Labor of Love is a blog started by Megs Pollock in 2011. Megs began sharing her experience as a first-time mom to son, Jordan, who was diagnosed with spina bifida before he was born. It’s been 4 years since we last got an update from the Pollock family, so we thought it was time to check in.
Now 10 years old and a 4th grader at Cloverleaf Elementary, Jordan earned the nickname “The Determinator” in 2016 when he served as one of Akron Children’s Hospital’s hero patients during the Akron marathon. It’s a name that still sticks today.
“Jordan will get what he wants one way or another,” says Megs. “He knows he’s different and he takes it and owns it. Even with the daily challenges of living with spina bifida, our family’s mantra is to choose joy. No matter the circumstances, we try and look for the good,”
This mantra, as well as their strong faith, has served Megs and her husband, Randy, from the onset of learning they were expecting a child with special needs through countless appointments and 14 surgeries. Although Jordan hasn’t required a surgery in more than 2 years, there have been other setbacks.
Early-onset puberty caused him to grow so fast that he grew right out of his KAFO (Knee, Ankle, Foot, Orthosis) leg braces that help him to walk by controlling instability in his knees and lower limbs.
“Insurance only pays for one set of braces a year so growing out of them in 7 months was problematic,” said Megs. “We had to get special permission to get another set.”
The sudden changes in stature and hormones at such a young age were concerning to Megs and Randy who made the decision to have Jordan get injections to help postpone puberty.
“He’s not a fan of the shots but we’ve been working closely with the hospital’s Child Life specialists to help him understand that each shot will get a little easier,” said Megs. “They even sent him a certificate to let him know how proud they were of him. It’s nice to have people who try to make life better for us.”
Megs says the isolation of COVID also proved difficult for Jordan.
“Jordan is an extremely active kid, and he just wasn’t up and moving around as much as he was used to,” she said. “We found out about Adaptive Sports Ohio (an organization that adapts equipment so kids and adults with disabilities can play sports like their peers) and decided to get him involved.
“Jordan began playing sled hockey. This allows him to be around other individuals who see what the world looks like through his eyes,” she added. “We are blessed to have an organization that supports him in our area. There’s a good chance we will have wheelchair basketball started at our school.”
Over the summer he also attended Dream Camp and tried out activities like wheelchair track, archery, basketball and kayaking.
“Participating in these organizations has been really great for Jordan,” Megs said. “It’s good for him to make friends with people like himself.”
Although he sees many specialists at Akron Children’s (including urology, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, endocrinology, neurology and gastroenterology), the constants in his life are physiatrist Dr. Micah Baird and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kerwyn Jones in the Myelo Clinic (a multidisciplinary clinic that provides comprehensive care for children and teens with neural tube defects) and physical therapist Sarah Brown, who has treated Jordan for the last 7 years. Sarah holds a special spot in the Pollock family’s heart. They’ve become so close that the whole family was invited to Sarah’s August 2021 wedding.
“Jordan and his family have shared so many big moments with me like taking his first steps without an assistive device, learning to ride a bike and participating in adaptive sled hockey that I was able to watch,” said Sarah. “I wanted to be able to share with them an important moment in my life.”
Sarah sees Jordan weekly for physical therapy where they work on his balance, posture and strength.
“Jordan’s new braces are bigger and bulkier, so it throws his balance off,” said Sarah. “We practice walking, throwing a ball and standing to help his range of motion and strengthen his core so he can be upright longer.”
Sarah also performs the Graston technique (a form of manual therapy that uses instruments to help loosen the muscles and fibrous tissues) on Jordan’s tight hamstrings – a side effect of his rapid growth spurt. At night Jordan wears a special set of braces to help keep his hamstrings stretched out while sleeping.
In addition to land exercises, Sarah also does aqua therapy to help with posture and getting him comfortable and safe around water.
Megs is thankful not just for the care Jordan has received through the years, but also for the friendships she has formed with many of his providers. One of the ways she expresses her thanks to those who care for Jordan is by baking cookies and bringing them in when he has an appointment.
“We have formed real relationships. I consider many of these people family,” she said. “Maybe that’s part of what God intended when he set us on this journey – for us to meet people we wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Read more about Megs’ and Randy’s journey of raising a child with spina bifida through her blog.