Charlie's Story

Charlie's Story

Julie Davis’ Story about Charlie…

Charlie2 (1)
Charlie and Bonnie

The last three years have not been easy for young mom Julie Davis.  In December 2009, Julie went in for a routine ultrasound appointment at 29 weeks pregnant when it was detected that her water had broken.  Concerned for her health as well as her baby’s, her doctor flew her from Redding to Sacramento to give birth to her premature son at UC Davis Medical Center.  Hours later when Charlie Wagner was born, he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid inside the brain which is commonly known as “water on the brain.”  Due to this complication, Charlie was hospitalized for the first 85 days of his life, during which time Julie, and at time her parents, were guests of the Kiwanis Family House.

Things weren’t easy once Charlie was discharged from the hospital, and Julie was able to take him home with her to Alturas, California. In addition to returning to UC Davis every six months for follow-up visits, there have been numerous emergencies, surgeries, and hospitalizations in Charlie’s young life. He began experiencing seizures around his first birthday and this has severely affected his development. County programs are currently providing Charlie with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Beyond these, her family needs support services that are not readily available to her.

Charlie is showing Bonnie Witzleben and Mauda Butte how he uses his new Assistive Technology Device to learn

If Julie has one wish, it would be to have more help for Charlie available in her local area. Services to help with Charlie’s special conditions are scarce in rural Alturas, as are dentists (there are two in her county, and neither are on her medical insurance plan) and pediatricians (Charlie’s is 3-1/2 hours away in Redding). It is Julie’s goal to get the help Charlie needs to allow him to live an independent life, and this has caused to her become an advocate for increasing support services in her county. She recently attended Healthy Summit in Sacramento, speaking to legislators about the need for more services in rural communities.

Julie credits the Kiwanis Family House and its supportive staff with helping her through the challenges. The connections she and Charlie have made with Scott, Jodi, Lorraine, Bianca, and the others help them feel they have a home when they come to Sacramento for Charlie’s twice-yearly checkups and interim appointments. In addition, Julie is still in contact with many of the families she met during her initial 85 day stay. Staying in contact with them helps her deal with the ups and downs of caring for Charlie.

The good news is that in his checkup last week, Charlie’s doctors were impressed with his verbal progress. They noted that he is a happy child who, thanks to the love and support of mom Julie and of friends like those at the Kiwanis Family House, has a good chance of progressing even further.  As Julie says, “His brain is growing by leaps and bounds,” and as long as the Kiwanis Family House can be their home away from home, Julie can continue to bring Charlie to Sacramento for the help he needs to reach his full potential.

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