Warm water spa therapy helps Eddie Davis enjoy life more
When the hot tub’s water bubbles and swirls around Eddie Davis, he’s comfortable, content, and getting the help he needs.
For Eddie, 7, the spa isn’t a frivolity, although he definitely enjoys it.
It’s therapy, and the local wish-granting charity Gotta Dream of Yuma made it happen.
Eddie has a profound form of cerebral palsy, a result of brain damage during his birth. His family has devoted itself to his constant care, but they couldn’t afford the spa that now sits on their back patio for the soaks he gets twice a day most days.
Eddie’s spasticity, or the rigidity of his muscles as a result of his condition, is severe. His father, Jeff, said it’s like having a charley horse all the time.
The spasticity is degenerative — “for us, it’s a losing battle,” Jeff said — but constant kneading and stretching is tremendously helpful, and that’s easier to do when he’s loose.
Nothing makes Eddie loose, and happy, like warm water.
It was always obvious that he loved bath time. With a family member cradling him, he’ll lay back until the water reaches his temples. His muscles will unknot, taking stress off his bones, joints and organs. But as he grows, the tandem bath arrangement becomes a tighter fit.
On a lark, his grandmother, Susan, wrote to Gotta Dream after reading about the charity in the Yuma Sun. She explained how Eddie could truly use the spa or hot tub.
About a month ago, the therapeutic spa, which would have cost the family about $6,500 without Gotta Dream’s help, was installed.
Against the odds
Alma didn’t know her son would be different until the day he was born. At her 38-week checkup, Eddie showed an alarmingly low heartbeat. Alma was taken in for an emergency Cesarean section, and when Eddie was born, he had no heartbeat.
His doctor spent 11 minutes trying to resuscitate him. For 11 precious minutes Eddie was getting no oxygen to his brain, but the doctor kept working. The boy was otherwise flawless. He was so pink, the doctor couldn’t let him go.
Technically, the term is multicystic encephalomalacia — in other words, because he was without oxygen for a critical time, Eddie’s brain liquefied. About 85 percent of his brain — almost all except for his brain stem, the part that controls basic functions like breathing and heartbeat — was damaged.
Doctors didn’t know how long he’d survive after that, but the prognosis was grim. At first it was hours, then days. He received his baptism and last rites sacraments at the same time, in Yuma Regional Medical Center, at four days old.
Eddie continues to face many physical challenges. The spastic arching of his back puts pressure on his heart, and the twisting of his trunk can be hard on his lungs. Because his swallowing ability is poor, he’s prone to inhaling irritants that could give him life-threatening pneumonia.
The Davises give him everything they can now.
Alma learned a lot about acceptance not long after Eddie was born, when she asked his sister Kelsie, then 6, if she would like another little brother or sister, one that she could play with.
Kelsie, who would excitedly tell her mother’s belly about taking him camping and teaching him to swim, said no.
“I asked God for a perfect brother, and he gave me one,” she said.
In his happy place
Eddie is not verbal, but he is vocal. He gurgles happily, and he hums.
“A lot of kids with his brain damage don’t make any noise,” Susan says, with pride. “He does.”
He has challenges with swallowing, but he can enjoy the taste of a Popsicle. pressed against his tongue. He is nearly blind, but he seems to know when “Barney” is on TV. With a hearing aid, he can hear pretty well. His big brown eyes track his family’s voices.
As everything is with Eddie’s care, spa time is a family effort. Kelsie will sit in the tub with Eddie on her lap, and as the heated water relaxes his body, his parents and grandparents will work his limbs.
Breezy or smoky days aren’t good for his spa sessions, as pollen and other particulates can get into his delicate lungs, but he still takes dips at least five days a week.
His giggle-gurgle comes out, or he gets so mellow that he falls asleep right there.
For this, the Davises are grateful.
“They say that blind kids are afraid of the water,” Alma said. “Not this one.”