Every day after work I look forward to playing and hugging my 2 kids, it’s what keeps me going and motivated to enjoy life to its’ fullest. The following story is heartbreaking to read…
Cole Hansberger has been in the Intensive Care Unit at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale since Aug. 6, his first birthday.
The day before he turned 1, Cole’s mother, Jackie Hansberger, noticed his head was drooping as he crawled.
By 5 p.m., that evening, Cole could no longer crawl.
At 3 a.m., the next morning, he could no longer sit up, she said.
The Peoria woman took her son to an emergency room, after which he was then transferred to Banner Thunderbird to be further evaluated.
Cole eventually was diagnosed with botulism, a rare condition that affects about 110 people per year in the United States, 72 percent of them infants, according to Banner officials.
Botulism is caused by ingesting spores of bacteria found in dirt, soil, dusty areas and certain foods.
These spores produce toxins that can lead to paralysis, said Dr. Rahul Chawla, pediatric critical-care physician at Thunderbird Medical Center who is treating Cole.
Jackie Hansberger said she hasn’t been home since Cole was admitted to intensive care.
“I refuse to leave his bedside,” she told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday. “Every day I sit, stare at the monitor all day, just to make sure my son’s breathing and he’s OK.
“Sometimes you get frustrated with your children, but I would pay a million dollars just to hear my son cry right now. I haven’t held him in over a week.”
Hansberger described Cole as rambunctious and amazing. His eyes and smile light up the room, she said.
She also has a 4-year-old son who is at home with her husband.
Chawla works 24-hour shifts and said he often gets close with a patient’s parents.
“Cole’s mom’s a rock,” he said. “I don’t think she’s left the unit.”
Hansberger has been told Cole faces a long recovery, but doctors offer a hopeful prognosis.
According to Chawla, Cole is still critically ill. He is on a ventilator and has minimal movement in his arms and legs. He will remain in intensive care for the next week to 10 days.
Cole will have to learn muscle memory again and undergo physical therapy sessions, which could last months. But Chawla said Cole should be able to return to a normal life.
Chawla said people should know the symptoms of botulism so they can seek medical attention immediately.
He said Cole’s symptoms were a classic indicator: muscle weakness, often starting with the nerves in the face and moving downward to the legs.
Chawla said people should avoid ingesting or being exposed to dirt, and washing fruits and vegetables to reduce the chances of botulism.
Hansberger wants all parents to be aware of botulism, although it is extremely rare.
“As a parent, you never expect it,” she said. “It’s a very scary experience. It humbles you as a person. Nothing else matters except in the moment.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Cole and his family