SOUTH BEND, Ind. — When 27-year-old Ransom Muston reaches a milestone, the word miracle is often used to describe it.
Consider his next milestone — the 10-year anniversary of his rare multi-visceral transplant surgery where he received a new small intestine, liver and pancreas.
Or, the remission news Ransom received in 2014 after doctors found and treated lymphoma, a cancer that surfaced because of a weakened immune system caused in part by the immuno-suppressive drugs he’s had to take daily to keep his body from rejecting his transplants.
Or, the day Ransom “left” home and began living independently with the help of caregivers, family members, behavioral clinicians and a support system that focuses hard on his daily needs.
Darlene Muston, Ransom’s mother, is slow and deliberate when she’s asked about what has given her hope all these years.
“I have to stop and think,” she answers. “… it’s the little things that are the big things.”
Last week, Ransom stood in his living room laughing with family and talking about whatever was popping into his head. Darlene joined Gary Muston, Ransom’s father as they sat quietly in chairs, taking it all in.
Photos and hats from country singing legend Trace Adkins fill Ransom’s second-story apartment that looks like the dwelling of any typical 20-something. Ask Ransom about the times he has met Adkins backstage in area concerts over the years, and his eyes and the volume of his voice rises.
What may not be visible to visitors in Ransom’s world is the constant care his parents have provided since the first week of his life when his digestive tract was all but destroyed by clots and ruptures, resulting in a rare condition called “short gut syndrome.”
Ransom — who’s name was chosen because it rhymes with handsome — had to be fed intravenously after that time, a highly complicated and potentially dangerous task because of the constant threat of infection and nutritional challenges. Gary and Darlene also took on the many related medical duties required to keep Ransom alive.
Sept. 14, Gary sat outside his son’s apartment and asked Ransom how many cans of pop were left from a case he had brought over the day before. Ransom has a strong attraction to cola.
“I have five left,” Ransom said sheepishly to his father.
“He has no self-control,” his father said.
It’s this trait of self-control that has Gary and Darlene working non-stop with caregivers to help their son improve.
Ransom struggles with neurological problems that make it hard for him to make friends and interact with others. His core care-giving group consists mainly of his family and hired caregivers.
His parents are trying to help Ransom learn more social skills.
At an early age, Ransom began having cognitive changes that over the years have slowed his development to the point that he has the mental capacity of a 7 or 8 year old, his parents say.
But after three years of living on his own, his father said he has seen progress.
“I am thankful he is alive and he’s with us,” Gary said. “I am thankful when days go by when I do not have conflicts with him or caregivers. This gives me hope that things are going to be OK.”
Darlene says Ransom is always calling her, wanting assurances that she is close by.
“He will say, ‘I love you, Mom. Am I your baby boy?'” Darlene said.
Last fall, a behavioral clinician from Northern Indiana Therapies, Jen Sutherland, began working with Ransom to help him control his anger issues and develop better interpersonal skills.
Sutherland also said Ransom has made progress.
He’s better at not getting “stuck on things” that prevent him from calming down when conflicts arise, she said.
It is this aspect of Ransom’s life that Gary and Darlene say hampers his ability to make true friends, a big goal of theirs for their son’s long-term happiness.
“It is my hope that Ransom will find friends, someone to care for him,” Darlene said.
With the help of Joe Bartak, a full-time caregiver, as well as Ransom’s brother, Jeremiah Muston, and his wife, Katlyn, Ransom’s potential for progress continues.
Goals his parents have for their son are simple.
“We would like to see him as independent,” Gary said. “Independent to the point where we drop in and check on him once or twice a day, living on his own.”
Until that day comes, the Mustons will continue celebrating each of Ransom’s milestones and looking forward to more miracles in the future.
Source: South Bend Tribune, http://bit.ly/2cYWwh2
Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com
This is an Indiana Exchange story shared by the South Bend Tribune.