Leela's road to recovery
Whether it be a single dollar or many, we will be (and are) forever grateful to our donors!"
-Julie Runia (mom)
P.S. If Leela could speak to us now and understand, I think she would say something like this:
"On June 25th, 2016, I went to a birthday party and had a good time. I went to bed like normal but when I woke up, my head hurt unlike anything I have ever experienced and I knew something terrible was happening to me. I tried to talk but nothing came out right. And then I passed out. In severe shape, I was airlifted to Children's where some doctors didn't think I would make it.
I suffered a seizure, intracranial hemorrhage, and then a stroke. But I did make it. I made it thru life-saving surgery, out of the ICU, and I am fighting every day to come back.
I cannot walk yet, I cannot talk yet, I cannot remember my life or even simple things from one day to the next. I want to find my way back! I promise you, I work hard. I was an A student in school, I even was taking college courses at my school, and I was a cheerleader. I don't do drugs or drink. As of right now no cause can be found for my injury.
My parents cannot afford all the care I need or am going to need. I have occupational, physical, speech and vision therapies that I need for years to come. Plus all of my hospital bills for the 3 months I'm going to be here. I already know that my parents need to renovate our home to fit my care and needs, or worse...move.
My life and my family's lives are forever changed. Please help me reach my potential! I know I can do so much more!
I cannot ask you myself really, but, my family is here and needs help. Not just immediately, but for many years to come."
Please visit: https://leelacan.blogspot.com/ for more updates and interaction with and for Leela. Subscribe for updates and join Team Leela!
I am so proud of my girl. I want to give you a quick update on Leela's wins! When she came home last year, she couldn't make it through our front door and now (with the help of her leg equipment) can walk on her own. She can only put "some" pressure on her right foot, but she is at least moving more independently, and her gait pattern is getting better overall!
With the help of her arm equipment, Leela is somewhat capable of using her right hand to assist in eating, but only with certain foods. It's a slow process, but she's working on it. She is also happy she can eat more than soups and soft foods which is where she started.
Another thing that makes Leela happy is that she can get dressed, for the most part, on her own. It gets a little embarrassing when you can't eat, walk or dress yourself. (And when you're a teenager, getting dressed by yourself is a big win!) She does need help in the shower but we had the home renovations and the bars and things really helped her learn, and it all still helps her today! Gaining balance and the ability to move was "step one" in that area. She is also working on using her right arm/hand so she can wash her own hair, which she really wants to do!
When we did the home renovations, we also had extra bars installed on the stairs, even though in the shape she was in, it was hard to imagine her ever taking on stairs of any kind! But sure enough, the girl worked hard on balance and strength and CAN actually make it up and down! She wears out quickly though and her body can only take the challenge of stairs when her energy is high.
It is very hard for her to form words (and cannot type at all) but something that makes her happy is that she can voice-to-text little social media messages and things to her friends and family (even if it takes her 100 times to get it right!)
Leela has gained more movement in her arm. She is able to lift from her shoulder and put it back down. That is HUGE improvement. She’s also gaining the ability to purposely close her hand (something you and I never think about). Another great piece of news is that she is testing on average in her age group for "visual" communication and is able to process certain things with her visual supports.
This girl is a gem. For her to have upbeat spirits shows us all what "will" will do. Her depression from realizing who she was and who she is today has been very difficult but every day is a new day, and on we go!
LEELA'S life today and her needs:
music therapy (1x/week)
physical therapy (2x/week)
occupational therapy (3x/week)
speech therapy (3x/week)
home therapy (daily)
aquatic therapy (1x/week)
(and our visits to Denver for testing) (1x/week)
trying to hang out with friends (that still are available to her)
movies at home
(What if this was your week? Imagine...)
Academically, Leela knows now she is not at all where she was. It’s very emotionally and mentally exhausting for her. For her, it is now a massive change to her own reality. To know you were taking college courses and now you are at a FIRST-GRADE reading ability and comprehension, is inconceivable to me. Leela is not in first grade, she is 16 years old.
She still can’t put letters together to make words and numbers are still an issue. Time, and anything other than single digits, is where you will lose her. Trying to speak without any visual support is a very big challenge overall. We are still praying and hoping that this will improve for her because living a life where you can't comprehend the simplest of things, much less communicate, can be very hard.
Her hand is still not getting any finger-opening movement. That will be the last thing to come back and although we are now a year into recovery, we are not giving up.
We also found out that Leela has a form of colitis. That was not fun. Thankfully though an emergency room trip found it. It is very painful. We have tried decreasing processed foods to help the symptoms, let's hope it works.
As for me (mom), I'm still exhausted mentally and emotionally. I wish I could say it gets easier, but it has not. I still become a mess watching Leela have any struggles. I can tell YOU though that we have appreciated every penny donated to Leela’s recovery we have received. It all goes to her medical account and without it, that list of things above would not be possible. I can't even imagine where the poor girl would be without them.
There’s a lot that insurance does not cover. Certain therapies like music therapy, some of the medical equipment, the upgrades to medical equipment which she needs in order to progress, classes to help relearn everyday activities, gas to get everywhere (and when you travel across town five days a week, as well as from here to Denver, that adds up quick!).
HOPES: We are looking to get the Saebo Flex and Glove to help with her finger movement. The doctors say will help open her right hand and the individual fingers, and potentially help re-establish brain patterns (which is absolutely necessary!). The FitMi is also being looked at to help her get her muscles back on track. Getting Leela a tutor to help her re-learn reading is also a big one. It will help her with comprehension, math, etc., and has also been recommended by her doctors. She made a great leap just learning what school and learning even was and now she needs to relearn her education as if she were in elementary school.
THESE THINGS ALL HELP WITH HER DEPRESSION! It helps her feel and know her chances of still working on things and getting further along. Because of all of this and our chance to hopefully keep going, she shares her quote down below.
AND, one last update. Just two weeks ago, we all had another scare. The SAME thing was happening. Her head hurt, it became unbearable, she was screaming and then lost consciousness and movement. After two ambulance trips and finally making it to Denver, we had MRI's, brain monitoring (and the list goes on), and a team of neurologists. They did not find the cause, which is extremely scary and frustrating.
Will it happen again? Are we done with strokes, brain bleeds, and brain damage? Is my little girl dissolving little by little? Will we EVER be able to financially support this? :(
She has lost peripheral vision on her right side from that last event. Doctors are fairly certain it will not come back. So many questions and fears. She did make it home though and so we continue.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update! Send any love you can and if you are able to help, know how thankful we are for the assistance.
With the right equipment (that has real and trusted potential) I'd love to see Leela improve as much as she can so that she can work towards a LIFE!!! She could not possibly stress the WANT for it any more than she does. She wants to do MORE with herself and her life.
And I can tell you that this girl works hard and is determined to work anything made available to her. PLEASE KNOW THAT!
Also know that we are so grateful for the help in the beginning, now and during our long journey.
- Julie (mom)
Leela has been receiving ongoing therapies, both physical and occupational, at the hospital. She is working on many things like walking, eating more, communicating and memory. Although the progress is slight, it is also very major at the same time. I remember when the doctors thought she would not be able to do any of these things. Looking at her scans even today they are still amazed at her progress, and that she can do any of the things she is doing at all.
The big update I want to share with you is that Leela is coming home, and she's coming home early. She is just out of her latest surgery yesterday (it took 5 hours) and is doing well. The therapy she has been getting every day will continue when she goes home; we will drive back multiple times a week for it. She will also start taking classes that specialize in this situation.
This is where the THANKS TO YOU comes in. It's your donations that help make us capable of caring for Leela at home. It's your donations that will help to make sure she gets the care she absolutely needs to stay on her road to recovery. Without it, Leela will never grow and be able to function like the capable, aware teenager that she should be. She would forever stay the way she is now. She would not have a chance to fix her impaired site, impaired and limited mobility, inability to understand and read words or remembering her life and those around her.
PLEASE read the updated blog ( https://leelacan.blogspot.com/). It will fill you in, in much more detail. Know that Leela still has hope and happiness in her eyes. Her attitude is not shattered and her dreams of making even one more step forward are very much alive.
Thank you again for stopping by to check out this story. If it is your first time, please start at the beginning to see what's been happening...we welcome you on our journey and WELCOME to Team Leela!
Our donors touch our hearts every single day and make the next day something more possible.
- Julie (mom)
"Hello everybody!Please check out the latest blog ( https://leelacan.blogspot.com/) my mom wrote. I've added something special from me to you in there and as you will see by my updated pictures,I am very proud to say I'm a little bit closer getting back to the real me!!
I see more people these days and see people that don't have injuries. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. I want you to know that even if I can't say it, I know I'm not meant to stay this way. I want so bad to be able to talk to all of you. Your support here is helping me do that. It makes me feel good to have the help so that I know I can keep working on things when I leave the hospital.
- Leela Serene
**Please help spread the word: #leelacan, #teamleela
To keep you all updated, Leela has started to speak. I, of course, want to her "talk to me" like just a couple of months ago...but this is not the case, as we reluctantly expected.
While hospitalized, Leela will receive speech therapy twice a day and once discharged, the only option for Leela is to continue with more specialized, intense, speech therapy. The speech therapy needed is more serious than I expected. In addition to speech, she will also need to continue with physical, intense occupational and low vision therapy. What this means is that due to the amount of therapy Leela really does need, there is more time we need to be at the hospital. The trip to the hospital is 2 hours from my house each way (without traffic). With that on the table, I may be moving into the Ronald McDonald house for a longer, extended period.
Overall a lot to take in overall, and even more to pay for...but what does a parent do? You do it. We will do it. Leela will want it because Leela WANTS to work.
I'm so proud of this young lady. As anyone with kids knows, we love them more than anything. As anyone with a sick kid knows, we FIGHT and we never give up.
Please see Leela's blog for a more detailed update here: https://leelacan.blogspot.com/
Thank you again for checking in. The support means so much.
- Julie (mom)
I'm broke but I wanted to say, my daughter passed away from 2 brain bleeds. I don't have any money... but I wish so badly I did..! Praying so much for this sweetheart!!!!
I am sorry I can't donate right now but I was the masscot for last school year and got to work with you! You were the one that always helped me and was always really fun and happy. I hope u are doing ok and don't give up!!
I don't know you but I'm praying for you and your family, I will donate as soon as I can. Hang in there