Teeter's Story

 

Where did the name Teeter come from? Well, during all these surgeries, we began by calling her Sweetie Pie, then Sweetie, then Teetie Pie, and somehow finally Teeter.

Cathie initially took a leave of absence from work for six months, after exhausting all of her sick leave. We began trying to find day care which we were satisfied with. We did not want to put her in a large structured place, we wanted individual attention and some medical ability. We found one lady who kept Teeter in her home for a while, then unexpectedly told us that she could not do it anymore because of personal problems. Then we found a nurse who wanted to stay home with her new baby and also keep a few kids. That seemed like the ideal solution, but she also had a 4-year old who went to preschool and brought back a different virus each week. Teeter got sick over and over, finally requiring hospitalization for pneumonia. Cathie and I had had enough - she asked for another leave of absence, and when it was declined, she quit to stay home, which she still does. In 1995 Cathie began volunteering at Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo and now is employed there on Sundays as the Farmkeeper, a job which she loves.

Teeter's most recent hospitalization came in April of 1996. She caught a stomach virus and within 24 hours had deteriorated so badly that she needed IV fluids - she could not keep anything down - not even water.

I know many of you reading this will be faced with your kids going through the same circumstances we found ourselves in. If we have any advice to offer, it's this:

  • Ask any questions you feel like asking of your doctors. The only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask
  • Be optimistic. Your child will amaze you.
  • Learn from your child. Be as stubborn and persevering as they are.
  • Treat your child normally in every way (as much as possible!)
  • Give your child the gift of self-esteem. It's more important and will help them in life more than anything else. They need to know they are beautiful.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Always keep your sense of humor.
  • Know that things will get better in time. Ask ANY of the parents on Teeter's Page!

Teeter began preschool as soon as she was eligible. In South Carolina, that's at age 3. It has really brought her out of her shell. We are guilty of creating that shell, but we did it to protect her physical health. She still weighs only 30 pounds, although she eats like a pig. We had to keep her sheltered when she was so small and frail, because it seemed that every time she got around other kids she got sick, no matter how careful we were. So we intentionally limited her contact with other kids, because of all of the surgeries she had to go through. We chose between her social development and her physical health, and we would do the same thing over again. She's catching up now. She absolutely loves her school, and the choice we have to make now (with her teachers) is whether to keep her with other special needs kids or to mainstream her for kindergarten. We are leaning towards the mainstream.

Up until December of 1995, we had gone it completely alone - we had never spoken to another parent of a child with Apert's. I started fooling around with our profile on America Online and put something about Apert or Craniofacial in it. Within a week, we had been sought out and contacted by the Jennerjohns. Not too long after that Julie Sanchez wrote to us. We traded war stories and ran up huge telephone bills, and even sent videotape back and forth. I knew I had to make a little spot on somewhere to let the world know about our special kids, and the internet was the perfect place to do it. I never dreamed it would become so large so fast and mean so much to so many, but I am so thankful to have all of you out there. We share a common bond almost as strong as family, and not a day goes by that we are not appreciative of all of you who are Teeter's friends.

Don Sears, November 19, 1996

 

 

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