“In the PICU for 40 days and 40 nights.”
“I wrote a post to the effect of, ‘Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights and Rory was in the PICU for 40 days and 40 nights,’” she recalls. “I thought that was kind of cool—it was really significant and provided a little bit of hope to our family.”
Throughout his 40 days in the PICU, Rory suffered multiple seizures, caught a respiratory virus, fought meningitis, went through several trials to remove the drain from his skull, and had an emergency craniotomy—the surgical removal of part of the bone from the skull to reach the brain. By the end of his time in the unit, Rory had suffered multiple strokes on both his right and left sides of his brain. As a result, he was diagnosed with hemiplegia in his right side—he had paralysis on the right side of his body. Almost a year later, Rory received a second diagnosis of cerebral palsy, a lifelong motor disability that can affect a person’s body movement and muscle coordination, including abnormal stiffness and weakness, balance, developmental milestones, and speech.
But despite his challenges, Rory’s health and strength improved. After graduating from the PICU, he spent 26 more days in progressive unit, and then to the acute unit, where he began the uphill climb to regain everything he’d spent the first seven months of his life learning. “That stroke hit him so badly it was basically like he was an infant and had to relearn everything,” Betsey explains “He couldn't even hold his head up. He couldn't lift one of his arms. He couldn't hold a toy or any object in his right arm. He lost his sucking reflex and couldn’t even suck on a bottle. He was like a big nine-month-old newborn.”
When it was time for Rory to be discharged, his team at Kentucky Children’s Hospital—including critical care physician and hospital chief Dr. Scottie Day, critical care physician Dr. Asha Shenoi and Chief of Pediatric Anesthesiology Dr. Sarah Hall, as well as Dr. Ashwin Krishna, Dr. Matthew Bacon, Dr. Cheri Landers, Dr. David Nelson, Dr. Jess Nordin, Dr. Sean Skinner and former UK physicians Dr. Brandon Miller, Dr. Philip Bernard and Dr. Erin Powell — came together to ensure Rory was able to get the best care for his ongoing rehabilitation.