Getting their child back from a ‘deep hole’

After Makena suffered 100 seizures, surgery became a ‘high point’ for these parents

It started off as just one seizure in December 2014, when Makena was only 15 months old. At that time, doctors assured her parents, Mike and Annalisa Whittle, that febrile seizures like the one their daughter experienced were not uncommon.

Then, one year later, Makena had another seizure. She was prescribed medication.

Then, another one came 10 months later. The seizures started coming with more regularity — a month apart, a week apart, then every day — until one day, she had suffered from 100 seizures while at the pediatric intensive care unit at BC Children’s.

By then, it felt like everything had fallen apart.

“How did it get to this?” asked Annalisa. “One day, we were watching Makena at dance class. And then — boom. In a bed. Can’t breath or talk.”

Makena was one of a small group of kids whose seizures can’t be controlled by medication. Specialists at the hospital determined that surgery was needed to stop the seizures.

“On any other day, that would have been the worst news we could have received,” said Mike. “But the hole was so deep at that point that the idea of surgery became a high point for us.”

It took two surgeries and the decision to remove Makena’s motor strip from the right frontal lobe of her brain to finally stop the seizures — but it came at a cost. Before going into the second surgery, Annalisa and Mike knew that Makena would come out of it with her left side paralyzed.

It was a decision they were willing to make in order to give their daughter the best chance possible.

And it did just that for her. Much to everyone’s surprise, about a month after starting rehabilitation at BC Children’s Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, Makena started to walk again. She also re-gained the ability to use her left hand and the left side of her body.

Annalisa and Mike credit BC Children’s for saving their daughter.

“You’re handing your child to people you just met, but whom you trust because they’re the best at what they do,” said Mike. “And you just have to hold onto that as tight as you can.”

Makena and her family spent the seven worst weeks of their life at BC Children’s during December 2016 and January 2017 — which included the holiday season.

And she’s not the only one. Each year, kids from across B.C. spend their holidays at BC Children’s. They hold onto hope that one day, they can spend their holidays at home, with their families, perhaps enjoying a snowball fight outside or one of their other favourite activities.

The second annual Snowball Fight for Kids Campaign at BC Children’s Hospital Foundation is back — and its goal is to help these kids get back to being kids.

From Nov. 19 through Jan. 6, online donations can be made at snowballfightforkids.ca to help fund vital equipment, life-saving research, and the highest level of care for kids like Makena across the province.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Playgrounds to reopen across the Okanagan on June 1

After nearly two months closure, playgrounds are set to reopen

Property tax bills now on their way to Salmon Arm homeowners

COVID-19 delayed mailing slightly, deadline extended but council hopes residents will pay by July 2

Driver damages Chase playground after alleged pellet gun shooting

RCMP report vehicle drove through Memorial Park before coming to a stop

Salmon Arm’s Alexander Street to be open to foot traffic only on Saturdays

Downtown Salmon Arm announces plan to provide more space for restaurants, other businesses

Salmon Arm RCMP seek to reunite Fender guitar with owner

Police ask for owners of items to call detachment

Kelowna couple pedalling past loss of sight

Pauline and Jim Marshall said it’s important to be patient with each other

COLUMN: Plate hate has no place in B.C.

B.C. transplant still drives with red plates, but hopes her car will be safe from COVID hate

Kelowna’s Rock the Lake officially postponed until 2021

The new dates have been scheduled for August 6-8, 2021

Summerland to reopen playgrounds and recreational facilities

Some outdoor spaces will reopen on June 1, but arena and aquatic centre remain closed

Owner of Kelowna country bar permanently closes Langley cabaret

Nightclub showcased local talent, connected friends, and even hosted a wedding during its 34 years

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Only 35 per cent of students returning to Vernon schools

Only 30 per cent of secondary students going back June 1 and 50 per cent of elementary

Princeton officially becomes ’Bronze Statue Capital of Canada’

“We are going to come out of this fine.” That’s the opinion… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with murder of Alberta man

A second man is also wanted in connection with the first degree murder of Cody Michaloski

Most Read