Our Story: On December 30, 2016, we welcomed our two bundles of joy into the world, Brayden and Colton. At just nine days old our family experienced an unimaginable tragedy. Our son Brayden was attacked by a dog that left him fighting for his life. He was immediately airlifted to VCU Medical Center due to the life-threatening nature of the injury at such a young age. At VCU, Brayden underwent brain surgery, a blood transfusion, and was treated for 30 lacerations/puncture wounds to the face and neck, as well as 3 skull fractures. Although Brayden remained in critical condition, doctors were hopeful that, as long as his brain swelling remained under control and after removing the blood clot they found when he first arrived, he would be on the road to recovery.
To our dismay, on the morning of my birthday, we were heartbroken with new findings on the MRI performed the evening before. Brayden had suffered a stroke that would end up taking a large portion of his left hemisphere, due to complete blockage and severing of his left carotid artery. We were left with so many unanswered questions as to Brayden’s condition and what was to come in the future: Can he see? Will he be able to crawl, walk, or talk?
As time went on, Brayden continued to defy all odds. However, as first time parents, we did not know what obstacles were to come moving forward. Over the course of the next month we learned that Brayden was experiencing over 30 seizures per minute, which was fortunately managed with medications over the course of a couple days. He also had difficulty maintaining body temperature once transferred out of the PICU, which required us to keep Brayden in critical care, and he also experienced one more stroke to the right hemisphere, causing more health difficulties.
After multiple X-rays, blood testing, CTs, and finally being able to breathe on his own, Brayden was placed in the Step Down Unit at VCU with the hope of being discharged to return home to Brayden's twin Colton who was unable to visit the hospital during Brayden's stay.
Where is Brayden today and why do I need your help? We are incredibly thankful because despite Brayden’s condition, he is one of the happiest little boys you will ever come across, and his smile could melt your heart in a second. He is the most resilient human being I know, and absolutely adores his twin brother Colton. Brayden has come an extremely long way this past year, overcoming many odds and obstacles that doctors were uncertain of. Brayden is able to sit on his own, recognize familiar faces, make sounds, and he is off of his feeding tube and loves to eat. Brayden would not be where he is today and would not have overcome all of these obstacles without the treatment he receives from several therapies and interventions we have placed him in. We are hopeful that with continued therapy he will be able to overcome his Cerebral Palsy and Hemiparesis. This includes, but is not limited to: learning to move in and out of a sitting position, roll over, crawl, walk (with assistance), engage the right right side of his body more frequently, and be able to start eating solid foods. While we do not know what Brayden’s future will hold, these are obstacles that Brayden will face in the immediate future. We know there will be more as Brayden grows older, but we will cross those bridges as we get there. Our next two obstacles include beginning to use a gait trainer to assist with standing and possible walking, as well as starting feeding therapies due to Brayden’s inability to move his tongue bilaterally to begin eating solid foods.
Brayden’s Treatment: Brayden currently receives physical therapy 3-4x/week, OT 2x/week, and now adding on speech/feeding therapies 2x/week. On top of these therapies, Brayden continues to take seizure medication and has follow up appointments in Richmond with Neurosurgery, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy and Sleep Clinics. We have also started treatment using a DocBand to attempt to correct the shape of his head (plagiocephaly and brachycephaly) due to the injury.
As a first time Mom, I envisioned what motherhood would be like before the boys arrived. I knew how difficult the first year would be, but I never expected this year to unfold quite the way it did. I was fortunate to take some time off from my career as an elementary school teacher to care for Brayden and to catch up on some much needed time with both boys after being separated while Brayden was in critical condition.
Unfortunately reality starts to catch up, and eventually the ability to be able to make sure Brayden receives all of the services and care he needs, will not be able to be met any longer. We are trying to schedule Brayden’s treatments in the evening, so that I am able to return to work, but we are currently on the waitlists. It is my hope that Brayden can continue with the day therapies he currently receives until other openings become available. This way we can ensure he does not fall behind developmentally and miss any services that are needed.
Any and all assistance is greatly appreciated, as well as continued prayers, as we know your prayers are what have made a world of a difference in Brayden's recovery this past year. To those that have already reached out in any way you could, we truly appreciate your generosity and hope you know the difference that you've made in our lives.
- Natalia Mulieri
- Daryl Perkins
- Don Schelat
- Colleen Fisher
- Julie Valenti
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