03 Mar Brenda’s Corner – Dear Maclain: You are My Inspiration as a Client Liaison
Written by Brenda Agnew, Client Liaison
I am both proud of and energized by my role at Gluckstein Lawyers as a Client Liaison. This role has been a great new chapter in my life, and I feel it is a culmination of two very intertwined and life-changing roads that my family and I have been travelling for over ten years.
The complex and painful beginnings.
As many of you know and for those who don’t, a few years ago, we settled a medical malpractice case for our son Maclain. When he was a year old, we discovered that his brain injury was a result of a condition known as Kernicterus, essentially caused by untreated jaundice. Kernicterus is a devasting condition, which left our son with severe Cerebral Palsy affecting all his fine and gross motor functions. It left him profoundly deaf, with speech issues and medical complexities.
The devastating part of Kernicterus is that it is a 100% preventable condition that is easily treated with phototherapy. Had our son received this treatment, he would be a typical child today, free from disabilities. Our life and his life would be so dramatically different. Even more heartbreaking in our situation was the realization that outdated guidelines and protocols had played a significant role in the omission of treating our son’s jaundice. I am still haunted wondering how many other children may have also been affected, but have no idea, thinking other factors may have caused their child’s Cerebral Palsy.
Navigating the litigation process.
We filed our lawsuit when Maclain was two years old, and I still vividly remember the emotions and confusion, the new responsibilities and worries that immediately arrived as parents of a child with significant needs. A lawsuit was probably the last thing we needed to add to our life at that time or in the years since, but standing “on the other side” now, I am forever grateful that we took the time to ASK the questions we had and the patience that was required to get the answers we needed. Though Maclain was just 2, we knew we faced a reality of extraordinary needs over his lifetime and that the financial costs would not lessen, nor would the worry of how we would be able to provide for his care after we were gone. This experience had a profound effect on me. It was one of the most challenging things we have ever done, but it was so incredibly important and life changing for Maclain and our family.
Going through the litigation process was stressful and overwhelming at times. From finding the courage to ask our questions, to talking with lawyers and so many other “inquiring minds” that we didn’t know and that didn’t know us. There were days we had to read heartbreaking reports and assessments on Maclain’s future. Other days we watched the two sides of law debate our child’s rights in life. The one thing that played over in my mind was how no one understood what this was like for us and the effect it had over those years. It was often confusing, unbelievable and frustrating. We questioned our decision to continue when fear and doubt crept into our minds and hearts time after time.
I realized that the most critical piece that was missing on the robust Gluckstein legal team was the advocacy and perspective of someone who had walked a mile in our shoes. This lack of support is often the case in our world of special needs parenting with the multitude of challenges we face. I was fortunate to know two other parents who had shared similar experiences, which were a great sounding board, but for so many people, this isn’t the case.
The irreplaceable support of a Client Liaison.
Once our case settled, the dust settled, and we started to be able to see the road and future for Maclain in a much brighter light. I approached our law firm (Gluckstein Lawyers) and proposed the idea of adding this critical resource to their medical malpractice team (specific to pediatric cases).
I emphasized the importance of having someone who “gets it.” To be able to speak to someone who may have questions about whether to call a lawyer. To have someone that can help them decide if and how to move forward in light of the intricacies of our lives as special needs parents/families. It was also important to me to be that someone who can advocate from within for support out to our community through sponsorships, education, resources and more.
I am so proud of Gluckstein for their compassion for the clients they serve and for their desire to add this valuable resource to their team. I am even prouder that I will chart this new course for the benefit of so many families like my own, and the opportunity it has given me to bring my skills and life experience together in such a rewarding way.
Thank you for joining us for this edition of Brenda’s Corner. Please continue to follow her family journey for advice, insights and education related to parenting and empowering children of all abilities. Any questions? Contact Brenda directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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