My Gillette Story by Becky Miller
When Connor was born prematurely at 35 weeks, it was discovered that a blood clot had formed in his upper arm, leaving him with severe muscle, nerve and skin damage. Originally, doctors thought amputation was likely—but were then able to heal his arm so that a skin graft could be performed at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. The skin graft was a resounding success! Conner’s pain levels decreased dramatically and he was able to finally begin experiencing life. Read more about Connor below.
How would you describe Connor to someone that hasn't met him?
Connor is a happy, energetic and strong 8-month-old. We are often told that he is “the happiest baby in the world” by those who help care for him. He has a genuine passion for life that is most notable when being entertained by his big brother, Parker. Nothing in the world can bring about belly laughs and smiles the way that his big brother can.
What are Connor's favorite things to do?
Connor adores watching his big brother play. Whether wrestling with Daddy, playing with (loud!) toys or reading books, Connor always finds a way to tell us that he wants to participate in the fun! The joy on Connor’s face when he sees his big brother cannot be described in words. Connor also enjoys his Jumperoo so much that we often find him trying to “jump” during other activities. Connor also thinks that toys that shake, make noise and/or light up are pretty amazing! His favorite toy is his “Bat & Wobble Penguin.”
What is your Connor's medical condition?
Connor was born prematurely at 35 weeks as a result of pregnancy complications. Upon birth, it was discovered that Connor had an arterial blood clot that had formed in his upper arm, due in part to a genetic clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. Doctors were unsure exactly when the clot formed, but they believe it was present for several weeks prior to birth. As a result, blood flow to Connor’s lower arm and hand was almost entirely restricted, leaving him with severe muscle, nerve and skin damage.
How did your family find out about Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare?
Several Gillette surgeons were involved in managing Connor’s care while he was in the NICU. Initially, the team of specialists following his case thought amputation was likely. However, the team caring for Connor was miraculously able to heal his arm to a point that a skin graft could be performed. We were referred to Gillette for Connor’s skin graft and were told it was THE best place to be for the type of care that he required. After spending the first month of his life in the NICU, Connor was admitted to Gillette for a skin graft. The graft was completed by Dr. Robert Wood when Connor was just over 1 month old and it was a resounding success. His pain levels decreased dramatically and he was able to finally begin experiencing life!
What kinds of treatments and services has Connor received at Gillette?
Following Connor’s graft, mobility and use of his left arm from the shoulder down remained extremely limited. In the months since his surgery, Connor has been under the care of Dr. Wood, Dr. Ann VanHeest and the amazing occupational therapy and physical therapy teams in rehabilitation therapies. He is working with his physical therapists to correct a mild case of plagiocephaly and torticollis that were a result of him relying heavily on the right side of his body due to his injury. His occupational therapy appointments have focused on regaining range-of-motion and use of his left arm and hand.
What has your experience at Gillette been like for Connor and your family?
The surgeons that Connor has seen have done a great job managing his care. The OT and PT team members have been friendly, caring and honest with us throughout Connor’s journey. We are grateful that his young age has not been a limiting factor in the types of treatment that Connor can receive – splinting has been a big part of Connor’s therapy and it has proven to be a challenge for such a small arm/hand. Through our challenges, the OT team has listened to our struggles and concerns with compassion and has always worked to find a way to make the rehabilitation process as easy and painless as possible – for both Connor as well as Mom and Dad
Does Connor have a favorite doctor, nurse, therapist or other caregiver?
Connor adores his OTs (Lindsey A., Alyssa & Alexandria) and PTs (Michelle and Lindsay) – they are always able to bring out a ton of smiles from him during his therapy appointments!
What about Connor makes you most proud?
Connor is a fighter in every sense of the word – he has overcome so many obstacles in his short life. While he is still too small to tell us in his own words, Connor’s non-verbals indicate that he is stubborn, persistent and driven. He has already, and will continue to, overcome any obstacles that stand in his way!