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Cody’s Story

My parents were told to go on with their lives, without me…

Hi, I am Cody LaScala and I have cerebral palsy. I was not born with it, it was a God-given thing. I live my life knowing God made me the way I am for a reason. Did you know, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 350 children under age 5 drown in swimming pools in the United States each year? I was almost part of those statistics. On my first birthday, my mom took the day off work to celebrate the occasion.

We had a nanny who was watching me. She thought I crawled out to mom. Actually, I had crawled out the sliding door into our new swimming pool.

My mom had a really weird feeling, she walked, no, she ran back to our nanny and asked where I was. The nanny said, “I thought he was with you.” Mom ran to my crib, hoping she would find me there. When I wasn’t there, she ran to the pool and found her worst nightmare. She found me at the bottom of the pool and started CPR. The paramedics worked on me for over 20 minutes and still no pulse. My mom just prayed with our neighbors and all her friends who came to help. They were crying and mom said that they just had to pray. I was taken by ambulance to Palm Springs Hospital. After another 30 minutes, the doctor finally got a pulse. I was transferred to Loma Linda Hospital where I would spend the next month. The chief neurologist took Mom and Dad into the special room and told them to leave me and go on with their lives. He thought there was no hope for me. He said they should go on with their lives because I would be a burden on the family. My mom said, “No, I am not going to leave him.” Mom was pregnant with Bryan, my brother, at the time.

Thankfully, my mom knew God was with me and I was here for a reason.

Today, I feel that reason is to teach people to not give up on life. The doctors at Loma Linda thought she was crazy. But she wasn’t crazy, and I am living proof of that. I went from a coma to a semi-comatose state over the next six months. My brother Bryan, even though he was very young, had a lot to do with my recovery. He played with me all the time. When I started moving, I would lie on the floor and mom would put me on my side so I would roll over. That is how I learned to roll. Then Bryan would run past me and I would lift up my legs and catch him and flip him on his face. Sometimes he would cry, but I thought it was funny because I could get away with it.

When I was 18 months old Mom and Dad took me to Philadelphia to The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. It was a place where they showed us how to do a home program where they would reprogram my brain.

It was crazy, every hour we had people in and out of our house volunteering to help me. I was surrounded by love. They would have three people, one on each side and one at my head, putting me through motions like I was crawling. I would scream and cry but they didn’t stop. Mom would sing louder than I could cry. We would do that for five minutes, 18 times a day. Then every five minutes a beeper would go off and they would put a mask on my face for one minute for me to breathe into. In between all that, they would flash word and picture cards, bang pots and pans to scare me to death, use hot and cold packs, and make me try to crawl down a slide. So, now you know why I am so crazy and wild. Mom and Dad would take shifts staying up with me when I was on this respiratory patterning machine. It would squeeze me to a beat, so my brain would learn how to breathe properly again. They did this crazy program for almost two years until they got divorced. They knew the program might ruin their marriage, but they did it for me and I love them for it. My dad left us and moved back to Florida. I don’t know why. A friend of ours that volunteered for me was going through a divorce too. Lisa and Justin moved in to help pay the bills. I was three and Bryan and Justin were two. Our moms would let us have a lot of fun. They would cover the table and floor with paper and let us go crazy with finger paints. We made forts out of blankets and chairs and everything else in the house. Once we were driving up the mountain to go to Santa’s Village. We kept saying, “Are we there yet!” We were almost there when the car quit running. Oh man, that bites! Mom and Lisa just got us all out of the car, put me in my wheelchair and stuck out our thumbs. The first truck picked us up and we were at Santa’s Village in two minutes. The whole experience was so funny. When we decided to leave, mom asked a guy in a truck if he could give her and her kids a ride down to their car. He said yes, and Lisa came running over with me in my chair and the other two brats too. The guy probably thought these moms were crazy. My mom and I did a lot together. We traveled all over the world looking for help. I had hippotherapy, chiropractic, reflexology, essential oils, cranial sacral therapy, hyperbaric oxygen treatments, nitroglycerin therapy, biofeedback, OT, PT, and speech therapy.

Be thankful and never give up.

We moved back to Iowa and I had reached a plateau for about six years and then we found a new therapy in Poland that changed my life. We went to Poland nine times. Each time I would gain 6-12 months of progress in the four-week program. It was amazing and I would cry when we left because it was the only place that was helping me get better. We had finally found hope. The only problem was it would take us hours to travel there and it could cost a lot of money. I didn’t understand why we had to travel clear to Poland to find help.

The physical therapy I did there was hard work but my mom bought me presents as rewards for working hard. I wish I would have had this treatment when I was little because I don’t think I would have ever been in a wheelchair.

My mom is an angel who not only gave me life at birth, but also gave my life back to me at the age of one. I give a lot of credit to my mom for not giving up on me. I really love her. I am grateful to all of the doctors, physical therapists, and friends who helped my family when they needed it. So, that’s my story that led my mom to founding NAPA. My brother Bryan joined the team in 2011 and has now transitioned into the role of CEO, supporting NAPA to grow to reach more kids and families like ours. I love NAPA and can’t wait to go back because every time I go I get better and stronger. If you have a child you need to try NAPA.

Mom Update:

Cody was walking with minimal assistance until he was 21 and had a stenosis in his neck which required a decompression surgery. This surgery paralyzed him.

Three different doctors told Lynette he had an injury to his neck at some point and it was compromised. Once again, we refused to listen. After his 3rd week of inpatient rehab, Cody began to move again.

He did not get everything back however, he is living on his own in Santa Monica with support. He has caregivers with him most of the time and other times you will see him cruising around Santa Monica visiting “his peeps.” His peeps include amazing individuals who take the time to listen to him and know what he is saying. They visit him in the hospital or take him to lunch. We have been blessed with knowing some of the world’s most beautiful people. If you have a child with a disability, your life will be different. It will be a challenge and you will have hurdles and mountains. After the storms, there will be the rainbows and you too will be blessed with complete strangers reaching out to help you. When the road gets rocky and you feel like you can’t go on, just remember: “God only gives his special children to special people. You are chosen as a very special mother or father. You are very blessed and will see so much beauty in the world. Be thankful and never give up.”

Lynette LaScala, A very special and blessed Mom

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