"What's with Emil?"
We launched this appeal in March to an absolutely awe inspiring response. We had no idea what to expect (who would) but every day since then we have been bowled over by acts of generosity and kindness which is amazing considering that in hindsight I now realise that we didn’t really explain quite ‘what is with Emil’. Yes he’s a very smiley and chipper/wobbly little chap who clearly has physical issues one way or another (not that he’d admit) and the term ‘Cerebral Palsy’ has cropped up a few times as to ‘the reason’ but to be fair when I found out that he had ‘Cerebral Palsy’ I immediately burst into tears and then after pulling myself together I said “What is Cerebral Palsy?” It seems I’m not alone... quite a few people over the last few months have been brave enough to ask “What exactly happened for Emil to be this way?” so I think it’s probably about time I explained.
Emil was born 2 months too early, we already had one child but were in no way experts when it came to knowing about babies etc. we were about as clued up as anyone else who’s had one text book baby and so to be told that our second child was going to have to come out 2 months early was terrifying. We had no idea that the little chap would even be able to survive being so early. If that wasn’t bad enough the whole procedure was an emergency delivery of such extremes that I/we were warned that either the mother or baby or both may not survive the operation.... I phoned Helen’s parents to let them know what was happening, quivering because I wasn’t sure what the next phone call was going to involve... I’m getting palpitations just recalling this. Thankfully we were being watched over and both Helen and Emil pulled through.... phew!!! Obviously both Helen and myself were just over the moon to know that little Emil was ‘doing ok’ and that he was being taken care of in the next ward. It was touch and go for a few days as Emil was so small... having said that, he was 4lbs so if he’d have gone full term he’d have been a whopper. He then spent the next five weeks in hospital. So what should’ve been a glorious moment of Emil being born and brought home to blue balloons and party food actually turned out to be a horrific emergency procedure followed by five weeks of hospital monitoring and occasional panics... it was more like a period of mourning.
Emil started to grow and develop, put on weight and gurgle, burp, smile, trump – all the usual stuff although it was a little slower and we kinda knew that it would take him a while to catch up. But by the time he was about 1 he was showing delayed signs of immobility, we kept an eye on it, he got examined and prodded, poked and then eventually scanned and confirmed as having Cerebral Palsy.
‘Cerebral Palsy’ in simple terms... as I understand it as father of Emil. His brain is fine, his legs are fine, he is fine but unfortunately the wires that connect his legs to his brain are not connected and so his brain is not in control of them. The reason that the two are not connected is because at some point during his small life sometime around birth he was starved of oxygen – ‘suffocated’ for a long enough period for the ‘connector’ bit in his brain to become damaged and not fully develop. This is probably a period of no more than about 4 minutes. And so in a nutshell that is ‘What’s with Emil’. If it wasn’t for that tiny amount of time that his oxygen supply was restricted then he’d be running around and being as much a nuisance as his older brother. It’s not genetic, it’s not a disease, it’s not as a result of a viral infection, it’s not hereditary, it’s not a deficiency it’s simply a devastatingly life changing condition as a result of an unfortunate accident. So if he sometimes seems a little frustrated it’s because inside that wobbly little cute exterior he’s actually exactly the same as all the other kids in the playground it’s just that he’s fighting to perform every little physical task that most of us totally take for granted.