My child and I have been deeply touched by your organization. Our story goes a bit deeper than getting a wonderful blanket. I'm a divorced mother to my beautiful daughter and it is just her and I. We are very close and she is my world. The details of the story are very important to understanding just what the blanket we received did for us and how deeply it impacted us when we needed it the most.
My daughter, Sakura, who is 11yrs old fell ill on April 8th, 2011. She had a slight fever and was tired. I brought her home from school and let her sleep through the weekend and thought it was a typical bug and it would pass in a few days. We had no idea there was a festering nightmare about ready to completely turn our world upside down.
Sakura did not get better and was only getting worse so I took her into the ER, she was screaming grabbing her head and said her neck hurt. Her headaches had started on April 12th and we were in the ER on April 15th.
Her headaches were getting unbearable and I could not control her fever with over the counter medications. We were told she had mono and were sent back home. A few days later she started to hallucinate and blacked out upstairs in her room. I had to call the ambulance and she was taken to the hospital. They were about to discharge her and felt the hallucinations were caused from high fevers from the mono, until they realized at the last minute that her lab results suggested an infection beyond just mono. Sakura started to decline rapidly and was having massive headaches, her entire body hurt and her neck and back were hurting her so bad. As a mother I was terrified that my daughter was getting this sick and it was mono? It didnt make sense and I started to feel this nightmare start to unravel to a new level that this is serious and no one knows what is really wrong with her.
They decided to transfer her to Childrens Castle part of Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD on April 21st, 2011. We arrived at the hospital around 9am and within just 30 minutes of our arrival I had several doctors in my daughters room and many nurses. I had doctors sitting down with me telling me that my daughter has an infection in her brain and her status is very critical. They were going to do an MRI and if it showed what they thought she had she would need to be rushed to surgery. They were very up front with me on the seriousness of the situation. Sakura had a Subdural Empyema and they are very deadly and can cause a lot of damage.
As a mother this news was like being hit upside the head with a baseball bat. I thought my daughter had mono, who dies from mono? I knew she was very sick but it was nothing I felt was life or death. It was just a bad situation we would have to get through and now I am being told my daughter may not survive. I was in such shock I couldn't function. My body felt so weak it was hard for me to even walk. The entire day seemed to just stand still on us. They did rush her to surgery and ended up having to remove the right side of her skull. The surgeon told us the infection just poured out of her head when he drilled the first hole.
Her spinal cord fluid was yellow and he could not explain how my daughter was doing so well clinically after what he saw in her head. He said he didn't mean to scare us but he was sure she would of died that day with out intervention she was so far gone. They had to leave the right side of her skull off and also a sinus surgery was performed.
Sakura had a sinus infection that she had no signs of having and it infected her brain. The bacteria that caused this was Group A Strep. Her blood was inflected with it, she had a urinary tract infection and her entire body was septic.
She got out of surgery and into PICU at 10pm at night. It was the longest day in my life. I had not seen my daughter since that morning and was just thankful she survived surgery and was alive. I spent the night at her bedside and so scared. She was critical and it was unknown if she would survive. We had so many complications to worry about and had to pray the antibiotics would start to work.
The next day my sister and I were in the PICU room and a lady from Childrens Voice brought in a blanket. I was so beat down, so exhausted and so scared. She handed me the blanket and my sister and I looked at it. It had cherries on the front side of it. My sister said "Courtnee....there are cherry blossoms on the other side of it" as she turned it over to the inside. I was speechless there at first. My sister and I looked at each other and we just both knew this was a sign and found it comforting. The lady was looking at us confused and said there was a lollipop blanket too but she had picked the cherry blanket.
I told her it was perfect! I asked her if she knew what my daughters name Sakura was and she said no. My daughters name is Sakura, which is Japanese for "Cherry Blossom" and we call her "Cherry Blossom" so holding this blanket given to us that has cherries and cherry blossoms on it, picked out by random was amazing to us. We found so much comfort in that little moment and that blanket.
Sakura woke up and we showed her the blanket and she thought it was the coolest thing ever and she still to this day tells people the story about the random blanket given to her with cherry blossoms on it. I don't have a picture of her with it because she didn't want to use it because the cherry blossom blanket is "special" to her.
She survived, made it through the surgery to put her skull back together and the infection went away. She has no lasting complications and is doing great. I as a mother couldn't as for more.
We spent a month in the hospital and from day one until the day we left, everyday was full of fear. There was no stability and always critical.
It was the darkest time of my entire life and the most helpless feeling I have ever had. My daughter was in so much pain, so sick and had to endure so much. I think about how close I was to losing her and it makes me tear up instantly. The fact she survived so long with such a horrible infection, it went undiagnosed and through it all things fell into place and she made it. Part of those things that just seemed to fall into place for us was being handed the cherry blossom blanket. A memory that we will never forget.
I want to thank all of you and the volunteers that make this program happen because really you are touching lives and providing comfort for people that really need it.
Courtnee J. Mulroy