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And The Lame Walk And The Blind See
by Anne Harrell
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Over the years as Cyndy grew taller and weighed more, walking became more challenged with her legs muscles weakening for her to walk without constantly falling down. She was incessantly in danger of getting hurt by falling into the walls or hitting corners of end tables or something with a sharp edge. As time went marching on, walking proved to be significantly harder for Cyndy to achieve at the same extent as when she was three to eight years old. When Cyndy came close to the age of eight, her height and weight seemed to have had a growth spurt causing her to have more trouble with being able to walk with out falling with her legs weaken tremendously. With the weakening of her legs being more noticeable added another problem that needed to be dealt with by her Doctors Garrison and White; they became extremely concern about Cyndy’s feet turning in more along with her legs being unstable. Neither of the two doctors or us wanted her to stop walking if it was all possible we wanted to keep her walking as long as possible.

In the sweltering days of summer of 1994, our doctors had us meet Dr. Sheldon St.Clair, an orthopedic specialist. When we were told about Dr. St Clair, we had heard many good things about him, being one of the tenderness, and caring doctors at the Children's Hospital of Kings Daughters. From other parents that we knew from the schools had told us we about some of the things he done to assist their children that were worst off then Cyndy, these parents seem to speak highly of him. When we met him, we saw what others had said about him being a very caring doctor that cared about each child that was placed before him. Dr. St. Clair done various tests to see what the extent of problems she had in her legs, along with what would be the best way to go about getting her legs corrected over time. When He first told us that there would be three surgeries in three years space a year apart to actually to get her legs stronger and much straighter. When it came to scheduling the surgery, we had asked Dr. St. Clair if he would schedule the operation later in the fall with me being close to delivering our sixth child, which he saw no problem with waiting until the late fall to do the surgery.

He was sincerely touched and moved to tears when he saw how deformed Cyndy’s legs were, yet, she wanted to keep walking even if she would've kept falling and getting hurt. A Doctor that does not mind crying in front of the patient or their family is a very caring doctor, and he will be one, which is going to give that child the best of care. We could see from the first time we met Dr. St. Clair that this doctor's heart was totally in the best interest of his patients even if it made him uncomfortable. He felt it was his duty and power to give every child a chance to walk or to be able to keep walking, if walking could possibility be accomplish.

As the summer, ended and the fall got under way with the cool weather setting in and our bundle of joy, (our sixth child) had been born and was doing fine. We headed into November 1994, ready for Cyndy’s surgery, the first of three complicated operations. The doctor did bilateral anterior and posterior tibia tendon split transfers.
. This surgery would gradually improve Cyndy’s walk significantly with the help of AFO's would give her the support in her legs that was much needed. After the surgery, we had fun watching Cyndy's antics of wanting to get out of bed as soon as possible. Cyndy had to remain in the hospital to be put into traction for a few days after the surgery. The very first night after the surgery, Cyndy was sleeping a lot, where there would be little problems when the nurses believed it was safe for Mark and me to eat dinner over at Norfolk General.

While we were over at Norfolk General getting a bite to eat Dr. Garrison had stopped by the room that evening to check on Cyndy. Even though she was still sluggish from the drugs given during and after surgery for pain, she woke up when she heard Dr. Garrison's voice asking the nurses quietly how she was doing. Cyndy decided that she had enough of the hospital and being weighted down with weights that it was time for her to get up and go about her merry way. Now that Dr Garrison was in the room, Cyndy assumed it was play time, and she wanted to give hugs and kisses to him and nothing was going to hold her down any longer. Cyndy becoming a live wire sent every nurse in the unit to Cyndy trying to get her to lie back down and not pull off the weights that were holding traction to her legs. She gave them one big scare. Dr. Garrison left the room with several angry nurses holding Cyndy down in the bed after putting the weights back on her trying to get her back asleep again.

We were not able to finish eating before we were being paged over the loudspeaker to come back to the room stat. Dr. Garrison had spotted us over at Norfolk General in the restaurant eating dinner, he pleaded with us to go back over to the children's hospital and relieve the nurses that were keeping Cyndy in her bed. Cyndy put a damper on any chances whatsoever of Mark’s and my chances of leaving the ward to get anything to eat or drink nor getting a breather during that hospital stay of Cyndy's. When the next meal came around, the nurses ordered us food so that we did not have to leave the hospital ward also they provided us with drinks, snacks and everything we needed to keep us from having to leave Cyndy by herself for them to watch.

Cyndy over the next eight weeks would need to have the cast on both feet, meaning that she would still be in casts when Thanksgiving and Christmas would come rolling around. It did not take long for Cyndy to realize that if she wanted new cast that all she had to do was soil her casts then new ones will be put on her. We were embarrassed but constantly getting the cast changed when Cyndy was famous for putting poop down inside the cast causing them to begin to have unpleasant odor. If she was not putting dung, inside the cast, she would rub it in on the outside, and I would have to wash it off by using a steel brush to clean the cast unfortunately not always getting it all off. We would then end back up at Dr St Clair's office changing the cast at lease two to three times a week, yet, I know his medical office must have been tired of seeing us all the time.

The casts never got boring to us, since they were decorated first with pumpkins that were for Halloween that were left over then turkeys and pumpkins for Thanksgiving. Sometimes the cast for a change of scenery will have fall things on them such as leaves would be of different fall colors yet bright colors such as red, yellow, and brown. Subsequently when she would soil the fall looking cast after thanksgiving and with Christmas time was rolling a round, the cast would have bright colored Christmas trees and wreaths or snowmen on them. We had our laugh about wanting to put Cyndy out in the front yard and put lights on her making her a sight for Christmas! At least even if we didn't have time to put any other Christmas decorations up, we would have some decorations if we only could put Cyndy out side. She never had the same cast on very long with her antics a week was doing well for her. If it wasn't feces, Cyndy would put in her cast, she would put ink pens down them to scratch the itch then the pen would be stuck in the cast. Lord help us if we feed her something for dinner, she was not the happiest about eating, her ways of getting rid of the food was putting it down inside the cast sometimes with out us knowing before a stench, finding out that she had placed food down inside the cast. There was never a dull moment in this house with Cyndy and her cast!

As said earlier, if she was not soiling her cast, she was breaking the plaster, constantly requiring the doctors to immediately to put on new ones practically every week. Cyndy wasn't one to consider twice about climbing into your lap with those ten-pound casts on each foot, weighing us down with her weight when she would climb in our laps. “OH BOY” when she would come around and step on your bare feet with those cast on or getting in your lap with those cast, she would surely put a hurting on you. The worst thing was when she would want you to pick her up and carry her around because she would break your back with the weight of those casts. We were ever so happy when those cast came off at the first part of January and being able to give her normal baths with out worrying about getting the cast wet. Cyndy loved getting tub baths nevertheless, it was incredibly a challenge to keep the cast dry when she would insist that she put her legs into the tub getting the cast very wet and soggy on the inside of the cast.

In the beginning of January of 1995, thank God we were able to finally get the cast off and get Cyndy fitted for leather braces (AFO’s) with a cable that ran up the back of the legs and hooked to her waist. These were to be put on her gradually over a period to help her get use to them along with being an aid to help her to walk without falling down so frequently.

To our dismay when we called our insurance company, asking them to cover the braces they didn't see a reason that the AFO's were needed, or if they would do any good on her. They claimed they would pay for a wheelchair, which is a covered benefit but not these braces, they were only experimental therefore not a covered benefit. The cheapskate insurance company didn't see a medical need for the braces when they could pay for a wheel chair, which would be two times cheaper. The worst part was we didn't have the couple thousand dollars to pay for the braces, therefore we had quickly turned our hearts toward God and prayed that God would intervene and have the insurance to pay for the AFO's for Cyndy. After Dr. Garrison and Dr. St.Clair wrote letters on our behalf to the insurance company, they finally paid for them. It took us six weeks speaking on the phone with different ones in the insurance office every other day that seemed like I was always on the phone just trying to get someone to understand my plight and have some sympathy. I knew then that we were going to have to take this particular matter up in prayer, leave it in the devoted hands of our Lord, and trust Him with the next step.

God's provision in this matter reminds me of Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'what shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I am slowly but surely coming to realize that there is no getting around God, and that He is there for me even when I do not see it. The braces were finally gotten and she wore them where they gradually improved Cyndy’s walk and put her more steady on her feet for a matter of a year before she had a growth spurt, with in a few months, which made the cables too small for her, that she hated wearing them. I use to be fussed at by Dr. White about where were Cyndy's braces when I would not have them on her when we had doctor’s appointment. When the AFO’s had gotten a little small on her, Cyndy would cry and pull them off, instead of keeping fighting with her I would not put them on her.

In the spring of 1996, we returned to Dr. St.Clair for the scheduling of the second of Cyndy's reconstructive surgeries. Before this surgery, Cyndy had to go to the children's hospital in Richmond for a special test that was not done here in Norfolk. The test was a gait/motion analysis where the doctors placed leads on various places on Cyndy’s legs and hips and upper body to see how she walked. This computer program translated the motions into a moveable stick figure on the computer screen, where it could analyze Cyndy's weaknesses in her walking. For this test, Cyndy had to wear a two-piece bathing suit, where the nurse could carefully place the leads on different areas on the body. Two of the leads were placed between both legs in the pubic area. When the nurse had placed them too close to Cyndy's private area, Cyndy smacked the nurse's hand and gave her the dirtiest look. Cyndy being very modest here would surprise anyone that didn’t have a clue that she would get up into her window and dance nude.

Cyndy had the second of the three surgeries on August 27, 1996. This time she was to have bilateral tibial/fibular rotational osteotomies and bilateral application of multi-planar external fixators. Cyndy did exceptionally well as she was expected during the surgery, and during the first night until, the next day around noon she took a turn for the worst.

After the surgery when Cyndy had been sent to her room and she was sleep for the night we went home ourselves to get a good nights sleep before having to go back the next day to be with Cyndy. We arrived just in time the next morning to assist Cyndy with her breakfast and her bath before she was back sleeping from the pain medication. When lunch came around about noon we woke Cyndy up to feed her lunch to her, yet she was a little groggy but otherwise was hungry and wanted something to eat. After feeding Cyndy her lunch and she was back resting peacefully, therefore Mark and I went to get us some lunch when we came back into the room, Cyndy was not responsive. Apparently, Cyndy had aspirated on her lunch that caused some problems where she had developed a high fever that caused her to seizure and sent her into respiratory failure sending Cyndy into a full pledge code. Before Mark and I knew could get our wits about us, the nurses were asking us if we want them to continue with the code on Cyndy or did we want to let her go back to the Lord. Mark and I were very upset the nurses had even come asked us if we wanted to let her go. We wanted them to do everything possible to save her life, then if everything fails then we could see letting go.

My heart when up into my throat when Mark and I realized that Cyndy was not doing well and there was a possibility that Cyndy might die that very day. We were counting on Cyndy to be a fighter and pull through this spell since she has gone down low before in spells like this one and had bounced back after a set back very quickly we thought she would do it again. This time when she coded, we were not sure what was going to happen whether she had fought her last battle or not our prayers immediately were please let her live and bounce back. We had hoped and prayed that the surgery was not at fault of the narrow escape, or were we sure that she had not picked up a bug that had caused her a problem. It was later said that she did aspirate from where the stomach acids came back up and went down into her lungs. No matter what the doctors and nurses had done to try to help, Cyndy just wasn't responding to any of the treatments at first. This was about the second time in a just couple of years that we had almost lost her to death giving us the feeling that her time was coming sooner then later.

Our little Cyndy had been placed on the prayer band at our church and other churches prayer bands as well, also everyone that knew about Cyndy was passing around that she was lingering on the border of death was holding her and us up in prayer. Mark and I pleaded with God not to take our daughter's life and please let her live we knew there was nothing impossible with God and He would give an ear to our prayers. Scripture was brought to memory of God’s promises reminding us of that NOTHING WAS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD. Matthew 19:26: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” And Jesus says in Mark 9:23, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”

It was not long, yet time had seemed to stand still when it was a matter of a couple of hours before Cyndy started responding to treatment. Because of God's grace in that moment, the nurses were able to resuscitate Cyndy, and she was in intensive care for the next few days to recover from her ordeal. Having Cyndy so close to death that day made me fearful of leaving the hospital for any length of time fearing that she was going to die. In the evening and night, I was so fearful of the phone-ringing saying that Cyndy was taking a turn for the worst again that I hated for the phone to ring. We were praying earnestly on our knees at night and in the morning before going to the hospital, that God would sustain her life for His glory. I kept reassuring myself by recalling the times before when Cyndy was so ill when Christ would put His hand upon her, and she would bounce back to what was considered good health for her.

This was only the second of the three surgeries unfortunately Cyndy never made it to the last one, which was a hip repair scheduled the next summer. I believe Cyndy wanted us to know she was ready to go home to where she would be in peace forever where there would be no suffering or heartache, where she would be made whole. We started to notice that Cyndy acted more despondent after that episode, and her health deteriorated very rapidly afterwards. We believed she was upset with us for bringing her back to life where perhaps during her near-death experience where she saw an angel who let her know that she would be in heaven soon. We believe with all our hearts that Cyndy knew she would not have to worry about her failing body anymore when she would be with her Savior. She looked forward to glorious day when her life would be change where there won’t be any seizures and she would be able to talk and walk normally.

Thank you, God, for the lessons we implicitly learn through the most trying times in our lives. Thank you for being there generously to assist us in making the right decisions even when it's painful to follow You. Thank you for Your everlasting faithfulness.
In Christ, Amen.

All scripture is quoted from the ESV Bible

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