Children’s Minnesota stories stick with you for a lifetime. Sometimes these stories even stick with you for longer. This is the case with the Wright family. Former patient, Coley Wright, found herself in her parents’ shoes 29 years after her time at Children’s as a kid.
In the late spring of 1990, not-yet-two-year-old Coley had a severe case of the chicken pox. Coley’s mother noticed that her right ankle was the size of a small melon, and that Coley was unable to stand on that leg, so she brought her to the doctor. Minutes after beginning the examination, Coley’s doctor knew that her ankle was infected and recommended that she go to Children’s right away.
Coley was brought to the Children’s emergency department (ED), where a test found that her chicken pox infection had led to a strep infection, which was eating away at the bone and growth plate in her ankle. Within 30 minutes, Coley and her care team were in the operating room where they removed as much of the infection as they could, but only time would tell if the infection would have lasting damage.
There were fears that this infection may have resulted in her foot not growing to a typical adult size, which would require amputation, or that Coley would develop significant arthritis in her ankle. Luckily, her care team was able to act quickly enough so that the only lasting evidence of this infection is a scar on her ankle.
Coley stayed at Children’s for 35 days to treat the infection with IV antibiotics and to recover from the surgery. While this was a scary experience for Coley and her family, she has many fond memories from her inpatient stay because she had many firsts at Children’s. Some of her first memories are from her dad bringing her for walks outside while he visited on his lunch break, and she even spoke her first words: “adios muchachos.”
Back where it all started
In August of 2019, Coley found herself in her parents’ shoes when she picked up her toddler son, Bates, from daycare. She noticed his breathing was significantly labored, so she immediately brought him to the Children’s Partner in Pediatrics Clinic in St. Louis Park. After performing multiple breathing tests and chest x-rays on Bates, his care team determined he needed to go to the ED in Children’s Minneapolis hospital for further testing.
At the ED, Bates was diagnosed with viral pneumonia and was admitted for overnight oxygen watch. During his stay, his oxygen levels dipped to dangerously low levels, but his care team quickly responded by getting him on additional oxygen supplements to bring him back to a safe level. Bates was in the hospital for two nights, after which he was discharged to go home.
“They did a great job in trying to explain everything to my 2-year-old in a way for him to understand what they were doing, and make him feel as comfortable as possible during our two-night stay,” said Coley.
But this wasn’t Bates’s only experience with Children’s. Months later, he ran full-speed into the corner of a door and needed stitches. Coley knew that Children’s was the best place to go. She brought him back to the Minneapolis ED, where once again, his care team was quick to take care of him and explained everything to him in a way that was easy for a toddler to understand. They even made him feel special for having “magic strings” in his forehead.
When asked why she loves Children’s, Coley said: “I have experienced the magic of Children’s firsthand, both as a patient and as a patient’s parent, and I will continue to do everything I can to be an advocate for the great work the nurses and doctors do. Their quick thinking saves lives — like they did for me all of those years ago.”
Coley’s parents still feel equally connected to Children’s since Coley’s hospital stay 30 years ago. Her mother volunteers at Children’s and her father serves on the Children’s Foundation Board of Directors.
Be part of a Children’s story
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