Meningococcal amputee returns home
HE is nicknamed 'Bulldozer' and with good reason.
Showing strength beyond his meager years, toddler Zaac Dow has spent the past three months in hospital fighting the potentially fatal meningococcal disease.
On Friday, Zaac was able to return to his Gladstone home for the first time since his ordeal began over Easter.
He was one of three Gladstone toddlers to be diagnosed during the same weekend.
Mum Simone Johnson, who has stayed by his bedside at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane, said it was a massive relief to be home.
"Arriving at the airport was just overwhelming," she said. "We had so many people there to welcome us. I was amazed."
Unfortunately Zaac's return home is not for good, but a three week reprieve from hospital life.
His battle with the disease meant his right leg was amputated below the knee in April, but has not yet healed enough in order to fit a prothsetic leg. There are also still some sores on his right leg which need to heal before the 23-month-old can officially return home.
However, Ms Johnson is hopeful the time amongst family and friends will be a source of comfort for not only Zaac, but herself.
"We've had overwhelming support, I'm honestly so grateful to all my friends and family, to the daycare and hospital," she said. "It's great to be back here amongst them all now."
Ms Johnson said she doesn't know how much her son understands what has happened to him.
"It's so hard to tell at that age," she said. "I think he knows he's different."
Ms Johnson described heartbreaking moments when she has observed Zaac attempting to put a thong on his amputated leg, but she also speaks of his amazing ability to adjust to his new situation.
"He's managing to get around using a toy bike," she said. "He puts his stump on the seat and uses his other leg to walk and he can maneuver it really well.
"He can just jump on it and go. It's pretty amazing actually."
It is not only the physical changes in Zaac Ms Johnson and her family are currently facing.
"He has changed a bit, after what he's been through," she said.
"He gets depressed, and he gets very angry sometimes," she said. "But we're getting the handle of it. I tell him to stop and to use his words."
Ms Johnson is hopeful Zaac's leg will have healed enough by the end of the month to be bandaged up and fitted with a prosthetic leg.
"The doctors are amazed with how much he's healed, and so quickly," she said. "They are amazed at the recovery process."