Getting their child back from a ‘deep hole’

After Makena suffered 100 seizures, surgery became a ‘high point’ for these parents

It started off as just one seizure in December 2014, when Makena was only 15 months old. At that time, doctors assured her parents, Mike and Annalisa Whittle, that febrile seizures like the one their daughter experienced were not uncommon.

Then, one year later, Makena had another seizure. She was prescribed medication.

Then, another one came 10 months later. The seizures started coming with more regularity — a month apart, a week apart, then every day — until one day, she had suffered from 100 seizures while at the pediatric intensive care unit at BC Children’s.

By then, it felt like everything had fallen apart.

“How did it get to this?” asked Annalisa. “One day, we were watching Makena at dance class. And then — boom. In a bed. Can’t breath or talk.”

Makena was one of a small group of kids whose seizures can’t be controlled by medication. Specialists at the hospital determined that surgery was needed to stop the seizures.

“On any other day, that would have been the worst news we could have received,” said Mike. “But the hole was so deep at that point that the idea of surgery became a high point for us.”

It took two surgeries and the decision to remove Makena’s motor strip from the right frontal lobe of her brain to finally stop the seizures — but it came at a cost. Before going into the second surgery, Annalisa and Mike knew that Makena would come out of it with her left side paralyzed.

It was a decision they were willing to make in order to give their daughter the best chance possible.

And it did just that for her. Much to everyone’s surprise, about a month after starting rehabilitation at BC Children’s Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, Makena started to walk again. She also re-gained the ability to use her left hand and the left side of her body.

Annalisa and Mike credit BC Children’s for saving their daughter.

“You’re handing your child to people you just met, but whom you trust because they’re the best at what they do,” said Mike. “And you just have to hold onto that as tight as you can.”

Makena and her family spent the seven worst weeks of their life at BC Children’s during December 2016 and January 2017 — which included the holiday season.

And she’s not the only one. Each year, kids from across B.C. spend their holidays at BC Children’s. They hold onto hope that one day, they can spend their holidays at home, with their families, perhaps enjoying a snowball fight outside or one of their other favourite activities.

The second annual Snowball Fight for Kids Campaign at BC Children’s Hospital Foundation is back — and its goal is to help these kids get back to being kids.

From Nov. 19 through Jan. 6, online donations can be made at snowballfightforkids.ca to help fund vital equipment, life-saving research, and the highest level of care for kids like Makena across the province.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Comments are closed

Just Posted

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

PHOTOS: B.C. Day long weekend on White Rock beach

Hundreds of families gathered at the beach Sunday

Seeds of Change Surrey to launch two new programs

United Way of the Lower Mainland donated $77,000

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Wildfire breaks out near Harrison Hot Springs

1.5 hectare fire is reportedly human caused

Police lay out details of mental health response in Abbotsford over long weekend

APD officers assist mental health team for three hours yesterday, man sent to hospital with injury

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch playoff spot with win

Bandits down Niagara River Lions 70-57 on Sunday, improve to 3-2

Most Read