By Darren Lum
Close to one year after baby Prudence Evelyn-Anne Christie was released from the hospital her parents Mark Christie and Nicole Hanna reflect on the strong community support they continue to receive for their baby who nearly died at birth.
“We stand together in this community. When there is someone hurting in this community there always seems like there is help. You know about it” says Christie. “When something happens here there is already a line-up of people saying ‘how can I help?’ To experience that it shows you something about where you live.”
“It’s scary to think about if we were living somewhere else how that process would have been. I don’t know if we would have gotten as much help … I think we were in the best place to live when everything was going down.”
Pru who has a 13-member medical team of professionals such as audiologist physiotherapist and pediatricians has a variety of lifelong challenges related to the complications she had at birth.
Currently the disabilities she faces range from deafness and speech challenges to physical development. She is deaf in her left ear to high frequencies and the right she doesn’t have much hearing. This affects her speech. An early medical assessment by two pediatricians has diagnosed Pru with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy which affects all four of her limbs. Her parents have been told there will be an accurate diagnosis about the long-term effects when she turns two. It is unknown at this time whether Pru will be able to walk. There is a chance she could walk with braces.
Despite the many unknowns Christie and Hanna are focusing on the present spending time with their daughter rather than focusing on the challenges.
“We’re just trying to spend as much time with her and not [get super] worried about it because it’s important to spend time with her. She’s pretty fun. A lot of people can’t really see any disability other than the hearing aids” he said.
Christie smiles when he looks at his daughter who doesn’t look any different than a healthy baby girl except for the hearing aids.
She has been his light in a dark time for the family.
“It really puts into perspective just what is possible. Everything we hear from medical professionals nowadays we take with a grain of salt because … it’s not that the doctors were wrong but they may have been a little aggressive towards the comfort and care thing” he said.
Hanna said baby Pru gave them the strength when little hope was given by doctors.
“She makes it easy because she is such a happy baby and she’s always trying to do what she shouldn’t do [according to doctors]” she said.
Christie draws strength from his daughter and knows he will do whatever it takes because of her.
“When you get that close to losing something that special it makes you want to do anything to make their lives easier and me and Nicole have matured a lot from that. We’re just trying to get the best possible life together for her and us. It’s getting there one piece at a time for sure” he said.
The family continues to be recognized and stopped by strangers in the street because of the Echo article earlier this year. Hanna and Christie appreciate the support.
“Now that she is physically better people don’t just forget about her … They want to know how she is continuing to do and progress. It’s nice” she said.
The parents can’t thank the community enough for the help and the prayers.
They are appreciative of the treatment centre Five Counties Children’s Centre and not-for-profit support agency Point in Time’s Cynthia Hutchinson an early years interventionist.
They said Five Counties is assisting with Pru’s therapies for speech occupational therapy and physiotherapy and meeting costs such as the required hearing aids. Pru is using a loaned pair until her own pair costing thousands can be purchased.
Besides not being able to thank everyone the parents wished they could provide more time for people to spend with Pru. It’s difficult because of medical visits and work schedules.
“Pru loses out on time with people and lots of people don’t get to see Pru as much as we’d like and … we are thankful for everyone’s support even though we can’t always be there in person to thank them” Christie said.
The family has since moved to Haliburton from West Guilford where it is more convenient for work and health care.
They are looking at the brighter side of things compared to how dire the situation was early in Pru’s life.
“It’s still a pretty happy ending considering where everything was at the last time. She wasn’t supposed to be able to … feed breathe or anything … but 80 per cent of the [abilities] they said she couldn’t do she is doing” he said.
Hanna adds Pru was not supposed to have been breathing without assistance or oxygen would lack a suck reflex which would prevent her from eating on her own and be unable to socialize.
Pru’s parents know at this point in their daughter’s life there are more challenges ahead.
However when they see the same doctors who doubted Pru would survive there is a certain level of satisfaction.
“It’s just the little things you take for granted” Christie said.