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

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Parents not giving up, after official search for Manning Park hiker suspended again

‘We are determined, but eventually the money is going to run out.’

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness watches the results on election night. The ex-Liberal’s tumultuous campaign and the narrow margin for victory ahead of the mail-in ballot count leaves the future of the riding’s seat in limbo for at least the next week. (Facebook/Laurie Throness)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Future for incumbent Throness uncertain as riding awaits results

Chilliwack-Kent candidate hopeful, resigned waiting on final count

File Photo
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Agassiz Seniors Community

First declared outbreak in Agassiz-Harrison since pandemic began

The family and friends of Abbotsford resident Kaitlyn Cassels have launched a GoFundMe for her after she suffered serious injuries following a bad fall on Thursday night. (Submitted)
GoFundMe created for Abbotsford woman after horrible fall

19-year-old Kaitlyn Cassels suffers many injuries after falling 27 feet off Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

A pair of crashes on Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack have snarled traffic in both directions.
Pair of crashes snarl traffic between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Traffic delays eastbound, large westbound backup

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site a few weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Most Read