Monday, December 14, 2015

JIM D. and ME part 1

the other day as i was clean'n out my aunt's closest...
i came across a piece of history that sucked me (no NOT that way this time kittens) into a time warp...that was written by my grama Viola...pre-blog her own words...that gave me a sense that some treasures are worth more than the pot of gold...this is a 4 part series

early on march 1, 1929 our third child was born.
It had been a very difficult birth. I was still groggy from the sedation so all the nurse told me was that I had a 9lb. 10oz. son then wheeled me back to my room for a much needed rest.
My mother and husband came in to see me and i remarked "You both look as though you have seen a ghost." She replied that she supposed they were tired from the long vigil and for me to try and sleep.
They were spared giving me an answer as later the head nurse came into my room, put her arms around me and said "There is something wrong with your baby."  She explained there was a sac at the base of the spine and mentioned the term Spina Bifida. I had never heard of the word. I was young and did not realize just what she was telling me
(how ignorant one can be at 24).
I figured it was some small thing that would be outgrown in time.  She explained there was an opening between two vertebrae and that the spinal fluid pushed out into a sac at the base of the spine. I remember asking her if it would be more noticeable as he grew up. She replied that it would not. I know she was trying to spare me feelings and in a way I am thankful she did not make me realize the seriousness of the defect.

Later when my son was brought to me I peeked down the back of his diaper
and saw the sac, about the size of my closed fist. We took my son home at the end of my stay in the hospital but first we had him baptized in the hospital chapel as our doctor advised, saying that sometimes these children did not live long.
We had a fifteen months old boy at home (we had lost our first baby, a girl) and realized he was paralyzed from the waist down. For some reason I did not panic but took care of him as i had my other child and things went along from day to day much as they had before. We had named the new baby James Donald but from the first, he was Jimmy to everyone.
At first the sac was the size of my two fists and did not present too great a problem when he was carried about. As he grew older the sac grew so we made several trips to the Mayo Clinic with Jimmy hoping something could be done but the answer was always the same "good home nursing" and each time the doctors there would advise us to "postpone the operation".

As he grew the sac also grew and soon it became more cumbersome. I then devised a harness and binder of muslin to enable the weight to be taken up by his shoulders and this worked out very well. His legs had been paralyzed from the start and could not be in any but a sitting position. Jimmy started pushing himself around the floor on his little bottom with his legs held out in
front of him. This gave me an idea. I figured out a way for him to get around and my dad was able to carry out my idea. I designed a sort of cart which we called the kiddie car. It was in the shape of a horse shoe but with a solid center.
My father made a low cart, just inches off the floor with swivel castors at the back and an axle with two 8 inch wheels at the front, this enabled him to wheel himself around the floor. This developed his arm muscles so he could scoot around amazingly fast. Jimmy could wheel himself around the floor faster than his brother could walk.

We always had to be on the lookout that he was not injured as it would not
take too great a blow to rupture the sac. The years went by and eventually he graduated to a wheel chair and soon it was time for Jimmy to go to school. We lived in the country the first fourteen years of his life and i was able to wheel him to school as the schoolhouse was on our property. He attended school just afternoons and I would push him there and then go get him. The neighbor children offered to push him over but i was always afraid someone would tip him over on the rough ground. He did fine in school and made a lot of friends.
Sometimes in the winter the snow presented a problem and I would tie a rope onto the front of the wheelchair and two of his brothers would pull while I pushed through the drifts. Clothing also was a problem as he was incontinent and I had to figure out a way to avoid the soiling of his trousers. I ripped the back seam of the pants down and then cut over to the side seam making sort of wings on the sides of the pants. He sat on a large cushion with a thick pad under him. His belt went through the loops of the pants and held them in place. He always had a large pillow across his back to protect the sac and to give his back some support.

to be continued next get off my dress!