Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Terae Simms: Born with a purpose

Published:Friday | May 24, 2019 | 12:22 AMVanessa James/Gleaner Writer
Terae Simms and his mother, Nicole Brown.
Terae Simms and his mother, Nicole Brown.

During pregnancy, parents usually debate their ­preference for their baby’s ­gender, but what is sure is that they want a healthy baby – one born without ­complications; with all 10 toes and 10 perfect fingers. It is ­probably the same prayer that Nicole Brown uttered before her son, Terae Simms, was born in all his cute ­perfection nine years ago.

The only thing that would concern his mother is that Terae was born with a club foot. This was further compounded when three months later, Brown realised that her baby’s eyes seemed to be dancing, so she took him to the hospital.

“I realised that he was not looking at me straight, so I took him to the hospital and a few weeks later, Terae underwent surgery after the doctors diagnosed him with hydrocephalus,” Brown recalled. Hydrocephalus is a condition in which excess cerebrospinal fluid is built up within the ventricles (fluid-containing cavities) of the brain and may increase pressure within the head.

Undergoing surgery to drain the excess water from the brain was the first of many that Terae would have to go through. He has undergone a number of surgeries: two on his eyes and corrective surgery to insert a shunt to monitor the flow of water in his head. He has also had a few on his leg and ankles. One would think that was all, but the shocker came a few years ago when the doctor told Simms’ mother that he has kidney problems.

“I was told that Terae does not have 100 per cent function in either of his kidneys. He was also having seizures because of the placement of the shunt,” Brown said.

Terae had to be placed on medication for the seizures and for kidney and bladder problems. He also has to contend with having one leg longer than the other, but this has not stopped Terae from being the fun-loving, intelligent student and child that he is.

“It has been a rough nine years,” said Brown, “but I have had support with Terae from church, friends, and family members. But I have to say kudos to his school.”

Terae was enrolled in a prominent institution after the owner of the school invited Brown to have her son registered there.

“This school has helped Terae a lot!” she said. “Sometimes we are away for medical treatments for months at a time, and Terae’s place at the school is secure.”

She went on to explain that the school has also helped Terae excel academically.

“Terae has been attending the school from nursery stages until now, and it has certainly helped him. He is witty and bright, and his cognitive skills are very intact,” Brown said. “I remember getting his December report, and when I saw that he was placed fifth with an 80-something average, I was extremely proud. I had to treat him to his favourite meal, KFC.”

The Gleaner also spoke with Terae’s teacher, Nordia Robinson, who expressed that he is a happy child who always tries to work hard.

“Terae is a very jovial and happy ­student who is always willing to help in class,” Robinson said. “He does well in school, especially when he is motivated or ­incentivised to complete a task. I also give him responsibilities in class as he is a group lead and a timekeeper, and these are strategies to help him finish his work on time.”

Robinson further explained that Terae does not easily grasp some concepts, and, as such, she has one-on-one session with him, including evening classes to get him up to speed with the rest of the class.

“Sometimes I don’t remember that Terae has illnesses because he behaves and ­conducts himself like the other ­students in the class,” she said. “Sometimes he is doubtful when he is asked questions, but with a little encouragement, he usually does well.”

Robinson said that Terae’s grades have ­gradually increased and that she, like his mother, is proud of him.

Brown recalled one moment, however, when she had thought it was the end for her son.

“He had a seizure one morning and he was out for 25 minutes. I was rushing him to University Hospital of the West Indies when a voice said that by the time I get there, my son would be dead so I took Terae to Andrews [Memorial Hospital] instead,” she said. “He was like a dead, body; just a stiff rag doll. I started to pray to God, that he wouldn’t be taken from me.”

Two years ago, Terae told his mother that he wanted to be baptised because he wants the world to know how much he loves God. He is very active in church and loves to take part in praise and worship. He also stated that it is hard work that has helped him in school.

Just like any other child his age, Terae loves to play and have fun with his friends.

“I love to play football and other sports with my friends at school and with my neighbours,” Simms said. “I put God in everything I do and always pray that He heals me.”

Terae hopes to attend Calabar High School and aspires to be a singer in the future.

vanessa.james@gleanerjm.com