Our Son Ollie – A Mother’s Story

by SUSIE EGR

This is our handsome son, Oliver James Egr. He is a big piece of our “why” and our superhero. He turned the big thirteen a few months back. When he was born I remember saying “Thank you God for all the abundance in our lives and for this sweet baby boy. He is perfect in every way and has now completed our family ”. He was the typical little boy- ornery but so dang cute. When he started kindergarten we noticed he kept sitting close to the TV and he wasn’t always paying attention. We soon learned he had visual issues. That led to months of additional neuro and genetic testing. I vividly recall that horrific day we received his official diagnosis.- Batten Disease. The genetic company called me on the phone while we were driving to Iowa City for an eye specialist appt for Ollie. To say it took my breath away is an understatement. Darin pulled the car over while I continued to listen on the phone. Ollman was singing “the ants go marching one by one” in the backseat (Not a care in the world.. while ours was being turned upside down) tears instantly flowed from my face and Darin just knew the results weren’t good. I remained quiet as I didn’t want to worry Ollie. That was the longest drive of our lives. After I got the news Dare and I just sat there holding hands with tears streaming. I felt helpless. “No cure….Fatal” is all I heard and it just kept playing over and over in my head. 

Ollie lost his complete vision 6 months after that appointment. Over the years we have seen this disease not only rear it’s ugly head in our son but take the lives of so many innocent, sweet kids. These affected families have became our extended family now. THIS HAS BECAME PERSONAL. 

My faith is strong and I remind myself frequently that our loving Father loves this child more then I will ever comprehend and he walks beside us daily as we fight the good fight. We feel his presence and see him through the kindness of others. That gives us hope. As parents we will never stop advocating for Ollie and the Batten community because they need us! What also gives us hope is putting our efforts towards funding a cure. We are so close!

Pieced Together – A Mother’s Story

by AN ANONYMOUS BATTEN MOTHER

I grew up in a family of story tellers. Every get together involved reminiscing and sharing the same old stories. Most happened before my time, yet I’ve heard them so much it’s as if I was actually there.

Many stories involve my Dad, his two brothers and his sister.   Many include their childhood shenanigans. They would be playing in the house and something would get broken. They would do chores and something would get broken. They would move furniture to turn the living room into a football field and something would get broken. The result would be my grandmother grabbing the glue and putting it back together.

I know these broken things on her shelves. They weren’t matching sets or family heirlooms. They weren’t pieces that were priceless or irreplaceable. But they were special to her. So as things broke, she could have easily thrown them out, but she chose to piece them back together. Displaying them once again in hopes that no one would see the damage that had been done to them.

I often think about these broken knick- knacks and feel we have a lot in common. All it took was one visit to the doctor’s office to knock me down and shatter me to pieces. As the doctor revealed our diagnosis, I wasn’t even sure what he was saying. But when he said it will affect other parts of his body and his longevity, I literally fell to the ground. I was completely broken. Not the broken that leaves you in two pieces. But the broken that shatters you. Picture a glass dropped from the highest cabinet in the kitchen and exploding into tiny slivers everywhere. I was that kind of broken. How would I ever get up off the floor?

Then I thought of the words written by my sweet little boy just 4 days earlier on his Star of the Week poster…I am a star because “I never give up.” That was the glue that started putting me back together.

I walked out praying, you know the kind of prayer that sounds like a jumbled ramble of words that even if God was yelling from the top of his lungs to guide me, I wouldn’t have even heard him. It was that kind of prayer. But, He glued me together enough to put one foot in front of the other to walk out of that doctor’s office.

We came home and I looked at our daughter. How is this ever going to be ok I thought and the glue started letting loose. She hugged me and asked if we could cuddle on the couch together. She held me tight. Gluing those pieces right back together.

That night on one of the first of many sleepless, tearful nights I said to my husband, “What are we going to do?” He said we are going to get up and go to work and school, just like we do every other day. Our children deserve us to support each other and not fall apart. His love for our family was the glue that I needed once again.

The days to follow, 902 to be exact, I have fallen apart and been glued back together more than I can count. If someone looked closely, they would see that I am not who I once was. Just like the knick -knacks on my grandma’s shelves, I am together, but a little different than I used to be. But as pieces break off, God finds a way to glue me back together. He provides glue from my family, from the courage of Craig and Charlotte, from the kindness of Mary Beth, from the encouragement of Danielle, from the strength of Wayne and Missy, from the knowledge of the scientific researchers and from the promise that He has a plan the far outweighs my understanding.