On Australia Day, 11-year-old Remy woke with headaches, vomiting, a high temperature and severe facial swelling.
“Remy just didn’t look like himself, all his facial features had disappeared,’ says his mum, Nicole. “It felt really intense, and Remy was so scared.”
Shortly after, doctors at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick,diagnosed Remy with Pott’s puffy tumour, a rare complication of sinusitis that can be fatal. A CT scan showed an abscess in Remy’s brain lining that was causing his symptoms.
“It was very full on, very shocking, especially because, two days prior, he’d been wakeboarding,” says Nicole.
The first step was to try and beat the infection with IV antibiotics, but that didn’t help, and Remy was deteriorating fast. “He was rolling around in the bed in pain. He was delusional and screaming at people and just miserable”, Nicole says.
Remy was also terrified.
“He kept asking me ‘Am I going to die?’ He was in so much pain.”
The only option left was brain surgery. A cut was made across the right side of Remy’s cranium to drain the abscess. Later in ICU, it became clear the pressure in Remy’s brain was dangerously high. Back in surgery, part of his skull was removed to stabilise the pressure, with the skin flap sewn back over this vulnerable spot.
Remy had a massive recovery ahead and felt so anxious.
“He was writing in his journal ‘Am I a vegetable? Am I ok? He was so petrified of not coming out being himself,” added Nicole.
Thankfully he didn’t have to face that fear alone. The Hospital’s Child Life Therapists, like Michelle and Nicola, play a critical role in helping distract children from painful procedures and educating them on upcoming procedures to reduce fear. They also provide entertainment for sick kids who may have to endure long hospital stays, and they were there for Remy from the start.
While Remy was still sleeping in ICU after surgery, Nicola brought him a portable DVD player and his favourite Star Wars DVDs, some LEGO, and toys to play with. It was such a heartwarming gesture, and one that was only possible thanks to supporters like you who help fund vital allied health services such as Child Life Therapy.
Eventually, Remy was well enough to move to the ward, but he still needed blood thinning needles in his stomach twice daily to prevent blood clots. He confided in Michelle he was terrified and together they came up with strategies to get through it. She’d also sit with him while he had the needles, to help calm him.
“Michelle would pop in and make sure he was travelling ok. If there was anything she and Nicola could do to make his stay more comfortable and enjoyable, they did it,” says Nicole.
Thanks to the emotional support Remy received in hospital, he coped remarkably with his ongoing treatment and is recovering well. He can’t wait to get back to normal life, especially soccer.
“Child Life Therapy changes lives,” says Nicole. “And it changes outcomes. Remy now has such a positive attitude and without Michelle and Nicola, I truly believe he wouldn’t have recovered the way he has. He has superseded all expectations!”
For some kids, childhood is far from what it should be. Your support will ensure sick kids like Remy get access to the best possible equipment and care.