Author Archives: Brady.Gervais

Katie’s story: Kindness can be its own special medicine

By Veronica Stoltz

If you‘ve ever stood by your child’s bedside hoping and praying that he or she will recover, you may have made a few bargains with “The Universe.”  Mine included a vow to pay close attention to the kindness extended to our family during my daughter’s lengthy hospitalization and a pledge to find ways to personally give back. 

My daughter, Katie, was born 15 weeks prematurely, weighing just 1 pound. She was incredibly fragile and her condition was precarious. She was ventilator dependent and developed a blood stream infection. At one point, a doctor warned us, her condition “could quickly become incompatible with life.”

Gratefully, Katie was no more ready to leave this life, than we were ready to part with her. She fought hard and overcame a host of complications. These included bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pulmonary hypertension and chronic lung disease. She also required laser eye surgery for severe retinopathy of prematurity. She needed 21 blood transfusions and was given paralytics with sedation to prevent her from using her precious energy for anything other than sustaining life.

But thanks to the attentive and expert care she received at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, she became stronger each and every day of her 99-day hospitalization. And when she weighed just a whiff over 5 pounds, she was able to come home to our grateful family on Easter Sunday in 2009.

Now, four-and-a-half years later, Katie is a perfectly healthy little girl. She loves all things pink, “Hello Kitty,” and sparkly—and finding all three at once is nirvana! She loves to run, do somersaults, and work on her cartwheel techniques on the sidelines of her big brothers’ football games.

This fall, she will start kindergarten.  She will learn that the letter “X” is for X-ray, and be able to show her class one of her own. She will have an atypical baby picture to put on her “All about Me” poster, and she may bring some interesting hospital stuff for show-and-tell. But she will speak of all of these things in the past tense. Because Children’s helped her conquer challenges and realize her potential.  So now she can focus on more important things….like glitter and finger paint.

During the time when I truly didn’t know if my daughter was going to live or die, I felt like a live electrical wire which had been stripped of all of its insulation. I was ultra-sensitive to everything around me.  I was easily confused, worried, and overwhelmed. But I was also easily touched, amazed, and deeply moved.

Put very simply, I was extremely vulnerable. Most patients and their families are.

That’s why little things make such a big difference.

We are so grateful that our child and our family were not just “treated” at Children’s but “lovingly cared for.” There’s a big difference.

That’s why we’ve found ways to personally give back, and it has been one of the greatest experiences of our lives. It has strengthened and unified our family tremendously.

Giving back has helped us feel like we didn’t just go through a difficult medical experience, but that we allowed that experience to pass through us; transforming who we are and the value we now place on the things that matter most: love, family, life, and health.

Hardship is a great clarifier. So is service.

Compassion is contagious. It is the only thing Children’s infection control efforts can’t touch. Once you have felt its impact, you are smitten. You know that the smile you helped to bring to a child’s face is part of what is helping him or her to feel empowered to heal, and you want to be part of that anyway you can.

I give to Children’s partially because of my immense gratitude for Katie’s presence in our family, and partially because I know first-hand that “kindness” is its own kind of special medicine.

 

Katie is just one of the many fighters that Children’s is proud to care for each year, and we couldn’t do it without your support. Your donation helps us provide Minnesota’s kids with some of the best medical care in the world. From surgeries big and small, to cancer care, to innovative pain management techniques, nobody treats kids like we do. Thank you for your support today, and helping kids just like Katie. 

Can Christmas trees cause an allergic reaction?

Dr. Molly Martyn

By Molly Martyn, MD

While the sight and smell of a live Christmas tree is part of the holiday season for many, trees can also trigger allergies.  Common symptoms include sneezing, sniffling, itchy nose and eyes, and dry cough.

Pine, fir, and spruce allergies are relatively uncommon, but do exist.  More frequently, people react to the dust and mold that live Christmas trees carry.

For children with pine/fir or mold allergies, a live indoor Christmas tree is not a good option.  Instead, families may choose to decorate an outdoor tree or to buy an artificial Christmas tree.

Artificial trees should be wiped down with a damp cloth prior to use as they can accumulate dust and mold during storage.  If your family decorates a live tree, give it a good shake outdoors prior to bringing it into your home to help dislodge dust and mold spores (some tree lots will do this for you).  In drier climates, trees can be hosed down and allowed to dry prior to bringing them indoors, something harder to do in cold, snowy Minnesota.

If you are concerned that your child is experiencing allergy symptoms related to a Christmas tree, talk to their primary care provider. They can help discuss next steps in diagnosis and management.

For more information about winter and holiday-related allergies, the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology is a great resource.

Recipe: Grandma’s meatloaf

If you’re on the fence about meatloaf, this recipe will certainly change your mind. With three different ground meats and a salty, smoky touch of bacon, this recipe has a rich, complex flavor profile that’s hard to beat. The whole family will love this hearty meal, and the delicious meatloaf sandwich leftovers you’ll be serving the rest of the week. — Andrew Zimmern

Photo by Madeleine Hill

Ingredient list

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 3 ribs minced celery
  • 8 ounces frozen spinach, blanched and drained very well
  • 2 pinches nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 slices bacon

Instructions

Total Time: 2 hrs 45 min
Servings: 6 to 8

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place the butter in a large sauté pan over high heat.

Add the onion, spinach, celery, nutmeg and tomato and cook until soft and glassy and all liquids are evaporated.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the sautéed veggies with the milk, bread crumbs, eggs, nutmeg and ground meats.

Mix well and season with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place one whole slice of bacon in a large rectangular loaf pan (a 5-by-10 inch loaf pan works well).

Add the meats all in one motion, making sure to create a rounded, smooth top.

Spread tomato paste over the top. Place second piece of bacon over the paste.

Put the loaf pan into a 300-degree oven for 2 hours.

Remove the meatloaf and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Why our experience with influenza has made getting vaccinated a priority

Guest post by Samara Postuma

I’d always been a little indifferent toward flu shots. Of course, when I was pregnant I got vaccinated and always made sure my kids got vaccinated. But, it was “when we get to the clinic, we’ll get it done” versus “we really need to get the vaccine” sort of attitude.

That is until this past winter. On New Year’s Day, my sweet little 4-year-old spiked a fever and started on a downhill health spiral, and I realized the flu shot was a lot more important than I’d ever imagined.

After a late night with friends celebrating the new year, my daughter Evelyn was tired, lethargic and feverish. We thought nothing of it seeing as she’d been up so late, eating treats and having fun. She fell asleep several times throughout the day, which was extremely out of the norm for her. She had a cold but let’s be honest, when don’t preschool aged kids have some signs of a cold going on. 

That night, her fever reached 103 degrees and because that was higher than what a typical fever for her, I had a feeling we’d be visiting the doctor soon. The next day, we arrived at the pediatrician’s office with a fever of 104, along with many other post-holiday sick families. After running through her symptoms and checking her out, her doctor tested for influenza.

“Well, what do you mean? She had the flu shot.” I remember asking. And that’s when I learned that even if you get immunized, it’s still possible to get the flu. However, it may not be as bad as it would have been without the immunization.

Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are many different influenza viruses that circulate each year? The flu shot protects against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common. I can’t imagine being involved in that kind of research and how hard it would be to predict what the varying strains may be.

Unfortunately, there are still cases where people get infected despite being vaccinated and Evelyn was likely one of them as she was diagnosed with Influenza B.

She spent the next several days very, very sick. At times, her fever spiked to 105 even on the Tamiflu prescription she was given, in addition to alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen. She slept on the couch for days on end, and we pumped her full of fluids and tried to get her to eat anything fearing dehydration. It was a very scary time not knowing if her fever would continue to climb, especially during the evenings. She ended up missing over a week of her preschool.

In our case, catching her symptoms somewhat early and starting a prescription of Tamiflu, in addition to being vaccinated, helped what could have been an even more serious illness and higher fever, which was scary enough.

This year, getting vaccinated was on top of our fall checklist. Even though Evelyn became ill last winter, knowing and having watched her fight i, I would never want to risk having our family unprotected when there’s something available to help prevent influenza.

Samara Postuma is a freelance writer. Her five kids range in age from 7 months to almost 15. When she is not busy driving kids to school and activities, taking care of baby or teaching her second grader, she writes and works in social media. She blogs athttp://simplicityinthesuburbs.com. She can also be found on Twitter.

Gavin’s story: An epic battle against Joe Bully

Gavin is just one of the many brave kids that Children’s is proud to care for each year, and we couldn’t do it without your support. Your donation helps us provide Minnesota’s kids with some of the best medical care in the world. From surgeries big and small, to cancer care, to innovative pain management techniques, nobody treats kids like we do. Thank you for your support today, and helping kids just like Gavin. Scroll to the bottom to watch an interview with the Piersons.

If you’ve ever wanted to meet a superhero, look no further than Gavin Pierson.

For the past year and a half, Gavin has been in the fight of and for his life, taking on a brain tumor that he nicknamed Joe Bully. 

In his latest battle, Gavin, 7, was the first person in the country with a mature teratoma to undergo Visualase MRI-guided surgery to incinerate his tumor. The surgery represented the most significant development in Gavin’s case. For the first time, his neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Petronio, discovered that Joe Bully had a weak spot. But the victory felt short lived. Gavin recently went home after spending about two weeks at Children’s for a blood clot in his brain unrelated to the surgery.

“Gavin’s nemesis is Joe Bully. He bravely goes into procedures, scans, and surgeries knowing it is part of the fight,” said his mom, Nicole Pierson. “Superheroes have to look fear in the face and overcome it despite the difficulties that arise. Gavin’s journey has not been without complications. Yet every time a new roadblock comes up, he knocks it down. He tells us every day, ‘I will never give up the fight, and I will win.’”

A villain is born

His epic battle began at a birthday party.

In a matter of just days, Gavin went from being a normal, healthy boy going to gymnastics and playing sports to struggling with double vision and having trouble looking directly at others. At his sister’s seventh birthday party, Gavin’s dad, Steve, asked his wife’s aunt, a pediatrician, to look at Gavin. Armed with a flashlight, she examined Gavin’s eyes. Seconds later, she suggested Steve and Nicole take their son to the emergency department at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

During the drive to Children’s, Nicole recalled that she and Steve were worried. They knew something was wrong with Gavin and feared he could go blind.

“I remember us saying, like literally looking at each other and saying, ‘Gavin loves this world so much and nature and science, and oh my gosh, what if he couldn’t see it.’”

Hours later, it would be Steve and Nicole who were blindsided.

Two physicians performed tracking tests on Gavin before order a CT scan. The family stayed in the emergency department following the tests. They were still there when a physician and surgeon returned to talk with Steve and Nicole. Steve could tell by the expressions on their faces that they didn’t have good news, he said.

“I kind of wish at that moment, it was like fast, and I was like can we just press pause because I’m not ready to hear what you have to say.  Unfortunately you don’t get to press pause, and that’s the thing about illness,” Nicole said.

It appeared Gavin had a brain tumor about the size of a golf ball, the physicians said.

Steve didn’t hear past tumor. “It was still ringing in my head that they just said my son has a tumor in his brain,” he said.

The Pierson family

The saga continues

In addition to the tumor, Gavin had developed hydrocephalous – fluid on the brain. He needed immediate surgery to place an EVD to drain the fluid. Following surgery, Gavin was admitted into the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), where he spent the next eight days while his parents, along with a team of specialists, determined a course of action.

A biopsy indicated Gavin had a mature teratoma, a benign tumor. But his alpha-fetoprotein level was heightened, a potential red flag for cancer. Gavin needed to undergo chemotherapy for five months.

During treatments, Gavin watched as many movies as he wanted, played games, watched The Dude in Star Studio. It was like a hotel for him, Nicole said.

“From the beginning, he wasn’t scared of anything. He just felt like, ‘Alright, well, they’re going to fix me, and I’m going to fight and big deal. Move on,” Nicole said. “He just seemed like it was nothing. It was just a breeze for him.”

A few months into treatment, an MRI showed the tumor had doubled its original size. At the same time, results from Gavin’s blood test showed there was no cancer in his body.

The cancer was gone, but the Piersons and Gavin’s doctors had a growing problem on their hands, his tumor. Because it was benign, neither chemotherapy nor radiation would obliterate it. Gavin needed surgery.

On June 21, 2012, Gavin underwent his first of three craniotomies in six weeks to reduce the tumor. Complications quickly followed. He developed a blood clot, then needed a Hickman and two shunts. It was one issue after another.

In November, Gavin had his fourth craniotomy. Dr. Petronio, his neurosurgeon, was making headway. The tumor was shrinking.

But Gavin couldn’t undergo craniotomies forever. His oncologist, Dr. Kris Ann Schultz, reached out to Pfizer about an experimental drug that had only been used in adults. She asked for compassionate use, allowing Gavin, the first child, to try it. Pfizer declined.

It wasn’t all bad news that month. During the summer, Gavin had developed agnosia, in which Gavin couldn’t process words he heard. His family learned sign language – about 200 signs – which Gavin picked up quickly and still remembers.

Nicole recalls the first day Gavin heard words again. She was at home, on family leave, with Gavin and his brother, Gage, and she was talking to Gage in the front room of their home. She told him to put on his shoes because they were going to the library. Gavin ran into the room, “Mom, I heard you say library,” he said.

Tears.

November and December were good months for the Pierson family.  Gavin continued to recover from the fourth craniotomy. But around Christmas 2012, he started leaning to one side again. Nicole knew something was wrong. On Christmas Day, she called Dr. Petronio. Two days later, Gavin had an MRI, which showed the tumor had grown.

This is not Gavin’s fate

Gavin’s favorite hero is Batman. He doesn’t have a super power. His power is that he can do what no human can do. Gavin needed someone like Batman.

On Jan. 7, 2013, Dr. Petronio told Steve and Nicole that Gavin likely only had a few months to live. Craniotomies every few weeks and months weren’t going to cut it. They needed another weapon.

Nicole and Steve became desperate. Dr. Schultz contacted Pfizer again. Meanwhile, the Piersons reached out to local media and created a petition on Change.org, anything that might sway the drug company to grant Gavin use of the experimental drug, Palbociclib, which had only been used in clinical trials in adults.

“When the standard approach isn’t working, you have to work hard to find a better answer. There are new treatments being developed all the time and it’s our job to try to match those emerging technologies to the patients who will benefit from them,” Dr. Schultz said.

The day before Gavin’s fifth craniotomy, the company agreed to discuss Gavin’s case at their compassionate use meeting.

“As the parent, you are supposed to make things better…and you just look at how sweet he is and you just, you know, we just felt like, oh my gosh, we just can’t give up,” Nicole said. “This is not his fate, and we were willing to go anywhere at that point and do anything.”

So was Gavin’s care team.

Gavin underwent his fifth craniotomy. Unlike the previous ones, he didn’t bounce back quickly. He needed therapy. It was six weeks before he could walk again.

There had to be a better answer.

Be strong and brave

It came while Gavin recovered from the craniotomy. Pfizer agreed to compassionate use, and Dr. Petronio found a laser that could potentially help destroy the tumor. For the first time in a long time, the outlook was good.

Gavin has been taking Palbociclib since he was approved for it last winter, and it has helped stabilize the tumor. And, the MRI-guided laser surgery in October helped decrease the size of the tumor.

His parents have never given up in their fight for Gavin.

“We have to keep pushing forward because, I’m telling you, it has not been easy.  I want it to be easier for other families,” Nicole said.  “I don’t want another kid to have to have five craniotomies before we have a drug that works or before we have a laser.”

The surgery, guided by MRI images, allowed precise targeting and was minimally invasive. Two days after the surgery, Gavin was back home trick-or-treating with his brother and sister.

He is so sweet to everyone he meets.  He has never made an enemy.  He is here for a higher purpose.  He is going to do great things in his life,” Steve said. “I want to make sure he gets the chance to do that, and that’s why, I think, one of the big reasons we keep pushing because every kid deserves a chance.”

Read a recap of his surgery.

 

World AIDS Day: Getting to zero

Fatumata, whose name has been changed, is a 14-year-old girl who lived in Eastern Africa all of her life before coming to Minnesota in 2010. She grew up in a refugee camp with her younger brother and sister and her parents. She had to take medicine every day, and sometimes she was very sick. But mostly she liked to play with her friends and help her mother with the chores.  Fatumata noticed that some of the people in the camp avoided her and her family, and she was not allowed to go to school with the other children. She didn’t know why.

Then one day, Fatumata’s father became very ill and eventually passed away.  Soon after, her mother became too sick to care for her and her siblings, and her uncle came to tell her that she would be leaving the camp to go and live with his family in America. Fatumata cried because she did not want to leave her mother, but her mother told her that she would be able to grow and be healthy where she was going and that they would see each other again.

So Fatumata and her siblings came to Minnesota. It was very cold and, at first, she didn’t understand what anyone was saying.  Soon she was able to go to school for the first time, and she learned English, and she continued to take her medications and grow strong and healthy. Today, Fatumata knows why she takes medications. She knows the name of her disease and doesn’t fear her HIV. She has a dedicated medical team at Children’s who provide care and support to her and her family. Fatumata is looking forward to the day when she will be able to go to college and some day, have a healthy family of her own.

Dec. 1 marked the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day.  It is an opportunity for us to come together to show support for people living with HIV and AIDS around the world and at home, to remember those who have died from this disease, and to commit to “getting to zero” in the fight against HIV:  zero new infections and zero deaths from HIV and AIDS.

HIV today

Around the world, there are an estimated 34 million people living with HIV. About 3.3 million are children under 15.  In addition, around 17.3 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS and millions more have been affected by the epidemic. Every day, almost 7,000 people become infected with HIV and nearly 5,000 people die from AIDS.  In 2011, 230,000 of those who lost their lives were children, according to UNICEF.

In the United States approximately 1.1 million people are living with HIV, and in Minnesota, just over 7,500 of our neighbors, family members, and friends are living with HIV and AIDS, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

What is Children’s doing in the fight against HIV?

As the largest provider of care to HIV-infected children in Minnesota, we provide medical care to more than 100 children infected with HIV every year.  Children come to us from all over Minnesota and all over the world. Many of the children in our care have been adopted from countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean.  Many more are refugees and immigrants, who may not be able to access treatment in their own countries. In addition to expert medical care, families can access specialized support services funded through the federal Ryan White CARE Act, including education, family case management and mental health services.

What can you do?

1. Get tested, know your status! HIV testing is recommended as a routine part of medical care.Talk to your provider about testing.

2. Get connected, get support! If you are living with HIV, find out about the programs and services offered in your area to help you stay healthy and support you and your family in living with your disease.

3. Educate yourself about HIV! Learn how to prevent HIV infection and how to keep yourself safe. Can you answer these questions about HIV?

True or false?

1. HIV is a virus and AIDS is a bacteria

2. HIV infection can be spread by hugging

3. Some people have HIV and do not know it

4. There is treatment for HIV

5. People who have HIV can give birth to healthy babies

Quiz answers

1.  HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the disease caused by the HIV virus. AIDS makes it hard for people to fight off other kinds of infections and illnesses and can make people sick.

2.  False! You cannot get HIV from hugging or playing with other people with HIV. HIV can only be spread by direct contact with blood and some other body fluids through sex, sharing needles, or breastfeeding.

3.  True. About 15 percent of people infected with HIV do not know they are infected with the virus. That’s why getting tested is so important!

4.  True! We have great treatments and medications for people living with HIV that enable them to stay healthy and live a very long time. We don’t have a cure yet, but scientists are hard at work on it.

5.  True! When people living with HIV take their medications and see their doctors regularly, they have over a 98 percent chance of having a baby born without HIV.

Five Question Friday: Susan Dicker

Meet Susan Dicker, a perinatal HIV nurse coordinator at Children’s.

How long have you worked at Children’s?  I’ve been here since this spring, April 5, 2013.  But I actually started my nursing career at Children’s — Minneapolis on the float team for two years from 1998 to 2000 when I just finished nursing school.

Describe your work at Children’s. My working title is Perinatal HIV Nurse Coordinator. In this role I collaborate with OB and HIV medical and support staff to provide nursing care coordination for HIV-infected pregnant women, their HIV-exposed infants and their families in Minnesota.  One of the unique aspects to this work is that my service is accessible across health systems, and I serve as a resource to patients, families, providers and the larger community.  Essentially I can go anywhere in the state to support a client, offer education and work to improve health outcomes for this population of mothers and infants.

World AIDS Day is on Dec. 1. What is Minnesota and Children’s doing to help combat AIDS? Minnesota has many medical care and support services for people living with HIV and AIDS funded by the federal Ryan White CARE Act. The Minnesota Department of Health supports many different prevention programs for those most at risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV. 

At Children’s we provide medical care and specialized support services to over 100 children and adolescents infected with HIV. Children come to us from all over Minnesota and surrounding states and all over the world. Children’s also houses the Minnesota Perinatal HIV Program. We provide nursing care coordination for women and their partners during pregnancy and up to six months following birth, and offer education on the latest treatment and prevention guidelines and consultation to medical providers across the state caring for these women and their families.  We also offer preconception counseling and guidance for couples wishing to conceive safely and prevent HIV transmission.

What do you love most about your job? I get to sit down and really engage with my clients since building trust is a huge piece of this work. The initial intake appointments are typically about 90 minutes to two hours, and I can meet the woman wherever she is comfortable – in her home, the clinic, a library. And then I can meet with her as often as she requests, sometimes it’s every couple of weeks, sometimes it’s checking in by phone, depending on her particular circumstances.  Thirty-nine percent of our clients are just learning about their HIV diagnosis with the pregnancy so you can well imagine the impact it has on them and their ability to take in this information and trust that their newborn has an excellent chance to be healthy and HIV-free. In addition, close to 40 percent of our client population is from Africa, where their experience of living with – or too often dying from- HIV is very different from what is possible in the United States. It’s just an incredible privilege to support these women to have the best outcomes possible for themselves and their newborns at this juncture of their lives.

What is your favorite restaurant? Obento-ya. It’s a great Japanese restaurant in southeast Minneapolis with wonderful food and a nice small atmosphere at a very reasonable price.

 

Recipe: Boneless stuffed turkey

If you don’t want to roast a whole turkey, or you’re just looking for a new tradition, try this boneless stuffed turkey breast. The butchery is easier than you think, but you can always have the butcher do it for you! The chestnuts and the liver in the stuffing add a great nutty flavor that pairs well with the turkey breast without overpowering the meat. — Andrew Zimmern

Photo by Madeleine Hill

Ingredient list

Turkey

  • One whole 4-5 pound boneless breast of turkey (both breast lobes attached, skin on)
  • 1 recipe stuffing (see below)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 sage leaves, chopped fine

 Stuffing

  • 6 cups dried bread cubes for stuffing (seasoned store bought varieties are fine)
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces chicken livers
  • 12-14 chestnuts

Instructions

Servings: 6 to 8

Stuffing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make an incision about 1/8-inch deep through each chestnut shell, just into the flesh of the nut, and work your way almost around its circumference. After slitting the shells, transfer the chestnuts to a rimmed baking pan, and roast them in a 350-degree oven for about 35 minutes. While the chestnuts are hot, remove and discard each shell and the papery skin. Chop the chestnuts.

Mince the celery, onion and parsley. Set aside.

Mince the chicken livers very fine.

Combine the chestnuts, celery, onion, parsley, liver, butter, cream, bread cubes and spices in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the turkey

Place the turkey skin down on a cutting board and slice open the middle of each breast, cutting away from the center. You knife will be parallel to the cutting board, slicing toward the outer edges of the roast. You are opening up the breast meat to even out the thickness of each breast. The new meat flaps should open up from the middle of each breast like pages of a book folding out to each side.

Season with the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.

Place stuffing on the breast and fold the edges of the turkey “envelope” over the stuffing. You should have a “football” of turkey.

Flip to skin side up. Roll and tie turkey with butcher’s twine.

Rub the turkey with butter and sprinkle with paprika and sea salt.

Place the turkey on a rack fitted into a large pan.

Roast at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Raise temperature to 400 degrees and continue roasting until internal temperature of the meat is 160 degrees. Keep an eye on your roast, this may not take as long as you think.

Let rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

Noelle’s story: Overcoming a food allergy scare, one year later

 

Ask Noelle Dilley for her favorite song, and she’ll tell you it’s “The Climb.” It’s a song about struggle and overcoming. About never giving up in the face of adversity.

Noelle knows an uphill battle. A year ago, she experienced her own when she suffered a major allergic reaction and walked the line between life and death.

She was at a church picnic when the 11-year-old licked the frosting of a safe-looking cupcake. But it contained peanut butter – the one ingredient she can’t have. She’s severely allergic. Just one lick landed Noelle at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota where she spent 31 harrowing days fighting for her life. She ultimately recovered, thanks to the excellent care she received, a community of staff, friends and family who never left her side and the power of prayer.

“She is a miracle,” said her mom, Renae Zaeska.

Noelle went into cardiac arrest and CPR was performed. Her heart started pumping again, but her lungs were so inflamed and full of mucous that she was unable to use them. During her first night, her lungs moved less air than a premature baby’s would. She was ultimately put on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a technique that provides cardiac and lung support to patients whose heart and lungs are severely distressed.

She underwent surgery, endured numerous procedures including a bronchoscopy and was tested time and time again as she recovered.

But, recover she did. After a month in the hospital, she went home, where she continued physical, occupational and speech therapy. Within months, Noelle was playing basketball again.

While she continues to go to therapy for neurological damage – she has short-term memory loss – she is almost 100 percent recovered.

“She progressed so fast,” said her dad, Dewy Zaeska.

Noelle returned home to a school and community that have taken several measures to help her avoid another allergic reaction.  She eats at a peanut-free table and has her own computer at school. Her classroom is wiped down every day. Her school has also implemented a grab-and-go plan should the unthinkable happen.

Earlier this month, the president signed a bill that offers a financial incentive to states if schools stockpile epinephrine, considered the first-line treatment those with severe allergies.

Noelle’s parents have taken measures of their own. Last year, they avoided family gatherings during the holidays, unwilling to take any risks around food. They seldom go to restaurants. Noelle also takes Xolair, a treatment to reduce the sensitivity to allergens, every two weeks.

Though Noelle may seem back to normal, her family will never recover from the scare.

 “They told us you will probably never get over this, and I see why,” Dewy said.

When Renae has a bad day, she goes home and immediately hugs her daughter.

Noelle created a photo journal from her hospitalization to help understand what happened to her. While she was sedated most of the time at Children’s, she remembers aspects, some more vividly than others. She worked closely with a music therapist while she regained strength and would like to become a music therapist one day.

The family continues to make the 90-minute trek to Children’s for follow-up care. Every time, they want to thank Noelle’s team of doctors.

“How we feel about that whole system…it’s out of this world,” Renae said. “It’s an A+ team.”

Read the original story we published last year about Noelle.

Noelle is just one of the many brave kids that Children’s is proud to care for each year, and we couldn’t do it without your support. Your donation helps us provide Minnesota’s kids with some of the best medical care in the world. From surgeries big and small, to cancer care, to innovative pain management techniques, nobody treats kids like we do. Thank you for your support today, and helping kids just like Noelle.

Five Question Friday: Shannon Swanson

Meet Shannon Swanson, a nurse on our neurosurgery team.

How long have you worked at Children’s? I’ve worked at Children’s for over 12 years.

What’s a typical day like for you? My typical day is, well, I don’t really have a typical day because we see so many different types of patients and surgeries, and I hold several different roles on our unit.  Some days I’m the team lead or charge nurse and some days I’m in the office handling the neurosurgery resource lead duties, and some days I’m in the OR as a circulating nurse.

Still, there are some predictable patterns to the types of surgeries that I deal with. We arrive at work and attend morning report at 7 a.m. From there, I go to the room I’m assigned and start looking at my surgical cases for the day, taking note of any special equipment/transport or provider needs.

The first case of the day usually is scheduled between 7:30 and 8 a.m. As a team we get the room ready and all the supplies needed for our case. I review my patient chart and join the anesthesia team out by the patient’s room to do our safety checks and we all (patient, family member, anesthetist) walk back to the OR together.

From that point on, it is a continuous flow of assessment and technical skill to meet the health care needs of my patient. As OR nurses we are constantly managing the flow of the room and the care of the patient so that everything happens in a safe, effective manner. We are not only responsible for patient assessment but legal documentation, as well.  We must make sure all surgical policies and procedures are carried out to Children’s standard. After the case is over we are responsible for transferring care to our PACU nursing staff.

On a typical day, I might have anywhere from one to 10 cases depending on the length of time each surgery takes.  It would be impossible to write out all that we have to accomplish with each specific and unique case. It can be a fast paced environment where things change all the time. Working in neurosurgery, you must be prepared, you have to be ready for anything, but you also need to maintain a sense of calmness. 

Why did you become a nurse? I went into nursing because my grandmother told me she thought I would make a good nurse. It’s as simple as that. I was very close to my grandmother and respected her a great deal.

What do you love most about neurosurgery? What I love most is the challenge that each of the cases brings to the table. It is awesome to work with the latest and greatest technology and the best surgeons in the field. The cases are hard but rewarding, and it is that rewarding feeling knowing you are helping a family that keeps you coming back when you have a particularly hard case. Neurosurgery is a physically and emotionally taxing specialty, but overall it’s an extremely rewarding career. I can’t imagine doing anything else. 

How do you spend your time outside of work? I have a very active family life! I have two children. My oldest just left for college this past fall, and my daughter is a sophomore in high school. I love to exercise, travel and read. My favorite past times are biking, doing yoga and spending time with my family and friends trying new restaurants!