In Aug. 23 issue, Russell County NewsBy Derek AaronRussell County News EditorABOVE: Dalen, 13, right, has cerebral palsy and was born 31 weeks premature by emergency cesarean section at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Cerebral palsy is a non-curable condition that affects muscle control. His mother, Amanda, wants to help others in situations like hers and often gives advice and her contact information to people in similar circumstances.
When Jamestown resident Amanda Robertson gave birth to her son, Dalen Brent Robertson, 13 years ago, she had no idea her life would change like it did.
Her and her son’s lives are stories of prayer, pain and persistence and are examples many people can learn from.
Dalen, who has cerebral palsy, was born 31 weeks premature by emergency cesarean section at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.
Cerebral palsy is a non-curable condition that affects muscle control that has bound him to a wheelchair and rendered him virtually helpless.
“I had pre-eclampsia so they had to take him,” she said. “He was a three pound, two ounce baby.”
Pre-eclampsia is a medical condition where hypertension arises in pregnancy in association with significant amounts of protein in toxins released by the body.
She said most children born that early have underdeveloped lungs but that she was given a steroid shot to help with his lungs before the birth.
“Luckily it helped him and he didn’t have to be on oxygen like most of them are,” she said.
On the day Amanda was able to go home from the hospital, she received word that her three-day-old son would have to have emergency surgery to correct a hole in his intestine.
“I was worried sick that he wouldn’t make it through that either,” she said.
After the successful surgery, Dalen had to have a colostomy, a surgical procedure that involves connecting a part of the colon onto the anterior abdominal wall, leaving him with an opening on the abdomen, for a while.
“The whole time I had been going to (my doctor) everything had been fine until the 37th week,” she said.
“When he tested me he said the pre-eclampsia was pretty bad and he put me in Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital.”
She was in the hospital for only an hour when she was told she needed to be taken to UK for further medical treatment.
“My doctor told me it was the worst case of pre-eclampsia he had ever seen,” she said. “All that week I had felt so bad.”
She said it wasn’t until Dalen was six weeks old until doctors told her that he could have cerebral palsy.
“It was a complete shock to me,” she said. “They told me then that he had a hemorrhage on his brain that they had found doing a routine head ultrasound on all the babies.”
She said doctors put him in intensive care and told her that as bad as the bleeding was, he would have some kind of disability.
“He had the worst type of bleeding one could have,” she said. “On the scale from 1 to 4, his was a four.”
She said it was another miracle that he never had to have a shunt, a procedure to draw off excessive fluid in the brain, placed, even as bad as the hemorrhage was.
And so, Amanda and Dalen, who finally was able to come home from the hospital, moved forward.
She soon found that her new lifestyle would cause for some changes.
“It was hard because I never thought I could handle something like that,” she said. “It was a big change that took a toll on me mentally and physically there that first year.”
Amanda, who is a single parent, gives all the credit to God for her to be able to handle the situation.
“That is where my strength comes from,” she said.
“There is a lot of prayer and a lot of dependence and trust solely on Him because I couldn’t do it on my own.”
She said every time she has to lift him to and from his wheelchair, it is through the Lord that she is able to do it.
“I get down on my knees every night and pray for strength,” she said. “That is all I can do.”
She said that he can’t do anything for himself so she takes care of all his needs.
“Personal Touch Home Health comes and gives him a bath fives days a week and that is such a blessing.”
Roslin Foster has been bathing him for four years, Amanda said.
Dalen now attends Russell County Middle School after previously attending both Jamestown and Union Chapel Elementary schools.
Dalen spends his days at school with Pam Sizemore, who has been his caregiver at school for three years.
“She is wonderful,” Amanda said. “He loves her and she sure does a great job taking care of him.”
She said she worried at first that he wouldn’t be accepted because of his condition but that every time she has been there, all the children gather around him and make him one of their own, a relief to her.
“They all want to help him in some way, either by pushing him in his wheelchair or something else,” she said.
Amanda said that Dalen loves to watch his favorite show, SpongeBob SquarePants, on Nickelodeon as well as riding in the golf cart at his pa’s and in the go-carts at the mini-Indy in Jamestown.
He also enjoys Saturday trips to McDonald’s or Wendy’s and K-Mart as well.
“He just can’t get up and move about,” she said.
“His momma is his body for him because I pick him up and help him do what he enjoys doing.”
Dalen also loves to swim but has grown to where it is too difficult for Amanda to lift him into or out of a pool.
Dalen’s grandparents, Jimmy and Judy Mann, along with Amanda’s daughter, Brittany Hoover, her sister Michelle Robertson and her niece Macey along with other family play a big role in their lives as well.
“He loves going to his nanny and pa’s on the weekend and staying the night,” she said.
He also has several friends that come visit him from time to time. “He likes them visiting, especially the girls,” Amanda said.
Amanda, a born-again Christian, and Dalen attend Rowena Holiness Church each Sunday, a time that Amanda says Dalen thoroughly enjoys.
“He loves our pastor, Bro. Wayne, and his wife, Sister Jean Keith,” she said. “They’ve been so good to him.”
She said taking care of Dalen, who also has epilepsy, is a hard job but that she thanks God that He believed enough in her to handle a tough situation.
“You know, I’ve thought, ‘how am I ever going to handle this?’” she said.
“But the more I’ve been with him and done with him I couldn’t imagine life without him and in all reality it seems like I have to do everything for him.
“But he does so much more for me that I couldn’t even tell people,” she said.
“(Dalen) has taught me patience and love and understanding more than I ever could have known and that makes him my hero,” Amanda said.
She said because of her situation she has learned to enjoy the simple things in life and not be bogged down by the world’s troubles.
Amanda also wants to help others in situations like hers and often gives advice and her contact information to those people when Dalen goes for doctor’s check-ups.
“My heart goes out to those people,” she said. “I know how they feel.”
So while Dalen is her hero, Amanda has become a hero to the many she inspires, making this mother-son combination a consensus choice to be “Russell County Heroes.”