Alva Review-Courier -

Humor, coffee, and a whole lot of Jesus


September 2, 2018

Photo provided

Drake's unique toe-print signature can be seen in the upper right corner.

Thirty-two year old Jennifer Scribner is like a lot of other stay-at-home moms. She spends her days taking care of her son, cooking, cleaning and running errands. There are good days and there are bad days. For Jennifer, the bad days are what make her different from not only stay-at-home moms but moms in general. Her son, 11-year-old Drake Albert, suffers from severe epilepsy. His seizures are unforgiving and after several years of the repeated trauma, Drake's cognitive abilities are limited. The impairment has rendered him unable to walk, talk or feed himself.

On a typical day, he experiences well over 100 epileptic episodes.

It wasn't always like this, though. Born on the 20th day of August in 2007, Drake Albert came out healthy and happy and, just like Jennifer's pregnancy, there were no complications. It wasn't until Drake hit the six-month mark that the new mother's world, as she knew it, changed. Her baby boy experienced his first grand mal seizure, and although it was frightening, Jennifer knew exactly what was happening. Her own half-brother, James, suffers from epileptic seizures too, causing her to bear witness to many of these epileptic events. Besides epilepsy, Drake was diagnosed with cerebral palsy – an incurable disease that's marked by movement, muscle tone and posture disorders.

The difficulties that came with raising a child with very specific, specialized needs proved to be too much for Drake's dad, and he and Jennifer divorced after four years of marriage. The split drove Jennifer back into the proverbial arms of an old habit and she rediscovered her propensity for alcohol. Her affair with alcohol had begun in her early days of high school. There were periods of heavy drinking followed by attempts at sobriety, and even short dry spells.

Now, with the divorce, Jennifer was averaging a 30-pack of beer a day and soon built up a tolerance. It wasn't long until she was hitting the bottle. The divorcee's drinking spiraled out of control so much that she became a self-proclaimed belligerent drunk. Still charged with the care of her son at that time, Jennifer looks back at that period of her life with regret.

A Spiritual Awakening in Jail

The road to become a mother had been extremely challenging – she had even quit drinking to undergo fertility treatments all those years ago. Drake has been dubbed a miracle baby – doctors had told Jennifer that she would probably never be able to have children of her own because her severe endometriosis (a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus) made conceiving next to impossible.

She tries not to beat herself up about spending time in Drake's younger years drinking heavily and, in fact, her arrest for DUI garnered unexpected results. Feeling helpless in jail, she had what she calls a spiritual awakening. All she could think about was her son. Was he okay? Was he being given the correct medication at the correct dosage? She came to realize that there was no way she could take care of Drake and be the mother he deserved if she wasn't sober.

Jennifer is now in recovery and says it's a lifelong process that she'll never get out of. She credits her family and her fiancé, Michael, with providing her a strong support system. Michael, she says, is a huge part of Drake's life. Even his three young daughters (ages 11, 10 and 6) call Drake their brother.

Over the years, Drake has been on every kind of medication there is for his conditions and undergone invasive surgeries in an attempt to stop his seizures. He's had the left temporal lobe of his brain removed, and a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) implantation to treat seizures when drugs are not effective and surgery is not possible. The pacemaker-like generator was implanted in Drake's chest wall and programmed to stimulate the vagus nerve in his neck. He's endured a lot of physical therapy, had a feeding tube placed in his stomach, and also been medflighted numerous times.

He's been intubated, hospitalized for long stretches and has even flatlined.

The multiple procedures Drake has undergone have proved painful for his mom to see, but she's drawn solace from being able to carry him into each surgery to comfort him. Drake even has a stuffed dog that accompanies him to the operation room. The dog, named Moxicillin after Drake's allergy to the antibiotic Amoxicillin, wears his allergy band as a collar.

Drake's health continues to deteriorate and his prognosis is not good. It was only two weeks ago, one day after his 11th birthday, that Jennifer found out from doctors that she needed to start making final preparations for her son because he is terminal. After receiving the devastating news that fateful day, Drake, who usually has to be prompted, wrapped both arms around his mom and with a big smile, gave her a hug. Jennifer said she will always carry that moment with her.

"After all the walls we've barrelled through together, now I'm at the end of the road. I've cried so much I'm pretty sure my tear ducts are dried up," she said.

Coping with the Worst

The mom said she would never wish such pain on her worst enemy, but she knows this was God's plan for her life. She said Drake has taught her so much and that being his caretaker has not been a burden, but an honor. "I was great at accounting, bookkeeping and purchasing, but this has by far been my best job ever."

Jennifer recognizes the two men in her life as being amazing. Michael's patience and understanding (he and Jennifer have only been able to go on a date a time or two) and Drake's strength have deemed him, in Jennifer's words, a very bright light in a very dark world.

Photo provided

Jennifer and Drake enjoy an impromptu date at the park.

She also gives much credit to God. Though she went through brief moments of doubt, she says her faith is stronger than it has ever been, making her able to get through each day with humor, coffee, and a whole lot of Jesus. She cherishes each day with her son, delighting in his laughter and listening to music with him. Drake also like to paint – especially with his feet. With Jennifer's help, the little artist completes each piece by signing it with his toes.

When the time comes, Drake will be able to finally be free of all that's held him back; there will be no wires, no hookups, no limitations and no pain. Though the experience will be immensely painful, Jennifer said she knows that she will hold on to her sobriety while she does her best to share the legacy Drake will leave behind.


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