Like many kids, I never thought much about the hospital. I had the occassional flu or strep throat, but for the most part I was happy, healthy and had a very busy and full life. I was a very busy kid - I played competitive soccer, performed regularly in musicals and plays, was involved in lots of school clubs and student leadership, and was at the top of my class.
In December 2015, one week before Christmas, I had what seemed like a really mild flu. After a few days with a low fever, one morning I suddenly couldn't remember words. My mom rushed me to the Children's satellite hospital near our house, and within 90 minutes of noticing anything was wrong I had my first seizure.
I continued to have seizures and the doctors put me in a medically induced coma, and I ended up spending the next month in the pediatric ICU of Children's Hospital in Denver. After all my scans and tests and lab results came back negative or normal, I was diagnosed with FIRES - Febrile Infection-Related Epilepsy Syndrome. It's characterized by an explosive onset of seizures that can often be fatal if not treated. After the acute phase, it becomes intractable epilepsy.
While I don't remember much of my stay in the ICU, my parents remember every difficult moment. The PICU staff was phenomenal - the team of attending doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and therapists worked around the clock to try and keep me stable and pull me out of a very difficult period. My body didn't want to cooperate, but they never gave up - they consulted doctors all over the country. The staff sat with my parents day in and day out - they counseled with them and helped to educate them and comfort them. They left no stone unturned in trying to find an answer to what was happening to me, and they even called in during the Christmas and New Year holidays and their personal vacations to check on how I was doing, or to relate formation they had found while researching my case on their time off.
I gave everyone a good scare, but in the end the collective team effort combined with the prayers and support of my family, friends and strangers all over the world, helped to pull me out of the worst part. From there, I had a huge road to recovery. I spent another six weeks in the hospital going through rehabilitation to learn how to do everything from sit up, walk, talk, eat and many other things I used to do every single day.
While I still have intractable epilepsy today, and the doctors still don't have answers on what happened to me or why it continues, I know that I am here and doing as well as I am because of the amazing care I received from the medical staff at Childrens. I continue to work with neurologists, epileptologists, neuropsychologists and therapists who show love and concern me for every day, and who continue to fight for answers and believe - like I do - that I can one day find a cure.
I never thought I would end up at Children's for anything serious, and certainly not for the reasons I spent nearly 3 months there. But that is why a resource like Children's is so important - you hope you never need to use it, but you are so grateful it exists if you do.