Listen to and read Ryan’s story below:
Many children who have cerebral palsy (CP) are diagnosed relatively early as they develop, but for some children whose symptoms are more subtle, it can take years. This is precisely what happened to Ryan Gorka and his family.
Ryan was born in Guatemala and was adopted by his parents, Sue and Scott Gorka, when he was 5 months old.
“As Ryan grew and began walking, we started to notice some abnormalities on how he got around,” Sue says. “He’s always had a bit of a pigeon-toed walk, but our pediatrician told that it wasn’t something to worry about as most children grow out of it.”
It wasn’t until an incident in a Target parking lot when Ryan was 11, that his family was referred to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
“That day Ryan couldn’t even walk from the car to the store, we knew something was seriously wrong. We took him to the ER and they eventually sent us to Gillette where he was diagnosed with CP,” Sue recalls. “Looking back there were probably were warning signs. Ryan would get out of bed most mornings like an old man. He’d always complain about his muscles being tight, and there’s a part of you that wonders, why would a child’s muscles be tight?”
While the diagnosis of CP was disappointing, it did provide a roadmap for Ryan’s recovery. His specialists at Gillette recommended a procedure called single-event multilevel surgery (SEMLS). This procedure is ideal for children like Ryan because it allows for multiple surgeries simultaneously, which dramatically reduces the overall recovery time for patients.
Ryan’s surgery and recovery have gone well, but he still endures challenges and his overall diagnosis has become a bit of a mystery.
“Ryan’s had issues lately where he’s be experiencing small spasms. Like his leg will just start shaking sporadically,” Sue says. “CP is not supposed to be a progressive disease, so obviously as a parent, that has been quite disconcerting.”
While Ryan’s medical journey is still progressing, Sue and her family credit having Gillette in their lives as the something that gives them comfort.
“We live in Blaine and we didn’t even know about Gillette prior to having Ryan. Our other son Cameron has been seen there as well, and to have such a wonderful facility in our own backyard is something we are profoundly grateful for,” Sue says. “Ryan has some more appointments coming up and while we certainly have concerns, we know that whatever happens, Gillette will be there to help us figure things out.”