A few days ago, Mark and I stepped out to grab a coffee while one of Theo’s nurses sat with him. When we returned, she and Theo’s OT (who was also huddled next to his bed) turned to us grinning. He smiled, she said. I skeptically looked at his OT who nodded in confirmation.
Theo smiled. Theo smiled. THEO SMILED!
Theo’s multiple cardiac arrests had left his brain deprived of oxygen for close to 30 minutes. The MRI, conducted five days after his arrests, revealed significant and global brain damage. We were given a range of possible interpretations for this, with each Neurologist aloofly providing a likely list of extrapolations for Theodore’s life: He will never be able to live independently. He will never have a meaningful life. He will never be able to smile. He will never be able to coordinate breathing on his own.
Children can surprise us, they added, as an insignificant afterthought. The brain is capable of regenerating itself, they added. But with the damage to Theodore’s brain, the probability of this happening is slim to none, they added.
At this time, Theo has limited neurological function. We are being told that based on clinical assessment, he is cerebrally blind, which means that his vision is normal but because of damage to his brain’s occipital cortex, the processing of visual information is impaired. His brain injury also means that he is susceptible to seizures, which could cause further brain damage. And, because of the necrosis to his limbs – which is causing him significant amount of pain – therapy, at this time, is limited.
But the probability of slim to none is enough for me to believe that there’s some hope. Theo didn’t fight his way back from death twice to stop fighting now.
Theo has been successfully breathing on his own for over a month now. And now, a smile! I have to believe that this is only the beginning for our little warrior.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to try to catch my little boy’s precious smile.