What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Each year in the United States alone, medical treatment is sought for an estimated 1,400-1,600 babies who have been shaken. Don’t let your child become just another statistic! Tell everyone who cares for your child “Never shake a baby!”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Survivors Request Sent to Dr. Phil~ Blog from his Mother

Hi Rachel:

I'm so thrilled that 10 years after my baby was shaken, to once again find
the strength and courage to continue my outreach and fight for justice, and
happy to have found your site!

I have written to Dr. Phil - and I HOPE and PRAY I get the chance to be on
his show and go public to millions. I'd like to share with you my letter,
and perhaps I share my story on your site. It's a long letter, but....as
we all know, it's a LONG journey.

I have copied this email to my personal email address, if you don't mind
replying to all, so I can be sure to get your response both at work on at

(See attached file: Dear Dr Phil v9.doc)

(See attached file: Brain Surgery.jpg) (See attached file: Agent Headshot

God Bless YOU and the awesome work you do!!!!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Dr. Phil,

My son and I need your help. I’ve thought about writing you so many times. I have never missed a show since day one, and I have learned so much about dealing with my life through your teachings. I’ve watched shows and thought, “God, I should be on that show” such as wrongfully accused, how the system failed, DCFS, PTSD, trust issues, schools systems, the child advocate -- the list goes on and on. I might add that I just adore Robin. I read her book Inside My Heart and it just strengthened my 10-year desire to share my story and further define my purpose as Trevor’s mother and his best advocate.

My son Trevor is turning 11 years old the end of the month. He is a very charismatic, vivacious, fun-loving, spirited “tween”. He’s quite social, he considers himself “half and half popular” at school, good looking and athletic. He leads a life full of abundance: family, friends, prayer, vacations, home life, “things”, pets, church, outings, talent -- you name it. He excels in so many things. He has a real gift for drawing and a passion for acting (hoping to be on TV and has a talent manager and agent). He’s been in cub scouts, YMCA, is learning Taekwondo, loves pop music from young stars and I afford him many opportunities. Trevor is a funny, happy-go-lucky joy in the lives of many that he has touched. He’s compassionate and a real sweetheart. Here’s the problem:

Trevor was a victim of SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME at the age of 4 months. The past few years, as he continues to develop and mature, issues continue to emerge. At this age, he is now able articulate how he feels as well as how he feels others treat him. He has suffered from severe chronic cluster migraines, abdominal cluster migraines (I had never heard of those), and jaw, mouth and neck pain. He’s had muscle spasms, tingling and numbness. He suffers from depression, anxiety, stress, fear, anger, rage, mood swings and obesity. He has had insomnia and racing thoughts. He is hyper-sensitive to people or things that annoy him and can become very emotional. One little thing can cause him to immediately sink real low. His feelings get hurt very easily. He sometimes has low self-esteem, other times has a great opinion of himself. He gets very depressed when he’s physically or emotionally hurting, yet sometimes can tough it out in good spirits. He has in the past, talked to a doctor about hurting himself. He’s complained of “out of body” experiences since 2nd grade. He’s expressed feeling like someone else sometimes controls his mind. He complained for several years about a feeling of a blackout – when he momentarily doesn’t know what happened. He would overheat and feel weak, or be freezing and trembling. He has vision issues from the retinal hemorrhaging. He has huge trust issues with people in authority (I don’t blame him). He’s figured out that someone almost killed him, and he doesn’t trust anyone but me (which is hard on me). It hurts to sometimes see him be disrespectful and defiant to those he should be respecting. He’s questioned his self worth. He’s not violent, and is always remorseful when his behavior crosses a line. He cries and says he doesn’t want to be that way, but says he can’t help it and doesn’t know why. Each step along his journey, he learns more about his injuries and what happened, and the more it pisses him off and he wants to hurt the person who hurt him. Or anyone else who pisses him off. To add more to his “slate of who he is”, he’s had to deal with numerous life changes, but I’ve done a fabulous job with him, and I’m dang proud of it. I know him better than the back of my hand. He is high maintenance, but the one thing that holds him together and keeps him going is my love for him and my perseverance to never ever give up on him. And I will protect and defend him till the day I die. And he knows that. The good news is, he’s maturing, and doing a lot better emotionally this past year, thank God.

I have been very proactive and persistent in seeking answers, help and relief for Trevor especially over the last few years as he’s been in elementary school. I have consulted with an army of doctors, who in my opinion only scratch the surface without looking outside the box, medicate him and send him on his way. He missed 30 days of school last year with debilitating symptoms, and the school put us all through hell. I’m strong for him, yet exhausted and desperate for some relief. Sometimes, all I want is to justify his being alive and hope people will be more compassionate to his sensitivities. My perception is that people seem to not believe that he is in pain, whether emotionally or physically, and he and I have been accused of lying. That’s eating away at both of us.

My main reason for writing is for my son. I’m desperate to get him the attention he needs to really connect the dots and get some answers before he enters his teen years. My hope is that Dr. Phil can make me feel assured that I’m doing the right thing in the best interest of my son, or tell me if I’m not. I pray every day for some revelation or new resources to help Trevor. I need to understand more about his brain, and he’s ready to learn more too. Are his injuries at 4 months affecting his life now, or is everything Trevor experiences a fabricated story or psychosomatic (as some people think)? I would love to meet Dr. Lawless and the Neuroplasticity Center. And if I ever make it to Texas, to pay a visit to the Shaken Baby Alliance, who was there for me during those first few weeks of him being shaken when our lives took a traumatic and dramatic turn for the worse.

My second reason in asking for your help is for me. I suffer everyday with PTSD. I was falsely accused for inflicting this abuse on Trevor, and the system FAILED me. Details on that is further down in this letter. It’s hard for me to deal with school harassment and bureaucracy, and even still living in my same house just blocks from the daycare provider’s home. I’m triggered just seeing an ambulance during rush hour traffic, or a 4-month-old baby. Although I am usually an open book, I’ve been stuffing my feelings for 10 years now, and I can’t do it anymore. People commend me for being strong, happy and a great mom to Trevor. But someone touches a sensitive subject and I’m defensive, and weakened to tears. I’m sick of always feeling like I have to justify Trevor’s or my actions. I had to overcome the ultimate unthinkable blow to my motherhood, and I’m not going to let policy, bureaucracy or insensitive people take me down again. I’m always seeking ways to continue to lead a full and productive life, and be the best influence on my son as I can possibly be. I continually face walls of adversity, both his and mine, and perceived judgment from others on how I handle things with Trevor. But the bottom line is this: I don’t know what really happened to Trevor on December 2, 1999 when he was abused, since the daycare and her family didn’t have to say a word in court. I don’t know what ever happened to the daycare provider, if anything, and I honestly don’t even know that she’s the one who did it -- it could have been her husband or anyone else in that home. All I do know, is it happened while in her care; and Community Care Licensing did nothing. I know that the State put me through pure hell, and what’s going on with Trevor today is REAL. I’m seriously troubled with the thought that the daycare provider who did this to Trevor is still out there, free and clear. They were able to walk away and move on with their lives with no questions asked. We recently found the daycare provider on Facebook with a Masters in Education, and her husband a Sacramento Police Officer. Undoubtedly, both are still working with children. WHAT is wrong with our system??????

Hopefully, continuing to share my story we can uncover some answers to this mystery and save the life of an innocent child in doing so.

I know this is a long letter. I can’t help it. You can stop here, but I hope you’ll have time to read on to see how this story began.

Go back 10 years. I returned to work after staying home with Trevor for 3 months. I worked for 19 years in Public Relations/Foundation for a local medical center. I dropped Trevor off at the licensed daycare provider’s home at 7:30 am, and spent the day working a holiday hospital fundraiser, which included escorting children through a festival of trees and visit with Santa Claus (who happened to be the daycare provider’s grandfather). When I got off work, I went to go pick Trevor up around 4:45 pm. As I approached the daycare provider’s home, I noticed an ambulance out front, which only caused some concern, since the daycare provider’s husband was an ambulance driver. As I quickly approached the porch, I heard, “There she is now.” I arrived to find my son unconscious. The paramedics put him on my lap, onto the gurney and flew out the door back to the hospital where I work after signing a release in case Trevor were to pass before arriving at the hospital. It was the worst ride of my life, and I had no idea at that time it would be a life sentence from that day forward. With a life-threatening situation on the ER’s hands, and thanks to a quick CT scan identifying the hemorrhaging, they quickly transported him to a children’s hospital, better equipped to handle pediatric trauma. My hospital co-workers comforted me while I couldn’t help but fear the worst.

About 4 hours later, it was determined that Trevor suffered severe brain hemorrhaging and retinal hemorrhaging. He had seizures and gaze paralysis. His outlook seemed grim. Doctors were aloof. His father and I had no clue what was wrong with Trevor or what was going on. He was in PICU for 10 days, while eventually we learned that his diagnosis was Shaken Baby Syndrome, or “non accidental trauma”. Or in terms that most people understand: CHILD ABUSE.

It makes sense that it happened while in her care. I dropped Trevor off around 7:30 am, and picked him up at 4:45. BUT, 4 days later, Children Services quickly detained him, and charged me and my husband with child abuse. We could no longer see him in the hospital, didn’t know if he would survive, and couldn’t even be with him when our pastor came to pray for him. While we wanted to do everything we could to get to the truth and find out what happened, we were advised to have no contact with the daycare provider, and our focus had to be on defending ourselves at this point, and I’m talking immediately. After 10 days, he was released from the hospital, and I worked my tail off to get my parents guardianship over my baby, rather than going to a foster home. We went 4 months without my child in my home, with only supervised visitations. Meanwhile, the State of California slammed us with count after count, up to and including permanent removal of parental rights – twice! As court proceedings continued on for 4 months, we also had to try to keep our jobs and highly visible positions in the community, without being a PR risk. We had tons of support, but some people did have strange reactions, which I guess is normal for someone accused of such a hideous crime. We struggled to keep our marriage together while Trevor lived with my parents, come up with finances for extensive legal and medical bills, and endure Trevor 1st Christmas – with out him. As the New Year 2000 came, he still wasn’t home, and they put him on MediCal, and wouldn’t even let me be with him for his brain surgery.

The agony continued as DCS demanded we take parenting classes, an anger management program, and presented us with some despicable “offer”, or in our case, what seemed like blackmail. They even conducted an adoption assessment on him - ready to throw him right into the system. This was right on the heels of President Clinton signing a bill to fund quicker adoptions. Their attempt to rip my baby right out of our loving arms was beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. No one could understand. Not even the Doctors, nursing staff, hospital social worker, therapists, and in some cases, DCFS own case workers. The whole situation spiraled so far out of control and all we were ever told by DCFS was “were just following protocol”. We went through countless case workers, and not one single one believed we had anything to do with injuring Trevor. This all came out in the trial as well.

Everyone would ask: “What happened to HER” – the daycare provider? Well, she took the 5th amendment in the trial against us. And then she and her family were long gone. Up and moved. They rented their house in our neighborhood – and now they were gone.

We somehow managed, through the grace of God and a ton of legal fees and medical bills, to prevail, and we got our baby back. The judge in our trial heard not one shred of evidence that would lead anyone to believe we were responsible for his injuries. We never even had to present our side, we only went on the stand for the prosecution. After the state presented their side, the case was dismissed. The judge declared the trial over after 4 months of hearing about the daycare provider’s deception, and after the medical testimony of the treating Neurologist, and my pediatrician who testified that the “mother walks on water”. Anyone in their right mind would look at and say “we have to go after that woman; we have to know what happened to this baby. And we have to make sure she is never around anyone else’s children again.” Nope. Not one darn thing was done to her that I know of anyway. But our focus had to be on our family, and reestablishing a bond with Trevor, who missed out on critical attachment to his mother for those first 4 months.

Thankfully, Trevor wasn’t blind, as we were told he might be, but later learned he was considered legally blind his right eye. He had no broken bones, and no one really paid much attention to his neck. His seizures were managed, and the shunt in his brain help resolved the internal bleeding. He had no visible evidence of his injuries except a shaved head from his brain surgery and residual effects of his brain damage. He was living with my parents, and progressing well. Unlike my marriage!

A year or so later, we tried to file a civil suit against her. Couldn’t do it. We reached out to several legislators, and finally authored a law, Senate Bill 819, (2001). This law was not in place for us, so we were basically SOL in taking any action against her.
My husband and I were invited to speak at the International Child Abuse Conference – not about our baby, or shaken baby, but on the topic of “WHAT WENT WRONG”.
(I have it on video tape.) My attorney then became advocates for finding out what happens to us now that all charges have been completely dropped, but we still appear on the National Child Abuse Index. As far as I know, I’m still on it today. I began sharing my story with local Kiwanis, Rotary, Jaycees, and everyone that would listen. This was a real-life story that took place in our neighborhood, not something you only see in a Lifetime TV Movie (although I’d like to write one!). My husband was a little more private so I tried to move on with our lives. And my child was my number one priority.

Another year later, Trevor’s father, with no notice or warning, left the marriage and our home. I have been raising Trevor alone ever since. I made certain our divorce was amicable, (even though I didn’t want to, the way he left) and Trevor continued to see his father. Don’t get me wrong, his father had NOTHING to do with this. The evidence presented in our trial so clearly points to the daycare provider.

So here we are today. Trevor suffers a little more and more as he continues to develop and his body grows. I sense that the countless number of medical professionals that Trevor has seen in recent years just can’t see beyond their specialty, or make sense of what’s really going on with Trevor. We go from one to the next with no coordinated effort at all, except my endless quest for someone to look at the whole person.

Call it mother’s instinct. I know my son so well. There is something going on with him, outside of sometimes lacking coping skills, being raised in a single-parent home, having severe headaches, or being labeled with a “mood disorder”. There have also been accusations, especially in the past few years, of him making up his illnesses to manipulate me, me babying him, and him getting away not going to school. I have worked hard and I think have bridged all those gaps, and continue to have an army of support. I have a 504 plan in place for school, I have an attorney and personal advisor to help me deal with the school and their insane systems and approach to dealing with Trevor’s ails and medical absences. I’ve been in therapy to help me deal with the PTSD. I have family support, however some don’t live it like me and my parents do. I had to eventually leave the hospital after 19 years, which ended in the oddest of circumstances, but I currently have an awesome job, with tremendous support, and I am working to pursue my goal of sooner rather than later moving out of my neighborhood and starting to make new refreshing memories for me and my son, closer to my parents, his school and friends. While I feel ever so blessed to own my home, it’s a house with some pretty awful memories, some “defining moments” and it’s too close to “her” house. Both Trevor and I feel the need to move on.

I was pretty organized during all these years – and am the document queen. I have every letter, report, film, transcript, record of conversations, above and beyond, which proved in my case to serve me well. Your producers would love this one. I hope that someday, I can get the chance to tell my story to all the moms out there: what’s possible in your own backyard, how the system failed me and my child. And once again stand up for the rights of a child, who now is old enough to have a voice. I sure wish he did back then. And maybe we can save another child from the perpetrator. And who knows, maybe Trevor’s dream to be on TV will come true after all!

Regards, and from deep “inside my heart”,


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