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Stryder Doescher recently returned home from New York after succesful brain surgery.

Photo Credit: KEVIN SPERL  - Strdyer Doescher plays Minecraft at his home in Prineville shortly after returning from New York City where he underwent serious brain surgery.

Stryder Doescher traveled to New York City well enough to walk into the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in advance of his scheduled brain surgery, but he certainly wasn’t expected to walk out under his own power.

“We were told that Stryder would not be able to walk for awhile and that he would need ambulatory assistance,” said Stryder's mom, Angela. “But, Stryder woke up the day we were scheduled to come home and told us he was going to walk.”

It didn’t happen right away as, post surgery, Stryder spent most of the subsequent four days sleeping, his legs to “floppy,” as Angela characterized them, to go anywhere.

Stryder traveled to New York, with his mom and ever-present service dog Keebler, on Sept. 29 as a result of a CT scan over the summer that showed his brain stem slowly impaling his brain.

“The doctors said that we were lucky to fix it when we did,” explained Angela. “The scan showed significant damage.”

There are a lot of complicated medical terms for what is happening to Stryder but, simply put, his body suffers from a lack of collagen, a protein that comprises most of the body's connective tissue — so much so that his New York doctors called him a “true bobble head.”

The surgical procedure involved placing Stryder's head in a “halo” and literally picking up his head and moving it back into a more proper position with the help of screws and metal rods — a process that took in excess of eight hours.

And all Angela could do was wait.

Understateably, she described it as a long time to sit but admitted to feeling at peace with what the doctors were doing.

“I talked to the doctors beforehand and knowing the damage that was caused and what they were going to do, I didn’t worry,” she said. “I worried up till that day and have ever since, though.”

Part of her comfort came from knowing that back home in Prinevile, and all over Central Oregon, those that knew Stryder, and many who didn’t, were wearing purple shirts printed with the words “We Love Stryder.”

“When you are going through this, it is hard, but knowing people are back home just thinking about him had a part in his healing,” said Angela. “I can't really say why he is doing so well but there is no other explanation. Just seeing all of those pictures gave me something else to think about, especially sitting there during the day of surgery.”

Walking didn’t come easily for Stryder, as his body was described as “bendy and floppy,” his legs turning all the way around. On the positive side, Angela said with a laugh, he had grown two inches as a result of the surgery, and now stands up straighter with a posture only a mother could love.

There are other changes in Stryder's behavior since returning home on Oct. 7, noticeable to anyone who has seen him throughout his struggles. He is full of conversation, is quite animated and appears to the observer to be in significantly less pain.

“Stryder has not taken any pain medication since we have been home, not even Tylenol,” marveled Angela. “Every other person I have talked to has said that it could be eight months to years for recovery and subsiding pain.”

Stryder remains home from school for a few more weeks, not due to discomfort, but to protect him from doing too much too soon.

Even though he acts like he hasn't had brain surgery, Stryder still needs a lot of help.

“I don’t want him to overdo it. He has had brain surgery even though he acts like nothing has happened,” said Angela. “I don’t know how, but that's Stryder's story. He has always been this resilient little boy.”

For now, it's all about rest and recovery for Stryder, and Angela.

Angela says she feels OK now, but admits to finally feeling the effects of the emotional and difficult trip to New York.

“When I am in charge of everything and all the logistics, I don't think of it when it is going on, but now I am really tired,” she said.

The community continues to help her out. The Crook County School's kitchen continues to send dinners home to the family, something Angela is incredibly grateful for.

And, for now the latest, most difficult hurdle has been dealt with and Angela can relax just a bit, at least until the next hurdle presents itself.

“I think every hurdle is going to be the last one, but it can't get any worse than brain surgery,” she said. “Any other surgery is going to be a walk in the park. We know he is not going to die now, that's the big thing.”

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