The staff, Barbara Proctor says, observed their interactions with Ean through a one-way mirror and disapproved of them helping their son. “They thought we were making him ill. Ean was in a wheelchair, he couldn’t speak, his hands were in tight fists. He was all skin and bones—he looked like something out of Belsen [concentration camp]. How could he do anything?” his mother asks rhetorically. Ean communicated with his parents by nodding to letters of the alphabet. To compel him to move, the staff placed Ean facedown in a swimming pool without water wings. Too weak to dogpaddle, he sank underwater and had to be rescued. “It was out of the dark ages, the way Ean was treated,” Barbara Proctor laments.
Five months later, after a protracted court battle that nearly bankrupted the Proctors, Ean was finally released into the care of his parents and ME physicians. “We often say if we hadn’t gotten Ean out of there, he wouldn’t have come out alive,” his mother says.