December 14, 2013 was a cold and snowy morning. I woke up beside Chase in the ICU at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to the faint sounds of medical monitors, but somehow they sounded different that morning. The room he had spent the last two months in seemed calmer. I glanced over at my husband, Chad, who was sitting on a couch by the window. He looked up at me and whispered, “We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”. The day prior, Chase had undergone his last surgery for 2013: the amputations of both his hands and feet.
The days of feeling sorrowful about Chase’s situation were over! I had cried my last tear and we were now ready to help Chase write his next chapter. This is how it all began.
While on what was to be a quick getaway family vacation to Disney World in October of 2013, our son, Chase, was suddenly stricken with a near-deadly strand of the flu virus which quickly sent him into septic shock. Chase was hospitalized at the Florida Hospital for Children for nearly a month. Just as we thought things were improving, Chase suffered a brain hemorrhage and underwent emergency brain surgery and was also on dialysis. While we were very thankful for the tremendous work and effort from the staff at Florida Hospital for Children for saving our son’s life, we wanted to get Chase back home and provide a bit of normalcy for our oldest son, CJ. In November 2013, the doctors in Florida assisted in making the trip home possible. Chase was now in stable condition and was able to be airlifted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, but was still in a sedated state.
Once our family was finally reunited it was far from normal, but we made it work. Every few days, Chad and I switched shifts with the boys to make sure Chase was never left alone and that CJ was able to see him every day after school. One night, CJ and I had returned home to a surprising video message from Chad. It was Chase saying “Mommy.” Before that moment we were unsure of his mental state following the brain surgery, but at that instant I knew my Chase was back!
In the weeks to follow, Chase continued to improve and showed his upbeat personality to all the nurses, doctors and specialists who cared for him. He entertained them by singing, dancing to Michael Jackson, wearing his Mario hat and even pretending to box with Chad.
During Chase’s illness, the medications that helped protect his vital organs stopped the blood flow to his extremities. This led to the development of necrosis in his hands and feet, which resulted in amputations. It was a reality that Chad and I knew we might have to face.
However, the loss of his limbs has not slowed Chase down one bit. In fact, Chase uses life’s hurdles to fuel his superhero spirit! He continues to play his favorite sports and will be participating in soccer this spring for the first time since his illness. Of course a super hero usually has a sidekick. That role is filled by CJ, his older brother. He plays a major role in encouraging Chase to attempt new challenges and problem solve when he may be struggling, while his little brother Cole tries his best to keep up and adds to Chase’s many superhero responsibilities.
While Chase has been through a lot in a relatively short time, our little hero’s determination, huge personality, and fighting spirit won’t stop him from doing the things he enjoys most. We continue to be amazed by him every day!
As parents, we strive to make sure that Chase never loses his drive to succeed and that limits are never imposed on his true potential. With these ideas in mind, our nonprofit organization Chase Ur Dream was started. The ordeal we went through with Chase was an absolute nightmare and stepping into the world of prosthetic legs and arms was foreign to us. We aim to assist other families who might be in similar situations with the information and tools they’ll need to help encourage their child to continue to dream big and never lose their determination to do their utmost to achieve their goals!
In addition, we’ve started the Chase-Man adventure books to help tell his story and teach children the importance of tolerance and unlimited potential regardless of someone’s physical condition. Books can be found on Amazon.
To show your support, get updates about the Chase-Man superhero book series and learn more about ChaseURDream nonprofit initiatives, please visit chaseurdream.com.