It all happened pretty fast for little Frankie Rumore. A suspected ear infection turned out to be something far more troubling. Thanks to the team at Children’s Hospital, he was treated before matters could get worse. Today, he is feisty, energetic and getting on with middle school.
“The amount of resources, manpower, nurses, doctors, technology… it’s so important to help in any way you can.”
It wasn’t uncommon for five-year-old Frankie Rumore to have an ear infection. He’d had them before, so when the usual symptoms presented themselves in June of 2013, his parents, Nadia and Joe, took him to the pediatrician and expected a speedy recovery.
However, as the days passed with a continued fever, lethargy, and headaches, it became clear that something unusual was going on. Particularly troubling were Frankie’s eyes, which appeared crossed.
“I was driving to pre-school and looked in the rear view mirror and I was thinking that his eyes didn’t look right to me,” says Nadia. When the teacher agreed that something about Frankie looked off, Nadia got busy lining up appointments to get her little boy looked at. This ultimately resulted in Frankie going to Children’s Hospital for an emergency CT scan.
When the CT came back fine, his grateful parents began to believe that perhaps this had simply been a virus and Frankie was on the mend.
That wasn’t the case however, as further testing confirmed Frankie’s eyes were deviated and the nerves at the back of his eyes were inflamed. The next step would be to see the on-call neurologist at Children’s Hospital and that’s when Dr. Appendino began to unravel the mystery.
“Dr. Appendino has this way of really making you feel comfortable,” recalls Nadia. “Even in the middle of all the chaos he spent a lot of time with us and really put Frankie at ease.”
Things began to happen quickly as Frankie was admitted to Children’s Hospital, and an MRI and lumbar puncture were ordered. It was a very difficult time – not only for Frankie, but for the entire family;
“It sunk my heart seeing Frankie being prepped and sedated. That had never happened to us before and it was my first time ever seeing that,” recalls Nadia. “I was very upset because you can’t help your child. You feel helpless and you are depending on all of these other people to help.”
Dr. Appendino quickly found out that Frankie’s ear infection had spread causing mastoiditis, which led to a blood clot in Frankie’s head. This increased pressure in his head caused Frankie’s eyes to deviate. He had also developed partial meningitis.
Frankie’s stay in Children’s Hospital lasted two weeks, and Nadia never left her son’s side.
“I found a lot of comfort in the hospital,” says Nadia. “I can remember many times I kind of sobbed in doctors’ and nurses’ arms and they would try to give me the peace of mind that they were here to help and that they would do whatever they could to help us along the way.”
One of the things that helped was having some kid comforts available for Frankie during his stay. Visits to the playroom, bedside activities, and particularly the Wii gaming system, allowed Frankie to feel a little bit more at home during a very difficult time.
After two weeks in the hospital, Frankie was cleared to go home, but not before Mom and Dad were taught how to inject blood thinners into their little boy, which they had to do twice daily for three months.
“We were taught everything we needed to know, and both Joe and I had to do it in front of a nurse before they would let us go,” says Nadia.
An MRI in October 2013 showed that the blood clot was gone from Frankie’s head, and by the first week of January, Frankie was completely finished with all medications.
With follow-up appointments, the Rumore’s visited Children’s Hospital over a dozen times during their nine-month ordeal.
Although the mastoiditis is not entirely uncommon, the blood clot is extremely uncommon, so Frankie has now become part of the International Pediatric Stroke Study through Children’s Hospital. Frankie did not have a stroke, but the blood clot could have led to a stroke, so they will follow up with Frankie annually for several years. Becoming a part of the study was an easy decision for Nadia.
“If it can help prevent this, or treat a child with something similar why wouldn’t we?” she says. “I know how scary it is for a parent to go through something like this.”
Although already supporters of the Children’s Hospital, this experience has made the Rumore’s aware of how critical the facility is to the community.
“You don’t know when something like this could happen. It can strike at any time to any child. Until you go through something like this you just don’t know what goes into treating a sick child,” says Nadia. “The amount of resources, manpower, nurses, doctors, technology… it’s so important to help in any way you can.”
Life has returned to normal for Frankie, who graduated from kindergarten, and is back to his usual, energetic self. For Nadia, the memories of Children’s Hospital serve as a constant reminder of what matters the most; “I try not to stress about the small stuff. I need to remember what we went through last summer, and it brings me back to what’s really important.”
Modified in February 2017
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