ARLINGTON — An Arlington mother is reaching out across the globe to get greeting cards for her son who will face crucial surgeries in the near future.
Ten-year-old Jacob Gratton was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation type 1 and suffers from various genetic issues. When he was born, his mother Sharon said that his skull was open and doctors had to get it closed. Because of this, he experiences seizures and is developmentally delayed. Gratton is in third grade at Fisher Elementary School, however his mental capability is that of a 5-year-old.
"We never know when something is going to come up. It's very hard because we don't know what's going to happen down the road or if he will live to be an adult," Sharon Gratton said. "Doctors say they never know what's going to happen, otherwise it's not life threatening right yet."
Two weeks ago, Gratton's mother made a Facebook page, Cards for Jacob, in order to encourage a positive mindset while he prepares for surgery on March 15. The operation will include taking bone from Gratton's skull to potentially relieve pressure from fluid, and also removing a vertebrate in his neck.
So far, cards, patches and stickers, 10 each day, have come from Nebraska, California, England, Germany, South Africa, Australia, Thailand, Norway, Iceland, Hawaii, and Scotland. Law enforcement in Florida have sent Gratton a lot of cards as well. He's particularly a fan of police officers, military personnel and firefighters. The Orange Park Police Department in Florida even posted a photo on their Facebook page of officers holding up a piece of paper with each letter of Jacob's name.
Sharon Gratton said people are offering to purchase gaming systems such as Xbox or Playstation, but that is not her request. She has even received money, but usually just $2 bills.
Gratton has a service dog, because he is epileptic, named Kayak who occasionally tags along to school, but his mother said there is an aid in the classroom at all times.
Grotton is a Cub Scout in Manchester, loves to play all sports and even skis with the Bart Center every week at Bromley Mountain. Physical activity is limited for the child due to how quickly his muscles get fatigued. Sharon said her son sleeps a lot, usually from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., but still plays and watches television with his 13-year-old brother Zach. Both boys were adopted by Sharon and her partner.
"We knew he had some of the issues," Sharon said. "The doctor told us it would be a wait and see kind of thing. We adopted him at 3 years old but had him since 7 months old."
After Gratton's surgery in March, he will return for eye surgery to also alleviate pressure in his head. He will be out of school for two weeks recovering and cannot partake in physical activity for six to eight weeks.
Chiari Malformation type 1, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is when the base of the skull and upper spinal area don't connect properly. Typically this goes unnoticed until adolescence or adult years and causes headaches at the back of the head. There are four types of this disorder. Sharon mentioned that her son is part of a study being done at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire where Gratton gets tests done every six months in addition to any surgeries, to figure out how he got the disorder.
"We worry all the time, we're overprotective," Sharon said. "God gave him to us for a reason and he brings a smile to everybody's face and to ours. Being a mom, you have to be the tough one and it's really hard."
Support Gratton at www.gofundme.com/ekphgs and send cards to Jacob, 3894 VT RT 313W, Arlington, Vermont USA 05250.
— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.