Finally after some six and a half years of very long days and nights taking care of premies, Stacy and I moved to Decatur, Texas. We wanted a slower lifestyle for our family even if it meant significantly less income. Andrea had not long been in first grade. She was growing and doing well.
The school system in Arkansas required Laura to attend public school despite being so very medically fragile. Even being a Pediatrician and having the most medical knowledge about Laura’s condition meant nothing to the state. It was made perfectly clear to me and Stacy that no matter how frail she was, she would attend school or they would put me in jail. Moving to Texas meant we could get out from under that dangerous Arkansas nanny state idiocy.
I had been caring for another very chronically ill child who was about Laura’s age. He had been very premature and on a ventilator for most of the first year of his life before he came to my practice. His lungs had sustained permanent damage though the ventilator had saved his life. He too was forced to attend public school. I learned several years after we moved that he had died. I wondered if Laura would have too, had she been forced to attend public school.
After encouragement by Kelly, a good friend from church who was an occupational therapist at the local Texas elementary school, we decided to give the public school there a chance. Laura’s years there were some of the best ever. Kelly even had Laura doing swim and horse therapy. It was a sight watching the therapists on either side of a fifteen hundred pound horse holding Laura up. She wasn’t even twenty pounds.
At school Kelly got her into a four point wheeled walker which supported her head and neck and suspended her so that her toes could just touch the floor. I watched as she struggled and pushed ever so slightly with her toes. She couldn’t really do much purposefully with her legs. All the same, the other children and teachers loved Laura and would clap for her and urge her on as she ‘walked’ into their classroom.