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

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
UPDATED: Victoria police arrest high-risk parolee with history of bank robbery

Citizen alerts cops after spotting parolee on Pandora Avenue

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Saanich implements single-lane traffic stretch on Prospect Lake Road along Clavert Park. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Saanich makes one-way traffic permanent on segment of Prospect Lake Road

Prospect Lake Road to close near Calvert Park Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for construction

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

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

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(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

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read