A year ago this month, we made the decision to walk away from seeking out a diagnosis for what had happened to our daughter. After eighteen doctors and four hospitals who kept reading each others’ notes and refusing to test or look with fresh eyes, we decided that the search for a reason and a name for all of this was pointless. It didn’t matter to us any longer what had happened. Giving it a name wouldn’t change it at this point, as we were 18 months past onset and past the prime time for all the possible treatments we could find. There was just no point to continuing to drag her and ourselves through it all.
She was unable to walk, and we had all made peace with it.
In the first weeks of March of 2016, we took her to the Wheelchair Basketball National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Her team came in 16th our of 16 teams (someone has to be last), but she still was able to participate in the All-Tournament Girls’ Showcase. (One of the few Jr High girls to do so.) With the eyes of college coaches on her, she was just as tough and aggressive against the high school girls she was up against as she was girls her own size.
As the scrimmage went on, the coaches from Arizona and Tennessee came over to discuss number “00” with me. One of the first things they asked was “What is her disability?” When I confessed that she was undiagnosed and that the official diagnosis on record was “Conversion Disorder”, their faces turned serious and both said “She needs a diagnosis to play college ball. She could probably get a full ride if she keeps playing like this, but not with Conversion as her diagnosis.”
They followed Paralympic rules, they explained, and she had to have something physically wrong with her. A psychiatric disorder as the cause of her paraplegia would end her chances of playing in college or in the Paralympics.
We came home from Louisville and stewed a bit. Was a potential college scholarship worth reentering the hell of seeking a diagnosis? We discussed it with each other, and then talked to her about it. What did she think of this new development? She mulled it over for two days and then said, “You get one more doctor. I’ll see one and be nice. If he says Conversion I’m out of there, and I might ram him in the shin.”
We decided that was reasonable given what she’d been subjected to in the previous two years, and we began searching for “the one.”
We began furiously researching our options and picking the brains of everyone we’d stopped pestering in the last six months.
I began praying the Mary, Undoer of Knots Novena and hoping for a solution for what to do and where to go next. We didn’t seem to be getting anywhere at all, and then on the last day of the Novena, Ella’s brother broke his foot.
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