Archive for Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tonganoxie child, 2, making remarkable recovery after traumatic accident

Children’s Mercy Hospital therapist Judy Chizek works with 2-year-old Brooklyn Sickman of Tonganoxie during a session Saturday at the hospital. Brooklyn’s mother, Teresa, is at center. Brooklyn is recovering from injuries she suffered when a 300-pound barn stall gate fell on her head. The initial expectation was that she wouldn’t live or that her quality of life would be severely impaired.

Children’s Mercy Hospital therapist Judy Chizek works with 2-year-old Brooklyn Sickman of Tonganoxie during a session Saturday at the hospital. Brooklyn’s mother, Teresa, is at center. Brooklyn is recovering from injuries she suffered when a 300-pound barn stall gate fell on her head. The initial expectation was that she wouldn’t live or that her quality of life would be severely impaired.

November 18, 2009

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— Brooklyn Sickman sits in her mother’s lap and asks for a piece of a Cheeto. And then another.

She also would like some “p-o-p.” Her father, Jeff Sickman, spells that word. Brooklyn must stick to juices, so soft drinks are kept out of sight.

The thought that the 2-year-old Tonganoxie girl could see a bottle of pop, even a few weeks ago, would have been hard to imagine.

Since late September, Brooklyn has been at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., recovering from injuries she received when a 300-pound barn stall gate fell on her head.

There was “not one single bruise from her chin down,” her mother, Teresa Sickman, said about the accident on Sept. 26 at the rural Tonganoxie home of family friends.

The impact caused breaks in Brooklyn’s cheek bones, sinus cavity, right orbit around her eye, and the back of her head.

Soon after the accident, the news was grim. Brooklyn wouldn’t survive, doctors said. Then they said she would survive, but her quality of life would be poor.

But Teresa knew her daughter.

“She’s tough,” Jeff said. “She’s not a statistic.”

Jeff Sickman of Tonganoxie holds his daughter, Brooklyn, who is healing after a traumatic injury on Sept. 26.

Jeff Sickman of Tonganoxie holds his daughter, Brooklyn, who is healing after a traumatic injury on Sept. 26.

Road to recovery

Her recovery “has kind of been like the stock market — up down, up down,” her father said.

Brooklyn’s brain has not healed, but it’s not worsening, Jeff said.

After spending weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit, Brooklyn moved to a therapy floor. Initially, doctors said she would have permanent memory loss and could grow up deaf and blind.

But each day, the curly blonde, who will celebrate her third birthday on Dec. 16, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds.

She now remembers family members. Her daycare class sent a scrapbook full of classmates’ photos. Teresa said she has pointed out friends.

For weeks, Brooklyn couldn’t see. And while her eyesight was nearly nonexistent, her hearing was, by all accounts, strong. When a helicopter landed at the hospital, Brooklyn would cover her ears. Teresa could barely hear the aircraft.

“Her hearing has improved so much because she hasn’t seen this whole entire time,” Teresa said.

Breakthrough

Then, two weeks ago, Brooklyn began seeing again out of her left eye. It’s possible she will eventually be able to see out of her right eye, which has a broken bone protruding into it.

Those Cheetos that Brooklyn loves must be monitored closely because the right side of Brooklyn’s face doesn’t really function, much like that of a person who has suffered from a stroke. Teresa and Jeff give Brooklyn small pieces of the snack and look over her mouth carefully as she’s eating to make sure no pieces remain.

But she’s graduated from a feeding tube to liquids to pureed foods. On Sunday, she ate an afternoon meal of eggs, pancakes, Tater Tots, pudding and green beans.

“Happy plate,” Brooklyn said to her parents.

Some words still are works in progress. Brooklyn says “Yo,” for example, when she wants yogurt.

As she relearns words, she also is relearning how to use her body. It’s a struggle, but the determination is evident.

On Sunday, Brooklyn wanted to get into bed — or “tent,” as she calls the hospital bed enclosed with a tentlike mesh covering. She crawled as best she could from one end to the other, her father nearby.

“Her body reacts quickly and she can’t really control it,” Teresa said.

The accident

The Sickmans were getting ready to leave their friends’ farm in rural Tonganoxie when Brooklyn asked her mother whether she could join her brothers playing in a barn.

Teresa said the barn was full of sawdust and to move the sawdust more easily, a stall gate was unhinged and moved. Teresa said she’s still not sure what exactly happened that day, but she thought Brooklyn climbed on the gate to see what her older brothers, Christian, 10, and Nick, 6, were doing.

Christian and Nick, as well as sister Saryn, 13, haven’t been able to see much of Brooklyn since she’s been in the hospital. But doctors plan to release Brooklyn before Thanksgiving, so next week Brooklyn could be home with her family.

During Brooklyn’s stay in the hospital, community and family support have sustained the family.

About 300 people attended a recent benefit in Tonganoxie.

“Fifty percent of the people there I didn’t even know,” Teresa said. “Just wonderful people who came and know her story.”

And the power of prayer has strengthened the family.

“We just prayed nonstop all day 24 hours a day, just didn’t sleep, but prayed,” she said. “There are prayer chains all around the United States.”

Comments

Brad Maestas 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm glad this strong little girl is on her way to a complete recovery. It's just my personal opinion but I wouldn't let my 2-year-old anywhere near cheetos and soda. Do we really need more diabetic, overweight children, let alone adults? Sorry, it just irks me.

runningscooter 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh good grief, bmaestas I'd love to have Brooklyn over to eat Cheeto's with my 2 year old! And no my children are not overweight, etc. It's called moderation and come on, Cheeto's are awesome. This story is about a child recovering from a horrific accident. Can you not see that? Gee's, annoying.

strateup 5 years, 8 months ago

This is a story about a strong little girls triumph over a possible life ending accident. Lets celebrate the fact that she survived, not this trivial crap about Cheetos or pop. Mt condolences go out to this family and my wish for a speedy recovery.

middlemgmt 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree with the other posters! If my child were in the hospital and had been through what Brooklyn has been through, any joy I could give them would be wonderful. Kids like junk, they grow to love good for you foods too.

To Brooklyn's family: I will say a prayer for your little girl and I will hug my kids a little tighter. I will also buy them some cheeto's tomorrow because life is short and they will like them! :-)

Cindy Flippo 5 years, 8 months ago

Indeed a miracle. My heart breaks when I hear stories like these, but my faith strengthens as well. The Lord is with this family every step of the way, and if she can eat cheetos, then by all means, let her have cheetos. Many blessings to Brooklyn and her family, they are all survivors.

gutenberg 5 years, 8 months ago

Best wishes to Brooklyn for her recovery.

This is a good time to remember how quickly serious accidents can happen. Children, especially toddlers, should be kept within eyesight always...and should be supervised even when playing with siblings.

Farms have so many dangerous places...barns, gates, livestock pens, silos, abandoned structures, vehicles and equipment. So, too, do homes...stairs, bathroom, kitchen, garage, cars.

Take time today to evaluate the hazards in your child's world and do what you can to prevent accidents...install latches on cabinets, secure tall bookcases which can fall easily, remove furniture made with glass or with sharp corners, store poisons and dangerous chemicals safely.

Safety is no accident.

ModSquadGal 5 years, 8 months ago

Good job Brooklyn! You are one spunky little girl... hang in there and get stronger every day. So glad for her and her family and friends.

And remember people, accidents happen. Nobody wants a child to get hurt, but you also can't keep them "within eyesight always..." We all do the best we can.

Judgesmails 5 years, 8 months ago

@bmaestas (Brad Maestas)-

wow thats one of the dumbest things i've ever read. are you serious? this little girl battles back from near death and all you can offer is a cheetohs and soda lecture?

you are very sad and pathetic.

I hope she keeps improving!

acg 5 years, 8 months ago

Are you honestly making a stink about cheetos? WTF? If my sweetheart had gone thru this I'd give her an entire chocolate cake if it made her smile. Not every child that eats the occasional snack food obese. Ugh, people make me ill. Folks, I'm so glad your kid is doing better. I can't imagine how powerless you must have felt. There's nothing worse than when they're hurt or sick and we can't do much about it. She's gorgeous, btw.

ksdivakat 5 years, 8 months ago

To Beautiful Brooklyn and her amazing family, may God be with you all every moment and give you the peace and encouragment that you need to help her heal. This is a beautiful child, and in Gods eyes, shes perfect no matter what, remember that, and please give her all the cheetos her little tummy can handle, and dont listen to jerks who probably dont have kids and dont know what they are talking about. You are in my families thoughts and prayers and people all over the world are praying for you Brooklyn!! Glad you will be home for the holidays!!! God Bless you and your family!

midwestmom 5 years, 8 months ago

Dear Sickman Family -

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story of faith and that of your beautiful family and daughter. I doubt there could be a more thankful and blessed family prayer than yours will have at Thanksgiving. We'll continue to hold the medical professionals, you and your loved ones up in prayer.

The people and facilities of Children's Mercy Hospital are a blessing to many families, every day, every year.

christy kennedy 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh that poor little thing. My heart aches for her and her family and I'm so glad she's so tough and in the very good hands of the folks at Children's Mercy. What a horrible injury. I hope that her young and resilient little body keeps recovering better than predicted.

GardenMomma 5 years, 8 months ago

To the parents: Keep doing what you're doing, it's doing good. Stay strong and believe with all your heart things will be all right, however they turn out.

To Brooklyn: Hang tough, have fun, and know that you are loved.

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