Awakening dreams, inspiring hope, and fulfilling potential
My Story
I, Lisa Brooks-Wilkins, have been blessed with six beautiful children, two of which are diagnosed with significant health impairments as well as developmental disabilities.  My firstborn, Michael, whom is now deceased, took his last breath while lying in my arms.  He was nine years of age when this devastating event occurred.  It is because of him that I entered the medical field and subsequently possess over 18 years of dedicated service in the Health & Human Services Industry.  Additionally, I possess within me an overwhelming desire to ensure that individuals of all backgrounds and abilities be afforded the opportunity to become whatsoever they dream, regardless of life's adversities.

The journey that I have embarked upon, I could have never imagined.  It was thrust upon me with the birth of by first-born child, whom at the tender age of five months was diagnosed with cerebral palsy-spastic quadriplegia, as well as a host of other conditions to numerous to mention.  My special child was given a life span of not more than three years, but I acknowledge that there exist only one who can predict the time of our arrival and departure from this earth.  

Michael was totally dependent upon my husband, myself, a network of family, and a team of dedicated nurses for his care and support.  He was unable to walk, talk, sit upright or even feed himself.  His nutritional needs were met entirely via g-tube support and he required 24-hour daily nursing care.

When I sought professional assistance, I was told that if this burden was to much for me to bare then I should consider having my child institutionalized.  I cried and cried, that's about all I can recall doing during that chaotic moment in time.  This roller coaster of emotions went on for quite awhile before I finally came to the realization that if I wanted my child to have a better quality of life, then it was up to me to empower myself with the knowledge i required to execute change.

I began to take the paltry information provided to me by medical professionals and supplemented it with vigorous research.  I frequented both public and medical libraries to gain a greater understanding of previously unknown medical terminology.  I sought second/third opinions and arranged appointments with multiple therapist, medical specialist, etc., determined to improve Michael's quality of life.  He was enrolled in early intervention and later a state funded private special education school.

Through all of this, Michael never really acquired any additional skills, however, what he did acquire was nine years of unconditional love and happiness (he always had a smile).  What I acquired was the ability to love unconditionally, the grace to provide happiness to another without consideration of myself, the strength to be merciful to those in need, and the gift of unending compassion.

You would think my story ended here, but it does not.  It began anew with the birth of my third-born child, Melissa. My beautiful daughter entered this world a neuro-typical child, accomplishing all of her developmental milestones either early or within a timely fashion.  Then, unexpectedly, shortly before her third birthday Melissa was rendered comatose due to an undiagnosed inborn error of metabolism.  More specifically, Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency, a defect of the Urea Cycle.

Apparently, this devastating genetic anomaly affects only about 1 in 800,000 individuals and my daughters brain was being ravaged by one of the worst neuro-toxins known to man.  Melissa was experiencing a severe hyperammonemia crisis that was resulting in encephalitis (swelling of the brain).  Her prognosis was poor and my husband and I were was provided only two options.  The first, allow the physicians to place Melissa on a ventilator and sign permission for the administration of a newly manufactured drug that wasn't even FDA approved, or option number two, watch her die.  Our decision was already made, we had no choice but to allow the professionals to intubate our child and administer to her a drug that required us to sign away our rights in the event of unexpected complications and/or death.

By the grace of God Melissa awoke from her previously unconscious state, but when she emerged it became indisputably evident that she had lost every skill she had ever acquired.  An insurmountable amount of damage had been inflicted upon Melissa's brain and she would require intensive rehabilitation.  I felt incredulous.  My daughter could no longer walk, talk, or sit upright, even her feeding and toileting skills had to be reacquired.  That was the beginning of my and melissa's miraculous uphill journey together.  

Together, we have been exposed to the beneficial restorative use of alternative therapies and the life-changing principles of applied behavior analysis.  Skills i presumed Melissa would never reacquire have been miraculously restored.  My daughter is now able to walk, talk (when she wants to), run, and jump.  All the things a typically functioning child can do physically.  mentally however, her level of functioning is significantly below that of her peers and their remains considerable ground for improvement.

Regardless of this fact, and however daunting the future may seem, I still have hope for through my children I have been introduced to a number of truly angelic souls.  Moreover, it is because of these souls that I have decided to give back what was provided to my children, my husband and myself.  

Although my son is no longer here with us on earth, his presence has left a lasting imprint on my life.  Therefore, with the Lord's help and the help of other like-minded souls, I willingly give of myself and accept the task to assist my child and the families of other children with developmental disabilities and/or special health care needs navigate through the labyrinths of red tape and bureaucracy to obtain the care and support essential to their families health, safety and well being.

Thanks for listening,