Knowing other caregivers and their stories gives me strength and encourages me to do better. I enjoy my connection and the inspiration I get from each one. Our circumstances may be different but we share the same concern, love and responsibility for another individual with special needs. I want to share some of these amazing stories on my Sunday posts. My first guest authors are Nate and Cally Johnson.
Written by, Cally Johnson
“On May 31, 2012 our lives dramatically changed for the better. Our daughter Evey, our fourth child, was born that day with an extremely rare genetic disorder called 17q21.31 micro-deletion syndrome. It is also known as Koolen-de Vries Syndrome.
When she was born, it was clear that there were aspects of her that were unique. Her look was not typical, some physical characteristics were cause for concern, and, she neither woke nor ate…nor cried. But, despite all this – she seemed calm, peaceful, and content. She didn’t show any signs of pain, and she didn’t seem to complain.
After a difficult first month of trouble breathing and eating, and waking up only rarely, we received the official diagnosis of her rare condition.
There are only 200 reported cases throughout the world of this syndrome. Essentially, Evey is missing hundreds of genes throughout her 17th chromosome, which, in turn, affects every cell in her body, and how she develops both physically and mentally.
Evey requires constant care and attention. She receives all of her food through a feeding tube, which begins in her stomach, and deposits food directly into her intestines. She has had several surgeries to fix her many physical malformations, and will need dozens more throughout her lifetime.
If we had a nickel for every time someone asked us: “How do you do it?” – we would have quite a few dollars, and, we would like to use those dollars for some cupcakes on the days we really need them. So cupcakes, donuts, and ice cream are a lot of the answer to how we do it.
We give to Evey, because she gives us so much in return. When we have sleepless night after sleepless night, she smiles at us and we immediately feel her giant spirit, and it feeds our tired souls. When she requires lengthy hospital stays, we watch all those medical professionals fall in love with her and feed off her joy and happiness. She always radiates warmth and is never bitter at what life has dealt her. Beyond that – we’re constantly crossing paths with people whose family members are in even more dire circumstances than ours and Evey’s: people whose family members and friends have never come home from the hospital, requiring constant care; families whose children and friends have come and gone in what seems like the blink of an eye. For all the challenges and exhaustion, just having Evey with us is a constant reminder of how blessed we are. And, we are fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who lift and strengthen us – so, we can make it, for however long the journey.
She is strong, so we are strong. She is happy, so we are happy. She never complains, so, why should we?”
Thank you Nate and Cally for sharing your inspiring story.