"Without Riley, I don't know where I'd be."
When my younger brother, Keegan, was in second grade, he began to develop intense headaches and other troubling symptoms. He was referred to Riley Hospital for Children, where we met our neurosurgeon for the first time, Dr. Jodi Smith. He was diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation. Basically, the back part of his brain, the cerebellum, was too big for his skull. Keegan needed brain surgery, so he had surgery soon after that appointment. Around the same time, my parents noticed that I was having similar symptoms. In addition, I had trouble keeping my balance and with hand-eye coordination. These are classic symptoms of a Chiari Malformation, so my parents decided to take me to see Dr. Smith. After a brain scan, she determined that I too had a Chiari and would need surgery.
During my time at Riley, there have been a few moments that stood out. I remember Dr. Smith throwing a ball with my brother in his room at 8:00 p.m., after a day full of surgeries. Once, after having some of my hair shaved for surgery, the Child Life team helped get me into art therapy so I could cope with the change. Several doctors have discussed my college aspirations, and technicians who I see once a year always remember who I am and are quick to give me a hug and ask how I am doing. One of our favorite floor nurses came and found us after finding out my brother was inpatient just to offer any help she could give. These experiences truly show how Riley Hospital goes above and beyond for their patients.
Before having a shunt in high school, I was only able to attend school for half time. Now, because of the doctors at Riley, I am a full-time college student living on campus. As a student at IUPUI, I served last year as Director of Special Ceremonies for Jagathon: IUPUI's Dance Marathon, which is the largest student philanthropy on campus, and I will be serving this year as Director of Traditions. In addition to giving me the ability to get involved in extracurriculars, the doctors at Riley have given me the chance to pursue a career. I hope to become a pediatric neurologist and help kids who have similar disorders.
Without Riley, I don't know where I would be. I am so grateful for everything the doctors, nurses, and Child Life staff have done for me.
To find out more about IUPUI’s Jagathon, visit donate.rileykids.org/Jagathon.
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