Ella’s Story, written by her mother, Erin

Ella’s story began on February 8th, 2014. There was a large snowstorm in the Portland area that weekend and we were spending day 3 playing in the snow. Just before dinner Ella said her toes were tingling and she was acting very silly. I thought the cold weather was getting to her and told her to go inside. She was silly enough that I followed her wondering if she was having an allergic reaction. By the time I got in the house, Ella was unable to take her snowsuit off and had a hard time speaking. It was then that we called 911 to help us. When they sat Ella up to get her in the ambulance she had lost the ability to move her right side. At the hospital, she got a CT scan which showed that 1/3 of the left hemisphere of her brain was filled with blood. She was immediately transported to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel for brain surgery to remove the blood. Ella endured two craniotomies that night.

Ella spent a total of 12 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, 5 of them in a medically induced coma. As Ella began to wake up, we realized her right side was not responding and her ability to speak was limited. On February 21st, Ella had a third craniotomy to remove the Arterio Venous Malformation (AVM) and Aneurysm that were discovered by an angiogram. We learned a few days later that there was still part of the AVM in her brain and a fourth surgery was needed. This last surgery on March 19th was a success and all signs of an AVM and Aneurysm were removed!

Ella continued therapy after her surgery and we saw improvement each day. On April 2nd Ella was discharged from Randall Children’s Hospital and began out-patient therapy. Ella is now back in school part time, walking without a cane and gaining more movement in her right hand every day. Her speech is near perfect.

Through this journey I discovered the Jackson Wellness Center on the fourth floor of Randall Children’s Hospital. I spent close to every day running out my frustration, stress and anxiety on the treadmill or stretching my legs on the elliptical. I was able to endure the 54 days we spent at the hospital because I had an outlet for my stress. The first month was unbearable because we did not know what caused the bleed or how Ella was going to recover. The Wellness center allowed me to clear my head and make the right decisions for Ella and our family. My husband and other two children used the Wellness center to connect and step away from the beeps of the machines for a few minutes. By the second month Ella was on a rehabilitation schedule so would be out of the room for a few hours at a time. The Wellness Center gave me a place to go, get my heart rate up and think about what things I needed to get done that day. I didn’t have to leave the hospital to work out and I was able to work out, such a large part of managing stress for me. I am so grateful for the wellness center and providing space for me to heal and process the severity of what just happen.

Since we have been home, I have continued to work out. It helps me every day to manage my stress and get through the challenges we have. We will never go back to the family that we were; we are a different family that has bonded in a way that will keep us close forever. We continue to adjust to our new normal and continue to tackle each day, one day at a time, as a family.

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