Fletcher is a funny and kind 15-year-old who lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He loves creating bead bracelets and passing them out to everyone he meets as a way to make new friends and share kindness. Fletcher embodies persistence and makes the world a more open and connected place.
Denise had a great pregnancy with Fletcher and was not aware of any medical concerns until he was born via scheduled c-section. Denise remembers “At that point we didn’t know what was wrong. You could tell his skin looked different. The doctor said he has a rash and we don’t know what it is”. Denise was not able to see her baby because she was recovering from the c-section and Fletcher was taken right to the NICU. In the NICU, the doctors also observed that his right eye would not fully open, he required a bit of oxygen and was having feeding issues. Fletcher was in the NICU for 19 days.
When Fletcher was five weeks old, Denise and Craig drove from Oklahoma to Dallas to see a pediatric dermatologist. At that time, Fletcher was diagnosed with Epidermal Nevus. The doctor explained it is only a syndrome if the brain, eye and skeletal systems are affected, which is the case for Fletcher.
At five months old, Fletcher continued to have feeding issues and was not sleeping well.
That evening, Craig’s parents suggested that Denise and Craig go to dinner and a movie for a much-needed break. When they returned home, Fletcher was gray. They rushed him to the Emergency Room and he was transferred to another hospital that had a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Fletcher was intubated and put in a medical coma. He then developed pneumonia and was intubated for a few weeks. He was still not gaining weight, so the doctors placed a g-tube. They were told if they could just get Fletcher to 22 pounds, everything would be fine. When he came home, he was back and forth from home to the hospital with pneumonia and intubated about six times.
When Fletcher was nine months old, he started having problems with his heart. On a day Denise will never forget, she took him a routine cardiology appointment and they left in an ambulance to Children’s Hospital. They had never been to this hospital before, but it was the only one with a heart surgeon who could perform the procedure Fletcher needed. Fletcher had open heart surgery and his heart has been fine ever since.
However, after heart surgery, he was in the hospital for 25 days and the doctors could not get him off of the ventilator. “He should have been able to get off after heart surgery in just two days, but they could not get him off. The whole deal was like what came first, the chicken or the egg? Did his heart cause his lung problems? Or did his lungs cause his heart problem?” Denise explained. Fletcher was then transferred back to Baptist Hospital, where it was determined that he would need a tracheostomy and long-term care.
That’s when Denise and Craig turned to the Children’s Center, a long-term pediatric medical facility. Fletcher went to the Children’s Center after his first birthday and lived there for seven years. “In the beginning of him being there, he was very sick. He was very fragile”, Denise recalled. He received intensive medical care as well as physical, occupational and speech therapies. His family visited him during the day and went home at night to eat, sleep and adjust to a new normal.
When Fletcher was eight years old, he came home to live with his family. Denise and Craig transitioned into being full-time caregivers and adjusted to yet another new normal. “We’re a great team. We work really well together.” Denise shared about her husband.
Fletcher was doing very well for a while, then he began having significant electrolyte imbalances. They took him back to the Children’s Center in serious condition and as soon as they entered the building, Fletcher’s health turned around. “It was just amazing how different he was on the day he got there because people came from all over that building to see him. He’s just a really neat kid.” Denise beamed.
After the electrolyte issue was resolved, he began to have stomach issues and was transferred to Children’s Hospital for colon surgery. They took him to Baptist Hospital and he ended up being transferred to Children’s Hospital for colon surgery. From December 2017 to August 2019, he was hospitalized seven times with complications, with 40-50 day hospital stays. The wound from colon surgery had been opened five times. He went back to the Children’s Center for rehabilitation. Fletcher has been living and thriving at home ever since.
During one of Fletcher’s OT sessions, Denise observed Fletcher making a bracelet with a pipe-cleaner and beads. Denise replicated this activity at home and during hospital stays. It was an instant hit for Fletcher and has now become a passion. Fletcher has made thousands of bracelets and loves giving them to people as an act of kindness.
Fletcher is a funny and kind young man, who never gives up. People are drawn to his big personality and kind heart. Fletcher and his family have learned to use kindness as a way to persist through his medical journey.
Time to get loud shouters!
Throughout the month of July we will be shouting love for Fletcher and his family. It is a great honor to be able to tell Fletcher’s story and we hope you will join us in getting to know him and his family.
So click here to shop now where every purchase in July will be used to help cover the costs of maintenance and repair of the family’s handicap accessible van. You can also start a monthly subscription and shout love for great kiddos like Fletcher each month!
Included with every order in July is a bead bracelet hand-made by Fletcher, one of approximately 10,000 he has made as acts of kindness he is sharing with the world.