Sometime in this first week of April, it will be eleven years since Garrett was diagnosed with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS). I can not believe that I have forgotten the exact date, but I think that's a good thing!
Charlie and I were shocked at the news. We thought Garrett's motor delays (the only SMS symptom obvious to us at the time) were due to his chronic ear infections (also a common problem for children with SMS). Charlie was one week into the fire academy and we had just learned that our second baby, due four months later, was going to be a boy.
The dream job. Our perfect family. Everything changed in one afternoon.
Finding support for our family:
Our pediatrician could not find any information about SMS in his text books. He called Children’s Hospital Genetic Clinic and they faxed over one page about SMS.
One page. We were told that our toddler had a syndrome that was life altering from who we thought he was.
Eight paragraphs. And the only information we had about this syndrome fit on the front side of an 8 x11 sheet of paper.
At least 200 really, really big words. The majority of that information we could not understand.
Three pictures that scared us to death. Those horrible “medical pictures.” As strange as it sounds, I could not even see Garrett’s adulthood in color. Every vision I had of him was in black and white with a bar over his eyes.
And hundreds of questions unanswered. What was going to happen to us?
Finally, we located the PRISMS (Parents and Researchers Interested in Smith-Magenis Syndrome) website.
It was early 2001 and we did not have “The World Wide Web” in our house. My Aunt Patty found the website, but I cannot remember how….was Google alive eleven years ago? She printed off several stories written by parents and brought them to our house.
Encouraging stories (click here)! With colored pictures! Not only were these kids smiling, but there were no black bars across their faces.
Then, we joined the non-profit organization. And they mailed us a packet full of every back issue of their newsletter, “The Spectrum.” (Past "Spectrum" issues are now posted on the website here.)
We pored over every single word of those articles. It was surreal to go from eight paragraphs to pages and pages of information.
Information for Families
What a difference from those eight paragraphs!!
We are celebrating our 11 years with PRISMS with a fundraiser to help with the cost of this year's PRISMS conference in Denver, Colorado (go here for more info). Click on the First Giving box at the top of the page to make a donation in Garrett's honor. Thanks!