When internationally respected cerebral palsy care meets a child’s intrinsic determination and drive, the possibilities are limitless. Look no further than Kaidyn Micek, age 7, for proof of this fact.
Kaidyn has already proven her mom, Heather Micek, wrong more than once. Take, for instance, the first time she visited the Como Town amusement park with her family. Heather let Kaidyn ride the Frog Hopper but worried it might be more than her daughter could handle. As the Frog Hopper started up, Kaidyn’s look of apprehension quickly disappeared, replaced by a wide smile.
Kaidyn and her twin sister Keatyn were born weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces and 1 pound, 8 ounces respectively. When the girls were three weeks old, an ultrasound of Kaidyn’s brain revealed that several areas associated with movement had died. She would likely develop some form of cerebral palsy. Tim Feyma, MD, a Gillette Children’s neurologist, first shared this news with Kaidyn’s parents.
“He’s one that will tell you the truth,” says Heather of Feyma. “It might not be something you want to hear. But he gives you what he knows. We’ve always loved that quality about him.”
World-Renowned Care, Just Across the St. Croix
The Micek family followed Feyma (pictured above with Kaidyn) to Gillette, where doctors continued to monitor Kaidyn’s development throughout the months and years. She has since undergone two major surgeries to address complications from cerebral palsy.
First, at age 4, a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) permanently reduced the muscle tightness in Kaidyn's legs. More than a month of inpatient rehabilitation followed that surgery, as is recommended to ensure the best possible outcome. Less than a year later, an X-ray revealed displacement of her femur and hip bones. “Teaching her to walk with bones and muscles that aren’t in the right place does nothing for her,” explains Heather, “She needed a single-event multilevel surgery.”
The majority of children who undergo SDR will ultimately need a single-event multilevel surgery (SEMLS). Both procedures were refined at Gillette and bring kids from around the world to St. Paul, Minnesota for care. Fortunately for the Miceks, they live relatively close by in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
Kaidyn's SEMLS reconstructed her femur bones and realigned her hip sockets. She was in bilateral casts for three weeks afterward—including on her 6th birthday. “Kaidyn and Keatyn celebrated their birthday in style, and that included pink and purple casts for Kaidyn. We don’t let anything get in the way of having fun!” says Heather.
“She Can Do It All!”
Kaidyn’s parents admit that her most recent surgery, while necessary, set her post-rhizotomy progress back considerably. They drive over an hour to Gillette, both ways, for physical therapy and report that she’s progressing in “leaps and strides.” “That truly is only because of her strength, determination—and the fact that she now has a little brother to look after and to teach to do fun things,” reports Heather.
Heather is proud of how far Kaidyn has come, but admits she still has the worries any mom would. She recalls thinking “what if she needs me?” when Kaidyn started kindergarten last year (she’s now a first grader). But Kaidyn, ever the independent little girl, again showed Heather her fears were unfounded.
“She doesn’t need me like I thought she did,” Heather says. “She speaks her mind; she fights for what she wants; she gets from point A to point B. She may be little, but she can do it all!”
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