A Riley Family Times Two

May 22, 2013
Topics: Riley Kid Story

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In May, many of my freshmen took an Advanced Placement World History exam, which is a college level exam given nationwide. We always hold a study session on the Saturday before the test and most students do not show up smiling. One of my students however, Kendall Gardner, showed up wearing a big grin. She was happy to be back to school after having undergone a major brain surgery a couple of weeks before.

Kendall is as tough as she is smart, so I knew when she said she had to get a brain scan because of headaches there might be something seriously wrong. Kendall's MRI, taken on April 9th, revealed a Chiari Malformation Type 1. In practical terms, this means that her cerebellum had begun to protrude out of her skull, pressuring the spine and brain. Kendall's mom, Karyn explains that "the usual Chiari is 5 to 7 mm. Kendall's was 21 mm and her symptoms had begun to progress." Her neurosurgeon, Dr. Laurie Ackerman, put a priority on Kendall's surgery. Karyn and Kendall are both glad she did, as they now know how aggressive Kendall's condition had become.

The Gardners were already familiar with Riley. Karyn's daughter, Hannah had long had contact with Riley Hospital due to her Type 1 Diabetes, which had been diagnosed when she was 13 months old, and had been a part of the Toddler Insulin Pump Research Program. Karyn says "Our family already had a special bond with Riley Hospital, so I never had any concerns that Kendall would not be okay. Her stay was great! The nurses were so caring and effective. I never felt so much care and concern from anyone like the doctors and nurses at Riley. They really made me feel like I was a part of their family."

Kendall now wants to continue being a part of that family by being involved in the Fishers High School Dance Marathon. Thanks to the skilled hands of Dr. Ackerman, and to the nursing team at Riley, Kendall will continue to advertise for Riley Hospital by wearing a grin that not even a weekend study session can wipe away.

Chris Edwards, Ed. D.

Chris Edwards, Ed.D, teaches AP World History teacher at Fishers High School, and is the author of several books including 'Teaching Genius: Redefining Education with Lessons from Science and Philosophy.' Chris donates the royalties from 'Teaching Genius' to Riley Children's Foundation in support of pediatric cancer research at Riley Hospital. Chris and his wife Beth live in New Palestine are the parents of two boys, Blake, and Ben, who is doing well after being treated at Riley for a cancerous brain tumor.

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