A Little Girl With Big Courage
by Brendan Kappler
A typical day for Heather would start with waking up, and waving good-bye to her sister (Amber) as she boarded the school bus. Heather was just seventeen months old in October 2003. One particular day, she did not wave good-bye to Amber. Concerned that something might be wrong, her mother entered Heather’s room to find her in her crib, lying on her back, with her lifeless eyes sunk into her head.
Heather was immediately rushed to the hospital where a team of doctors including cardiologists and neurologists ran extensive tests on her throughout the night. It was determined that Heather’s left side had been entirely paralyzed. This affected her senses of smell and sight. Heather was never diagnosed with a specific disorder. The diagnosis was “presumed” to be Herpes Encephalitis...an acute or subacute illness that causes both general and focal signs of cerebral dysfunction.
She was placed in the intensive care wing of the hospital for five weeks. At this time, she started to have daily seizures. Despite all of this and thanks to the hard work and dedication of the doctors, Heather was able to come home on Christmas Eve.
Heather would go through extensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy... fifteen sessions per week for covering a period of three years. She had regained the ability to walk in about three months as well as regaining her eyesight and sense of smell. However, Heather’s left arm and hand are still paralyzed to this day. Five years later, she is still undergoing speech as well as other therapies. She must take a carefully balanced dose of medicine to control her myoclonic seizures (brief shock-like jerks of a muscle or group of muscles).
All things considered, Heather lives her life much like any other seven year old and attends school...just like all the other kids.
TONY'S NOTE: Wow!...The resilience of a child. Kids have courage, are very curious, and adapt. We can learn so much from them.
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