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We had such generous response from our author friends when we asked for messages of encouragement for LitKid’s 11-year-old buddy, “ReaderGirl.” Bitten at summer camp by a mosquito carrying the virus for LaCrosse encephalitis, she had a seizure on August 8, a few days after returning from camp.
Rushed to the hospital, she spent a scary week in the hospital being treated for seizures, infection and the other effects of both encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes – meninges – surrounding the brain).
Once the seizures and infection were under control and ReaderGirl was out of danger, her disorientation about time and place and her inability to do things she had known how to do for years were frightening for her parents.
Once we shared ReaderGirl’s story here, a staggering lineup of very well-known, critically acclaimed kids’ authors sent messages for her. In that wondrous way the world often works, I was amazed to read four messages detailing how the authors or their children had also experienced seizures or meningitis and recovered fully. What are the odds?
What started out as an impulsive hope for a gift that would cheer ReaderGirl and her parents led to the gift of firsthand hope and encouragement from generous writers who could say, “I’ve been there, and my story had a happy ending.”
ReaderGirl thought her binder of messages – including a personalized illustration from a certain famous author with a new book – was very cool, and her parents read the messages with tears in their eyes.
One week after she was rushed to the hospital, ReaderGirl got to go home last Wednesday, and her parents saw quick improvements; today, she had a brain scan that looked great, and on Wednesday, she and LitKid will be attending their middle school orientation. Her recovery isn’t finished quite yet, but it looks as if ReaderGirl’s story will have a happy ending, too.
During our second, message-delivering visit with ReaderGirl after she was sprung from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit into a regular room, we got to go along on her biggest outing yet – a trip to the cafeteria, followed by a little fresh air. When we headed back to the room – with ReaderGirl pushing my girl in her wheelchair instead of the other way around – we found her pediatric neurologist looking for his patient.
In another very cool, bookish twist, when ReaderGirl’s parents mentioned the messages from our author friends, the doctor’s eyes lit up. “You have a book blog? What’s the address? I’m always looking for good books to recommend to my patients!”
So we scrawled our blog info, as well as the URL for Anita Silvey’s wonderful Children’s Book Almanac website, on a piece of paper. Then the neurologist’s eyes lit up again. “You know, there’s this book I read when I was a kid, and I’ve been trying to figure out the title for years so I can find a copy!”
He went on to describe it to us, and a few days, later, I did a little high-level research (ah…Google searches). I think I’ve tracked it down; once we find out if we solved the good doctor’s mystery, we’ll share it here later.
Thanks from ReaderGirl and her parents, as well as LitKid and me, to all of you who sent messages and/or positive thoughts and prayers; it was truly appreciated more than you’ll ever realize.
Since “LitKid” and I began this blog, some of our favorite authors have been kind enough to stop by and visit, do interviews and share links to LitKid’s reviews. This has been especially exciting for LitKid, and as a parent, I appreciate it more than you know.
Tonight, I’m writing in hopes you might have a few minutes to send a message of encouragement to an 11-year-old friend of LitKid’s whose life changed in an instant Wednesday morning. She is a fellow avid reader whose room is bedecked in full-on Harry Potter/Gryffindor decor. Since we go by pen names here, I’ll call her ReaderGirl.
This is the short version of the story of ReaderGirl’s week.
On Wednesday morning, when her mother went in to wake ReaderGirl for theater camp, she found her in the middle of a seizure. She was rushed to the hospital, where they determined that the seizures were being caused by a brain infection; their best guess was that it was viral meningitis, likely from a mosquito. With no warning, a normal summer morning morphed into a parent’s worst nightmare.
Two scary days passed, and ReaderGirl appears to be past the high-risk, life-threatening stage of the infection; seizures have stopped, fever comes and goes, and she’s finally able to eat real food.
The doctors don’t know yet whether there will be lasting effects from the seizures and infection. Though ReaderGirl is talking like her spunky smart self – even correcting the bad grammar on a TV commercial – she is still experiencing some disorientation/confusion about certain things, and this remaining bit of the unknown is unnerving for her and her parents, as you can imagine.
LitKid and ReaderGirl are scheduled to have their first day of middle school in just two weeks, and starting middle school is hard enough even when you’re feeling 100 percent like yourself.
ReaderGirl is such is a voracious reader that I thought it would mean a lot – not to mention being very cool – if we could bring her some messages of encouragement from stellar authors. (I’m pleased to say that her parents asked for suggestions from LitKid’s summer reading wish list when shopping for ReaderGirl’s birthday in July, and they bought Bigger Than a Breadbox, Wonder and The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict.)
If you would like to send a message for ReaderGirl, please feel free to leave a comment here or send one via email to email@example.com. And if you have author friends who would be willing to send an encouraging word, please pass this on to them.
Thank you so much for considering it ~ LitKid and I are grateful.
~ AKid@Heart (who is newly reminded by all of this to focus on and be thankful for the important/good stuff)