by Debbie Browne
One of the biggest challenges I faced, as a mother of a Turner syndrome daughter, were the days we made another dreaded trip to Houston’s Medical Center downtown.
Removing Kellie from her school classroom only brought more attention to her appearance from her peers. She dragged her feet in meeting me at the car for she knew this would not be her idea of skipping school. It would be a long exhausting ride from her northeast suburban neighbor to downtown and it was done in complete silence.
Nothing I tried to say seemed to calm her fears. In fact, words of hope at times only added fuel to the ragging fire.
Kellie couldn’t understand why her mother didn’t just accept her being short. She would stare out the car window as she wrestled with her phobia of needles, dealing with a doctor with no bedside manner, and feeling more like a lab rat than a human being.
No wonder it often took five grown adults to hold her down at the end of her visit to draw blood. For an eight-year old, this was not fun. And, frankly…she grew tired of being different and, as her mother, I grew tired of it, too.
However, last week I was asked to tour a Turner Syndrome Global Alliance supported clinic in Kansas City, MO. I witnessed a carefree event that I could never have even dreamed there could ever be; a waiting room full of TS moms and their daughters who wore their bandages like a badge of honor.
They were happy and so excited to hug each other. The girls and moms, from six different surrounding states, cheered for each other as if they were at a small-town family reunion.
What made the difference? One mom choosing to use her experience to advocate for something new. The six-hour event of hosting forty-eight girls for the day was more like a par-tee than a trip to Doomsville. It was like night and day as TS girls seemed be excited for their name to be called for their examinations and needles. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
At lunchtime, while the girls painted their fingernails, sat with a makeup artist, made fun memorable crafts, and had pictures taken with Miss Kansas herself, their parents slipped out of the room to their own time of fellowship with a lunch and learn on infertility.
Marty Postlethwait, executive director of Shadow Buddies also visited the center the day I was there. Since 1995, The Shadow Buddies Foundation has been bringing smiles, hope and companionship to medically challenged children across the country and around the world in the form of cuddly, plush Buddies.
Praise the Lord for this mother, Kelly Ranallo, for not settling for a dark time, but working towards the light of day. What’s next for Kelly? Developing a model for Turner syndrome women to “enjoy” their day together at the doctor’s office.
Isn’t it amazing what mothers can do to make a difference?
Leaping Butterfly Ministry relies on donations to change lives, to create awareness of Turner syndrome, contribute funds for research, and support for those touched by TS. Click here to see how you can help.