While learning, Devin taught others

first_img “Little did I know what a wonderful experience was awaiting me.” Dave and Cathy Miles sat by their son’s hospital bed for days while he was carefully weaned off his medications and started on this special diet they hoped could control the seizures the way that drugs could not. It worked. Now it was time for Horowitz, the speech therapist, and Barbara Jonkey, a physical therapist, to work their magic on his cerebral palsy. “We had to instill in him the confidence that even if his speech was not perfect, it was important for him to speak, as we value what he had to say,” Horowitz said. “Early on, we worked on basic concepts such as colors, numbers, calendar skills, money, reading, writing and literature. Over many years, our sessions evolved to include discussions about social issues, current events, film and pop music stars. “We read books, plays and newspaper articles. We checked maps of the world and compared life today versus life in ancient times. Devin’s curiosity never waned. He would teach me things I did not know. “He made steady progress with an uncanny perseverance, creating small daily miracles that touched and inspired us all.” While Horowitz worked on those small daily speech and language miracles, Jonkey worked to improve Devin’s balance and gait. Before long, the boy who could not walk two feet without help was walking short distances unaided, and using a walker or wheelchair for longer distances. “We see 100 children a day, five days a week, and none have worked harder and persevered longer than Devin,” said Marion Watson, director of rehabilitative services at the hospital. After the cake was cut, the gifts opened, and the speeches made, Devin had a few things he wanted to say. He thanked everyone for being there for him and his family all these years, and he promised to come back once in a while to visit. He didn’t know what the future held for him, but there would probably be music in it somewhere. Preferably blues – his favorite. Cathy and Dave Miles watched their son express himself with a proud look in their eyes that told you all you needed to know about how they were feeling. “I think if we open our hearts and minds to the things in life that are difficult and challenging, that’s how we learn,” Cathy said. “Devin’s been an inspiration to a lot of people. My son’s been a teacher.” Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week It’s called the Ketogenic diet – a carefully monitored, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that helps control seizures in some of the more than 2.7 million Americans with epilepsy. It changed the life of Devin Miles, who, nine years ago was a kid who could not walk two feet without having a seizure. Now, he’s a young man who walked out of Glendale Adventist Medical Center last Tuesday to the applause of medical professionals who have worked with him for almost 13 years. The kid who previously couldn’t walk or talk well enough to be understood by anyone graduated in June from Eagle Rock High School, and went to Disneyland that night with his classmates. He now attends classes at Glendale Community College. Devin’s on his way to a new life. But before he left the old one, the rehabilitation staff wanted to say goodbye – and thank you. Once in a while, a kid comes along who touches your heart and your mind, they say. Devin’s that kid. “All I knew nearly 13 years ago when I met Devin was that he had a seizure disorder and cerebral palsy, and needed much help in improving his speech and language skills,” said Ruth Horowitz, a speech-language pathologist, speaking for the group. “Instead of going to the pharmacy to pick up his prescriptions, we go to Smart & Final and pick up some thick whipped cream.” – Cathy Miles. Gone are all the medications that didn’t work, and the padded helmets the kid had to wear for protection when the seizures from his epilepsy became violent. They were replaced with a breakfast of oil-covered eggs, bacon or sausage, and a big glass of heavy cream with a little diet soda added to make it taste like a float. Lunch and dinner are the same every day – meat, salad soaked in oil dressing, more butter, a little fruit, and more glasses of diet soda and heavy cream. last_img

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