Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cerebral palsy

The boy comes in with his mother. He doesn't actually walk in; he has to be carried. His mother is young, her face mustering enough courage to keep the tears from falling. His brother, now in high school, slowly trails behind, running errands like an obedient son—“buy a diaper, get a drink there; here, hold this”—all without grumbling.

C is not your average five- or six-year old. His muscles are rigid spastic. He can't walk, speak, or play. Cerebral palsy, that's what the doctors said. That's what's wrong with him.

There is a strange innocence to him, something you only see in a child. Does he know much of a burden he is to the family, but how the love for him so overflows so as to overcome the little burden that is him? His mother looks at him with assuring eyes, as if to say, “Everything's going to be fine,” but isn't it sad the he can't ever say anything back?

He keeps moving his feet with an unpredictable tremor. He can't lift his head; he can only turn it sideways. He's eerily thin; his muscles for swallowing are uncontrollable, so feeding is always an issue. C looks weak and tired, as if he bears the weight of this world without him actually knowing it. Because, when you think about it, he probably doesn't.

I don't know what he's thinking when I measure his pulse or take measurements of his head. But in a brief instant, he looks me in the eye and smiles at me, and my heart cries out, “Lord, help this child.”

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