Marlaina keeps a special book on her coffee table.
She has created a book of her son’s (Zion’s) journey with transverse myelitis. Called “the Sister of Polio,” transverse myelitis attacks the spine. In Zion’s case, his infection in 2013 spread from the top of his spine all the way to his tailbone.
Practically paralyzed, there were several times his parents weren’t sure if Zion would live.
Her book is filled with images of Zion in a hospital bed, often attached to various machines and tubes. The second part of the book is filled with images of Zion at Holland Bloorview in therapy, getting stronger and healthier. It’s a reminder of just how much he’s accomplished and how much he’s overcome.
When Zion came to Holland Bloorview in 2014, he couldn’t walk or even hold his head up. “He had feeding tubes and wore a neck brace so that his head would stay up,” says Marlaina.
Zion worked with Holland Bloorview physiotherapists. They examine how a client moves their arms and legs, how they how they stand, how they walk, and then help kids like Zion become more flexible and mobile.
Today, seven-year-old Zion is all about speed. He doesn’t just walk, he runs. In fact, he wears particular sneakers because they help him move just that little bit faster. He rides his bike fast and loves going horseback riding as fast as he can.
“He wants to try everything and anything…he’s a bit of a daredevil,” says Marlaina. “I just want to see him keep thriving. I love the fact that he has no limits. If anything, it’s me who has the limits. So I’m the one learning to set no limits for him.”