This is a guest post by my cousin Sebastian Corbin about Erb’s Palsy.
“Do Not, Do Not Fire”
It was July of 1994, I was in basic training for the United States Army laying in a prone position at the firing range when a “cease-fire” horn sounded and before we started, I was given very strict orders, “DO NOT, DO NOT fire once you hear this sound!” I heard it loud and clear but I also saw an opportunity to shoot a deer at the same time. As a boy, I never had this opportunity before, and I couldn’t resist! “PRIVATE CORBIN! Didn’t you hear the cease fire call?” I said to the officer, “Yes, my mistake!” He replied, “Your mistake can cost a life! Your mistake is simply an excuse of your lack of attention to details!” I learned through this experience that every mistake has a cause and is preventable.
Imani Jordan is Born
On June 22, 2012, a doctor was completing 9 months of one of the greatest days of my life, helping my wonderful and beautiful wife Maritza Corbin, give birth to our already known baby girl, Imani Jordan Corbin. My emotions were crazy; I’m excited, nervous, in shock, not knowing what or how to speak! The doctor is pulling, my wife is pushing and out comes this beautiful bundle of love. After all is calm and going through a few issues, hours go by and we’re finally able to hold and love on our little Imani J. We noticed right away her right arm is not moving. “This happens from time-to-time. It will be fine in a few days,” were words I’ll NEVER forget! Two days in the hospital, no arm movement, no muscle mass, wrist curled in, fingers stiff as a board. We were told, “Just keep it close to her body, go home and see your pediatrician. Everything should be fine,” were our final instructions.
Days went by and on our first visit to the doctor, he immediately sent us to a Neurologists (I’m 36 years old and I’ve never even seen a neurologist. This was replaying over and over in my mind.) “I’m diagnosing her with Brachial Plexus and I’m sending you to a Neurosurgeon (Surgeon and my baby in the same sentence this can’t be real) in New York, she needs physical therapy right away and hopefully in three months she’ll start moving it. This was caused during the delivery of your beautiful daughter by mistake.” After two days a week of PT, three visits to New York, and an MRI in New Haven, there was still no improvement! Surgery was our only option! We still didn’t even know what Brachial Plexus Erbs Palsy was! Our physical therapist asked us one day if we were okay because we seemed like we’re just going through the motions. We just believed it would get better. She said, “Let’s talk guys. This is serious. Some kids just get bettter, some need surgery, and some never get better and this may be an issue for life!” To this I replied, “WHAT? You’re telling me a mistake means my daughter needs surgery and may never move her arm again?”
Our Research Begins
My wife and I began to research this thing we both had never even heard of and there were facts that we needed to understand. Here were some facts we found:
*In 2-5 out of every 1000 kids, stretching or tearing occurs during delivery
*More children suffer from this than Down Syndrome
*This occurs 10-20 times more than spinal cord injuries
*This is a lifetime disability with no real information or support in the medical community.
All of this occurs because of what doctors label as a MISTAKE! Mistakes can cost lives, mistakes are excuses; once the root is exposed you’ll realize they could have been prevented. This mistake lead us to New York, New Haven, CT, and ultimately Boston, MA. With one (unanswered) call from the doctor and no call from the hospital, we were left to find a way for Imani to get the best care; this became our number one priority. Thank God my wife was blessed with a great job that offered great insurance because we learned there was no help financially, no support groups, or simple information available in our state.
Support from different communities
Our support and knowledge came from Google and Facebook with communities of parents who had gone through these same battles. After realizing that even with insurance we still couldn’t afford hotels, gas, tolls, co-pays, deductibles, meds (cause after all she’s still a baby having all of the normal baby issues), we had to resort to fund raising by selling custom bracelets and online “begging” – I use this wording because in my heart this is what I told myself I was doing! Meanwhile my wife and I our stressing. I had to go see a psychiatrist and started taking meds because I’m depressed, anxious, and angry. A mistake has cost my beautiful daughter an opportunity to experience life without limitations.
People would tell me she’ll be fine, pray, have faith, trust God, don’t worry, she’s strong, and you have to be strong for her. Meanwhile inside, my heart hurts, my family is stressed out. I thought, “Really, Sebastian and Maritza. It’s not that bad she could be worse,” was our only comfort. Well guess what? That got old very quick and on February 4th our fears were confirmed for the 3rd time, “Imani will not get better without surgery and she must have it done within a 6 week window otherwise her chances of mobility drop significantly”, were the words of one of the best Neurosurgeons for children with Erb’s Palsy in the country. On March 28th the day of surgery, Imani got sick with the “croup cough” and couldn’t have surgery. Now our chances had dropped even more. Finally on May 10th, our Neurosurgeon attempted to fix a preventable action called a mistake.
Looking towards the future
As I sit here with, my daughter laying asleep, and I’m looking at her scars, both my wife and I realize, we have never had her reach out to us with both arms, we may never get to see her crawl, she won’t or can’t hold her own bottle, and that this mistake is the worst mistake I’ve ever been a part of. This mistake has robbed thousands of parents of some of the greatest moments in a child’s life. Yesterday as my daughter attended her 1st birthday party, we had the opportunity to meet another child who was actually preparing for his 3rd surgery for the same thing. His aunt asked him to lift his arm up for my wife and I. It was exciting, awesome ,and perfection all in one; it gave us hope. This mistake is fixable. I then took notice of the young kid running and playing with other kids and all the limitations placed on his running and playing because some doctor in his life made a mistake.
In my 37 years of life I’ve made many of many mistakes. However, I realized every last one of them were not only preventable but they were a result of personal actions. Do we have faith? Sure! Believe? Most definitely! But as I sit here, 3 weeks from Imani’s 1st birthday and live my life, I’m reminded there is a chance my daughter may never be able to live hers without some type of issue. I honestly hate and blame myself sometimes because as a father my main purpose is to help eliminate mistakes in her life and from the moment she came into this world I missed the 1st pitch. As her doctor sits home and enjoys her children being physically able to do what mines cannot, I can only pray one day this doctor and the rest of the medical community understand that their mistake is one Imani and her family will have to live with FOREVER!! They will never know the stress, tears, dollars, energy, time, resources, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes sacrificed so that our daughter will have a great life living with their mistakes.
After all they just happen, right?
By: Sebastian Corbin (Imani’s Dad)
Follow her fight on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ImaniFight