About Us» Success Stories» Theresa's Story
Marc Campbell, father of Theresa Garvey Campbell, a former patient of Franciscan Hospital for Children, faced the worst nightmare any parent could imagine on November 29, 2010. His daughter suffered a sudden stroke that left her with paralysis in the right side of her face and leg. Marc shares the story of their journey to recovery.
“At age 11, Theresa was a vibrant, energetic girl who loved the outdoors. Swimming, softball, ice-skating and horse riding are just a few of the sporting activities she enjoyed,” Marc says with the delight of a proud father.
Marc’s voice is laced with emotion as he recalls the day Theresa’s stroke happened. “After complaining of a pain in her jaw and neck, she asked to lie down. I made sure she was comfortable and went downstairs to print some photos off the computer. Shortly after, I heard moaning from upstairs and rushed back to find Theresa on the floor, bleeding from her nose.” He pauses – indicating that the images of that day are still very vivid in his mind.
He takes a short while to regain his composure and continues, “I called out to her: can you hear me? She nodded but instinctively, I knew that something was terribly wrong,” Marc says. He had called 911 and minutes later, the Paramedics arrived. Theresa was then taken to a Cape Cod Hospital and doctors informed Marc that Theresa had a tumor located at the base of her cerebellum that had burst directly into her stem. She was gravely ill and needed a hole to be drilled in her brain to relieve the pressure.
“Theresa is one of the strongest and most resilient patients I have ever worked with."
- Jessica Boy, RN
Marc had immediately made the decision to have Theresa airlifted to Children’s Hospital Boston where she was put into an induced coma. Theresa’s condition remained critical for the first few days. After about 5 days, Theresa came out of her coma. Doctors performed a CAT scan, an MRI and an Angiogram to verify the cause of Theresa’s stroke. Theresa was diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). In layman’s terms, Arteriovenous Malformation is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins that is believed to be congenital.
Given the complexity of her injury, doctors assessed the outcomes of treating the AVM versus non-treatment. Dr. Edward R. Smith, Director of Pediatric Cerebrovascular Surgery at Children’s Hospital Boston says, “The hardest thing about treating an AVM is weighing the option of aggressive treatment such as surgery or radiation, against the possibility of any remnant disability for the patient in question.”
While treatment to address Theresa’s AVM directly was deferred, she underwent surgery to have a tracheotomy tube and a feeding tube inserted to facilitate her rehabilitation. She was then referred to Franciscan Hospital for Children where she began rehabilitation. According to Dr. Smith, decisions on rehabilitation are based on variables such as a patient’s age, the location of the AVM and specific treatment rendered.
At Franciscan, Theresa began her rehabilitation process. “The care that Theresa received at Franciscan was exemplary. She received Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy to help her regain functionality,” Marc goes on to say. Theresa progressed from not being able to lift her head when she first arrived, to slowly regaining function in her limbs.
Theresa returned to Children’s Hospital Boston to have a shunt installed in her head a month later in order to relieve fluid pressure that had built up. As she went through her treatment, Theresa forged close relationships with her caregivers at Franciscan. These connections are still very strong today – a clear demonstration of the individualized care that patients receive.
In a separate conversation, Jennifer Binns, RN, a nurse on the Rehabilitation Unit where Theresa received her care says, “I saw Theresa from the beginning to the end and what a transformation there has been!” Jennifer continues, “It's hard to believe that the girl I saw that first night was literally walking out of the door on her last day. No matter the task, if she could do it herself, she wanted to and you can bet she would – anything from disconnecting her own feeding tube when her feed was done, to letting go of the walker in order to have a Justin Beiber dance party in physical therapy! I recall one very memorable afternoon at the end of her stay here when I jokingly said to her, ‘Theresa, I've got a lot of stuff going on, so if you could take care of yourself, that would be great.' She went back to her room and showed up 5 minutes later with a full set of vital signs written down. She had taken me up on my request and taken her own vital signs!”
Clearly, Theresa has shown great determination in the face of adversity that has astounded even her caregivers. Jessica Boy, RN, another nurse who took care of Theresa during her stay at Franciscan says, “Theresa is one of the strongest and most resilient patients I have ever worked with. She came in unable to move or lift her arms and was completely ventilated. At the time of her discharged, she was talking, walking and pushing beyond limits.”
Today, Theresa who turned twelve on April 23, 2011, is back in school and no longer relies on her wheelchair and walker for mobility, nor does she rely on a tracheotomy tube to breathe. Theresa celebrates milestones like walking up and down the stairs without any assistance or the help of her walker.
Her teachers have always been impressed by her achievements in her studies but are even more so now. She has caught up on the lessons she missed with the help of extra tutoring. Theresa remains a bright student who has a large circle of friends and admirers. Now off her feeding tube, Theresa has no limitations when it comes to eating. While her injury has presented new challenges for her to overcome, both Marc and Theresa are optimistic about a full recovery.
Marc says, “After consulting with 7 leading AVM experts around the country, I have decided to have Theresa undergo proton radiation to treat her AVM within the next 3 months.”
When asked if she remembers her injury, Theresa’s answer is that she has only some memory of it. “It was always scary but I’m glad that I’m moving forward every day,” she says.
Written by Stella Teyegaga, MHANovember, 2011