Elbert girl dreams to walk

Posted 3/31/09

As her dad picks her up from her wheelchair and sets her on the couch, her smile never leaves her face. Even with the constant pain she feels on her …

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Elbert girl dreams to walk


As her dad picks her up from her wheelchair and sets her on the couch, her smile never leaves her face. Even with the constant pain she feels on her left rib cage, she keeps on smiling. The goal of running on her own never leaves her thoughts and the journey to get there, is definitely worth it.

Jenna Hinshaw is 11 years old and a student at Elbert School. When she was a baby the doctors told her parents, Carolyn and Wayne, that she was a floppy baby and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. As the years went on, Jenna’s condition progressively improved and she was able to walk using a walker. But 2½ years ago, after moving to Elbert County from Southern California and with hopes that she would continue to get better, Jenna began to get worse.

Jenna was then diagnosed with advanced scoliosis. After the diagnosis, Jenna was referred to a neurologist at Children’s Hospital in Denver who diagnosed her with Charcot Marie Tooth, or CMT.

CMT is a progressive nerve disease that eats away at the nerves slowing down the communication between the brain and the body’s limbs. With no cure, eventually a person will need someone to care for them constantly.

The CMT was the cause of Jenna’s scoliosis, which is currently over a 90 degree bend. She is scheduled for surgery on May 12 at Children’s Hospital. Doctors plan to insert a rod from her neck to her pelvic bone, attaching every vertebra along the way. Jenna’s back will be strait, but her mid-section will not be mobile and she will only be able to move her neck, legs and arms. But to her parents, there is no other choice.

“If we don’t get the surgery the scoliosis will only get worse and she will end up bent over or her internal organs will be squished,” Carolyn said.

As predicted by Carolyn, complications with one of Jenna’s internal organs occurred in November 2008. At that time Jenna began experiencing extreme pain in her chest and the Hinshaw family later found out in January that she had a collapsed lung due to the twisting of her spine. The collapsed lung was causing the extreme pain and also forced Jenna to lay on her back at all times. As the pain worsened, often causing Jenna to scream in agony, she only took relief from pain medications and heated rice bags.

“If she didn’t get her pills you would hear about it,” Wyane said. “And we knew we had to get her into surgery to take care of the lung and her back because of how much pain she was in.”

A surgery date was set for March 9 at Children’s Hospital and as time came closer to the surgery, the Hinshaw family turned to God and began fervently praying for Jenna’s lung. On the morning of her pre-operation appointment Jenna was sick with a fever and was unable to attend the appointment. Although Jenna was sick, Wayne and Carolyn believe it was a sign from God. Wayne said he knew it was God giving Jenna more time to heal before the surgery.

“Just a week ago Jenna’s pain stopped and she is able to sit up and even play a little bit,” Wayne said. “We had been praying for her and her lung has been healed. It’s a miracle.”

Since Jenna’s pain is gone, a new surgery date has been set for May 12 to straighten her spine. Medical bills have been piling up over the years and in an effort to help out a local family, the Majestic Valley Church in Elbert is sponsoring a talent show, silent auction and bake sale in hopes to raise $10,000 for the surgery. Items such as Denver Nuggets tickets and signed Avalanche and Rockies jerseys will be up for auction and attendants can enjoy 17 acts from the talent show. The benefit starts at 7 p.m. on April 4 and is at the Elbert School gym, 24489 Main Street in Elbert. Anyone not able to attend the benefit can send donations to the church at P.O. Box 233, Elbert, CO 80106.

Throughout her entire life Jenna has not let her handicap get in the way of living an independent life and attending school. As a sixth-grader, she is advancing in her classes just as any other student even though she is only at school part-time. Reading is one her favorite things to do.

“My goal is to read all of the ‘American Girls’ series,” she said. “I have already read the entire ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series.”

But there is one thing Jenna cannot stand — needles. She says, by far, needles and getting her blood drawn are the worst part about her diagnosis.

“One time they had to test my nerves and they stuck a needle in my ankle and that was the worst one,” she said. “I flat out hate needles.”

Although CMT can not be cured, the Hinshaw family will not give up their faith that God will heal Jenna completely and she will be able to walk on her own. Wayne said his wife Carolyn was healed of her scoliosis at the age of 40 recently, therefore he believes God will not stop the plan he has set forth for Jenna.

“God healed her lung and I don’t know when he will heal her CMT but he does have a plan,” he said. “I’m hoping God will heal her at the benefit and she will be able to walk out of that gym and thank everyone for coming, but she no longer needs the money because she had been healed.”

Jenna said she has a lot of plans once her CMT is gone, plans people who can walk every day do not think twice about.

“I want to be able to wear flip flops and high heals,” she said. “I also want to ice skate and ride my horses again.”

Jenna also has plans to surprise an old friend from California after she is able to walk, adding she is going to call her friend Alyssa’s mom and tell her the news that she has been healed and can walk, but not to tell Alyssa. Then Alyssa will hear a knock on the door.

“After Alyssa opens the door and before she can hug me,” she said, “I’m going to say the last one down the block is a rotten egg and just take off!”

“The dreams you have when you have never ran before,” Carolyn said.

Benefit for Jenna:

7 p.m. April 4 at Elbert School gym, 24489 Main Street in Elbert

Sponsored by Majestic Valley Church in Elbert.

Silent auction, talent show and bake sale, all proceeds go to Jenna’s medical bills and all donations are tax deductible.


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