17 years and 15 days ago, I was born into somewhat of a dysfunctional family. 21 years and 93 days ago my brother Matthew was a healthy child born into what you would call “an average, every day” or “normal” family. What changed between those 4 years is something that most would call incredibly unlucky or in this case terrifyingly lucky. Matthew received his Pertussis vaccine, which protects a person from getting whooping cough, a sometimes fatal condition, when he was a few months old just like any other newborn child but the outcome of the vaccine was 1 in 100,000, somewhat similar to winning the lottery or being struck by lightning.
I believe in the power of the disabled. This I have believed even before my own existence.
Shortly after receiving the vaccination Matthew started having staring fits which led to grand mall seizures and everything went down hill from there. He was soon diagnosed with encephalitis, a viral sickness causing inflammation of the brain, and given 24 hours to live. The day Matthew saw his first birthday was also the day the doctors told my parents that in this rare case there is a slight chance Matthew could possibly live to be five. Somewhere between those five years, I was born. In a world of chaos as it is, my life was pretty hectic. I went along with my family from treatment centers to therapy clinics. Places such as Columbia Mississippi, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, West Palm Beach Florida, and even all the way in Munich Germany, trying to find a cure for my big brother. My parents were unwilling to give up hope for Matthew’s future and did everything that was heard of possible. Life was pretty stressful, not having a clue if when
I woke up the next day, Matthew would still be holding on.
21 years later Matthew is Healthier than ever. He has never taken his first step or been able to say the words “I love you”. I don’t know for sure if he has ever been able to
see me or understand me when I talk to him but he is always smiling and laughing. He seems to be carefree and love life.
Matthew holds the power to be a teacher. More than just a teacher like you would ever think of. I have learned more from him than I have from anyone or any specific experience in my entire life. He has taught me how much the world takes life for granted. Its as if I can see through his eyes for him a completely different perspective and outlook. Matthew has taught me patience, respect, empathy, love, and so much more that I could write an entire book.
Although Matthew has not benefited a whole lot from his disabilities, everyone that has ever been in contact with him has. He has touched so many people’s lives in one way or another. This including the dozens of people who volunteered their time in an extensive therapy program that went on for years and all the people who donated their hard earned money to the “Miracle for Matthew” organization fundraiser. Although it’s a terrible situation all the positive aspects shine through. I would love for Matthew to have had a normal childhood and grow up to live a normal adult life and someday have a family of his own, but I have came to realize that the ultimate dream is far from possible. Matthew has the power. This I believe.
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