Kelly T

There is one crucial aspect in my life which has led me to select my intended major; my brother.

I am devoted to major in exercise science to ultimately continue onto graduate school to earn my doctorate in physical therapy. This goal of mine was brought about by my brother’s disability.

On October 6, 2000, my brother, Patrick, was born. Despite complications with the pregnancy, he was born healthy. For the next year things went as smoothly as could be expected with a newborn and a two year old. It wasn’t until three days after my brothers first birthday that things took an unexpected turn.

October 9, 2001 was the day my brother had his first seizure. He was diagnosed with epilepsy after his second seizure. Within the next six months Patrick was having up to eighty seizures a day. They ranged from absence and drop seizures to tonic-clonic convulsions, commonly known as grand-mal seizures.

The next eighteen months were characterized by hospital visits, tests, and medications. No treatment reduced the number of seizures or lessened their severity. Fortunately, in June 2003 a neurologist recommended the ketogenic diet. The seizures ceased immediately. As long as the diet was followed, Patrick had no epileptic activity. He has been on some form of the ketogenic diet ever since.

In 2009 Patrick started to exhibit signs of dyskinesia. This was the first major sign there was an underlying issue. Finally, in 2010, after consulting over ten neurologists and specialists, Patrick was diagnosed with glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) on his eleventh birthday after a visit to Johns Hopkins. It took ten years for a proper diagnosis to be made.

These disorders greatly affected my brother’s physical health. Patrick and I were born nineteen months apart. Having a sibling close in age made us want to play with each other all the time. Once the seizures were controlled, however, my brother still displayed physical side effects of epilepsy and those of GLUT 1 although it hadn’t been diagnosed at the time. Patrick was very weak as a result of diminished muscle tone and faced developmental delays. Patrick and I couldn’t run around the yard and play tag, kick around a soccer ball, play catch, or swing together on the playset. He lacked the strength and coordination to play along. He had a hard time writing and drawing and doing arts and crafts. He lacked the motor skills needed.

You never want to see someone, especially someone close to you struggle. You never want to feel hopeless in a situation. Even at a young age I constantly felt discouraged when thinking about my brother’s future. I always felt guilty that it was my brother, and not me, who was having these problems because he didn’t deserve it. Despite the challenges he faced, he remained optimistic and continued to push himself to overcome these setbacks. While he tried to conquer the problems on his own, the improvements he made were possible through physical therapy.

Patrick began physical therapy when he was eighteen months old. When he was six and I was eight I began attending his sessions. By this point he had already made tremendous improvement. He had more control over his muscles, specifically those in his legs. By this point he was able to run around faster and for a longer period of time in the backyard. He was beginning to see improvement and continued to attend physical therapy. The more sessions he attended, the more I went with him. I loved watching him improve and get closer and closer to the physical level he should have been out. This is when I fell in love with physical therapy. The more Patrick progressed, the more I began to appreciate physical therapy because he was reaching his goals.

Over the next few years I met more kids like Patrick. I was fortunate enough to watch them develop alongside my brother. Not only did I get to experience the smiles on their faces but I saw the effect it had on their family members. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings would light up as the physical therapist told them of the milestones they had reached. It was when I saw the look of hope flash across their faces that I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist because I wanted to provide the feeling of hope to patients and their families. At the beginning of this journey all I wanted was to see hope for my brother’s future. Physical therapy and the endless work put in by the therapist was able to do just that and now it is my turn to give back.

None of the above would have been possible without the health insurance policy offered through my father’s job.  While health insurance is very expensive, without it we would not have been able to provide all the specialists, neurologists, therapists etc. that my brother required.

Health insurance, along with the hundreds of hours of work my brother and parents put in, has allowed my brother to thrive and be where he is today.  While he will continue to have challenges in front of him, it’s comforting to know that we have the tools necessary to help him.

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