BY Jenny McCarthy
As I’m sure you have noticed, I wear a lot of different hats. But my number one job is being a mom, and a warrior one at that. It’s hard enough being a mom in today’s world without life throwing you a major curveball. I’ve been through the ringer at times, and I am so moved by stories of other tough mommas that power through, come out stronger and are sometimes lucky enough to help others in the end.
This time of year, I am always reminded of a family friend whose story is absolutely amazing. She is one tough chick. She was fighting her for her life and has now defied all odds by relearning how to talk, walk and carry out all of the daily activities that we don’t even think twice about. She is taking care of her two sons on her own while her husband works and travels, and she has even written a book to help other moms teach their little ones about disabilities. I thought I would give you all a little glimpse into her touching story.
Jenny: So what exactly happened the night of July 5, 2009?
Carolyn: I woke up suddenly to Landon crying, who at the time was 22 months old. I rushed in to check on him, and as I lay down in his bed, my heart suddenly stopped. When the crying didn’t stop, my husband Luke woke up to see what was wrong. He found me lifeless, not breathing and without a pulse. He quickly called 911 and did CPR until the paramedics arrived. After an estimated 15 to 20 minutes without oxygen, they finally restarted my heart. They cooled my body temperature down to decrease the degree of brain damage and I was taken to the hospital, where I would spend three weeks in the cardiac ICU.
Jenny: OMG, I cannot even imagine what Luke went through. So what happened?
Carolyn: The doctors did not have very good news for my family and prepared them for the worst, expecting that I would be in a long-term care facility for the rest of my life. I would most likely be blind and would not be the same girl that I was before. Along with Landon, I also had a second son, Parker, who was only 2 months old at the time. In an instant, our perfect family was being thrown a major curveball. I was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome.
Jenny: So how in the world did you get to where you are today?
Carolyn: After I spent three weeks in the ICU, they implanted a pacemaker and defibrillator combination in my chest. I headed to a rehab hospital in Charlottesville, VA, where I had to relearn everything. I could not even sit up on my own. I was in a wheelchair with a catheter and a feeding tube.
If I could not take care of myself, how was I going to take care of two little boys? I was ready to show every doctor that they were wrong. I had children so that I could raise them, and that became my motivation. Everyday tasks that people take for granted, I then had a new appreciation for. Walking, getting dressed and feeding myself all became daily challenges. I spent three months there, working hard and challenging my brain daily. I progressed to using a walker and feeling some sort of independence. I spent the next year in therapy for walking and vision.
Jenny: How difficult has it been raising your two boys over the last few years?
Carolyn: Thankfully, as I have gotten better, my boys have also gotten older. Parker learned to walk on his own before I did! The way that I had to relearn, I could take that and teach them how to dress themselves. I can no longer drive because of my vision, so that is hard with two boys that are 4 and 5, but I feel blessed to be here, no matter how challenging things are. My vision is still slowly improving, and I am in no way blind. I do have visual deficits, but we all work together to figure things out. Landon has started reading this year, so he has become my big helper if I need it!
Jenny: So tell me a little about your book, Mommy, What Is That For?Carolyn: My children, Landon and Parker, were the inspiration behind my book. I wanted to be like any other mom and walk Landon into preschool, which I did, but still had to use a walker. I would pass other parents with their children and the child would always stop, stare and either ask me or their mom what my walker was for. I wrote the book to serve as a teaching tool for parents and teachers to discuss different handicap devices such as wheelchairs, walkers and canes. The book is now available through Kindle and Nook.
Let’s all support this fascinating mommy! Now you can see why I think Carolyn is such a rock star. She knows what she wants and goes after it! Carolyn wouldn’t take no for an answer, and nothing is going to stop her from reaching her goals. We think we have it tough … I think we can all use her inspirational story as motivation in our own lives.