WESLEY CHAPEL — Dennis Seeton pointed to the new, two-story structure behind his family’s home.
Explaining the building’s features, from mixed-and-matched doors and windows to the tropical colors inside, his voice coursed with excitement.
“It took us a whole day, the wife and I, sitting downstairs to decide — we took some pipes and laid it all out — on which way we wanted the house to point,” he said, grinning.
The building, lovingly dubbed the ‘Boy Cave,’ recently was completed by a team of volunteers behind Dennis and Edie Seeton’s Wesley Chapel property.
“This will be a big help because our home is very small,” Edie Seeton said. “We have no room in there (for Devlin’s equipment).”
A pleasant distraction during the building process, the structure serves as a reminder of life’s quirks.
The 480-square-foot facility will be a place where the couple can provide physical therapy and store the medical equipment of their son, Devlin, who is blind and uses to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy.
“I’ve got to appreciate the time I have with him,” Dennis Seeton said. “It hurt for a long time. At times, you see something, kids playing and things, and you go, you never can enjoy that or do things with him.”
The building is constructed of 4-inch-thick panels of high-density foam sandwiched between two boards.
The Seeton Family’s sense of normal was altered in 2003.
On Nov. 14 that year, Edie Seeton gave birth to twin sons, Devlin and William, at Tampa General Hospital. Both boys were exposed to sepsis, a severe blood infection, which led to William’s death three days later and Devlin’s cerebral palsy.
The Seetons say doctors have labeled their son “medically fragile” and say his life expectancy is about 30 years.
The family has forged ahead despite frequent doctor visits and mounting medical bills.
Their insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the food Devlin receives through his feeding tube.
They also have been denied installation of a ceiling track inside their home, which their doctor and a company that provides in-home care have recommended.
Medicaid won’t pay for Delvin’s wheelchair or shower chair.
The Seetons say they pay thousands of dollars each month to cover their son’s expenses.
Less than two years ago Edie Seeton had a stroke, which has rendered her weak on her left side. She isn’t supposed carry anything heavier than 5 pounds.
Try telling that to the mother of a 60-pound child in need of around-the-clock medical attention.
“I just keep going,” Edie Seeton said. “I don’t have a choice.”
During this time, Dennis Seeton, a U.S. Army major who has spent four decades in the military, has been deployed five times to the Middle East. He has spent roughly 51⁄2 years away since the twins were born.
Seeton, who will retire from the Army in two years, is also a UPS driver, which means long nights on the road — especially around the holiday season.
Devlin, a fourth-grader at Connerton Elementary, has physical therapy five days a week. Once a month he goes to St. Joseph’s Hospital for gamma globulin infusions that bolster his immune system. He also receives about 40 syringes of medication a day, among other medically necessary routines.
Even in the face of his ordeal, Gina Riggs, who has been a care provider for the family for the past four years, said Devlin is a joy.
“He’s a very happy boy; very easygoing,” she said. “He likes the typical boy things: He likes to be played with in that rough manner. He loves to giggle and be held and loved. There’s so much to Devlin. Just in general he’s such a happy kid. For everything he has to go through and everything else, he’s extremely happy about everything. Nothing really scares or bothers him.”
Edie Seeton said it is her wish Gov. Rick Scott, as well as those who work for medical agencies responsible for denying their coverage, could come to her home and spend a week there — do what she does and get a taste of her family’s life.
The stress never truly goes away for Delvin’s parents, even in the minutes they have get alone after caregivers arrive.
Through the chaos, though, there’s love.
“He’s very much loved and his smile just melts my heart,” Edie Seeton said, her eyes welling with tears.