By: Kelsey Kuenning

A few short days before my son Mason turned 1, it became very apparent that something was wrong. We noticed due to sudden restricted motion and use of his left arm and leg that prevented him from starting to walk. After two and a half months of seeing different doctors and specialists, Mason had to have emergency brain surgery because he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and had a large arachnoid cyst inside of his brain that had likely been growing for a long time. This one surgery quickly snowballed into three more brain surgeries over a very short time with what felt like endless complications. 

Within a span of three and a half months, Mason had his first haircut in a surgery room, received dozens and dozens of stitches, and had scars that seemed to just keep growing. But despite all of this, he also had a strength that I couldn’t believe. 

In the face of all of these surgeries, medicine, cords attached to his head and arms, and constant poking and prodding, Mason had a smile for us every single day. After the cyst was under control and he was released from the hospital for good, he received physical and occupational therapy to help his body heal from the damage caused by the cyst. 

He also had a soon-to-be SLP mommy that made sure he was meeting his speech and language milestones. He is now a happy and healthy seven-year-old that is growing and learning as expected for his age with no residual complications, and for that I am so grateful. 

While this was going on, it felt insurmountable. But the support we received from not only our wonderful family and friends, but also the staff during our many hospital stays made each day seem a little more manageable. There were so many friendly faces during each stay that when I look back, help me remember this time a little more fondly. 

I remember the nurse’s name who always seemed to be so genuinely happy to see Mason. 

I remember when his neurosurgeon stopped by the hospital room on Halloween dressed as a pirate with his pet parrot on his shoulder to make Mason smile. 

I remember the physical and occupational therapists playing with him on the floor while giving us strategies to work on at home during the recovery process. 

I remember so many small ways his nurses/doctors/surgeons/therapists/etc. made a point to help us feel as safe and comfortable as possible during a very scary time. 

This is why I love my job as a speech-language pathologist. For some families, I get to be a small part of a child’s journey and be a member of the support team along the way. My own journey with Mason helped me better understand how to form a compassionate relationship with students and families. It is so important that children have a caring and supportive community surrounding them as they learn and grow; I am looking forward to joining that community with CCS.

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