My Super Hero Wears A Cape Of Courage - Andrew's Angels
My Super Hero Wears A Cape Of Courage, A Smile That Melts Hearts And His “Special Shoes” Every Day!
My super hero is our (just turned) 6-year-old son, Andrew.
Andrew is our biggest blessing…and best teacher…in this world. He teaches his parents important lessons every day. Lessons like: not to take for granted your talents and abilities; how to be patient when you are really frustrated; how to be an AMAZING friend to all who will let you —- and many more.
… and Andrew has cerebral palsy.
His “special shoes” are what we call the devices that he wears on his leg and feet to strengthen his leg, stretch his feet and provide sensory feedback to his brain. My super hero wears some cool looking special shoes!
After many years of MANY doctors not knowing exactly what “it” was (and therefore inaccurately putting his issues under the umbrella diagnosis of “developmental delay”), Andrew was finally diagnosed with cerebral palsy one month before his 4th birthday. That was 2 years ago last month. Wow, what an incredible journey the last 2 years have been! It has been a scary, humbling, informative, difficult, empowering and mostly BLESSED journey. I want to share it with all of you as we REALLY want our path, our son’s journey, to make that of others easier.
More than anything, this journey with Andrew has taught us to step FAR beyond our comfort zone in all areas…and then watch the blessings and miracles unfold! Having faith that positive things WILL happen, when we had absolutely no idea HOW, has been an incredible teacher as well.
We tried helping Andrew through the typical “western medicine” route where you go to the mainstream doctor and take the typical prescriptions, etc. That route is paid for by insurance. That route we have been raised with and understand. However, even though we were taking Andrew to the “top docs” in our area, Andrew was getting WORSE!
His gastrointestinal (GI) functioning was not at all normal and was our biggest concern and prayer. His GI system was so “broken”…even after YEARS of seeing the top pediatric GI doctors in the area…that Andrew had to be in diapers at age 4 and weighing nearly 50 lbs because it was impossible to potty train him. His tummy hurt ALL the time and we were heartbroken, frustrated and desperate for RELIEF for Andrew.
At the urging of some friends who had been in similar “desperate” places with their own family’s serious medical needs, we took Andrew to a M.D. who only practices homeopathic medicine. The doctor is a reported “pioneer” in the field and that office visit was unlike any I had ever attended. It was not weird or scary…just different. To start with, he LISTENED A LOT…and for a long time. His methods were different and I still don’t understand all of the testing he does completely, but I have seen first hand that what he is doing provides positive results. He is the doctor who diagnosed Andrew with cerebral palsy (FINALLY! A real diagnosis at the age of 4!) and he is the doctor we still see very regularly today.
The homeopathic M.D. sent us directly to another NON-mainstream doctor. This one is a craniopath — a chiropractor with many years of additional training in how to do cranial sacral work. We see him every week. Andrew used to “toe walk” and within 8 visits to the craniopath, Andrew was walking flat footed for the 1st time in his life and continues to do so today!! FINALLY…RELIEF…and progress!
All of this was a HUGE step out of our comfort zone. To add to that, these treatments are considered “alternative” by the insurance industry and therefore not covered…at all! We live on the very modest salary of an Arizona school teacher (teachers are paid very low in our state) of Andrew’s father. I, Andrew’s mother, a mental health therapist/social worker for children and families by trade, had to leave the workforce to meet Andrew’s needs and demanding schedule of medical and therapy appointments. As you can imagine, I sat in the doctor’s office that 1st visit weeping at the shock of the diagnosis….and even more so at the fear of the underlying questions of, “How are we going to pay for this? How are we going to help our son?”
Andrew’s GI issues improved through the care of these two doctors, but not to the degree necessary. Therefore, the doctors recommended that Andrew get adult (NOT fetal) stem cell and hyperbaric oxygen treatments. I was told by the doctors that, “The best stem cell doctor in the country is in California and you need to take Andrew to him.” I was also told that these treatments would cost many thousands of dollars and again, insurance won’t pay for this. Again, I was left weeping (on the inside this time) and thinking, “How are we going to pay for this? How are we going to help our son?”
ENTER FAITH, God’s plan in all of this and MANY amazing people and blessings along the way!
Update ~ Aug. 2015:
Fast forward several years…my husband is still a teacher in Arizona. He works 3 teaching jobs (1 F/T and 2 P/T) to pay our bills and toward Andrew’s medical treatments (so that I can “stay home” and meet Andrew’s needs and demanding schedule). Our bills for Andrew’s medical care are still extensive…and EXPENSIVE. We now pay an average of $900 per MONTH out of pocket for Andrew’s day-to-day medical care and many thousands of dollars for a once a year trip to California for many weeks for the adult stem cell and hyperbaric oxygen treatments. Unfortunately, ongoing fundraising efforts are necessary for Andrew to continue to improve.
After the 1st adult stem cell treatment, Andrew’s GI system was FIXED! That was our biggest prayer! After the 2nd one, his left arm started working naturally. The 3rd and 4th treatments gave Andrew increased physical strength, better coordination and improvements in his speech. The 4th treatment also helped Andrew’s left (affected side) foot to become much straighter, which helped him not to fall nearly as much. We are excited to see what the 5th summer of treatments that he just finished will do for Andrew! Andrew has had both umbilical cord stem cells (from healthy, full term babies) and bone marrow stem cell transplants from his own hip. Both of these methods have produced progress for Andrew. All of these improvements have significantly improved Andrew’s quality of life!
Andrew is now 8 1/2 and he is THRIVING! Andrew continues to see a Homeopathic M.D. and Craniopath frequently. He has a doctor, therapy or physical improvement appointment 4 to 5 times a week…sometimes more. Thanks to generous scholarships, Andrew participates in gymnastics and wrestling classes each week (with some extra assistance when needed in wrestling from “Volunteer Assistant Coach Daddy”). Oh…and those “special shoes” … well, they are GONE now! :) Andrew no longer needs to wear his AFO (leg brace) on his leg during the day due to all the improvements! He only wears braces at night to stretch his muscles.
We praise God for all the healing and have deep gratitude for each and every person who has come alongside us the last 5 years with prayers and financial donations to provide Andrew with these treatments! When you see Andrew running, climbing, riding a bike WITHOUT training wheels and much more…please know that YOU have a very critical role in that happening!
We are blessed that a local charity called the Cerebral Palsy Hope Foundation has extended their offer to accept donations specifically for Andrew’s medical treatments at this time (and into the foreseeable future). That means that there is a TAX DEDUCTIBLE way for any person, family or business to donate for Andrew’s medical care! Donors get a tax write off — Andrew gets further HEALING of his brain and body! A Win-Win for sure! Please see the “How To Help” tab for ways to help Andrew heal…in a tax deductible manner! Businesses who donate will get printed recognition in several visible places as well!
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