Parker was born on 22/12/2017. An amazing, strong little boy, this is his story from his Mother, Shaunna’s perspective:
Parker collapsed at a birth. Having been resuscitated, he was given cooling treatment to stop any brain damage.
There were a lot of tubes/wires coming from his little body and at one point, we thought we had lost him, but he pulled through. Parker started breathing unaided on Christmas Day. We were so happy that our little boy had got through the worst and as the days went on, he started to get better. Later, he came out of intensive care.
After 11 days, we were able to bring Parker home. It was an amazing feeling, bringing him home to be with his sisters, Mia and Bella, and where we could celebrate Christmas together.
We then had another scare. When Parker was feeding, he kept turning blue and floppy. We went back to the hospital several times and on the last occasion, we were told that Parker had Choanal Atresia (1 blocked nostril). He was transferred from Bolton hospital to Manchester Children’s Hospital for an emergency operation to open his nostril. We waited for 14 hours but I couldn’t feed him because of the upcoming operation. This was the on 22/01/2018.
Parker’s operation was unsuccessful. Paul (Parker’s dad) and I went to see him in the recovery ward where it was explained to us that Parker has a high palate which reduced the space needed to perform the operation successfully.
Looking at Parker, I could see that something wasn’t right. He was crying but his face wasn’t moving; it looked heavy. I called the medics to ask for help and to tell them that something was wrong. I was told that Parker was very tired but otherwise, he was fine.
Parker was moved from the recovery ward, but I could see that things were still not right. He couldn’t move his head and his left arm was moving strangely. Again, I asked what was wrong and at that point, it was agreed that something was wrong. Parker underwent testing which showed that he had suffered a stroke under anaesthetic.
Our lives had been turned upside down and it was a scary time. Parker was just 4 weeks old. Eventually, he was discharged from hospital and we waited for his planned physiotherapy to begin. In the 2 months or so that passed before his first physiotherapy appointment, I spent a lot of time throughout each day, moving Parker’s arms and head. Within a week, he started moving his body again.
Parker has cerebral palsy and an unsafe swallow as a result of the stroke so needed to be fed through a tube placed in his nose. He underwent an MRI scan to determine what damage his brain had suffered. It wasn’t a good day. The scan showed black shadows to the mid-brain area and that consequently, both sides of Parker’s body were affected. We were told that he might not be able to walk or talk.
Our hearts were broken. We went home not knowing what to do or what to think but we didn’t give up. We continued to move Parker’s arms, legs and head; which was set to the right. Gradually, he began to move unaided.
We just had to get on with life and take each day as it came. Despite everything he had gone through at such a young age, Parker was a happy baby. The doctors waited to see if the physiotherapy program alone would enable him to get better, and it did.
As far as sitting and standing was concerned, Parker was a late developer. When he sat, he fell to the right. The physiotherapist placed foam in his pram to aid him. We spoke about him using a wheelchair and other devices when he was older but that was something I found difficult to hear and think about so each day, I tried to help him by standing him on his little feet and encourage him to move each part of his body.
I was determined to help Parker to live a normal life. Weeks went by and he was managing to sit unaided: what a sight to see. My little boy, who had been so weak, had done it!
One year flashed by and Parker was now a one year old. Not only could he sit and stand unaided; he was playing like any other baby could. He was such a happy boy but in the back of our minds was the memory of being told that he might not walk or talk. A health visitor visited us and explained that Parker had a problem with his feet and that he might need a frame to help him walk. However, when Parker got to 16 months old, he was able to stand and lean against a kitchen unit. I used my phone to video him standing for such a long time. Then, he took his first steps: he walked…what a moment! I will never ever forget the tears of happiness that Paul and I shed. It was an amazing moment, but we knew Parker could do it; and he did!
Along the way, Parker never gave up and he made everyone so proud of him. He just got stronger and stronger. Friends and family continually advised us to keep going and not to give up. We were encouraged to keep pushing Parker to achieve what we felt he could achieve: and we did.
Parker is now two years old and is running around everywhere. Although his speech is less developed that of other youngsters of his age, he can now form short sentences, so it won’t be long before he’s telling us what to do!
Parker still only has one working nostril and struggles when he gets a cold/hayfever. He’s got the unsafe swallow, but he hasn’t been tube fed for about eleven months. We need to thicken any fluids that he drinks, otherwise he chokes. He is frequently admitted to hospital with pneumonia and aspiration problems. But…he’s here, he’s walking, he can use his legs to push him on his bike and he can speak. He also makes everyone laugh! He is just an amazing little boy.
As a family, we just want to tell people: don’t ever give up. We didn’t think Parker would ever walk and talk, or even communicate properly but he can…and he’ll drag us to the fridge for his treats too!
We are firm supporters of A Stroke of Luck. The charity supports survivors in life after stroke through the use of exercise and to aid the physical, mental, and emotional recovery journeys of survivors.