Kenzie Riemenschneider - Dog Bite

Hello, my name is Molly and I have been a long-time friend of Jaisa and Andy’s. I first found out about Kenzie’s accident about a week ago. I stumbled upon Jaisa posting in a selling group on Facebook and had a quick sentence saying. “I am selling these items to help pay for our daughter’s medical bills”. I immediately reached out to Jaisa to see how I could help and what happened! She then began to tell me that this incident happened in November. She was embarrassed to post about the accident on Facebook since it was their family dog that bit their 2-year-old daughter in the face. She said that during Kenzie’s treatment, it was a very stressful time, and she was emotionally drained and didn’t want to have tons of conversations explaining what happened. She wanted to focus all of her energy into Kenzie and her treatment. Jaisa told me the story about what happened and how Kenzie’s medical bills are over $200,000. She also was not able to work during her treatment so that is why she is selling items on Facebook to help pay Kenzie’s medical bills. After insurance, loss of work and outside medical expenses they are paying around $40,000 out of pocket. I asked Jaisa if I could start a GoFundMe Me for her and she gave me some push back because she doesn't like to ask for help. I reassured her it is ok to have one and I wanted to start one for them, in hopes to help them cover their bills and loss of income <3

I asked Jaisa to tell me her story and what they have gone through over the last 3 months.

Jaisa’s story:

I want to start off by saying our daughter would not be in the spot she is today without Hyperbaric treatment. I am writing about our treatment and journey over the last few trying months. I want to be an advocate to help get the word out there about the possibilities of Hyperbaric! What I am about to write is in my words/eyes and is not medical advice and I am not an expert. I am recalling my experience and knowledge I learned over these few months.

The evening of November 2nd, 2022, Kenzie, 2 years old, was bit in the face by our family puppy (10 months old). Little did we know how much this was going to change our lives forever and impact our next few months greatly. When assessing her at first, we thought it was just her lip that was sliced wide open and would need stitches. Once the paramedics arrived, they took over caring for Kenzie. They immediately started to wrap her head, which confused me. They said she was missing part of her ear. WHAT!?! I asked them to take her to Children’s, in my mind she would not have to be in a car seat and have more of a comfortable ride. I was nervous of her head/ear hitting the sides of the car seat. They informed us they would need to keep her in a car seat if they were going to transport her. While we were talking with the paramedics, one of them saw part of Kenzie’s ear on the floor. She had lost the entire top part of her ear. If it was not for that paramedic we would not be in the position we are today! I want to thank her for taking the time in the chaos to look at the floor where she found her ear! I remember them saying, chances of the ear getting reattached is slim and time is not on your side. At that point Kenzie had calmed down and Andy drove her while I was in back next to her on our way to Children’s in St. Paul.

Once we got to the ER at Children’s they called a code on Kenzie and the room filled with every possible nurse and dr. Both Kenzie and I were covered in blood. I am sure we freaked everyone out in the full waiting room. They assessed her and took photos to send to the on-call ENT surgeon. At this time it is close to 9pm and an hour since the ear amputation. The staff was over the top amazing, Kenzie was getting poked and examined and she stayed calm thanks to the Child Life Specialist. She was there giving Kenzie 1 on 1 attention and drawing her focus away from everyone else. She put an iPad in front of her face and they started to watch Peppa Pig in the ER. While we waited for the Surgeon to arrive it felt like days were passing and all I could think about was the paramedic saying “Time is not on your side, most likely they will not be able to reattach her ear”. Time was not even close to being on our side. I think it was close to 2.5 hours after the bite that Kenzie went into surgery. Before she went in, we spoke with the Surgeon Dr. Chinnadurai, he was calm and assured us he was going to take great care of Kenzie. Again, all I could think about was time. I even told him, I trust you, just take her!!! I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t care what they were going to do, just do it! TIME! Dr. Chinnadurai reassured me that the OR was being prepped for Kenzie and they will get her in ASAP. He did a quick assessment while she was laying between my legs as we both were in the hospital bed. He had mentioned that she had scrapes on her cheeks that he had seen in the photos from when she was first admitted. I was confused as to what he was talking about, I never noticed them. I saw blood but didn’t see the cuts and gashes below the blood.

Finally, we are getting ready to head to the OR and Dr. Chinnadurai asks a few questions. At this time, it was 10pm, I was tired, I had lots of adrenaline and I heard bits of what he was saying. I trusted everything he said and pretty much said “If that is what you think is best, then YES!” There was something about tubes being put in her ears while she was under anesthesia. Ok, if it helps her healing process sure! She has never had an ear infection or ear problems, so I was a little confused but didn’t want to ask any more questions. I wanted her in the OR ASAP! He also said something about Hyperbaric Treatment at HCMC. Yeah, sure! If that is what you think is best, then YES! I didn’t ask many questions at all and really didn’t know what this meant for Kenzie and I and our family over the next 5 weeks.

Kenzie goes into the OR and Andy, my husband and I are sitting in a massive waiting room that is dark and no one is there with us. It was quiet and we were just in shock as we sat there for the next hour and a half. That felt like 10 hours waiting for her to come out of surgery.

When Kenzie came out of surgery, she went to a private room to recover. Her head was wrapped and she had stitches on her lip and a bunch of little clusters of stitches on her poor little cheek. I was so broken seeing our little 2 year old sleeping in the bed hooked up to all of these machines. Thinking that our sweet friendly amazing family dog just did this to our beautiful and spunky 2 year old. Andy ended up going home that night, he had a big work meeting the next day he could not miss. He left me the car seat and I was going to find a way home in the morning.

When I woke up the word had gotten out to my family and my phone was blowing up. I had no energy, I slept in the hospital bed next to Kenzie. So, I also had zero sleep. I was trying to figure out who was going to pick us up and what our next steps would be. I remembered something about HCMC and Hyperbaric calling the next day.

I got the call from HCMC, and they said “When can you be here? We need to see Kenzie today!” Now my head is spinning. I am in St. Paul and HCMC is in Minneapolis, how am I going to get over there? As I am looking around the room and see her car seat, bloody clothing, and a blanket. We didn’t bring anything with us to the hospital. At the same time my phone was dying, and I needed it to communicate with HCMC, rides and my husband. The floor I was on did not have an extra charger for me. I left Kenzie with a nurse and went downstairs to the gift shop to see if they had one I could buy. I asked the front desk where the gift shop was and they told me it opened in a half hour. I turned around and lost it, I was crying. I had been so strong for Kenzie and had not cried yet. I think I was numb to what had just happened. This pushed me over the limit. I needed my phone to communicate and I had 2% battery. The lady saw I was in distress and asked if she could take me to Geek Squad to see if they had anything for me. Luckily they did and I was able to charge my phone for a few minutes before we left for HCMC. The nurse had called Kenzie and I a cab. I had a lot of family offers to drive us but there were too many variables on when we were going to get discharged, I didn’t want anyone to wait around for us.

I strap Kenzie’s car seat into the cab and off we go. I am sure I looked like a hot mess showing up to HCMC. I had no idea what was going on or what I was getting into. When I would hear Hyperbaric, I thought of the tube you would lay in that we have all seen on TV. Yeah, ok you want my two-year-old to lay in a tube!? Good luck! Kenzie was one of the youngest patients they had worked with. Let me tell you, she set the standard very high! <3

Once at the Hyperbaric unit they put us in a room and assessed Kenzie. They showed me the room where the treatment was going to take place. This is where my mind was blown, a room? Yes, a room, that is a full medical room. This room is a hyperbaric chamber? They had a bed, chair, computer & TV in the chamber. The nurse asked if Kenzie would go in alone with just a nurse and I didn’t think so. She had just gone through so much, I figured she would be beyond stressed if they did it without me. I didn’t really know all the options by myself saying that. Fast forward, I am now in the chamber with Kenzie and Evan the RN.

To have the effects of the chamber work you need to be on oxygen. They slowly start to pressurize the room by adding air into the room. This simulates as if you were diving under water. For your body to be most effective in the chamber you need to be at 45 ft below sea level, in equivalent pressure in the room.

Because of Kenzie’s ear injury she could not have a facemask on for oxygen. She had to have a hood over her head, it was like a space helmet but 360 degrees of clear plastic and a rubber gasket around her neck to seal in the oxygen. Kenzie started in the bed and I was in the chair next to her without oxygen. She quickly ended up on my lap in the chair. I should have joined her in the bed, it would have been more comfortable. They started the process of pressurizing the room. I could feel the pressure in my ears similar to an airplane but more intense. I tried to push through the pain but was told quickly do not do that, it will not get better only worse. So, I told Evan my ears hurt. They stopped adding pressure in the room and that allowed me to get my ears caught up to the new current pressure. I struggled with this the whole time until we got down to 45’ below sea level. We had to stop multiple times and we tried every technique possible to help my ears. I almost failed us from diving. (They use diving terms in Hyperbaric) I guess you only have so many minutes to get to pressure or you need to cancel the dive.

After our 1st dive I was informed that I am not allowed to go with Kenzie anymore because of me not being able to clear my ears. I was thankful they said that because the next week I could tell my ears were bruised from the pressure.

Now everything is making sense about why Dr Chinnadurai wanted to put tubes in Kenzie’s ears. The tubes allow the ears to regulate pressure and she does not need to take the steps we do to clear our ears; chewing, swallowing etc. She never feels the pressure change.

We had our 1st treatment down and still not sure what my future looked like at HCMC. My head was throbbing and I could not comprehend as much as I wished I could because of the lack of sleep and the events of the last 24 hours. I also still had blood on my clothing from Kenzie. Andy came to pick us up after his meeting and I was told to be back to HCMC the next day at 8am for her 2nd treatment.

Little did I know the next 7 days she was required to do 2 treatments a day! One at 8am and the other at 3pm. She was considered an emergency case so the on call staff treated her on Saturday and Sunday when they normally would be closed. To run the hyperbaric chamber you need an RN, DR, Technician and “certified diver”. Here we are on Saturday and Sunday with all these wonderful staff that are on call, JUST to treat Kenzie, there were no other patients in the unit. It gives me goosebumps and tears to know these amazing people were there to help Kenzie in her treatment and were all cheering her on for a full recovery!

Her 2nd treatment and the 30+ more she did without me and had a blast with the nurses and Doctors that dove with her. The bond she created with everyone was out of this world. I would have never expected our 2-year-old daughter to adjust to the treatment as well as she did. We could all tell she knew everyone was there to help her. The staff on the outside of the chamber could hear her chatting and giggling over the speakers which made us all giggle. She would watch movies, color on the sheets, play and have one on one time together. I have so many wonderful memories of watching our daughter get treatment and enjoying herself and giggling. This made the whole process easier for all of us. I think she shocked all of us because none of us expected a 2-year-old to adapt so well.

It was a long and slow process, some days you saw no change in her ear others you saw larger changes with her ear. Her ear turned all sorts of colors from dusk to gray to black to red to skin color. I did not understand how an ear that was gray in color and looked completely dead started making progress of healing.

Hyperbaric stimulates growth and fast growth due to the 100% oxygen in your blood and your body being under pressure. What the Dr’s are looking for is the micro blood cells to re-form where her ear was amputated. This allows blood to transfer to that part of the ear and keep the cartilage alive. This growth is so tiny it can not be detected with our eyes. They have a machine to help show the status of the patient's healing. The procedure is called LUNA testing. They place an IV and inject a dye into your blood. This machine then assesses how fast the dye made it to the affected area and then will show a glowing effect on a screen where the dye is in their blood. When Kenzie had this done for the 1st time it was about after 8 treatments and her ear was pretty gray with no real signs of healing yet. The Luna didn’t show too much improvement at this time but I was reassured we need to just give it time and they will test again in about a week or two. Kenzie did not like this process one bit.

At this time, I still had no idea how much this one dog bite was going to affect our lives forever. I still was unclear how long I would have to be driving to HCMC every morning for her daily treatment. This is because her treatment was assessed in small grouped treatments. She would go a week and they would say, “see you next week” then she would go a week “See you next week”. This happened over 4 weeks and about 35/40 treatments. I was not able to work during this time because it was one on one Kenzie time!

This time with Kenzie and slowing my world down I would not trade for anything. As Kenzie is our 2nd child and 12 months younger than our oldest. (Yes, Kenzie was planned). She had never really had one on one time. There are always two toddlers wanting your attention and running around. Kenzie and I would wake up at 6am and get ready to head to HCMC every day for a month. We would chat in the car during our 1-hour car ride in rush hour. Then she would have her treatment that took almost 2 hours. After we would try to sneak up to the cafeteria for a quick bite, she was starving. Then headed home for our one on one snuggles, until her sister and dad got home.

We looked like a triage Dr’s office in our dining room. We had everything medical laying around. Gloves, Gauze of all sizes and shapes, ointment, creams, headwraps, q-tips, hydrogen peroxide, you name it, it was there! Kenzie and I had a routine of me changing her dressings 3 times a day. There were days I wanted to cry when her ear would start to turn black in areas. I felt like I was failing as a Mother that my little beautiful girl was going through all of this pain. Then there were good days where we could see a small spot of skin growth that happened over night! The milestones were tiny but significant in our house! There were lots of photos taken and me keeping both hospitals in the loop as to what was going on. Kenzie was under care of two Dr’s, Dr Logue at HCMC and Dr. Chinnadurai at Children’s during her treatments. It was my new job as a nurse mom to advocate for Kenzie and keep everyone informed as to how she was doing once home and how we felt the treatments were going.

During Kenzie’s daily appointments at HCMC she also had follow-up appointments at Children’s to see her surgeon. I can not thank Dr. Chinn Chinnadurai enough for giving Kenzie a shot at Hyperbaric treatment! I know as well as everyone else, she would not have the recovery she has today if it was not for Hyperbaric treatment and Dr. Chinnadurai saying “Let’s try it”. We lucked out having Dr Chinnadurai as our on-call surgeon. The work he can perform is out of this world. During one of our follow-ups, I looked at him and said THANK YOU for giving Kenzie a chance and telling us her treatment method was Hyperbaric. I told him about what the paramedic had said to us about there is very little chance her ear will be reattached. He said if you had not agreed to Hyperbaric treatment the day I saw you in the ER, I would not have reattached her ear. He then went on to say there is very little studies or information on an ear amputation in a pediatric patient using hyperbaric treatment. I told him and HCMC, where do I sign the papers to release all of her medical records? I want her to be a case study and be used to help other children who could benefit from Hyperbaric.

Kenzie has now had 3 surgeries in the last 3 ½ months. Her initial surgery reattached her ear and sewing up her face and lip. Her 2nd surgery was at the Minnetonka Children’s location to have her stitches taken out. She was put under since there were so many stitches, this also gave Dr. Chinnadurai the time to fully examine her ear and clean it. The last surgery was about a month and a half after we ended hyperbaric treatment. Part of her ear was not healing and was always red and inflamed. Then it started to turn white where I could see there was an infection starting. For the next week I would clean out the infected area while she is screaming in pain. I felt terrible but we had to keep the ear as clean as possible. After realizing I was not able to take care of the infection, we decided to do another surgery where Kenzie would be put under at Children’s St. Paul and allow Dr. Chinnadurai examined her ear and saw what the problem was. He ended up cutting her ear open in a few spots so he could get a good cleaning inside and look for any internal stitches that were bothering her recovery. He found a few and removed them and closed her back up. Almost immediately we could see her ear inflammation was going down and we could finally be on the full road to recovery.

In between her ear surgeries she needed to be seen by her primary Dr in Stillwater. Because of the short notice we ended up seeing a few providers in Stillwater. Each of them we saw was fascinated by Kenzie’s story and really didn’t know much about hyperbaric and how it can be used. I was more than happy to tell them the story and what it has done for us. My hope is they do further research and pass along her amazing recovery story to others. I asked a few nurses at HCMC why so many people do not know about Hyperbaric and she said it is a small percentage of Drs that know how to refer to us. I looked at her and said we need to get the word out there! This unit needs to expand into every hospital, what you do is priceless!

When we got to graduate out of hyperbaric it was an emotional day for everyone. Kenzie and I had a new family at HCMC. We were greeted by name going through security, the front desk of the unit, the staff in the cafeteria and then the wonderful staff waiting for Kenzie with open arms! Truly with open arms, I would stop about 10’ away from the hyperbaric desk and let Kenzie run into the nurses arms waiting for her. It was an experience I cannot explain. To see your two-year-old daughter connect with all of these amazing staff members. She would talk like crazy with them, giggle, give hugs, snuggle and just love on them. Seeing their faces when Kenzie would grab them extra tight with a big hug and lay her head down was priceless. Some days I may have had to hold the tears back. This is what made our treatment so much better. The two of us would look forward to spending some time with our new family in the Hyperbaric unit. The day she got to ring the bell the whole unit including patients that got to know her were cheering! It was a fantastic time and I can not thank the staff enough for taking us in with open arms, giving this cute little 2 year old a chance to heal and creating an environment where she felt comfortable.

THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU! Thank you to so many of the nurses that bonded with Kenzie and put a huge smile on her face! Grandma Diane, I am still waiting for Kenzie to start drawing on our sheets at home. Evan was known for the snacks! Marie, Renee, Macy, Victoria & Regan she loved diving with each of you and so many more (sorry if I missed you). Thank you for making this process so comfortable for Kenzie. Regan thanks for keeping me company during her treatment! The team you guys have is outstanding and not going unnoticed! I know there are so many more people who had a huge impact on Kenzie and I while at HCMC, we love you all!

Where is Kenzie now:
Kenzie will continue her follow-up appointments at Children’s and we will look at having reconstructive surgery on the part of the ear that didn’t make it and had died. This survey will take place when she is between 5-6 years old. This will allow her ear to heal and allow her ear to grow before new cartilage will be introduced to her ear. Dr. Chinnadurai explained to me that he could perform the surgery now and make her ear look amazing. However, the new cartilage would fuse together but the growth rate of the new cartilage would not be the same growth as her ear cartilage, leaving her ear to possibly need another surgery. By waiting, it will give her time to get some good growth, and before she starts school where kids will notice her ear.

Our Pup:
We did end up re-homing our family dog who was 10 months old and a big ball of fur and love. We took our time finding the perfect family for him. He is now on a hobby farm getting tons of love with his new forever family. We miss him greatly but know it was the best for everyone. Kenzie to this day still talks about him, she knows he bit her and she says “I miss ### and love him so much!”. Kenzie is the strongest girl I know. She is the biggest animal lover and has no trauma about being around dogs.

My goal and hopes are that our story can help educate other providers about the success of Hyperbaric. This treatment can be used for so many different ways to help a patient recover from an amputation to frostbite, CO poisoning and more!!! Here is a link to HCMC’s Hyperbaric page:

Thank you MOLLY for putting this together. I also hope this brings awareness to hyperbaric and the possibilities! Love you bunches!!!

Much love and thank you for everyone who helped in Kenzie’s recovery and her ongoing recovery as well.

The Riemenschneider Family

Andy, Jaisa, Kallie & Most of all Kenzie!

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Organizer and beneficiary

Molly Pittman
Stacy, MN
Jaisa Riemenschneider

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