Why was my girl coming home with bruises?
What was wrong with our sweet tumble tot?
Sticking a plaster on my daughter Kate’s grazed knee, I smiled. ‘All better now,’ I said. Kate, 1, hadn’t long started toddling.
She wasn’t very good at it, bless her! Always seemed to be falling down and hurting herself.
She’d always been lively, but loved hugs and kisses.
‘Better watch this one!’ I said to my husband Kenny, now 38.
Every day, she left nursery with a new bruise
But that was normal, right?
Kate was our first child, but we knew all kids are a bit unsteady.
Still, when Kate was 18 months, her stumbling became worse. She’d trip on thin air!
I noticed her little legs were far apart when she walked, too.
And it took her several attempts to sit up or stand.
Then her eyes would flicker and she’d have daily tantrums. ‘It’s just her age,’ Kenny said. But I was worried, so I told the doctor at a routine checkup.
‘Seems like an ear infection,’ the doctor suggested.
Fluid building up in her ears could affect her balance.
He prescribed her antibiotics, saying he’d monitor her.
But over the next three weeks, Kate deteriorated.
Her hands began to tremor.
I was nine months pregnant, ready to give birth any day.
Kenny and I were so worried, he began videoing her tremors.
As I gave birth to Jason, on 17 October, Kenny was showing doctors our worrying videos.
Concerned, they arranged to see Kate two days later.
As I was still in hospital, I was taken from Floor 11 of Lutheran General Hospital, Chicago, to Floor 3. Doctors set up an MRI. ‘Her behaviour is consistent with a brain tumour,’ I was told.
My heart flipped.
The result was normal, thank goodness, but Kate was kept in.
More tests followed. None showed anything wrong.
‘It could be her nervous system reacting to a virus,’ doctors suggested. But she hadn’t been sick… Still, they diagnosed acute cerebellar ataxia – a common reaction for kids recovering from chickenpox.
Their gait is affected, making them fall over.
Doctors said it’d clear in eight weeks, and we wept tears of happiness.
We’d get our little girl back! But it got worse. On a bad day, Kate would fall over 100 times.
By January, she couldn’t sit unaided and had terrible tantrums.
What had happened to our girl?
Doctors had no answers.
I took sick leave to look after Kate, instead of sending her to Kenny’s mum’s, as I was worried she’d get hurt.
‘Mimmie,’ she’d mutter to her Mickey Mouse toy.
Strange. She knew his name…
Other two-year-olds could string words together, but my girl couldn’t say a single one without getting confused.
By then, she couldn’t hold a spoon to eat and collapsed when trying to sit or crawl.
‘Something’s very wrong,’ I cried to Kenny. Jason was meeting milestones, but Kate was going backwards. I rushed her to A&E. The idea of a brain tumour crept back in. Kate’s eyes were
We were so worried, we began videoing her tremors…