Twenty-two months ago Addison Thompson was born five weeks premature in Lafayette General Hospital in Louisiana. At first her mother, Chrissy, thought everything was fine. After a few episodes of sleep apnea in the few days after delivery, several tests were done, including an EEG, but all came back as normal.
At four months old Chrissy began to notice that Addison was gazing in only one direction, and at her neurological check-up she was labeled as “left-side dominant.” When Addison began to walk she took steps with her left foot and dragged her right foot behind her. As Chrissy described, “Like an old person who has had a stroke.” Chrissy also noticed that Addison usually kept her right hand clenched in a fist.
At nine months old Chrissy already knew there was a serious problem with Addison, and an MRI showed that she was right. “There is a hole in her brain,” said her doctor, “And it’s kind of big.”
It turns out that Addison had a stroke at some point early in her life, and a sizeable portion of her brain has simply “melted away.” The MRI showed that about one-third of the left side of her brain was gone, with no chance of self-repair since the central nervous system generally does not regenerate.
Addison was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, with the expectation that she will have other related difficulties such as damage to her ability to develop language, understanding and expression. The best Addison’s doctor’s would predict for her was 80% normalcy, depending on whether her brain compensated.
Chrissy took action. Along with her husband Mark and other family members, she was determined to fight to give Addison the best possible outcome. A state funded intervention program called Early Steps provided services in the Thompson’s home for Addison. A private physical therapy service was also engaged, with many more to come.
The Thompson’s were especially thankful to the March of Dimes. They fund research and supported with the NICUS (newborn intensive care units) such as the one in Lafayette General. Chrissy said, “It gave us the opportunity for her to have a successful life.”
Today Addison is almost two years old. She has a 54-word vocabulary and is able to walk and talk. Chrissy says that Addison’s vision is fine. Her largest problem seems to be her right hand which does not have any fine motor coordination. Addison can even sing the refrain from “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” and says “Bye-bye!” loud and clear. Her mom says there are still a few physical deficits, but she can live with them.
“I get a little emotional when I think of her tying her shoes,” said Chrissy. “We don’t feel sorry for her, and we have expectations.”