Thursday, October 16, 2014

Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week

The "special needs community" is a funny thing. Being part of it introduces you to things you never knew about, conditions you've never heard of, and people you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to meet. People you think you have nothing in common with, or who you think you might not be able to connect with, until you realize..

There is always something that connects us. 

Beyond the differences that we first see in each other, there are so many things that connect us as women, as mothers, and as individuals searching to find meaning in this life. We love and support and care like it's our job. Which really, it is. It is our job as parents to pull together every ounce of strength and to fight for our children like nothing else matters. Because really, nothing else matters.

My friend, Charmaine is one of the Moms I met early on at our parent support group, shortly after receiving Brennen's diagnosis. Charmaine is a mother to two amazing children - a son, Jordan, and a daughter, Karrie, who among other things like being an awesome teenager, just happens to have a brachial plexus injury.

Charmaine shares a little about the condition and her beautiful daughter, here.


This year, Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week is being celebrated during the week of October 19th - 25th.

Brachial plexus injuries affect the network of nerves that control the muscles of the shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. Brachial plexus injuries can result in full to partial paralysis of one or both arms, and they occur in 2-5 out of 1000 births. 

Information on this disability is not easily found. It is really important that treatment for a brachial plexus injury be sought quickly from qualified, experienced medical professionals who specialize in these types of injuries. While each injury is unique, some individuals may benefit from surgical intervention.

My daughter, Karrie had a difficult birth that resulted in a brachial plexus injury. Her injury is defined as Klumpke’s Palsy. There are five nerves in a complex set of nerves that originates in the back of the neck. Karrie had two of these nerves pulled completely out of the spinal cord (avulsed), one nerve was ruptured (torn), and the other two were intact. This injury has left her with significant paralysis in her left arm. When she was 5 months old, she had a thirteen-hour surgery at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. During this surgery, doctors removed nerves from both of her legs so that they could use them to connect the avulsed nerves to the intact nerves and repair the torn one. 

Today, Karrie is 15 years old. Her ‘special’ arm, as we call it, has significant limitations and serves as her helper arm. She constantly has to make adaptations for this in her life but she always figures out a way to do the things she wants to do. She is beautiful, friendly, caring, loving, independent, spirited, and strong willed. She rides horses, loves art, plays volleyball, and is on the student council at her high school. She can do killer one handed pushups, and can even paint her nails.  My daughter is so much more than her disability and she amazes me every day!


Here is a video of Karrie doing something that every one of us probably does every day without even thinking about it. Doing up the button on your jeans might seem easy with two hands.. but try it with one! No, I'm serious. Try it. Then show this girl some love!

Thank you, Charmaine. And thank you, Karrie, for showing us that living with a disability does not have to be a tragedy. That a disability does not have to define you or put limits on your dreams. It is a pleasure to watch you grow and thrive and live your big, beautiful, joy-filled life!

Charmaine, you are a great Mom. I'm sure you know that, but I just wanted to tell you again. :)

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