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Overcoming the Odds After Traumatic Brain Injury

September 8th, 2015, 13-year-old Isaiah was at football practice when he got a severe headache and began throwing up. After getting a call from the coach, Isaiah’s mom Christina came to the field.

“And that's when I saw him kinda stumbling,” said Christina. “I just thought, ‘that's kinda strange.’  He was saying one word at a time.  He kept saying ‘home,’ ‘hurt’ and ‘help.’ And then I realized something else was wrong.”

To be safe, Christina took him to the hospital. On the way, she called her husband Ozzy who met them there.

“And I just remember saying, ‘Isaiah’s just dehydrated,’” remembered Ozzy. “‘Maybe he just needs a lot of water. And he’s going to be okay.’”
While waiting to see the doctor, Isaiah struggled to communicate and keep his eyes open.

“Something told me to look in his eyes,” said Christina. “I didn't really know what I was doing. So I got my cellphone out and I shined a light into each eye and I noticed his pupils were not responding.”

Ozzy became worried and said, “Then that’s when I started questioning, okay, something is not right here.”

They alerted one of the nurses, who immediately took Isaiah back for evaluation.

“They took him for the CT scan and when he came back I could just tell that something was not right,” said Christina. “And I said, ‘it's something serious; isn't it?’  and he said, ‘yeah, it is.’"

The scan revealed a cluster of blood vessels in Isaiah’s brain had ruptured and that he needed immediate surgery. Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Christopher Troup was on duty.

“He had a lot of blood on his brain that was causing a lot of pressure and kinda matched how bad he looked on his exam,” Dr. Troup reported.
Dr. Troup prepared the family for the worst.

“There was a chance he could bleed to death on the table,” Dr. Troup said solemnly “At this point, we were just trying to save his life, and he could still have a very bad outcome from this even if he survived.”

“Now, I am talking to God and saying, ‘what in the world is going on,’” questioned Ozzy.  “I said ‘why –why not me? Just take me in place of him.’”

As the team started to wheel Isaiah into surgery, Christina stopped them.

“I said, ‘do you pray,’” said Christina through tears, “and Dr. Troup said, ‘absolutely.’ And dr. Troup prayed over him and I think that moment when he said ‘amen,’ we felt he was going to be okay.”

“I’d started feeling peace during that time,” said Ozzy. “It was just incredible just to see people that we didn’t know, these doctors and nurses, just gather around, everybody holding hands, and just praying around my son.”

While they waited, Christina sent out a call for prayer.  Many came to the hospital.

“When they don't just pray, when they show up to pray with you,” said Christina, “it's just powerful.”

The surgical team successfully removed the clot and stopped the bleeding. But Dr. Troup cautioned that Isaiah may be unable to speak or even recognize his family when he woke up.

“It was the best feeling to see him open his eyes and acknowledge us,” said Christina joyfully. “I mean, he's alive and his eyes are open and he knew who we were and it was joy.”

“When Dr. Troup came to the doorway,” said Ozzy, “I immediately got up and gave him a big, grand hug. I was starting to feel that God was doing what, you know, He said all along that He would do and that is take care of us.”

Recovery would be slow for Isaiah. The injury had affected his ability to speak and he lost partial use of the right side of his body, making it a struggle to walk.

“The simplest way they explained it to me, was it was like having a baby and then the baby having to take those baby steps again” explained Ozzy.
Through therapy, hard work, and prayer, he continued to improve. As his speech recovery progressed, he was even able to do what he had missed most – playing his trumpet.

“It took a while, but I learned to play with my left hand,” smiled Isaiah. “What keeps me going; my mom, my dad, my grandfather, my grandmother. They keep me on pace.”

Back in school, Isaiah was soon walking on his own and was even able to act and sing. He’s come a long way, and has big plans for the future.
“I want to be a physical therapist,” said Isaiah, “because I know what happened to me, and I want to give back.”

Dr. Troup said, “And his spirit has always been there.  His drive. There was never ‘quit’ in him. His personality just lights up the room.”

“There’s not one moment that goes by that I don’t thank God,” said Ozzy. “When somebody’s asking me, you know, how’s your son doing, that I don’t mention God’s name.”

“He's a miracle.  It's just God,” remarked Christina. “People are still praying for him and I know that God continues to work in him.”

“I know that God saved me,” smiled Isaiah, “because he works with me every single day.”

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