Friday, February 08, 2008

Seizures: An accident changes a family's life forever!

From the outside looking in, it might seem that parenting a special-needs child would offer a host of heartache and difficulties.

But that's not the whole story, says Pam Moulton of Afton.

"That person brings out the best in you," she says. "It makes you appreciate things more."
Her 15-year-old son, Eddie Holewa, is a quadriplegic. But it wasn't always so.

When Eddie was small, he was an effervescent, agile little boy -- but that was before the accident.
He was 5 then, and still wearing his bicycle helmet when he started playing on a jungle gym. In a freak accident, his helmet somehow caught on the monkey bars, strangling him and cutting off oxygen to his brain.

By the time Kayla Picciano, his now-18-year-old sister, found him, the damage couldn't be undone.
His family has the advantage of around-the-clock care, including time at school, which wards off the emotional and physical exhaustion common to special-needs providers.

To see Eddie is to understand the severity of his disability -- but to see him smile when his mom teases him is to understand there's still somebody alive and well inside his body.

"He's a person," says Elizabeth Scott of Afton, one of his aides. "We can get him to laugh, and he cries at certain movies."

In some ways, he's still the little boy he was at the time of the accident.

"The Lion King" is his favorite movie, and he lights up and giggles when he hears its musical score.
"It's so easy to get wrapped up in your everyday stuff, but having somebody with special needs is like having sunshine in a bottle every day," she says.

A second family has been created out of his many long-term caregivers. Teri Lanciault and Denise Marvin have been with Eddie since the beginning.

"We all care for him, treat him like he's part of our family," says licensed practical nurse Sandra Scott of Greene.

Moulton lived with Eddie at a rehab facility for a year, learning how to take care of him. Now she can do everything his nurse can, she says, and she's usually the first to notice when something's not right with him.

Progress comes in minute increments -- but it does come. In the beginning he had seizures almost constantly and was in and out of the hospital every week.

"He still has seizures, but this is the third winter we haven't had to be in the hospital," Moulton says.
As time rolls on, she finds herself reaching out to others in pain, empathizing easily and giving herself as a sounding board often.

She has changed a lot over the last 10 years and owes much of her growth to the situation with her son.

"He has taught me to be a better person and more associated to people," she says.
Although their life is far from normal, it's hard to envision a world without him.

"Three years ago, he almost passed away," Moulton says. "My heart was broken the very first time when he had the accident. If I didn't think I could ever feel that way again, I got a quick reminder."
She was in the hospital with him then and told him that whenever enough is enough and he feels the need to go, she would be okay.

She cries when she relates that story.

"He had eight or nine surgeries," she says. "But he just gets up every day and has this smile that's like the sun just envelopes you."

Now she's looking to adopt another special-needs child.


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