Up Again After Stroke at Age 5: Makenzie & Mom, Jamie
From Makenzie’s Mom, Jamie:
Kenzie was 5 years old when she had her stroke on October 20, 2017. Kenzie’s stroke resulted in her having left side hemiplegia. It’s important to know that the diagnosis does not define who your child is.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up. You know your child better than anyone. One night at Seattle Children’s, Kenzie’s dad asked Kenzie to squeeze his finger with her left hand. He felt something. He told me, and I had Kenzie squeeze my finger, I could feel it too. The next morning, the team came in and we told them what had happened the night before. One of the resident doctors (not our normal doctor) asked Kenzie to squeeze his finger and the doctor dismissed it as an “involuntary reflex.” I knew Kenzie had started to move her hand. Kenzie had just received an Ironman Mash’em as a gift. If you have no idea what a Mash’em is, it is a soft plastic toy, filled with gel so when you squeeze it, the rest of it expands. I grabbed it and asked Kenzie to squeeze Ironman. She squeezed, and Ironman’s head blew up. Her therapist said, that’s no involuntary reflex and everyone started clapping and giving her high 5’s.
- You are not alone. I was introduced to Pediatric Stroke Warriors by Kenzie’s Neurologist at Seattle Children’s. It’s an amazing organization that provides hope and support for families impacted by pediatric stroke. There are many other pediatric stroke organizations; International Alliance for Pediatric Stroke, Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association (CHASA), and American Stroke Association. These are all great resources for information. Through social media, we learned of an entire community of people who understand what we were going through. On those tough days (there will be a lot of those) it’s a great source of encouragement.
- One day at a time. As parents of a stroke warrior, you must juggle a lot. Emotions, work, school, therapy, doctor’s appointments, normal every day activities, those unexpected trips back to the emergency room. You will have amazing days and well, some days just plain suck. Your child’s recovery is not a race. Take it one day at a time. If you can’t face the whole day, just focus on that next hour. Slow down as much as you need to just keep going.
- Even the impossible can become a reality. Just because your child isn’t able to do something today, does not mean it’s going to be that way tomorrow. Kenzie was paralyzed on her left side, she couldn’t hold her head up, she couldn’t sit up and she had a hard time talking. 3 days after her stroke she took her first steps, at 4 weeks she would return to Pre-K. At 2 Months she would return to dance classes. At 6 months she would compete in a pageant and take a run on the beach. At 7 months, she would compete with her dance team. At 8 months she would graduate from Pre-k, and dance in her recital. At 10 months, she would graduate out of speech therapy. At 11 months she would start full time kindergarten and wiggled her left toes. She keeps proving that she’s possible every day. “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible” (Audrey Hepburn).