The hapless mother couldn't understand this backwards event. The baby was being born! She didn't need to be anesthetized. What was going on?
From the doctor's perspective, there was something dreadfully wrong with the baby. He was convinced the baby had two heads. Sparing the mother this sight upon delivery was his main objective.
Fast forward to recovery. The doctor met with mother and father, telling them that the baby had a rare condition known as hydrocephalus. This had resulted in a water "bag" on her brain that had looked like a second head at the time of birth. Newly developed and understood procedures allowed for draining the cerebrospinal fluid, but the doctor had more bad news: the baby girl also had half an extra vertebra, which would cause problems later in life; he warned that due to the pressure on the brain, she may not live to go home from the hospital; if she did go home from the hospital, she may not live beyond 8 years old; if by chance she did live that long, her mental capacity would never surpass a 12 year old.
Numerous hospitalizations were followed by a move to a tiny town in eastern Iowa, followed by another move to a tiny town in northwestern Montana. The infrastructure wasn't much better in either location.
At the age of 3, what should have been a running toddler/preschooler was scooting around on the floor on a cookie sheet, as she was still unable to walk, and had never crawled, due to her spasticity. Her speech was nearly incoherent. But she was indeed happy. The mother described her as the happiest of babies.
Time and care availeth much! Although her speech still sounded like she had hailed from Massachusetts, progress was happening.
It became obvious, around the age of 10, that the girl had scoliosis. By that time, the father had joined the Air Force as a chaplain and was being transferred from Montana to Minnesota. A fortuitous move for the family. Opportunities and resources became readily available. Little D was fitted for a "Milwaukee" brace that covered her body in steel and leather until the time when the doctors felt it was time to do back surgery.
That time came not in the US, but after the family was transferred to an Air Force base in Japan. At the age of 12, the daughter was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery that would remove some hip bone, remove the half extra vertebra, and fuse her spine; in essence stunting her growth from that point. She was 4 feet, 10 inches tall at the time.
With the steadfast love and care of a mother, Little D progressed mentally as well. Upon relocating to Missouri, and then California, she was about to graduate from high school ... no small feat. But one of the requirements of the high school was to be able to swim two laps of the swimming pool. The young woman's spasticity (what one side of the brain did, the other did also ...) prevented her from driving, swimming, and the like. Anything that required the two sides of the body to be working independently. (Although she DID learn to type at 56 words per minute!)After much intervention from the parents, the school recanted and allowed her to graduate on the merits of her schooling alone.
"She will not live past ... she will never ..." 1. graduate 2. get married 3. live independently 4. have meaningful employment
And this is where we come to the chapter of disclosure.
She moved in with her sister for a short time, and then into a boarding house, where she went to work for the county in a training program. This led to an aide position in the public school system, for special needs students, with whom she could empathize. This led to going to a local church and singles group. Which led to dating, and eloping to Reno, Nevada!
Diane ... my sister ... is nothing short of a miracle. She has held her aide position, as an awarded member of the school employees, for more nearly 40 years! She almost singlehandedly assisted our parents through their life at a local retirement community, until their deaths. She has had the difficult job of sorting through all of their things, as well as sifting through probate issues.
God has the final word! Not the "she will never" naysayers. Outside of a limp and still sounding like she spent years on the East Coast, Diane is a thriving giver to her church, school, and family communities.
Today, Diane is a wife, a sought after teacher's aide, a gardener, a camper, one who gets asked the tech questions, a kitchen gourmet, and a believer in Jesus. Maybe I should have put that one first. Above all, that is what matters most. God has been gracious and merciful in more ways than temporal. His grace is eternal.
Thank You, Lord, for my sister and the miracle that she is. She has come far. Just like Thursday's child.