This I Believe

Paula - Flagstaff, Arizona
Entered on June 10, 2007

I believe that determination can help people overcome many obstacles.I believe this because I have seen how it has affected the lives of my son and I. By the age of 10, he had already been through surgeries for glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachments. He had been teased because of his thick glasses and, instead of getting upset, informed his classmates about The Golden Rule (quite to the amazement of his teacher). The fact that he even exists is because, after being raped, I refused to listen to those who suggested abortion and was determined that I could make it as a single mother. It was hard, of course, but I am thankful for the choice I made. The ultimate test of determination for my son and myself began when he was 10 years old. He was out with his sister and uncle selling items for a school fundraiser. As he walked across the road to “hit up” the other side of the street, he was struck by a car. Knocked three car lengths through the air, he landed on his head. The diagnosis was a concussion, contusion, and subdural hematome – brain injury. He was air lifted to a St. Louis hospital where he spent three days on a ventilator in a coma. The doctors expressed their concern that he might not recover from the coma or that his brain injury would result in him being a “special needs” person for the rest of his life. I was even encouraged to visit a facility that housed victims of brain injury and told that he would probably have to be transferred to such a place when released from the hospital. While I realize that these facilities are a godsend for many patients, I was determined that this would not be the fate of my son. During his hospital stay, he was on a schedule of various types of therapy a few times a day. I took what I saw in these therapy sessions and combined it with what I had learned by reading books on brain injury. I worked with him throughout the day between his therapy sessions. I praised and encouraged him constantly. The doctors were amazed by his progress. They had estimated he would be in the hospital for 3 months when he was first admitted. I am proud to say that my son walked out of the hospital in 3 weeks! Though his speech was not yet perfect, he even managed to tell the nurses goodbye. He didn’t go to a facility. He went home. He had a tutor for a few weeks a few hours a day. Again, when the professional wasn’t working with him, I was. It was hard for him, but he didn’t give up. He was able to go back to his regular school classroom in less than a month. This young boy who since birth had suffered through one obstacle after another had beaten the odds again. He went on to graduate high school on the honor roll. He has held a job since the age of 16. When I asked him if he thought he could handle a job along with his studies he said “Mom, if I think I can do it then I CAN do it.” He has had this attitude about everything he has faced in life. He is now married to a lovely girl and is the father of a two month old baby boy. I look back on the past twenty years now with such a sense of pride. We struggled, there’s no denying that, but we never gave up. Sure, there was a little bit of luck and whole lot of love involved as well…but we would never have gotten anywhere without determination….this I believe.