RHOC's Meghan King Reveals Son Has Cerebral Palsy — and Why She 'Felt Relieved' About Diagnosis
The Real Housewives of Orange County alum revealed her child's condition Tuesday in a new blog post in honor of World Cerebral Palsy Day, giving her readers an update on Hart's health after he was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage last summer.
"I was expecting this diagnosis," writes King, 36, of her son with estranged husband Jim Edmonds. "Even though he's the same kid I expected it to hit me hard. But it didn't. It didn't hit me hard at all. In fact I felt relieved."
The mother of three asks her readers to think of her relief as having felt like she was "going through life every day without putting the lid on the toothpaste and then finally, I got to put the lid on. That's how simple and right it felt."
"This is the once dreadful diagnosis I knew was coming since that fateful day I googled the right thing and it hit me like a truck: CP," she adds. "I knew it was CP since Hart was a few months old. I just knew."
"Jim is unaware of any such diagnosis and, if it is even true, it is completely unconscionable and absolutely disgraceful that Meghan would announce this on social media without discussing it with him first," Edmonds' rep Steve Honig tells PEOPLE.
In response to Edmonds' claim that he was "unaware" of the diagnosis, King said in a statement to PEOPLE: “Jim’s statements are untrue and I refuse to address them further.”
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King has been open over the past 15 months about Hart's treatments, including oxygen therapy, and how she has managed his condition while parenting his twin brother Hayes and big sister Aspen, 4 next month, amid her split from Edmonds, 50.
While doctors and therapists told King she "was just being an overly cautious mother" when Hart was born, she "insisted upon an MRI" — which "confirmed a diagnosis of periventricular leukomalacia or PVL which is brain death caused by lack of oxygen," she writes in her new blog post.
"This is often a precursor diagnosis to cerebral palsy," continues the former Bravo star. "Since that diagnosis I threw myself into researching treatments. I spoke with doctors in Chile, Panama and Egypt. I spent 6 weeks in Los Angeles with Hart doing intensive therapy. I spent 4 weeks in New Orleans going into an oxygen chamber with him every day. I continued the oxygen therapy in St Louis for an additional 8 weeks for a total of 60 'dives.' "
"I tried (and failed) to get him into a stem cell study at Duke using his sister's cord blood," King recalls. "I got him signed up with the Missouri state program, First Steps, to do every type of therapy available. I researched and found private therapists when we traveled so we never skipped a beat. I did all of this between his first and second birthdays."
At almost 2½ years old now, Hart "has somewhat plateaued in his physical progress which can be very disheartening for a therapy mama like myself," says King. "But he does all the typical things for a kid his age like goes up and down stairs, insists on buckling his car seat himself, 'jumps' from the coffee table to the couch (I quoted 'jumps' because he doesn't actually lift both feet off the ground at the same time), and hits baseballs off a tee."
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Hart also "struggles with balance" — something King says is "hard to teach." As a result, her son's "therapy goals have shifted from physical therapy to making speech therapy the main focus" with the intention of helping him "learn to communicate and annunciate better (despite him speaking in many full sentences)."
The former reality star notes that there is a "very broad spectrum" of cerebral palsy, and her son's condition didn't fit what she had expected, having a cousin with cerebral palsy who can't walk, hear or speak.
King goes on to explain that Hart's hypotonic cerebral palsy "means he has low muscle tone, or 'floppy' limbs," but that therapy has helped him greatly in regards to his muscles that are more "stiff."
"If I hadn't advocated for Hart he would've lost 16 months of therapy until he got his CP diagnosis," she says. "The younger the brain the more malleable it is and able to form new neuropathways that will be there for life."
Hart will continue with his current therapies and his mama is confident he "will live a full, independent life." In the meantime, King is sharing his story because her "hope is that Hart can inspire others with a 'diagnosis' not to hide it for fear of judgement but to wear it as a badge of honor, a source of pride for all the hard work he's accomplished that most of us will never understand."