Kita Harwood with daughter Chloe.

Kitimat family looking for boost for daugther’s physiotherapy

A Kitimat family is hoping for a little bit of support due to a time crunch to get their daughter into physiotherapy.

Chloe Harwood didn’t wait for formalities before calling her guest over to see her pet hamster.

The chubby little animal was resting at the top of a long, vertical tunnel, and Chloe was clearly very amused by her pet, even remarking it should spend more time in its wheel.

Chloe didn’t really care about the conversation that was going on when she first entered the room, either a story she’s heard before, or just maybe, because she’s eight-years-old and there are more important things to deal with.

The conversation she walked in on was her mom, Kita, explaining Chloe’s medical condition, cerebral palsy (CP). A condition that covers a wide spectrum of extremes, Chloe’s own issue is, in a very general sense, that her muscles are kept way too tight.

That leads to complications, namely she can’t stand up on her own weight.

Things started off rough for Chloe, even before CP was diagnosed. She was born after only 29 weeks in a hospital in China where they lived at the time before eventually coming to Canada and Kitimat, and Chloe was just barely three pounds.

“Our turkey was bigger,” Kita jokes now, although the situation at the time was of course far more frightening for her and her husband.

Her problems from birth included difficulty breathing and jaundice.

“It was a very hard two month period,” said Kita.

Things improved, but they sent Chloe in for an MRI scan at 13 months when she was still unable to sit up on her own. That’s why they discovered she had CP.

Kita said her initial thought was worry that her daughter would be cursed with unnatural postures and gestures.

“Now we know much more,” she said. “It has so many scales.”

Chloe is probably around the third or fourth level on the scale, said Kita.

An informational brochure online, developed by the Hugh Williamson Gait Laboratory a the Royal Children’s Hospital in Australia, says that level four means using a cane, while level three is needing to use crutches.

The Harwoods have, for the most part, tried to avoid surgeries as treatments, mostly from a fear that complications from surgeries are very hard to reverse. Instead they’ve opted primarily for physiotherapies and some other natural treatments, which have been hit-or-miss on their effectiveness.

Last August, however, they did go ahead with one surgery, called Selective Dorsal Rhyzotomy, in St. Louis.

The surgery was successful in loosening up Chloe’s legs. But the doctor said that in the first two years recovery will be fast, which means Chloe should get into therapies and treatments very quickly.

Which is why Kita took to the newspaper for support. The Harwoods are not Canadian citizens and efforts to become permanent residents have failed. Kita said it’s because of Chloe’s health condition.

That makes health coverage challenging. Even health insurance through their employer hasn’t been very successful. That surgery from last August wasn’t successfully claimed, leaving the Harwoods with a huge bill.

But if time wasn’t important, they’d just wait until their savings caught up with their needs. But being in the two-year window from Chloe’s surgery, the Harwoods want Chloe moving forward.

There’s a special therapy being offered in Toronto in April that Chloe can join. It’s called Cuevas Medek Exercise Therapy at a place called the Blue Balloon.

It’s pricey, at $150 an hour, but they have in the past managed to get Chloe into the program and it was very effective.

With bills mounting up, the Harwoods are stuck trying to get Chloe needed therapies while faced with the task of paying for it all in such a short time.

They have opened a page on a website called You Caring, which lets people fundraise for various causes. People can donate through Chloe’s page.

People can go to the website www.youcaring.com and enter “Chloe” into the search field. Hers is the “Chloe’s journey towards independence” page.

Kita makes sure to say that it’s not a matter of income that’s their issue.

“We’re not really, really poor,” she said. “Time is so pressing. We haven’t finished paying the last bill yet.”

As of last week the page had raised just over $2,000 of the $9,000 goal, to cover transportation, accommodation and the therapy itself. The fundraising on the website ends on April 19.