August 3, 2010

Our 7 year old Princess!

I want to introduce you all to my niece, Breanna.
She is 7 years old and until I had my own kids, she was my world! She is a spitting image of her father, and once you see a picture of him you will understand that him and I could be twins ourselves. In fact, she is often mistaken for my daughter.
She is feisty and outgoing, never letting her opinion go unheard. Sound familiar? She reminds me of myself in so many ways.
Here is a picture that I snapped of her a few weeks ago.

We had no idea that in less than 24 hours she would lose all muscle use in the right side of her face.

We rushed her to the ER only to be transferred to a bigger and better hospital, The Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria.

She then went through a week long series of tests, shots, and the worst...the unknown.
Her is the little lady with her daddy, my older brother.

Now, minus the foot long beard, don't we look an awful lot alike? It's the Shofner genes...they're strong! (Have you seen Madelynn? She's got them too.)

It's taken me a long time to post about this because I was worried about posting the pictures of her beautiful face. It's only now, that she nearing the end of her healing, that I am comfortable sharing them with you all. I even left the most severe ones use your imagination on the severity.

What was wrong??
At first we feared the worst...stroke! That was eliminated (or so we thought) by a clean CT scan. That was followed by a MRI and lots of blood tests. After all of that, we still thought it may have been a very small stroke or blood clot. You see, we have two blood clotting disorders in the family, Factor 5 Leiden and Protein S deficiency.
Finally, after 6 days of waiting, they decided, by process of elimination, that she indeed had a Bells Palsy and that was all.
No, it wasn't ideal, but the best option for her to heal. They say these things are often caused by a simple virus, or it could have been the tick bite she received 3 weeks prior while watching deer. (That's what us here hicks do in Illinois. hehe)
The Children's Hospital of Illinois was amazing and such a blessing. The nurses, most of them anyway, were funny and upbeat and a huge breath of fresh air for the sick kids.
There were two rooms full of goodies for the kids. One was of toys, books, puzzles, games, music and movies; the other was stocked with all sorts of arts and crafts. We made posters, necklaces, thank you cards and all kinds of things.

There were full size bathtubs and the cutest little jammies for her to wear.

You can tell that her spirits weren't affected by her illness. She was sassy we were there.

Here is my mom doing Breanna's hair after her bath.

Our princess FINALLY got some rest.

Then her little sister came to spend the night.

Other than having no movement on the right side of her face, her eye wouldn't shut all the way. Thus causing her eye to dry out and stop producing tears. For this reason, she was taught to sleep while using an eye patch.
We had a lot of fun with that!! There was a whole day devoted to pirates. We all wore our bandannas and watched 'Pirates of the Caribbean'. The nurses kept asking how the pirate was doing and played into our little skit.

Slowly we started to see an improvement in her smile. It was little, but still an improvement.

Our biggest success came the day that I made her cry. I know, mean auntie Sarah!!
That was the day that we realized how well her eye was doing. She could now produce tears again.

It was a blessing to get her blood tested. Now we know that she does NOT have the two blood disorders that could possibly effect her for the rest of her life

How is she today?
Her smile is almost completely back!! Minus her beautiful dimple, her smile is 90% symmetrical. She is now able to wink and blink her eyes at the same time. Her speech is no longer slurred because of it and she is able to raise her eyebrows.

While we were there, we were able and fortunate enough to meet an adorable 11 month old little girl who has suffered from seizures since she was 2 weeks old. During her week long stay at the hospital, it was learned that she was blind and now brain dead. What a tragic thing to learn about a beautiful baby girl. What touched me the most was what the girls grandma had to say. She told us that she was upset with what was going on, but that in her heart she knew that God placed this child on this earth and in her life for a reason and she would do what she had to do to figure that out. She said that regardless of her health and IQ, she would love that child and do her best to give her a bright future. I was happy to see guardianship given to the grandma before the little girl left due to neglect. It was a wonderful experience to meet that family, I just wish it were under better terms.

"Pirate Sleeping...Beware!"

She was beyond excited when she was able to come home and meet her sweet baby cousin for the first time.
Thank you to all who had her in your prayers.

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Bryant & Hilary said...

What a sweet story and wonderful miracle. Thank GOD for watching over her! Thanks for sharing!!

Amy Paul said...

We are so glad that the Children's Hospital of Illinois caregivers were able to help your niece! Please let us know if we can be us further assistance. Amy Paul, Executive Director, Strategic Communication (Children's Hospital of Illinois)

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