June 27, 2017 was a normal day, until it wasn’t. I was at work when I received a phone call at 2:45pm from my daughters’ school. This was unusual since my husband picks up the girls around 3:30pm. When I picked up the phone, it was the school’s director on the other end. She said that my fourteen-month-old had woken up a little funny after her nap. They had given her a cup of milk hoping she just needed time to wake up. I told her that my husband would be there in forty-five minutes. I couldn’t get there much faster than him. There was silence on the director’s end of the call. My heart sank, I knew something must be really wrong. I cautiously asked, does her mother need to be there? The answer was yes because it seemed like the right side of her body was slowing down.
I’m not one to leave work early, but I did not hesitate. As I walked over to my boss the adrenaline started to course through my veins. I could barely tell her that I needed to leave because something was wrong with my baby, but I got it out. Waiting for the elevator to bring me down to my car felt like a lifetime. This was going to be the longest twenty-five-minute drive of my life. I kept calm and called my cousin who is my daughters’ pediatrician. He said that whatever it is, to get her to the hospital right away. He was hoping it was just a pinched nerve, but to keep him updated. Next, I started calling my husband, mother, and brother. It was a round robin of no one answering their phones. I was desperate for someone, anyone, to get to my daughter before me. As a last resort I called my father. There was no way he could get to my daughter, but I just needed to talk to someone. I told him that school had called and something was wrong, but I had no idea what. He calmed me down and gave me a bit of strength that I had lost over the past twenty minutes. I rushed off the phone with him when my husband called me back. I told my husband to pick up my oldest daughter at school and to meet me at the hospital. When I got to my youngest daughter her motor skills were off, but thankfully she was in good spirits. To the hospital we went.
When we arrived at the hospital, the walk from the parking lot to the emergency room was like climbing Mount Everest. No matter how fast I tried to walk, I couldn’t go fast enough. Then there was a line. As I waited, I started to cry one of those internal breakdowns that no one sees except for the tears that are streaming down your face. I just wanted my baby to be in the care of a doctor. Intake was amazing. They took my daughter right into a room, bypassing triage. Then my husband and oldest daughter arrived. I’m not even sure what I said to them because my mind was so fixated on my youngest. I had no brain capacity for anything or anyone else.
The doctors questioned us about her walking, talking, and if she had any injuries from school. To rule out an injury, an X-Ray was done. It came back clean. Next was a CT scan. The little girl who is woken up by a pin drop, slept through the CT scan and did not need sedation. That too came back clean. I put my Dr. Mommy hat on and reached out to any and all connections I had to doctors and nurses. I was a crazy woman posting to every mom group on Facebook that I was part of, asking if anyone had gone through this with their child. I googled every symptom that my daughter had and was lead in twenty different directions. But I had determined two things, I wanted an MRI and spinal tap to be done.
Around 6pm, the doctors said that they were going to admit her to the hospital’s PICU. I knew that I’d be the one to spend the night, while my husband took my oldest home. I quickly ran home, gathered some belongings, and returned to the hospital to send my husband and oldest daughter home for the night. That night was tireless and never ending. I slept with my baby on my chest until morning. Doctors and nurses checked in every fifteen minutes and my daughter slept through it all. Now I was confident that lethargy was part of her symptoms. As I sat and rocked her, I was crossing off all the symptoms…right side weakness, drooping mouth, lethargy, loss of appetite. Had my daughter had a stroke? But wouldn’t it have shown on the CT scan?
My husband arrived back at the hospital around 11am that morning. I handed my daughter over to him and went into battle. I wanted the MRI and I wanted it now. No one could convince me that it wasn’t needed. Around 2pm we started prepping for the MRI followed by a spinal tap. If she was going to be sedated, we might as well do both tests at once. Close to two hours later the tests were done, but they hadn’t done the spinal tap. I was fuming that it wasn’t completed but my husband was calm and had a hunch as to why. When we got back to the PICU, we were told that the MRI showed she had a stroke. To be exact it was an infarct of the posterior left basal ganglia. The head doctor explained that we were about to be barraged by tests, bloodwork, and therapy appointments. I excused myself to make phone calls and update those who were concerned about our little girl. My mom was the last call I made. She should have been the first call, but I knew that it was going to be the hardest. We yelled and cried together. We promised that we would rehabilitate this little girl no matter the cost or time commitment. She was going to go into this war with me no matter what.
After a long day, my husband, daughter and I fell asleep in our PICU room. I woke at 4am and needed some time out of the room. I snuck out and headed to the lobby for a quick walk. If you ever want to feel lonely, walk around a hospital at 4am. I found myself in the hospital chapel on my hands and knees, sobbing, and begging to heal my daughter. When I returned to the room my prayers had started to be answered. She was standing in her crib, bouncing around. Her right side had weakness and she was still impaired, but she was active. After four days in the hospital she was discharged. Since then there have been countless doctor visits, therapy appointments, blood tests, tears, laughs, and worries.
We still do not know the cause of the stroke and most likely never will. Thankfully my daughter has made a 98% recovery. Life will never be the same but we are happy. We thank everyone who is part of Allison’s Army.
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