On October 2, 2001, the doctors decided that at 34 weeks, Cody McCasland was going to be delivered as the amniotic fluid was decreasing and Cody's growth was no longer increasing. Cody was delivered by an urgent cesarean section, and immediately, they knew things were not quite right. Mike, Cody's Father, could see that Cody's legs looked different, and he only had 4 toes on his right foot, but that was all he knew. The doctor's asked him not to say anything to Tina, Cody's Mother, as she was still in surgery herself. Cody did not breathe on his own for several minutes, but after he did, he was swaddled for Tina to hold for a few seconds.then off to the NICU. Mike followed. In the NICU Mike was told of all the problems by the physician, and then told to prepare for him to die. He was completely alone and the physician left. He came to Tina with the news, whom did not understand or believe it. Shortly thereafter, the doctor came in to talk with Tina and Mike, and said Cody was stable, but he was being transferred to another hospital, without Tina.
He needed surgery within the next day or two but they could not perform it. Tina was able to see Cody one last time in an incubator before transport, but then he and Mike were gone. Tina was adamant that she was going to be at the other hospital when Cody had surgery and was walking that evening. Cody's surgery was scheduled for the morning of day 3 and she was there. This was just the beginning of their medical journey with Cody. He remained in the NICU for 23 days, and had two of his now 15 surgeries, before going home.
The day before Thanksgiving, 2001, Cody stopped breathing while at home, and Tina had to perform CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Cody began breathing on his own again, and would be taken to the local Children's Hospital. Unfortunately, it was not the hospital with Cody's specialists, so when they arrived and he was stable, the hospital decided to transfer him. Mike is now on the way to a part of town he has never been to, and is lost. Meanwhile, they are now ready to transport Cody and Tina, again by ambulance, to Children's Hospital Dallas. Mike hits rush hour traffic, but after 2 ½ hours of driving, finally finds them. Cody ends up needing his 3rd surgery, which actually includes five separate procedures, and has a nearly 3-week stay in the hospital, in which Tina has to stay the whole time. This meant the family spent their first Thanksgiving in the hospital. Mike would daily drive down to the hospital to give Tina a break, after working all day. After the daily drive became too much, they had to pay for a hotel room for Mike to sleep in at night, so he could see Tina and Cody, get sleep and still work. Again, this was just the beginning of his 15 total surgeries.
In December 2001, Cody had his first appointment at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Up to now, no one has given the family a diagnosis, although they have come up with their own by researching the symptoms on the Internet. Although the doctors will not confirm the diagnosis, they do tell the family that Cody will require multiple surgeries, one of which will be an amputation of his right leg through the knee. Cody had no knee or tibia on the right side. They were uncertain about the problems with the left leg and would have to wait to see how it developed, as he got a little older. The first surgery would be a hip surgery to his right hip, which was dislocated, followed by 3 months in a hip spica cast. None of the orthopedic surgeries could begin though, until all the necessary medical surgeries were completed.
In January 2002, Cody again ended up in the ER at Children's Dallas because of abdominal concerns. He had an emergency surgery due to an adhesion caused by his November surgeries. Another 10 day stay in the hospital for both Cody and Tina, and Mike again juggled work, coming to the hospital to see Cody and Tina, and finding time to sleep.
The hospitalizations and surgeries continued on. Cody had numerous hospitalizations for infections and asthma/airways concerns, as well as for his surgeries. His next surgeries were in March 2002, on Tina's birthday, in April 2002 he had 3 surgeries, and in July 2002 he had two surgeries. In November 2002 Cody had a seizure with an unknown cause right before going to Children's Hospital Philadelphia for a second opinion on his legs. After coming home from that appointment, Cody had an MRI of his hips and legs to see what structures were present on each leg. This MRI showed that Cody was missing his tibia and knee on both the left and right side. Mike and Tina's choices were few - to leave him in a wheelchair with legs that would not function for him and wouldn't even allow him to sit normally or to have the portion of his legs from the knees down amputated to give him the opportunity to walk with prostheses. Bilateral amputation surgery was scheduled for January 2003. In December 2002, Cody caught RSV and again was in the hospital.
He was released the day before Christmas, but this caused his surgery to be postponed until later in January. After Cody's amputation, he was trying to stand on his stumps later that day. Mike and Tina were so impressed by how he continued to deal so well with being in a hospital environment and keep his always-cheery disposition. Cody never lets anything bring him down. Two months after Cody had his surgery he was fitted with his first prosthetics and walking with assistance! In August 2003, Cody again had a surgery, and subsequently, spent about 6 weeks in the hospital between August and November due to airway and respiratory concerns. Again, Tina stayed in the hospital away from Mike, and Mike worked, came to visit and relieve Tina, while trying to find time to sleep. Due to Cody's continual illnesses that winter, Mike, Tina and Cody had to cancel their Christmas plans just a few days before Christmas and stay in Dallas. Since Cody had been born, they had not spent any holidays with Mike's family in California, which was very difficult. Luckily, Tina's mom and stepfather were there in Dallas for support and to spend the holidays with.
In June 2004, Cody was diagnosed with severe Osteopenia, putting him at an extremely high risk for a bone to break. Cody had to spend three days as an outpatient, every four months, getting infusion therapy to help re-generate his bones. He did this for a year and a half, and is now in re-mission.
Besides all of the above surgeries, Cody has also needed "regular kid" procedures such as tubes in his ears and gall bladder removal. Through all of this, Cody has had the opportunity to participate in horseback riding, gymnastics, t-ball, soccer, swimming, running, golf, flying a plane, and many other adventures. Cody's limitless attitude will get him far in life and help him to reach his goals.
Cody now has three different sets of prostheses. One set he uses for everyday walking, another, stubbies, for playing low on the ground with his friends, and a third, running prostheses, he uses for his athletic endeavors. Cody is currently in 1st grade. He swims, plays sled hockey, runs and plays the piano. His hope is to one day represent the United States of America in the Olympics or Paralympics, as well as to run a marathon, and complete a triathlon.
Cody competed this past summer at the University of Central Oklahoma Endeavor Games in the 60 meter and 100 meter races, earning gold medals in each event for his classification, as well as swam the 25 meter freestyle and backstroke, again winning gold for his age and classification. In October, Team Cody will be going to the San Diego Triathlon Challenge. Cody will be running in the kid's fun run, as well as running a portion of the 13.1 miles for our triathlon team. This December, Cody completed the last mile for Team Cody in the Dallas White Rock Marathon.
This is just a little of Cody's amazing story. There is so much more to it. It continues on a regular basis with the family having to endure multiple doctor's appointments and treatments to make Cody as independent as possible. Through it all, Cody remains an amazing spirit! Cody wants to participate in the para-olympics and just not that, he also wants to participate in as much as 20 games for which he has 20 separate pairs of legs.