The Name ‘Isaac’ is derived from the Hebrew meaning “He will Laugh”. For anyone that knows Isaac Gray, the meaning of his name could not be more accurate. Isaac is a 9-year-old boy who loves life and proudly lives with Cerebral Palsy and Sotos Syndrome. Isaac’s mother Shelley describes him as 95% happy and full of laughter, the other 5% a typical kid with emotions when he doesn’t get his own way!
Shelley always loved the name Isaac and knew if she had a son he would be called “Isaac”, but had no idea he would live out the meaning of his name with such conviction – “He will laugh”.
Isaac came into this world with a wild entrance and there was certainly no laughing at this point. Isaac was born 6 weeks early and suffered severe oxygen deprivation at birth. This was the beginning of Isaac’s story. Initially he spent 11 weeks in NICU (Neonate Intensive Care Unit) in Perth Australia where he was born, and it was a very scary time for his parents. Shelley his mother, being a nurse, knew far too much of the reality that lay ahead for them when they were told that Isaac had suffered a severe brain injury due to the lack of oxygen. Isaac underwent multiple procedures during the 11 weeks in NICU, he was a very sick little boy.
One moment Shelley vividly remembers is when Isaac was approximately six weeks old looking at her, even with his frail little body, his eyes held a strength beyond his age, and it was like he was saying to her “don’t give up on me mum”. It was then even with all her medical knowledge, Shelley started to gain strength and fight for her son. At 11 weeks Shelley discharged Isaac against medical advice and took him home, she knew there was nothing more the hospital could do for Isaac. The prognosis was not good for Isaac, his parents were told, do your best, but they did not believe Isaac would have much of a ‘life’, no walking, talking, eating or interacting.
Isaac came home with a feeding tube through his nose, however, his mum was determined to get him feeding from a bottle (as she was told this was not possible). At four months old, Isaac accidently removed his feeding tube during a nappy change. Shelley took this as a sign, so she spent day and night with him, teaching him to feed. Isaac achieved this fully without needing to replace the feeding tube. At nearly five months old, Isaac began to smile. Even though his little body was fraught with so much pain, it was just ‘in him’ to see the bright side of life, his smiles and laughter from then on increased. For anyone that knows Isaac, his smile and giggle can light up a huge room.
Once Isaac was well enough to travel around 6 months, Isaac’s parents knew it was best to move back to NZ to be close to family, this journey with Isaac was going to need support and love of a big family. From here on chapters could be written about Isaac’s journey, full of hospital admissions, appointments and multiple surgeries over a short period of time. He was a sickly little boy, but you don’t need to read all of that.
What you do need to know, is that even though Shelley was medically trained as a nurse and had spent her career in surgical and emergency medicine, she herself had always been drawn to more alternative health and well-being. This is where she was lead to with Isaac to look for answers, to give him the best life possible. At six months old Isaac started with a Cranial Osteopath and Acupuncture. Still to this day he has these therapies. Even though Shelley was so sleep deprived she was ‘one of those mothers’ the medical system despised, as she kept pushing for more because deep within her she knew there was more.
One day when Isaac was one Shelley was sitting in the waiting room of his Acupuncturist, and as you do, got talking with another mum of a disabled child. Throughout the conversation, she swapped experiences and ‘notes’. When this mum found out Shelley lived in Tauranga, she said “Do you know Shirley Wilson”, Shelley said “No, but do I need to?” This one small moment would change the course of Isaac’s life forever. This woman gave Shelley, Shirley’s number. Shelley was very sleep deprived and exhausted from caring for a sickly disabled child. Initially she did nothing with this number, but it sat in her bedside table draw for six months. Finally, after something kept gnawing at her, she made the call to Shirley. After speaking with Shirley at length, Shelley knew this was the path she had been looking for and she would commence Isaac on Ian Hunters NDTP home based program.
This big leap of faith, the first meeting with Ian Hunter and beginning the hard work of a home-based therapy program changed Isaac’s life dramatically.
When Ian Hunter first met Isaac, he could not sit up, had very little head control and very poor muscle tone. Within six weeks of doing Ian’s program intensively, he was more aware of his surroundings and his head control greatly improved. Within twelve weeks Isaac was able to sit up and from there he continued to gain strength. Isaac participated full-time in Ian Hunter’s program for seven years. He needed down time now and again for scheduled major surgery which would set him right back, but once he was well enough, he would start again on his therapy. Isaac at times hated his therapy as it was making him do things he didn’t want to do, but the family along with volunteers kept on pushing and Shelley knows that if Isaac could say it, he would tell her “Thank you Mum, for not giving up on me”.
Isaac is now a healthy as he can be nine-year-old boy. He lives life to the fullest and is a huge part of the community. He is loved at school by his peers, he is semi-independent with feeding himself, he is completely aware of his surroundings and loves any social interactions. Although he doesn’t ‘talk our words’ he talks all day with his own words, lots of cackles, laughs, always smiles and is very cheeky. He understands many words and is learning to use a communication device, he uses his own iPad to search his interests on YouTube and play games. Best of all he is walking independently with a walker, he zooms around and loves to play chase and tag something Shelley never thought possible. In fact, she was told it would never be possible!
Without a doubt, Shelley knows that Isaac would not be where he is today, nor would he have achieved all these milestones, if it were not for the financial support of the Brain Injured Children’s Trust. They have supported Isaac and his family with his journey, funding his home-based therapy programs. They have also financially supported the family with Osteopath and Homeopath visits and much more. Not just financial support was gained, also a like-minded community of support, the biggest the family have ever had amongst the Disability sector.
With the support of this Trust, Isaac is looking to continue more therapy with Ian Hunter this year, so watch this space for more of his achievements and smashing out milestones. Isaac is a SUPERHERO.
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