My name is Pattiann Berton and I answer to many titles, but the two I hold the highest are wife and mom! Like many, I was young and ambitious once and very naïve. With a BS in Education from Penn State University in elementary education, I would boast saying I would be the National Secretary of Education one day. Little did I know God had other plans for me and he surely has led me on a different path.
I was teaching when I met and married my husband Tom. He admired my close knit family and asked if and when we had children would I be willing to be a stay at home mom and raise our kids one day. I always knew in the back of my mind that one day I wanted to be a mom, just like my mom, and very unselfishly I decided to stay at home when the time came. In 1999, we became the proud parents of our first of 4 boys, Patrick, eleven months later, in 2000, came Zachary, only 17 months later came our Brendan, and in 2007 our 4th son, Matthew was born. If you do the math, I had the first 3 in 28 months and 6 years later the last. Times were crazy, fun, tiring, hard, and joyful. Life seemed so perfect. Never, when we made this decision to have a family did we have any idea of what would lie ahead of us.
Flash forward. As the “big boys” entered school they also began to play sports and become involved in school activities. Very much the football crazed family, we suited up each and every night for practice and games on every Saturday through the fall football season. Our boys played youth football for my dad, their grandfather, with 40 years of experience. Naturally, their love for the game grew more passionately each year as did their level of play and maturity. Patrick (our oldest) was a natural. He was smart and intelligent and attacked the game with a level of understanding well beyond his years. Other teams scouted and prepared for the wrath of Patrick both offensively and defensively on the youth football field. At 12, in his final year of youth level play, he was a force to be reckoned with until one awful September day in 2011. Patrick went down on the field and was slow to get up, but complained of leg cramps. An extremely hot day, I thought he was dehydrated, as did the coaches and he returned to play after a brief rest. Oddly and later in the game, he took a hit from behind and went down and once again remained down. The coaches checked on him and he “got his bell rung” and was a little “dazed." He was removed from play for the remainder of the game. Patrick was mad as hell for being taken out of the game and seemed fine or so we thought.
Patrick was fine for the remainder of that Saturday and Sunday with no complaints whatsoever. He went to school on Monday and our lives have been forever changed since that day. On that Monday, I heard the 5 most awful words……. Mom I Have A Headache! That headache started and to this very day has never went away. Literally as I write this, Patrick has had a migraine like headache every day, all day since his injury. No medicine can take it away. At times completely debilitating, he escapes to a dark and completely quiet room for days on end until the level of pain is tolerable.
Of course we sought medical help quickly as we thought he must have a concussion. Sadly, he was misdiagnosed by his pediatrician. The doctors explained the headache, which was on the same day, followed by light and sound sensitivity and upset stomach, was diagnosed as pubescent migraines. Even after I explained he took a hit 4 days prior in football game and had his “bell rung,” the doctor was sure he was just suffering from a migraine. After days of medicine that had zero effect on Patrick, we sought help from our local children’s hospital ER. A CT Scan and x-ray showed no bleeding or bruising in the brain so clearly he did not have a concussion! WRONG!!!!!!!
Enter God’s path for my family. Cruising along a nice gentle path of life, we were suddenly sent on an extreme, horrific, downward, speeding roller coaster. Our roller coaster was completely out of control, and we have been holding on for dear life ever since. You see, at the time of Patrick's injury, concussions were not thought to cause the damage that occurred in our Patrick’s health. Concussions were thought to be seen on CT Scans, x-rays and MRI’s, but today we know that simply is NOT true. In fact, most concussions are diagnosed by symptoms. Patrick had every symptom known to be associated with concussion, and yet he was continually misdiagnosed. We chased multiple diagnoses all over the eastern coast for help with each trip to a renowned facility nulling the opinion of another. All the while, our sweet little boy was suffering and dealing with losing all he knew to be normal with a new reality of normal. Patrick’s brain lost its ability to balance his body. The boy who ran the football field needed a walker to get around, but even the walker was not enough. Eventually, Patrick completely lost all of his balance and now uses a wheelchair 24/7. His brain disturbed, he developed hand and truncal tremors so fierce he lost his ability to write or draw. Once a beautiful artist, he cannot draw a circle or write his own name. His cerebellum was injured and along with controlling balance, it too controls his eyesight. While his eyes are healthy, his brain no longer can interpret things it sees correctly. Due to this disruption, he is legally blind. He cannot read and will never operate a car. All of this was happening as he suffered from his daily chronic headache and all at 12 years of age. Of course he became a little depressed and needed spiritual and medical help for this as well. Obviously life changing for him and life changing for our whole family. We all needed to find a new normal.
Only in 2017, did the medical community acknowledge that since there was no medical or genetic cause for his symptoms to exist, Patrick’s disabilities can all be chased right back to that awful day, with the awful hit he sustained on the football field. He had suffered a concussion and was dealing with post-concussive syndrome. It was then that I found the purpose of this God given path of pain and suffering. It was to use my strength, my faith, my knowledge, my tenacity, my intolerance for mediocre, my son’s climb to glory and triumph, my young family’s ability to overcome obstacles to help and ensure no other Mom or child or family needs to go down this downward spiraled path alone and unsure. IMPACTED, INC. is established to educate others on what a concussion looks and feels like in reality, to share how devastating it truly can be if not dealt with properly, to invest in the prevention of the severity of a concussion, and to be the light at the end of a very dark tunnel to others who are walking on this path as well. This is only the beginning and nowhere near the end of my story.