Category Archives: Patient Stories

Honoring Kayleen’s last wish

Kayleen Larson will forever be 9 years old.

Earlier this year, Kayleen passed away from leukemia. But, her life continues to be celebrated. On Sept. 16, neighbors, friends and the Children’s family came together at Children’s in Minneapolis to honor what would have been her 10th birthday – and her last wish.

She was a huge fan of Star Studio and the Dude, and she asked that every year on her birthday, her family stock Star Studio’s shelves with toys for patients. Toys arrived by the truckload on her special day. 

“Kayleen liked to have fun, and we liked to have fun together,” the Dude said 

The tradition started a year ago. When Kayleen turned 9, she asked for prizes for patients instead of presents for herself.

“We’re not done. This will go on,” the Dude said.

Thee Viking World Order will host its home opener party in honor of Kayleen on Friday and will collect gifts. Learn more here about the event.

Support Caring for Kayleen Legacy: Fight Like A Girl.

Watch friends and family sing “Happy Birthday” to Kayleen.

 

De’Angelo Boyd to ‘Lead The Team’ at Vikings game

As the proud sponsor of the Mini Vikings Kids Club, at each home Vikings game, a Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota patient “Leads The Team.” This week, 17-year-old De’Angelo Boyd is leading the team onto the field before the Vikings face-off with the Tennessee Titans. This is the first in-stadium Vikings game for De’Angelo, his brother Dejion and cousins Marquis and Latoya.

De’Angelo is a high school junior and enjoys playing basketball and hanging out with his friends. In the midst of school and activities, De’Angelo comes to Children’s twice a month for treatment of sickle cell disease – a hereditary blood disorder that he was diagnosed with at 4 months old.

We welcome De’Angelo and his family to this week’s “Lead The Team” event.

Preparing for school when your child has a food allergy

Missy Berggren’s preparation for her daughter’s upcoming entry into kindergarten started long before school supplies hit the shelves at Target.

Her daughter, 5, has severe food allergies to eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. Exposure can be deadly. So, Berggren, a parent advocate and board member of the Food Allergy Support Group of Minnesota, set out to safeguard her daughter beginning with researching school policies and practices before deciding on a school, and, then, partnering with the school administration and teacher.

“My goal is to empower my daughter to live as normal of a life as possible, with some extra planning to make sure she is safe and feels included. We always plan ahead to avoid a food allergy reaction but also need to be prepared if something happens,” Berggren said.

Berggren was most attracted to a school that does not use food in the curriculum and where there are wellness policies in place that limit or don’t allow treats on birthdays and holidays. Most schools in Minnesota still allow that, Berggren said. Her daughter will eat lunches packed at home at a peanut-free table, and will be reminded never to share food with other children.  

Berggren is working with the Kindergarten teacher to make sure classroom snacks are safe for her daughter. She also shared books from her personal library, such as the “Alexander the Elephant” series about food allergies, which the teacher plans to read to the class.

Her daughter recently spent four days at the school’s KinderKamp preparing for kindergarten. When Berggren dropped her off, she reviewed the allergy action plan and emergency medicines with the teacher. All the students washed their hands with soap and water when entering the classroom.

Before school begins in the fall, the family met with an allergist to review the child’s medical condition and to have the appropriate paperwork filled out for school. A special school meeting is planned with the principal, school nurse, teacher and other key staff to talk in detail about the child’s food allergies, how to spot and treat a reaction, and how to make sure she feels  physically and emotionally safe.

While food allergies are becoming more common — one in 13 kids has one, which equals about two kids per classroom – there is still the danger of being picked on or teased.

When other kids ask her about eating different food, she often says, matter-of-factly, that she has food allergies and needs her own food, Berggren said.

“In her mind, she’s a normal kid and she doesn’t want the emphasis to be on her food allergies and neither do I,” Berggren said. “I work really hard to make sure she feels included and that at this age, 5, she doesn’t feel treated differently.”

Here are some tips on how to navigate school with food allergies. Here are more age-specific tools to teach kids about food allergies. Here are suggestions on how to navigate the holidays with food allergies.

This post also appeared in the Star Tribune‘s kids’ health section.

Patient determined to change the future for those with hydrocephalus

By Olivia Maccoux

Team Liv WALKS for hydrocephalus research.

I was born at 29 weeks and was diagnosed with a condition called hydrocephalus (abnormal amount of spinal fluid in/around brain). I’ve lived with and dealt with the condition for the past 17 years and will continue to for the rest of my life.

A life with hydrocephalus means NOTHING is certain. It is both physically and emotionally draining on me and everyone around me. This is a life threatening condition, and the sad part is the lack of research that is being done to help the over one million Americans who live with it. Treating hydrocephalus costs more than $1 billion annually, yet, the National Institute of Health invests approximately only $1 million a year on hydrocephalus research.

Over the last 50 years, there has been no significant improvement in hydrocephalus treatment and absolutely no progress toward prevention or a cure. The only treatment is brain surgery, where a surgeon implants a device called a shunt to drain the fluid. However, 50 percent of shunts fail within two years.

I’ve never had a shunt last for two years. I’ve actually had times where the shunt has only lasted a few hours, which resulted in my immediate return to the operating room for a new one. To date, I’ve endured more than 90 brain surgeries and have been in critical condition because of hydrocephalus.

The Hydrocephalus Association organizes WALKS every year to raise money for treatment and research. I’m determined to help change the future for everyone who struggles with hydrocephalus and its complications.

My WALK team, Team Liv, is also committed to helping this cause. We’re looking for anyone who would like to walk with us, donate, or both! Donations of any size are gratefully received and are tax-deductible. Your donation will help support critical research so that I and the one million other Americans living with the challenge of this condition can lead a better life. Learn more about donating.

Olivia is a patient and a Youth Advisory Council member. Read Olivia’s blog post earlier this year on juggling school during a hospitalization.

Joseph Wald, 8, to ‘lead the team’ at Vikings game tonight

Joseph Wald, 8, to lead the Minnesota Vikings onto the field

In this season’s first “Lead The Team” event with the Minnesota Vikings, 8-year-old Joseph Wald is fired up to attend his very first Vikings game tonight. His mom (Karin), dad (Dave) and brother (Aidan) watch a lot of sports at home; so, to be on the field with the players will be quite an experience for the Wald family.

Joseph was born with Morquio Syndrome, a type of rare, genetic enzyme storage disorder. Because its symptoms are not usually noticed until about 3, he wasn’t diagnosed until just before his fifth birthday. The disorder is so rare, that at the time of diagnosis, no treatment was available. In June 2012, Joseph was invited to participate in a treatment study based in Chicago so that he could receive infusions of the synthetic enzyme that his body doesn’t produce. After a year of flying hundreds of miles back and forth every week for an entire year, Joseph started working with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota this past June. He now receives his weekly infusions a lot closer to home.

Turning 9 this weekend, Joe enjoys riding his bike, playing street hockey with the neighborhood boys and LEGOs, and reading Percy Jackson books in his spare time. His favorite pastime is anything involving electronics (Wii, X-Box, iPad, PlayStation). He can also hold his own against most adults playing chess and backgammon.

We welcome Joseph and his family as our first participants in this year’s “Lead the Team” event.

The silent killer: How a near drowning impacted two families

Cooper Whitfield

No one heard 4-year-old Cooper struggle, splash, or cry for help. That’s because he didn’t.

A year ago last June, Cooper’s mom, Christie Whitfield, took Cooper and his two siblings, Molly and Kendall who were 7 and 1 at the time, to a private neighborhood pool. What began as a joy-filled, sun-soaked afternoon nearly ended in tragedy.

The hot weather drew dozens to the pool. The chairs near the shallow end of the pool were taken, so Whitfield found a seat near the deep end where she could apply sunscreen on Kendall.

Meanwhile, her oldest, Molly, jumped into the pool with a family friend. Whitfield put goggles on her son and told Cooper, who didn’t know how to swim but could touch the 3-foot section of the pool, to wait for her by the stairs of the shallow end until she could join him.

“Buddy, wait for me by the steps,” she said.

Moments later, Whitfield turned around. Cooper was nowhere to be found.

“Where’s Cooper?” she shouted.

That’s when she saw him at the bottom of the pool. Maternal instincts kicking in, she jumped into the water and screamed to others to call 911. She pulled Cooper, blue and unconscious, out of the pool.

The following moments zoomed by in a blur.

“I just kept thinking, ‘Somebody please save my baby,’” she said. “It was an out-of-body experience, but I still kept thinking and believing he was going to be okay and that this wasn’t going to be the end.”

Whitfield was trained and had been certified in CPR. But in those moments, she couldn’t comprehend what to do, she said.

Leah Mickschl and Cooper Whitfield

Leah Mickschl did.

Mickschl, a mom of two and an RN at Midwest Children’s Resource Center, started performing CPR on Cooper. It took three rounds before he regained consciousness, she said.

“I think about it all the time,” Mickschl said.

Surveillance later showed that Cooper had jumped into the water and tried to reach a raft but missed it. He didn’t splash or gasp. Silently, he fell to the bottom of the pool. A pool that was full of adults and children who thought Cooper was just swimming underwater.

Within minutes of the rescue, police and emergency responders arrived. Mickschl stayed behind with Whitfield’s other two children so she could accompany him in an ambulance to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he was treated in the Emergency Department. While he was still in shock and remained quiet, he was breathing normally.

Cooper remained at Children’s overnight for observation so physicians could make sure there was no brain or lung damage. Today, he’s a healthy, happy 5-year-old who has returned to the water.

In a situation like a near drowning, every second counts. Police told Whitfield had it not been for Mickschl’s quick intervention, Cooper may have suffered brain damage.

“Leah is an absolute hero,” Whitfield said. “I can’t say enough about her and how calmly and quickly she handled the situation.”

Mickschl, who grew up around water, said the event has made her more aware of her surroundings when she is by water and when her two kids, 8 and 10, are in water.

She added that what happened to Whitfield could happen to anyone.

“It was an awful day that has changed my life – I look at everything differently now,” Whitfield said. “I have an appreciation for so much. Life is so precious and can change in the blink of an eye.”

The Whitfield Family

Whitfield and Mickschl share their tips for parents and caregivers:

  • Inches count. While Cooper was able to touch the bottom of the pool in the 3-foot section, he nearly drowned where the depth was only 3-and-a-half feet.
  • Always be aware and always be present. If you have to step away, ask someone to watch your child.
  • Register your child for swimming lessons.
  • Get CPR certified.
  • Always use a lifejacket. Cooper typically wore one at the pool, but it got left behind.
  • Drowning is a leading cause of death in kids ages 1 to 4. Boys are at a higher risk for drowning.
  • Drowning is silent.

Find more water safety tips here.

Read our original story about the rescue and the honor Mickschl received for her efforts.

Join Christie, Leah and our trauma team when they hand out life jackets at local parks on Wednesday, July 10.

85 days early

Clair and Reese

By Maggie Sonnek

Chadley Doering had been at work 10 minutes when got the terrifying call every dad-to-be fears. His pregnant wife, voice shaking, said only eight words.

“You need to take me to the hospital,” she said.

At 22 weeks pregnant, she was bleeding.

Mother Nature had packed a punch that February morning. Ice-covered roads and bitter cold wind gusts made the 10-mile drive to the hospital seem eternal. To make matters worse, Mary Kay Doering started having contractions. She was going into labor.

The staff at the hospital near the Doerings’ home in Silver Lake was as prepared as they could be. One nurse’s words devastated the couple.

“There’s nothing more we can do for you here. We’re sending you to The Mother Baby Center,” she said.

Paralyzed with fear, the 26-year-old was prepped for the hour-long ambulance ride to Minneapolis. And she would be making the journey alone, leaving her husband to brave the winter storm on his own.

Just 16 weeks earlier on a crisp fall day, Doering found herself alone again, this time with a smile on her face. She had just learned she was carrying twins.

But now, as she bumped along in the screaming ambulance, she could only hope and pray her babies would hang on.

When she arrived in Minneapolis, doctors and nurses surrounded Doering. She was dilated to three centimeters; just a breath away from active labor.

They were able to stop her contractions, but gave her one assignment: Stay pregnant. Doering would be confined to a bed at The Mother Baby Center for the next 14 weeks.

Through it all, husband and dad-to-be worked hard to make sure Doering felt connected to her life at home, even though she was lying in a hospital room nearly an hour away. He painted the nursery purple – the couple learned they were expecting two girls – and filmed it so she could witness each brush stroke.

On March 25, Doering, at 27 weeks and six days, felt uncomfortable. In pain. She knew the babies were coming. Her husband knew it, too. But he was at home, 60 miles away, and his car could only carry him so fast.

“For a couple minutes, I was upset,” Doering said. “But I soon realized that these babies were coming whether Chadley was there or not. Waiting just wasn’t an option.”

Doering was rushed into surgery and the babies were delivered via caesarean section one minute apart. Dad missed the birth by 20 minutes.

Devastated, he arrived just as the girls were getting adjusted to their new homes at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota (NICU) in Minneapolis.

A million thoughts rushed into his mind as he saw his babies for the first time. He slowly made his way to their isolettes and cautiously stuck a finger into their plastic box.

The girls, who weighed no more than a can of soup, gently tugged back. Although they were 85 days early, they still recognized their daddy.

Clair and Reese made their home in the NICU for the next 35 days before they were transferred to a hospital closer to Silver Lake.

During these long days surrounded by monitors and nurses and feeding tubes, mom and dad tried to keep things as normal as possible. But, even daily visits and email updates couldn’t take away the feeling that something precious had been stolen from them.

“The time in the hospital and NICU was nearly impossible. I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy,” she said. “And yet I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”

On Sunday, May 19, one month before their actual due date, the Doerings got the news they’d been waiting for. The girls were finally able to go home. No breathing tubes, no isolettes, no monitors.

They could finally sleep in their purple-painted nursery.

“Being a mom puts everything into perspective,” Doering said. “It’s an incredible feeling to be a parent.”

This post originally appeared on the Great Beginnings blog.

The trouble with toe walking

Toe walking seems cute, at first.  But if it persists after a child is around 20 months old, it can be a problem.

Toddlers develop a heel-toe walking pattern about 20 weeks after they begin walking alone and should no longer be toe walking, said Nicole Brown, DPT. If left untreated, toe walking can lead to future injury or pain in your child.

“I think with little ones everyone thinks it’s adorable because you don’t know if it’s causing problems,” said Sara McGrane, whose daughter Molly started seeing Brown when she was 5 years old.

At her daughter’s check-up when she was 3, the primary care physician told her parents they needed to encourage her to stop walking on her toes, McGrane said. When she was 4, the parents were told again to keep working with Molly. It was at her visit when she was 5 that her primary care physician noticed she was toe walking and referred her to the Children’s Rehabilitation Clinic in Minnetonka.

“When she was little, it was cute,” she said. “She had always been a toe walker.”

Often, Brown doesn’t see patients until they’re 6 or 7 years old. There’s a misconception that kids will grow out of toe walking, she said.  Those who are seen at 2 or 3 years old have a better prognosis, and treatment time is generally shorter. She has treated patients as young as 18 months and as old as 13.

“We want to get these kids in earlier. By the time they’re 6 or 7, they can have structural damage to their foot,” she said.

Treatment varies and depends on the severity of the condition. If Brown can see a patient before there’s limited range of motion, she can re-train the child to resume a normal walking pattern through physical therapy, which on average lasts six months, she said.

If there’s limited motion in the ankle and the child is consistently toe walking, the child is put in serial casts or carbon fiber braces, she said. The serial casts are like a typical fiberglass cast for a broken leg. They’re taken off every week and put back on to accommodate the new range of motion that was achieved. Once a child’s motion improves, Brown uses ankle braces. Physical therapy is also part of the prescription and on average lasts about a year.

In Molly’s case, her heel cord was tight enough that she required bracing, Sara said. She met with Nicole for physical therapy for about 10 months.

“We were amazed at how quickly the process went,” Sara said. “We are big believers in the program.”

What is toe walking? Toe walking is a diagnosis in which a person walks with bilateral toe-to-toe walking pattern.  There may be a medical cause or it may be idiopathic in nature.

How does Children’s treat patients who toe walk?

  • We offer serial casting, orthotic intervention, and physical therapy treatment for treatment of toe walking.
  • Serial casting has been proven to be an effective intervention for toe walkers in treatment of tight heel cords to increase the range of motion and to also weaken the heel cord muscle to allow us to re-train the child’s walking pattern.
  • Children’s and Orthotic Care Services have designed a new type of solid ankle foot orthotic that mimics serial casts for treatment of toe walking.
  • The orthotic brace is a two-pull carbon fiber solid ankle foot orthotic.  The carbon fiber on the outer shell decreases the amount of multi-planar ankle motion that is available which mimics the effects of serial casting through increasing range of motion through the heel cords as well as weakening the heel cords but allows the child more flexibility in that they can take off the brace to shower or participate in certain activities.
  • After serial casting or carbon fiber bracing intervention has been completed, children are then placed in a two-pull plastic ankle foot orthotic to re-train their gait pattern to allow for a consistent heel-toe walking pattern.

Research in toe walking is underway at Children’s. We’re comparing outcomes in treatment of toe walking gait with carbon fiber orthotic intervention and serial casting.  Children are being enrolled in this study, and results have shown good outcomes.  This research study offers financial assistance as well as a team approach in the treatment of a child’s toe walking pattern.

If you would like more information about your child’s toe walking gait or to see if your child qualifies for this research study, please contact Nicole Brown, DPT at 952-930-8685 or by email at Nicole.Brown@ChildrensMN.org.

 

 

 

How kangaroo care came to the United States: One mom’s journey

Chris Clark was 23 weeks pregnant, on bed rest after her water broke, and had been given little hope of having a viable pregnancy.

A mom of three kids already and a natural protector, she wondered, if her child was born, was there something she could do to enhance his chance of survival? Bed rest gave Clark, who had a background in respiratory therapy, time to research.

She landed on an article in the magazine, Mothering, about kangaroo care in Colombia. Kangaroo care is the practice of holding your newborn baby skin to skin, which provides benefits to both the parents and the child. It helps premature babies develop. At the time – 1989 – kangaroo care wasn’t being practiced in the United States.

“I read the article through and thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, they’re holding babies skin to skin and the babies are doing better,’” she said. She contacted a researcher listed in the article, shared her condition with her and asked for medical literature supporting kangaroo care. The researcher sent the information overnight – she doubted Clark had much time before delivering.

Hours after getting the literature, Clark was rushed to United Hospital where she gave birth to Danny, who arrived at just 29 weeks on May 7, 1989. He was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul.

Danny, born on May 7, 1989

As soon as Danny was born, Clark started asking the neonatologist, Dr. Mark Mammel, if she could try kangaroo care.

“I was interested and also cautious. Maybe it’s growing up in the ’60s, but it seemed like a good idea. Parents holding babies – rocket science? No. But we all worried about the issue of temperature control, monitoring, airway obstruction, and so on,” Mammel said.

Clark persisted. “I asked every day if we could please, please try it,” she said.

Five days after giving birth on Mother’s Day, Clark held Danny for the first time. There were two crash carts and two resuscitation teams nearby – ready in case anything went wrong, she said.

“It was crazy. (Some of the staff) appeared terrified,” she said.

But the minute Clark started holding her son, terror and fear disappeared. She found only comfort and connection.

“It made me feel like his mom,” she said. “It was like I was in my own world with him.”

“Chris was very smart about the process. She initially saw the technique mentioned in a magazine…which I was familiar with as a fringe publication. It was not a great source for me to rely upon. Chris knew this!” Mammel said. “She gathered the actual medical literature – though there wasn’t much – and brought it to me and the group to review. Like all change in a NICU setting, a champion is needed to bring others along. I liked what I read – kangaroo care looked safe and probably beneficial, as well. So I became that champion, working with my partners and the nursing staff to pave the way for Chris to be the first.”

Clark holds Danny skin to skin

Initially, Clark spent about 30 minutes twice a day using kangaroo care.

Danny ultimately spent about nine weeks at Children’s. During that time, he needed nine blood transfusions, experienced numerous spells where he stopped breathing, and early on required a ventilator and 100 percent oxygen.

Prior to leaving, Danny required hernia surgery. Clark held her son for about 24 hours before the operation.  The anesthesiologist visited afterwards to tell her Danny was the “most relaxed baby” he had worked with in his years of surgery.

Danny just turned 24. He’s run a marathon, has no lung or sight problems and is a singer/songwriter, Clark said.

“I believe Danny is who he is because of kangaroo care,” she said.

Kangaroo care is now a standard practice at Children’s and beyond.

“I’m a fairly strong advocate and a fighter for what I think is best for my kids. The fact that it has helped other kids feels like this might be the purpose of my life and, It’s enough,” Clark said. “I was blessed to have enough people that believed in and supported us.”

Today marks International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day – a day we celebrate at Children’s.

“We had always seen ourselves as ‘family-friendly’ – trying kangaroo care was a way for us to really walk the walk. We became recognized around the country for this, though it was never a focus of our research efforts. Others took on that task,” Mammel said. “Today, all our families benefit from this practice, which is as routine as turning on the lights in the morning.”

A letter to nurse Kelli

By Emily Steffel Barbero

Today’s children are born into diverse families, both big and small. Grandparents (even great-grandparents), siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, step families, half families – the family tree can boast many branches.

But not all children are blessed with nurses for family.

On a frigid and snowy January morning, our son, Ziggy, made up his mind to arrive at just 30 weeks. He had a mess of black hair, and he was a true wriggler.  His first cry burst my heart open like a firecracker, breaking it up into a million little pieces of joy that rained all over inside me.  We posed for one brief photo opportunity and then he was promptly admitted to the Special Care Nursery. It was in the nursery that he was cared for by many fabulous nurses, including Kirsten, Martha, and Kelli. Today I want to tell you about Kelli.

Sometimes when people ask me how long we were in the nursery, I tell them Ziggy lived in the nursery for 64,800 minutes (six weeks). As Ziggy’s primary nurse, Kelli was by our side for thousands of those minutes.  On any given day I would spend 720 minutes or more by Ziggy’s isolette, watching him sleep and cry and stretch and kick and try to free himself from the IV jabbed and taped into his ankle or foot or arm. Kelli taught me how to dab Vaseline on his lips when they cracked and position his head so his airway was clear. She patiently taught me how to pick him up when he had more cords attached to him than Clark Griswold plugged into his home at Christmas time. She made me smarter, making sure I understood all of his procedures, even checking up terms with me online. Every inch of his skin, literally, was touched for and cared by so preciously by a woman who had otherwise been a complete stranger to us.

After about 20,000 minutes, I began to notice how his eyes would seek out her voice when she entered his room. I would watch how he’d snuggle into the nook of her shoulder when she burped him, or smack his lips against her gloved knuckle when he was hungry.  When she talked with him, her voice was tender and sweet, with the tone of a healer and a mother and a cohort. She sat watch over his isolette, she fed him, she held him as he literally grew in her hands over time. Many mothers might be jealous of a relationship like this, and I would understand it. But I never was. I considered it an unbelievable honor that this woman was in my son’s life.

Toward the end of his stay, Ziggy surprised everyone by suddenly falling ill with a serious gastrointestinal illness with a high mortality rate. By that time, so many minutes had passed that Kelli knew Ziggy inside and out.  She was able to spot the symptoms when they were still minor, and, because of her attentiveness, an x-ray was given, treatment was started, and my son’s life was probably saved. It was an incredibly emotional time for me. One morning I collapsed into a chair by his isolette, completely beside myself with worry and sadness (and lack of sleep and physical energy). I just wanted someone to tell me when he was going to get better.  It was all I wanted that day, it was all I wanted for so many of those minutes we lived through. I just wanted someone at the hospital, anyone, to tell me he was going to get better.

Kelli didn’t do that.

Instead, Kelli hugged me that day, picked me up enough to keep moving forward.  She entertained me with conversations about reality television.  We looked at photos from blogs about Wal-Mart shoppers and discussed recipes for the CrockPot. We swapped movie recommendations, urging us to stop at a Redbox and watch a movie she and her husband loved (it actually turned out to be half decent).  She gave me fashion advice and we talked how I might recover from bang regret with my new haircut. She talked me through those 900 minutes, and the next 720 minutes after that, and the next 720 minutes after that. All while we checked his temperature dutifully, changed his diapers, monitored his central line, snuggled him through his hunger pains. But she never once told me he was going to get better.

She told me I was going to get stronger.

You know what? I’m proud to say I did. And my husband did. And my son did, too.

After all those minutes together, I realized I didn’t need false promises from anyone that my son was going to get better. Because the little boy who could turn my heart into a firecracker had more strength in his 3-pound body than a 300-pound lion. That was all that mattered.  No need to worry about future minutes when time is so precious right now. None of those minutes in the nursery ever got easier from one day to the next. But each day, with Kelli, we got a little more light-hearted, a little wiser, a little stronger.

You can’t just call Kelli a nurse.  Kelli is family.