Bobby Matlock is a man with a heart of gold. When he was approached by Jacksboro Newspapers to participate in the Jack Talk feature his answer to the question “What would you do if you won the lottery?” was “I’d give a lot of it to my church and the rest to my family.”
That’s true to the hierarchy of the two most important things in his life.
“His number one thing is his church,” said his mom Felicia Matlock. “He tells me, ‘Mom, I love you, but I love God more.”
“I joke with my mom and tell her, ‘Mom, I love you but I love God first,” Bobby said. “But you come in a close second.”
Bobby’s faith has carried him all the days of his life and his life has had more than a fair share of difficulties.He was born with hydrocephalus, which he describes as “water on the brain.”His mom said it’s when one of the ventricles in the brain doesn’t work properly. Bobby has a shunt to help manage the affliction.
“The shunt drains into his stomach and the body takes care of the rest of it,” Felicia said.
He was diagnosed at 10 months old.
“It did brain damage. It damaged his short term memory, his eyes,” Felicia said. “He’s visually impaired. It messed up his ability to walk. He was four when he learned to walk.
”Even then, he walked with a walker until eventually, he walked on his own. His mom said he had several good years and then required more than 30 surgeries on different parts of his body due to shunts and infections.
But on September 10, 2010, Bobby had a procedure called an Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy or ETV that resulted in complications.
“When they did that, the only thing they can think of is that Bobby’s brain went haywire,” Felicia said. “That’s the way his neurosurgeon put it. When he came out of surgery, Bobby was breathing on his own, but he couldn’t do anything else.”
“I basically went back to being an infant,” Bobby said.
He couldn’t open his eyes. He couldn’t talk. He could swallow and breath.
It’s taken the last four years of intensive therapy for the now 30-year old to recover the mobility he has. But his abilities haven’t returned to what they were prior to the ETV.“I didn’t have to help him get around. He was able to do everything,” Felicia said. “He can’t stay home by himself. Before, he could. You don’t realize what all you can do until you cannot do it.”
Though he’s not back to where he was prior, he and his mom are thankful for the recovery that’s been made. Much of it has been helped by a special device, a leg brace.
It’s a Bioness L300 brace that Bobby received three weeks ago.
“It starts at my knee and sends a message to my brain to lift my foot up,” Bobby said.
“You have two nerves on the side of your leg and one goes down your foot, one goes to your brain and this device is training his brain to lift his foot so he doesn’t drag his foot or mess up his hip or knee,” Felicia said.
Even with the brace, Bobby is still a little unsteady on his feet.
“What we’re hoping for eventually, the brain will pick up the message and he will learn to walk more freely,” Felicia said. “This is a new technology for people like Bobby that have had strokes. Bobby’s had stroke. People that have had brain damage. You have to qualify. You have to meet certain muscle and movement criteria.”
Bobby said throughout all of his difficulties, he has relied on God’s help.
“Because he’s the only one to bring me through it,” he said. “Without Christ, you couldn’t do anything.”
He does not focus on what he cannot do and finds nothing remarkable about his own outlook. “I’m just a child of God,” Bobby said. “I’m nothing special. I’m just a guy that loves Christ and loves people.”
But others find Bobby remarkable and several of his fellow First Baptist church members have organized a fundraiser to help with the expense of Bobby’s new brace which cost several thousand dollars.
A luncheon is set for noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7 at First Baptist Church. There will also be a silent auction and bake sale. Adult tickets for the luncheon are $8 and children 10 and under are $5.
The church will also host a family movie night featuring “Mom’s Night Out” in the First Baptist Church auditorium for a donation. Children must be accompanied by an adult, but the nursery will be available for infants and toddlers.
While others are looking to help Bobby, he’s still looking out for those he can.
“He likes to remember who all needs prayer,” Felicia said. “So on his headboard, he has sticky notes with lists of who all needs prayer. When you have memory loss, it’s hard to remember.
“One night, he said, ‘Mom, I think there’s something wrong with my ear.’ And he figured out, it was all the sticky notes blowing from the fan. He told me, ‘Mom, I’m going to call them my little angels.’”
To see full artical please see the Aug 29 edition of the Herald