Home for Christmas

Ellie, 13, from South Yorkshire suffered a brain injury as a result of leukaemia.

In the run-up to a family Christmas at home, Ellie's mum, Marie has written this reflective blog on their experience. 

  By Marie Newitt It’s nearly Christmas. I hope you are looking forward to celebrating as much as my family. This Christmas is going to be very special for my daughter Ellie because, after battling leukaemia, glandular fever, multiple strokes and a brain injury she is still with us. Before her illness she was a typical 12-year-old girl who loved music, school and One Direction. One day Ellie noticed bruises on her legs which would not fade. I took her to the doctors unprepared for what happened next. After a blood test, Ellie was admitted to hospital that evening and diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukaemia. Suddenly everything came crashing down.
Ellie began chemotherapy and returned home between treatments but was soon readmitted - she caught glandular fever which attacked her liver. And things only got worse.
  Soon after, Ellie had a bleed on her brain leaving her unconscious after an eight hour operation. A week later it happened again and she was rushed back to theatre. At first we were told everything had gone well and we waited anxiously for her to return. But we received devastating news.She was having seizures - once having 16 fits within 24 hours. And her speech deteriorated completely. Ellie’s illness had led to a brain injury. Ellie’s brain had begun to bleed for a third time. The pressure shifted her brain and part of her skull had to be removed. We were told she was unlikely to make it through the next hour. Telling our family they needed to say goodbye was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. We gathered around Ellie, playing her favourite music, to let her know she was loved. Slowly the hours passed, morning came, and miraculously our little fighter was still with us. Ellie amazed everyone. She had survived and she was breathing on her own. She remained unconscious for months and we were told she might stay in a persistent vegetative state, unable to recognise us. Ellie proved everyone wrong. She regained consciousness and knew who we were. But she still could not speak or move. Then Ellie was lucky enough to get a place at The Children’s Trust for rehabilitation. When Ellie arrived she was withdrawn and physically she was severely limited. But amazing changes have happened since she's been receiving rehabilitation. Ellie is doing more and more for herself. Her bubbly personality is back and nothing makes her happier than miming along to music again. She is progressing in leaps and bounds. Ellie’s speech has improved and she is starting to communicate verbally. For Ellie, the best part of being at The Children’s Trust is doing the things other children her age do. She loves going to school and she is excited to get to her classroom, take out her pencil case and begin learning. Ellie finds physiotherapy challenging but she rarely complains. I am proud that she stays positive and works hard – and it pays off. With the help of her physiotherapists she now has some movement in her left arm and leg and is able to stand assisted. I am optimistic that one day soon she will be able to use both her arms and legs fully. Ellie still has a way to go. She still has leukaemia and cannot walk or stand unaided, but she always greets the staff with a smile. I know she will improve. We live 4 hours from The Children's Trust's national specialist centre in Surrey and being able to stay with Ellie has helped us both. Ellie is preparing to come home for good in December so we are planning a huge family Christmas party! All Ellie wanted for Christmas is to spend it at home, and her wish come true. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas! Marie  Many children will be spending Christmas at The Children’s Trust's centre and which is the UK's leading charity for children with brain injury. The charity ensure that everything is done to make the experience as magical as possible with decorations, parties, outings and visit from Santa. You can donate to The Children's Trust Christmas appeal here. 
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