Freya in the Whitsunday's last year

Freya in the Whitsunday's last year

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today Freya was discharged from the RCH, just short of 100 days since admission.  In this period and the weeks before she was admitted, she has experienced status epilepticus (a life-threatening state of near continuous seizure activity), the most radical of all brain surgery on 31 August, and then following this surgery total paralysis on the  left side of her body.  In these same 100 days she has also learnt to sit, stand and walk again. It has been a busy few months.

Physically, with the exception of her left arm and hand, she is stronger and fitter than she has been for a long time.  She can now walk without experiencing leg seizures and today she was assessed as having 80% of the walking speed and endurance of the average 11 year old girl.  Over the last few weeks, we have been regulars at the hospital orthodics department to have her leg orthosis re-adjusted as her left leg muscles have continued to bulk up.

Cognitively, things are improving at a slower pace. By the end of each day (and often for periods during the day) the demands of her physical and cognitive rehabilitation leave her exhausted to the point where even a  simple conversation is beyond her capacity.  During these periods of cognitive fatigue, she cannot maintain eye contact, follow the thread of a conversation or even respond to questions.  As her brain recovers from the surgery and the left hemisphere continues to pick-up the functions of her now defunct right hemisphere, this cognitive fatigue should reduce and Freya will become more like her happy, bright former self.

In light of what her brain has been through over the past five years, we need to be patient and accept that full recovery is going to be a slow process.  We are really hoping that now she is home and out of the hospital environment and engaging in more normal interactions with friends, family and neighbours, her cognitive recovery will be given a healthy boost.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a discharge date

Following our family meeting with Freya's doctors and therapists on Tuesday a discharge date has been agreed;  Freya will be leaving the Royal Children's Hospital next Friday, the 19th of November - 3 months and 1 week since admission and 2 months and 3 weeks since her surgery.  After such a long stay, the RCH has begun to feel like a second home, and while we're all keen to come home, I know Freya will miss the many nurses, doctors and therapists who have provided her with such support, kindness and encouragement over the last few months.  The hospital umbilical cord will not be severed abruptly though, the discharge plan that we will be given before we leave will include out-patient therapy appointments three times a week for the next couple of months.

In addition to the out-patient therapy we will also be given a rigorous schedule of physio and OT exercises to complete daily at home. As the doctors have explained to us, Freya's brain is currently going through a spurt of activity that is resulting in movement in her left arm, with almost daily improvements over the last week.  It is important that we capitalise on the new connections her left hemisphere is making before this spurt of activity slows down or stops.  The photo is Freya doing one of her physio exercises - putting weight on her left arm (and being kept company by Ella). 

To celebrate Freya's recovery from her surgery and triumph over the devastating epilepsy and encephalitis that has plagued most of her childhood, we are off to Noosa the day after hospital discharge.  A new 5 star resort has opened a couple of months ago, with a lagoon style pool - just the thing for continuing her hydrotherapy program.  The doctors agree it's a great idea too.  Ella doesn't seem to be too devastated by missing out on a week of school so close to the end of the year either.