Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Makes Us Human

(Disclaimer: This post is not for the faint of heart.)

We have a 'shaken-baby' in our family. Actually, her medical record says 'non-accidental trauma'. (As if the harm to any of my children was accidental. Please!) When we got her, I went and picked her up from the hospital just a few weeks after her injury. Since then, in the year or so that she has been with us she has been in the hospital 9 times, not counting emergency room visits. And by 'she' of course I mean 'we'.

Each of the hospital stays was memorable for one reason or another; a surgery that significantly decreased her pain, a terrible staff member who will never touch my child again, a great nurse, my big breakdown, etc. The most memorable, however, was the very first. The pediatric intensivist who admitted her made a very interesting comment.
Before getting into it,though..... in his defense, every time a new MD looks at her CT / MRI scans, they feel the need to inform me of the extreme nature of her injury.
The damage to her brain is complete.
There is no part of her brain that looks normal.
She has no activity on the right side of her brain.
Blah, blah, blah.....
I understand brain injury. I get it!

But this doctor, I'll call him Dr. 'F', left me speechless. Not an easy thing to do. He introduced himself, performed a brief exam, then excused himself to look at the reports. When he returned to discuss the plan of care, guess what he 'needed' to tell me? Right! She has a really bad brain injury.
But here's the exact quote,
In fact, this baby has basically no cortex left. And cortex is what makes us human.
Did you catch that? Because of child abuse suffered before 5 months of age, 'this baby' can no longer be classified as human.  Um...

What I so wish I'd said is,
 You know Dr. F, there are some with lots of cortex, even medical degrees, who don't have what.makes.us.human!
 Is my voice rising? Sorry.

Anyway, it's a hot topic in our culture in various ways . What makes us human? All I know is, this precious baby smiles, laughs, babbles, scolds me when I put her down, likes music, and movement of any kind, and loves her brother's voice and touch. Her body won't do what she wants, it's true. But in some developmental skills she is just 10 months behind...

And she's not even Human!


  1. Wow that is awful! Anyone who has spent any amount of time with her knows that she is just as human as anyone! There is no doubt that she has a personality and feelings of her own, even I can see that and overall I haven't spent all that much time with her!
    Love you guys!

  2. How awful! Why in the world is someone with such an obviously poor bed...or crib-side manner working with these children and their families?? Wonder, if he had his way, if he would just let these damaged little angels just die!!! After all, the aren't even human. Argh!