FOR 10 months, Kobe Duck's life has been anchored to the grounds of the John Hunter Children's Hospital after a "close relative" of the polio virus suddenly left him paralysed, and struggling to breathe.
But now Kobe is back at school, back playing Beyblades with his mates, and back to some normality.
Six-year-old Kobe is still a patient at the children's hospital, but for three days a week - accompanied by one of his parents - he attends St John Vianney Primary School in Morisset.
"He has a smile from ear to ear," his mother, Kristie Duck, said. "It's amazing to see him interacting with his mates. He's just one of the boys again. It has been great for his social, emotional and physical well-being.
"He's asking to go on excursions. He is putting his hand up to answer questions. He is being a typical six year old boy again, which he hasn't been able to do for 10 months now."
Mrs Duck said that in November, Kobe had gone to bed an active five year old with a "bit of a sniffle", and had woken up paralysed. His "incredibly rare" disease - acute flaccid myelitis - had affected his ability to speak, eat, breathe, and swallow. It had affected the movement in his arms, and the muscles that support his back.
"Kobe is still non-verbal. We haven't heard his voice yet - we're still working on that," Mrs Duck said.
"But he can write, draw pictures, he mouths words, and everyone is picking up how to lip read. He also does a lot of gestures and pointing to get his point across."
Mrs Duck and her husband, Michael, take turns staying with Kobe at hospital each night, and have done so since November. They have undergone training to competently care for Kobe when he is outside of the hospital, which has facilitated his return to school.
"We carry a lot of equipment," Mrs Duck said. "The back of his wheelchair is full of oxygen bottles and emergency 'trachy' change equipment, suction machines, ventilators.
"There's a lot of preparation to leave the hospital every day. And getting him to and from school from the John Hunter is a major ordeal involving taxis and buses and trains.
"We are bringing him home with us when we can, but that involves us staying up every night to watch him, so it gets very tiring."
Kobe's sixth birthday, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Easter - all had to be celebrated at the hospital.
But this new freedom had given the family - particularly Kobe's older siblings, Alana and Jacob - a "glimpse" of normal family life again.
"It has allowed us to all be in the lounge room watching a movie together again. To be able to have a Sunday morning breakfast together," Mrs Duck said. "It's the simple, little things that we have missed for the past 10 months that we took for granted before. We have a new appreciation for family life now."
In August, Kobe underwent "nerve transfer surgery" from his wrist to his forearm. Doctors hope it will return some movement and flexion to his right elbow and bicep.
"If it works, and there is a 70 per cent chance it will work, it will mean he will have two functioning forearms instead of one," Mrs Duck said. "He is able to try swallowing foods now. He is still PEG fed, but he is able to taste different foods, which he hasn't been able to do for a long time. Ice blocks, fizzy drinks and lollies are at the top of his list."
Kobe's return to school had begun with morning sessions, and progressed to three full days.
"The school has bent over backwards to accommodate him and to be inclusive of his needs. They've built ramps, they've changed classrooms to cater for him and his wheelchair. They have supported us in every way, and the kids have been really inclusive too."
The family were grateful for the ongoing support of the 'Bring Kobe Home' Go Fund Me campaign.
"We can't work as much anymore," Mrs Duck said.
"I pick up casual shifts when I can, but that is getting harder and harder because we are going to school with him.
"I've had to knock back shifts, but I'm happy to do that, because it means more to me to have him at school with his friends, socialising and learning and enjoying the things he used to do more than anything else."
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