In April 2022, Lisa Miller’s ten-year-old daughter suffered a stroke as a result of contracting an unknown virus while living with the blood condition immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). What followed since has been an incredible journey.
For the following seven months MacKenzie received treatment at Westmead Hospital, Lisa and her husband Dan lived at Ronald McDonald house and Lisa’s mother looked after their two teenage boys at home.
MacKenzie has fought valiantly and has returned to school supported and encouraged by teachers, peers and their many friends.
An inspirational fight
“We were definitely not prepared for something like this to happen…the first little bit was challenging but we are a very supported family, my husband is amazing and our other children were phenomenal so we got through those first weeks pretty well…also because MacKenzie was inspirational doing all her rehabilitation and fighting hard, and against the odds is walking again.”
Lisa doubts they could have gotten through these months without the incredible support; her mother moved in so the boys could stay at home; they had family support; wonderful friends looked after the garden and held working bees; the exceptional Ronald McDonald House accommodation and hospital staff looking out for them, to the extend they felt like everyone’s arms were hugging them.
Everybody’s help has been invaluable on this journey
“My employer’s support was amazing especially as I initially said ‘I might need to take two week’s leave’, and that became ‘I might need the whole year’.”
Dan co-owns a business which meant at times it was a dance navigating those complexities and living away, so by Lisa having the ability to drop everything for MacKenzie and help her do her rehabilitation it lessened their stressors.
“We’re back home now and have made quite a few changes to accommodate Kenz’s frequent therapy sessions while at the same time trying to keep things as normal as possible…and the boys have been absolutely amazing with her.”
Mobility involves the whole family
MacKenzie uses a wheelchair to assist her mobility as her left side is affected by the stroke, but she walks around the house and into the garden using her determination to remain independent, Lisa says, and the boys Charlie and Harry are doing more around the house and are quite protective of her.
“We are constantly finding the right balance as Kenz is progressing quickly, and we’ve gone from her going back to school recently for three hours a day then going full time two weeks later because she wants to do as much as she could before.”
School support and the local health service ensures ongoing improvement
St Mary’s Primary in Orange have been extremely accommodating for MacKenzie by developing a plan through meetings with Lisa that includes classes mostly in their new buildings which are access-friendly, have toilets for students with disabilities and they provide her with a full-time aid.
MacKenzie continues to see an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist three to four times a week to maintain the intensive work done in Sydney.
Since returning to Orange, Lisa and Dan have been thoughtful about how different the children think their family’s world looks now, so they ensure conversations are initiated with all the kids to foster their incredible resilience and help them adjust.
“I think the boys are happy we’re home, even though my mum was looking after them and would make them beautiful bacon and egg breakfasts – but I’m saying the holiday is over guys.”
More time for sport and fun family times
Lisa and Dan are a good team together and say they’re gradually catching up, and with the help of his very supportive staff there’s more time for cricket with the kids on weekends.
Having realised that things can change in the drop of a hat Lisa says she’s more aware of the little things and takes more photos of the family now, that she treasures the family sitting down together for meals and makes the most of every moment with her children – and cherishes seeing her three happy children loving each other perhaps just a little more than ever.