Last week I received dress number three in our Traveling Dresses project. This gorgeous gown came from Susan Willis Photography in Southern Illinois. If you've read my other blog posts, then you already know that my focus is more about who's wearing the dress, rather than the dress itself. The dress arrived a few days before a senior session that I had scheduled. When my senior, Carson, arrived, I asked her if she was interested in trying on the dress and participating in my project. Thankfully, she said yes, because from the moment she put the dress on, I knew she was the girl who was supposed to wear it! The dress looked like it was custom made just for her... a perfect fit! She looked like a princess with a Cinderella story to tell!
When Carson was eight months old she traveled with her parents to Albuquerque, New Mexico. What should have been a fabulous family vacation quickly turned in to every parents worst nightmare. Carson became very ill and had to be rushed by ambulance from an Urgent Care center to the hospital. While in route, she coded. Her mother, Amy, had to administer chest compressions on her young daughter while the paramedic remained on the phone and in contact with the hospital. Arriving at the hospital unconscious, there was a team of doctors and nurses waiting. They quickly rushed Carson to a trauma room and went to work. It wasn't until the next day, after a spinal tap was performed on her tiny body, that she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. The doctors only treatment option was two very strong antibiotics. After being versed on potential side affects, Carson's parents consented to the treatment knowing that their daughters life was in danger.
As I'm sure you've already guessed from the senior photos of this gorgeous young lady, her life was spared. But not without life altering side affects from the antibiotic Vancomycin. After remaining unconscious for eight days in the hospital, Carson finally awoke. The medication she had received to keep her alive blew the veins in her legs. The swelling was at a critical level and at one point the doctors feared that they were going to have to amputate her right leg. As Carson's parents prayed over her, the swelling miraculously disappeared to the amazement of the doctors and nurses attending her. Once Carson was stable enough to travel, she was released from the hospital. Her family journeyed back to Alabama. Upon her first visit to her pediatrician once home, her doctor noticed that there was a problem with her hearing and referred her to the Hearing Center at Children's Hospital in Birmingham. After a battery of tests, it was discovered that the Vancomycin had burned the hair cells in Carson's cochlea leaving her profoundly hearing impaired in her left ear and moderately hearing impaired in her right. Her right ear was fitted for a little purple hearing aid which she wore for the next four years.
As Carson aged, the hearing in her right ear began to fail and her audiologist recommended that her parents explore the option of a cochlear implant. In April of 2008, at the age of 5, Carson received her implant. Two weeks after surgery, the implant was activated and a whole new world opened up for her. She began speech therapy and a month later was speaking as if she had no hearing loss at all. Because of the success Carson has experienced with her implant and her speech, at the recommendation of her doctors, Carson underwent surgery this past October to implant her left ear. Complications due to infection and swelling, which pushed the second implant out of place, meant a second surgery where the doctor screwed the implant to her skull. Carson is still experiencing difficulties with the second implant. It has been so long since her brain has heard sounds in her left ear that it does not know how to interpret them. Currently, Carson is unable to hear words in her left hear but can recognize vibrations. Never a quitter, Carson is determined to keep working hard to train her brain to distinguish all sounds and hopes that eventually she will be able to hear in both ears.
Carson's mother made a very brave and selfless decision early on to home educate her daughter. I have no doubt that the one-on-one schooling that she has received has only helped her to excel. This beautiful, bright, 5'11" fighter is full of life! Having her here for the day was pure joy! Carson and her Mom give all the glory to God and will tell you that a miracle happened that day in a hospital in New Mexico. Carson's goal after graduation is to go to college and eventually work as an audiologist. I have no doubt that she will be a great one!