Sunday, October 28, 2007

The fun's about to start for boy with muscular dystrophy

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Like every other kid, Joshua Dubcak is exited because it's just three days to Halloween.
'I want to be Spiderman,' the 14 year old said.
The costume is ready, said mom Carrol Dubcak of Temple. 'He and his dad are ready to go out Wednesday night to trick-or-treat.'
Joshua was all smiles Thursday afternoon as he listened to his mother talk about the fun week ahead.
He had just got out of the pool where he had swum and splashed with Katy Cunningham of Harker Heights. The lad was absolutely jazzed.
Why shouldn't he be?
Halloween isn't the only fun thing on his calendar.
The eve of spooks and witches is but a prelude to the more exiting day that follows - the day he leaves for Disney World. Universal Studios, Joshua says, will be the first stop on his weeklong venture.
The excitement sparkled in the youngster's eyes - like it would in any other kid.
The thing about Joshua, though, is that he is not like any other kid. He has muscular dystrophy - 'a cruel disease,' Mrs. Dubcak said, that debilitates the body but spares the mind.
His trip to Disney World is courtesy of the Wishing Well Foundation, a nonprofit group that seeks to add some joy to the lives children who 'fight the good fight' every day of their lives.
Joshua's Thursday swim was therapy, not recreation. And his friend, Miss Cunningham, was his occupational therapist.
While standing in the shallow end of the pool, Joshua took the sticky sponges - one by one - and placed them in the shape of his favorite car, the Hummer.
'The rule is to put the sponges on the white tile,' Miss Cunningham said, pointing to the area where the wall changed colors from blue to white - about 6 inches above the water.
It's exercise for his arms, she said.
'Joshua can only raise his arm about a third of the way up,' Miss Cunningham said. 'Things like this keep his muscles strong.'
Outside the pool, though, Mrs. Dubcak said Joshua's arms seem to be getting weaker, along with the rest of his hurting body.
'I'm feeding him now,' Mrs. Dubcak said. 'He can't get the spoon up to his mouth.'
Joshua tries to eat solid food once a day, but his mother said his attempts to swallow use all of his energy.
'He's losing his ability to swallow. It's getting too hard. That's why he's got the feeding tube,' Mrs. Dubcak said. 'He'll have that the rest of his life.'
Part of Thursday's therapy was to prepare him for his Nov. 16th surgery at Scott & White.
'We did extra turns in the pool,' Miss Cunningham said. 'Hoping to make it a little easier for him to roll in and out of bed at the hospital.'
The surgery is serious, his mother said, explaining the procedure will require a two-day medically induced coma.
'The scoliosis makes it painful for him to sit,' Mrs. Dubcak said. 'Our hope is that the surgery will reduce the pain and give him a better quality of life.'
Joshua knows exactly what's coming. He's read about his condition and the surgery in books and medical studies he found on the Internet.
The potential of getting a tracheotomy is what bothers Joshua the most. He doesn't want a whole in his throat.
'His pulmonary doctor says his lungs are in good shape,' Mrs. Dubcak said. 'And that the chances of needing a tracheotomy are relatively low but the possibility is there.'
But fear wasn't in Joshua's eyes on Thursday. The doctors, the pain and the surgery were things he did not want to talk about.
Hummers and costumes and his day in the spotlight were things that stole his attention, trumping his disease - if for only one fun day.
His excitement was undeniable. He was going to be Spiderman on Wednesday and leave for Disney World on Thursday.
The rest didn't matter.

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