Boy who had half his brain removed on long road to recovery
EUGENE, Ore. - James Dahl fits together bits of torn paper in a collage.
"Ooh, I like that. Nice work," his therapist says. "Have lefty help."
It's hard to tear paper when you're only working with one hand.
"I could do it by myself," James says.
And he will. Again.
Here's the journey James has been on:
Imagine being told that, to cure your seizures, you need to have half of your brain removed.
Then imagine being 10 years old.
Recovery from such radical brain surgery will take years.
Behind this determined young man is the woman who raised him.
"His brain is still plastic and can regain a lot of what he's lost," his mom Stephanie explains.
About a year ago, James - now 11 - was diagnosed with Rasmussen's encephalitis.
It's a rare auto-immune disease that was killing his brain tissue.
James would have up to a dozen visible seizures per day, his mom says, plus hundreds more hidden from sight.
The treatment is as hard to fathom as necessary.
In July, James had the right side of his brain removed.
"He actually said to me that he wanted to say goodbye to his brain, and he told me that he wanted to tell it thanks," Stephanie says.
James nods in affirmation.
"So we did that," his mom says.
Now 4 months past the surgery, James is woring to regain what he's lost.
Removing the right side of his brain means the left side of his body was partially paralyzed.
To make matters worse, James is left handed
He can recover.
But it's going to be hard work.
The stress gets to him sometimes.
"I can't do this anymore!" a frustrated James says.
"Sure you can," his therapist insists. "You're doing a good job."
"It's such a steep incline for him to recover what he's lost," his mom says, "and sometimes he can get very discouraged."
Sometimes, James feels like he's failing.
His mom is in his corner to remind him that he's not.
"The good news is he's had no seizures since," she says.
The community has helped the family foot the bill of Jame Dahl's rehabilitation. You can learn more about his recovery on his Facebook page or by visiting his GiveFordward.com page.