Three years ago our son Sidath suffered a devastating attack of strep meningitis. It was initially misdiagnosed as the flu and 24 hours later when the diagnosis of meningitis was made Sidath had already slipped into a coma. He remained in a semi comatose state for the next six months and suffered every side effect of the horrible infection. He needed VP shunts to clear the fluid from his brain and a g tube to nourish him. Unfortunately the shunts either malfunctioned or got infected making it necessary for him to have 10 shunt revisions (brain surgeries) within a six month period. During one particularly bad episode of a malfunctioning shunt he had a subdural hygroma on the right which caused paralysis to his left side.
Our charming and happy 3 year old Sidath walked into the hospital and literally lost everything except his will to live. After a six month stay in the hospital we finally took him home as helpless as a newborn with an intractable seizure disorder. He couldn't hold his head up, or track with his eyes. The only sound he could make was a high pitched scream.
We tried everything in our power to help him regain all he lost. While Sidath struggled to hold his head up or drink with a straw, we learnt all the terminology associated with our special child. We spent countless hours searching for and trying out different approaches to treat his problems. He swam with dolphins in Florida, had a feldenkris practitioner, an Osteopath, a Qi Gong practitioner, had EEG bio feedback, rode horses while continuing the conventional occupational, physical and speech therapies. Then one day we discovered hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
We did some research and were pleased with what we found. The next big hurdle was finding a facility that would treat Sidath. We couldn't persuade anyone to treat him ...... cerebral palsy was not on "the list" published by the AMA. Quite by chance we discovered the clinic in Santa Monica. Our meeting with Dr. Cassidy and Trish Planck was best thing that happened to Sidath in his rehabilitation (Other than the progress he has made!!)
After 40 sessions of HBOT Sidath could sit by himself when placed in a sitting position for over half an hour. He started laughing at jokes and interacting with strangers. He learned to feed himself with a fork, hold a pencil or crayon and brush his teeth. He started making a lot of sounds and resorted to using word approximations rather than screaming. His left hand which used to lag behind remained hypersensitive but he would allow us to place it on the table while he ate or played with play dough.
He continued to make gains for another 6-8 months. We resumed HBOT in December of '99. Another 50 sessions later he is a different child. He can raise his left hand over his head and he can shake it on command. Sidath can take 30-40 steps with assistance and is happy to bear weight on his feet. He has nearly 70 words (some are approximations and understood only within the context ). Best of all his sense of humor is back. He teases his therapists by calling them "Cruella" and his sister "meanie" and loves to say "mann~na" to Mike at the clinic. Sidath exercises his will now and whenever he is asked to finish something answers "laler" (later). He has resumed toilet training and in doing well. When we started HBOT in March of 98 Sidath was on a huge dose of an anti epileptic drug. Since then we have been able to successfully wean him to 5% of his original dose. To say that we are thankful for the blessings brought through HBOT to Sidath's life is an understatement. We believe that we are now in the process of reclaiming our son a little at a time. HBOT alone may not have been the answer ......... but HBOT gave him the "jump start" he needed (or healing within) to maximize the effects of all the other therapies. Our hope is to complete 200 HBOT sessions within the next year with the prayer that by then Sidath will only need it as a preventative rather than therapeutic aide.
Harin and Sherene Hulugalle