TBI One Love Survivor Gabby O'Leary
Hello, my name is Courtney. This is my ten-year-old daughter, Gabby. Who is a Shaken Baby Syndrome *survivor*, that occurred when she was just 2 months old!
We were fortunate enough to have adopted her at age three, although the intentional injuries that caused her TBI took place when she was just shy of two months old.
So how has a TBI affected her life? Well, for starters, she’s cognitively on par with an infant. She is nonverbal (albeit very vocal!), she is exclusively tube-fed (NPO) as she aspirates on honey-thick liquid. She has very limited purposeful movement (one arm only) and cannot sit up unsupported. Suffice to say, she cannot walk or bear weight unless she is well supported in her stander. She has Cerebral Palsy, seizures (beautifully controlled by a combination of medications and the ketogenic diet, though), scoliosis, temperature instability, chronic lung disease, neurogenic bladder...her list of “medical conditions” is seemingly endless. Our home includes a hospital bed, a stair chair, a bath chair, oxygen, a feeding pump, a pulse ox monitor, a CPT vest & tons & tons of medical equipment & medications. We don’t “travel light” whatsoever; leaving the house with Gabs requires a bit of pre-planning, organizing, and packing of supplies...even if we’re only going to be gone for a few hours.
From what we know, she was born a healthy, full-term infant, but was robbed of the opportunity to experience a traditional childhood by a biological family member. In the blink of an eye, her Traumatic Brain Injury altered the entire course of her life. However, it’s important to note that none of the medical jargon surrounding Gabby defines who she is. Because before anything else...she is a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a fighter, a *survivor*. She is loved by so many, many people. She is a true beacon of light (which is part of the reason why her nickname is Sunshine!) & her laughter is infectious. She loves her siblings, SpongeBob & the Bubble Guppies, music, Christmas lights, and my singing (okay, maybe not that last one...but still!). She is an everyday miracle and being able to call myself her mom is one of the greatest blessings in my life.
Thank you TBI One Love, for raising awareness about TBIs & allowing me to share my beautiful baby girl with the world. :)