time he could crawl. He would often sit in a little chair, then stand up and just drop straight down to the floor. With his arm and elbow problems, I was always afraid he would land on his face. But he caught himself with his arms every time. He learned to do all of the developmental milestones right on time. He learned to ride a bike at a younger age than my other kids did. Not only that, he did stunts! He was an amazing little guy. He compensated for the lack of range of motion of his elbows and fed himself, combed his hair, brushed his teeth, and did everything else he needed to do. He didn’t even know there was anything different about him. I was glad I could homeschool him, because he didn’t have to be exposed to insensitive questions from other kids or adults very often. He grew up like any normal kid. Because he was a normal kid, and he is a normal person.
He did start to notice as he got older that things were really heavy for him, and he had a hard time lifting them. That bothered him. Last year, he started going to the YMCA and doing some weight training with his dad and brother. He is developing some nice biceps (which the doctor said he didn’t have much of) and triceps and whatever other muscles you have in the upper arms. His forearms were already built up because he used them a lot throughout his life. Then he started working with a Bo staff. I wondered how he would do with that. I am amazed at how well he can swing it around. He has even more flexibility in his elbows than he used to have. He is getting more strength and building bigger muscles all the time. And God is healing him more and more. He has done a gradual healing of Patrick’s body.
He is far from handicapped, and God gets all the glory for it. The dire predictions of that pediatrician did not come to pass. Patrick knows Who has healed Him, and now He is getting to know His Healer personally.
I videotaped Patrick working his Bo staff. If it looks like it’s in slow motion, it won’t show the impressiveness of what he can do. When I first uploaded it, the staff moved so fast that it looked like he was swinging eight or more staffs. I don’t know if the bandwidth affects the speed, but believe me, he swings that thing fast! I hope it works at the right speed for you, so that you can be awed by what the Lord has done for my son. Try to watch it at a time of day when the Internet is not very busy, and maybe you’ll be able to see what he can really do.
He learned how to wield this staff by reading a book!
For more of Patrick’s story and what God taught me through all of this read this post.