When Isabella was born prematurely at 35 weeks, Natalie could not have imagined the medical journey that she was about to embark upon.
Almost four years later, Natalie credits both the acute care and outpatient teams from McMaster Children’s Hospital for giving her and her daughter the confidence and support they need to face each day.
Isabella was diagnosed with strabismus (a misalignment of her eyes), malignant hyperthermia and spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy (the most serious form of cerebral palsy). As a result of these conditions, Isabella receives ongoing care through a number of programs, including the Children’s Developmental Rehabilitation Program (CDRP) and Prosthetics and Orthotics Service. Together, this comprehensive team of caregivers has enabled Isabella to experience life without being confined to a wheelchair.
At times it is difficult to see Isabella struggle, but Natalie takes pride in her abilities. She attends pre-school and has a vocabulary that exceeds most children her age.
“It is as if her mind is trying to make up for the challenges of her body.”
– Natalie Murdock, Isabella’s mother
“She is involved in reading, painting, and baking, but her favourite activity is riding her horse.” Horseback riding was suggested by Terri Malchow, Isabella’s occupational therapist, as a way of strengthening the core muscles in her body. According to Natalie, “Isabella is at one with her horse as it gives her the freedom and grace to run and walk in a way that her own physical limitations would never allow. Her horse is her legs.” In addition to horseback riding, Isabella is using a walker and quad canes to strengthen her leg muscles.
Other treatments abound, including patching to strengthen her vision, regular injections of Botox™ to minimize the continuous cramping in her leg muscles, and “fancy pants,” a pair of neoprene pants designed to help Isabella develop her core strength and to properly align her hips and pelvis when walking. All of these efforts and the support of a tremendous team have given Natalie the ability to care for her daughter with the confidence and emotional support that they both need.
Natalie dreams that one day Isabella will be able to “lead a fully functional life, living each day with confidence.”
See Isabella’s story below, and consider donating to McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation.