Ten Fingers, Ten Toes, Two Eyes a Nose
June 10, 2009
It's the wish of every new parent to have a healthy baby. Ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes, a nose. That's what Katrina and Clifford Branham thought they had. A beautiful, healthy baby girl. Their daughter Mikaylah was everything they could have hoped for.
Admiring their new baby, Mikaylah's parents had always noticed she made funny faces, but they'd seen other babies making faces, too, so they did not think it was anything unusual. But shortly after Mikaylah's two month check-up something wasn't quite right. On July 13, 2007 her body went limp and she started shaking. Mikaylah was having a seizure.
Katrina and Clifford quickly took their daughter to the emergency room at Madison County Hospital where she was stabilized for a safe transfer to Children's Hospital in Columbus for further testing. Six days later it was confirmed, Mikaylah, not even one year old, was having infantile spasms and focal seizures.
Mikaylah was prescribed medication to help control the spasms, but nothing seemed to be working. Over the next several months, the spasms had not diminished and in fact had grown more intense. Mikaylah was having multiple infantile spasms a day.
After further testing and visits to children's hospitals in Cincinnati and in Michigan, the Branhams headed back to Nationwide Children's Hospital to meet with a neurologist who determined Mikaylah could be a good candidate for surgery to stop the spasms. She was just over a year old.
The surgery involved removing the left front lobe dysplasia from her brain. The Branhams were told Mikaylah's condition happens to one out of every one million babies.
May 21st, 2008
The day of Mikaylah's surgery, Katrina and Clifford waited for 15 hours to see their daughter while she was in the operating room. "It seemed like a lot longer than that," Katrina recalls. But finally doctors came out and gave them the best news: everything had gone as expected. The doctors were able to remove the dysplasia. Five days after her surgery, Mikaylah was able to go home. However, that was just the beginning of the uphill battle for Mikaylah—and her parents. Mikaylah's head was swollen from the surgery and she had to wear a protective hat for the next six months to prevent infection. Mikaylah was just over a year old, but developmentally was at the age of four month old.
"When you look at someone you love going through something like that, you just want to take away their pain," Katrina recalls. "I wanted to bear that pain for her. She was so strong through it all. Mikaylah is my hero."
July 21, 2008
Two months after her operation, Mikaylah started receiving physical and occupational therapy at Madison County Hospital to help her catch up to where she needed to be. Katrina, a MCH employee, was now turning to her co-workers to help in her daughter's rehab.
There was a possibility that the surgery had affected her fine motor skills. Working with therapists Cindy Kennedy and Tiffany Staley twice a week, she would quickly begin to show progress.
Cindy compared Mikaylah's condition to having a stroke. She was very weak on the right side and had to learn everything from controlling her head to sitting up. Cindy started Mikaylah on her stomach and encouraged her to look up to strengthen her core. Once she had a strong core, it would be easier for Mikaylah to gain her balance.
A month later Mikaylah was sitting up on her own. By November, she was crawling and by February she was walking. It was these victories that made a big difference in her quick advancement.
Katrina said, "She's a quick learner. One time she was supposed to learn how to crawl up steps in her next session, but instead later that day she did it on her own at home."
June 3, 2009
Mikaylah celebrated her second birthday on April 20. She now runs down the hallway to her weekly therapy sessions. She is learning to walk backwards, jump and like every other toddler—potty training, too. Katrina reports that Mikaylah is doing well, but like most other two-year olds, she doesn't always do as she's told.
"We can tell her and show her how to do something," Katrina says, "But that doesn't mean that she'll do it! She's a defiant two-year old!"
Mikaylah can proudly say words like, "thank you" and "mama" and "hi" and her vocabulary is expanding everyday. She meets once a week with MCH speech therapist, Sue Clyburn. Her right hand, which was once weak and was used to merely assist, she now uses fluently.
The progress Mikaylah has made in almost a year's time has been remarkable. She is now developmentally where a 16-18 month old is. "I think Mikaylah wants to learn as much as we've wanted her to learn," Katrina smiles. "Every accomplishment that she's made is amazing."
Mikaylah will continue to have physical, occupational and speech therapy for as long as she needs it. She'll have to have an MRI every year until she's five and see a neurologist every six months. Her doctors say that she is progressing as expected, perhaps even better. Her brain activity is normal. Mikaylah has come a long way and continues to amaze her mom everyday.
"Mikaylah gives me a reason to wake-up and smile everyday," Katrina notes. "I've always appreciated my life, but this just gives me something more to appreciate. I would like to give God all the praise and glory for healing my daughter."