Baby hit by softball is home; family starts blog to keep public - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Baby hit by softball is home; family starts blog to keep public updated

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Photo taken of McKenna just hours before the softball game (Facebook) Photo taken of McKenna just hours before the softball game (Facebook)
McKenna on May 8, 6 days after the accident McKenna on May 8, 6 days after the accident
McKenna on June 11, 2018 - the day she was released from the hospital McKenna on June 11, 2018 - the day she was released from the hospital
McKenna on May 29 McKenna on May 29
WAVERLY (KWWL) -

Update, Wednesday, June 13, 8:50 p.m.

McKenna has now been home in Shell Rock for 48 hours.  KWWL continues to check in on how she's doing, and we were pleased to learn the family has started a blog.  So many people from all across Iowa, and the world for that matter, wanted to follow McKenna's recovery.  Now everyone can continue to do so with the informative blog.  You can find that here: https://www.healingformckenna.com/

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Update, Monday, June 11, 8:58 p.m.

McKenna is now home!  She was released from the hospital this afternoon.  KWWL will continue to follow her recovery and progress. 

Also, yesterday McKenna turned 3 months old.  This was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page yesterday:

"Happy 3 month birthday to McKenna!!!

McKenna had an uneventful day today. She spent her day sleeping most of the time, but when she was awake she was content.

It sounds like tomorrow is the day! Everything points to McKenna being 100% ready to go home! Unless something completely unexpected happens between now and then, she'll be released sometime after Noon tomorrow!

What a great way to celebrate your month-day!"

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Update, Friday, June 8, 3:30 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page this morning:

"Good morning from Iowa!

I know that all of you are as excited about McKenna being able to come home on Monday as we are! WOW! Has it ever been a journey!

We are so thankful to each and every one of you for your kind comments, private messages of support, your willingness to share your own stories, the cards and letters, thoughtful gifts and most importantly, the millions of prayers that have been offered up on McKenna's behalf. We don't know what we would have done without you! It's hard to believe that a little FB page that was started to update family and friends on our baby girl grew into a loving community of over a quarter of a million followers from around the world! We are still in awe of God's greatness! When God moves, He moves big league!

To show our love to Lee, Kassy and McKenna we would love for you all to join us in tying a green ribbon around a tree (or trees) in your yard. We'd especially appreciate it if the towns of Waverly and Shell Rock would welcome home McKenna in this way! It would be so awesome for them to see as they make their way home on Monday!

Why GREEN? Green is the color for Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness. We're learning a lot of new things about this brave group of men, women and children who live with the after affects of brain injury every day. In the United States alone, about 2.8 million TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occur each year. Who knew?! If one good thing can come from McKenna's injury, it will be that there is more awareness about the struggle these individuals face every day to lead their lives.

Please join us in raising awareness for this silent battle that these warriors face each day, by GOING GREEN FOR MCKENNA! If you do, please share your pictures with us and each other right here ??. We love you guys and can never thank you enough for being here with us!"

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Update, Monday, May 28 2:50 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page minutes ago:

"Ok, kind of a lot to update today. McKenna had a great night, we had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, but once she did (about 1 am) she was out till about 4:30. She then stayed awake for about five hours before she snoozed off doing therapy.

Over the night Mckenna's resting heart rate was a little lower than what they like for her age. Everything else like her BP, respirations, and perfusion were great so it was nothing to be concerned about. But, we did get an EKG today just to double check. I’m still waiting for the results on that.

This morning we did see what could have been possible signs of seizures. We hit our little signaling button when they happened. Neuro came up and reassured us that they did not see any seizure activity in the EEG. That was a very big relief. They also said the EEG continues to look great. Her phenobarbital is now decreased from 12 hours to once a day (or every 24 hours). They want to keep her on this dose for 2 days (till Wednesday night) and then we will discontinue it, as long as no activity shows up! At that time we will look into transitioning her back to breast milk from the keto diet. Tomorrow, McKenna will be seen for a swallow study to try and get the G-Tube taken out. It sounds like we could be looking at possibly Thursday getting the EEG leads taken off.

Big changes in her today, her cry is just a little louder than yesterday. She has a very strong cough to help clear the secretions in her throat. She still sounds a little funky in her chest, but that will take time as her throat continues to heal. ENT came in this morning and they were not worried about it. Also, after she started waking up from the coma and coming off the sedation meds, her eyes favored her right side. She seemed to always look to the right and kind of struggled to look straight or to the left. Today, she is looking all over! We are just moving her head in different positions to try and force her to look in a different direction and she is handling it great! Her eyes still aren’t totally back to normal, she does still have some eye twitching and they do sometimes go cross eyed or in different directions, but this could all take time. It has been confirmed that it is not seizure related, it could still be from some swelling, and it could be some vision issues that we will have to work on with therapy. Only time will tell with this little girl!

Just over night, we have heard multiple times that she likes to keep everyone on their toes... Nothing new has changed in that aspect from the PICU. They said the same thing! She is very unpredictable and particular!

Thank you all so much for what you are doing for her and us, as well. We are still enjoying the cards and gifts that everyone has been sending. We are overjoyed with love from all of you! -Kassy"

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Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page on Sunday, May 27 at 9:43 p.m.:

"Wow, it’s been a really busy day!! We got all moved and situated. We are still at the hospital, we just moved to a regular pediatric floor instead of being in the PICU. We are definitely going to miss ALL the staff from the PICU! They have been “family” to us since we got here. McKenna had to be 1-1 there so we got to know all her nurses very well. Today, they were all very sad to see us go. But don’t worry, we will be back up to visit everyone. We could not have asked for a better experience here.

McKenna did great today! She sounds sooo much better today with her breathing. She pretty much slept ALL day, so tonight should be very interesting. Here we can work on getting her days and nights back to normal because we can have it darker in her room and they won’t be bothering her as often anymore. It’s also going to be a peak of reality because her care is pretty much all up to us now (nurses still do her meds and all that stuff, but we can be more involved with her baby care needs now that she isn’t hooked up to everything). This is going to help us transition into the life we are going to experience going back home.

She is still hooked up to the EEG and will be until they wean her off the phenobarbital. She is currently taking it every 12 hours. There is word of them switching it to once a day tomorrow if everything still looks good. But, nuro will determine all of that in the morning. Today marks one week since her last seizure.

Our next part of this journey is going to be therapy. Getting her strength back and working on anything she needs help with from the accident. Also, we will work on feeding. She will have a swallow study some time this week, and we will see if we can get her off the keto diet and back to taking breast milk. Once she handles that ok, we can work on possibly going back to breastfeeding again!!!!

She has come sooo far in just the 3 days of getting her off the vent! Today, she seemed like a whole new baby to me from just yesterday!!! I can’t wait to continue to see how she blows our minds with the progress she is making!

Much love from ALL of our family, ??-Kassy"

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Update, Friday, May 25, 3 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page one hour ago:

"PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!

As everyone is aware, McKenna had a bronchoscope last night around 10:30 pm due to the stridor the doctors were hearing, as well as the increasing struggles she was having with breathing. The bronchoscope indicated that there was some inflammation of the epiglottis that is located underneath her vocal cords.

This morning, they performed a more detailed exploratory procedure to determine the issue with her airway laparoscopically. Upon further examination, it was determined that McKenna has what's a called "intubation laryngitis" in which granular tissue can build up and narrow the airway. This is completely normal and is usually from the trauma of intubation and can be caused from the rubbing of the vent tube during extended intubation. It can also be caused by acid reflux or the pooling of saliva in her throat.

The first photo in the picture attached shows the narrowing of the airway. The last photo shows how it looks now that they have removed all of the granular tissue. And the absolutely awesomeness news ever???? McKenna is off EVERYTHING breathing related!!!!!!! (I usually leave all the exclamation points to Kassy and her posts, but today I'm going to !!!!!! away.)

McKenna is off nasal cannula!!! She's off the Heliox!!! She's off the CPAP!!! She's off it ALL and breathing and resting comfortably for the first time since they took her off the vent!!!!! I cannot express how HUGE this is!!! We were very worried that her troubles were related to her brain injury and we are so very thankful that this is not the case!

McKenna is now resting comfortably on her side. She has a little wheezing, but that is more due to all the things her poor throat has been through in the last 36 hours. Her skin is no longer mottled and she's the color of a healthy baby that is oxygen saturated.

Many tears were shed yesterday in sorrow and in the anguish of watching what she was enduring and now knowing more about what's ahead. Today we're crying tears of relief, joy and thankfulness! We know that this roller coaster ride of emotions is how it's going to be for quite some time, but it sure is better to cry happy tears than it is to cry the sad ones. We feel like we're breathing easier too! Way to go, Kenna-baby!!!!  - Laura"

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Update, Thursday, May 24, 9:51 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page one hour ago:

"McKenna is stable. She is going to have a bronchoscopy. Bronchoscopy is a procedure that looks inside the lung airways. It involves inserting a bronchoscope tube, with its light and small camera, through your nose or mouth, down your throat into your trachea, or windpipe, and to the bronchi and bronchioles of your lungs.

They gave her a lasix...and have Precedex on the side for if she gets agitated again. Doing PRN breathing treatment and steroids.

Again we continue to wait....??????
This is a crazy rollercoaster."

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Posted Thursday afternoon:

"McKenna is kinda struggling. Her O2 dropped. They turned her over to let gravity do its job of letting her secretions come out naturally instead of having to keep suctioning her. They think her air way is inflamed. She MAY have to go down to ENT (ear, nose, throat doc) and have her airway looked at.
*Edit to add: they have done multiple breathing treatments and steroids...
Please pray we can get thru this!!!!"

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Update, Wednesday, May 23, 9:46 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page today:

"So the “no news is good news” holds very true for today! Nothing really changed or happened.

They made her Lacosamide oral today, so that’s one less IV med that she has. And she did two, two hour breathing trials today and rocked them both! That’s everything has has happened!!

Although, when I was talking to her today, it ALMOST looked like I was getting a small smile!! ????

Please pray hard for us in the morning, they are planing on extubation some time in the morning!!! She is showing all very positives signs for this!! Thank you all sooo much from the bottom of our hearts!! -Kassy"

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Posted Tuesday, May 22 at 9:36 p.m. on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"I’m not going to lie, today was hard.... It’s my first night being up here by myself and I got all this information thrown at me (no pun intended).

But hearing your guy's stories and reading all the comments has given me soooo much hope!!!! I got really down and discouraged after the doctor left. Wondering into the future of what life is going to be like. The unknown hit me like a ton of bricks and I almost fell to my knees crying. But then it hit me... My daughter is going to prove these doctors wrong. She has come so far in such little time (even though it seems like eternity) that I have more faith in this world then I have ever had before! They all keep telling me it’s up to her now, take it day by day. Then it hit me... We are going to move on and conquer all of this ONE MCKENNA STEP AT A TIME!!!!!!!!!!

Keep the hopeful stories coming!!! They are getting me through this night with a HUGE smile on my face!!! And if you have shared your story already (I get hundreds of messages and thousands of comments a day so I probably have missed it), share it again right here ?? because I’m going to spend my first night alone reading all the wonderful stories you guys have to share!!!

GOD BLESS YOU ALL -Kassy"

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Posted Tuesday, May 22 at 7:45 p.m. on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"Evening Update 05/22/2018: This is a long one, so settle in...

We received the results of McKenna's MRI this evening.

The good news is, there aren't any changes since McKenna's last MRI on Day#4 or anything that took Neuro by surprise. There aren't any blood clots, new bleeds, or anything of that nature.

They were able to get a better picture of the damaged areas and they have not changed. Neuro explained to Kassy that the areas that are most affected by the brain damage will be McKenna's motor skills, vision, learning and talking, although the damage may not be limited to just that or may not affect some of those. It's pretty much a crap shoot, for lack of better terminology. That being said... This does not DEFINITELY mean she will have problems in the future because young children always tend to prove them wrong and rewire their brains in CRAZY ways. He made sure to stress that several times. That brings us some hope.

Probably the scariest news to take in is that McKenna will be at a higher risk to develop Cerebral Palsy in the future. I personally didn't know much about CP, so I googled it.... If you'd like to know more about Cerebral Palsy, a good website is www.cerebralpalsy.org.

Needless to say, that's a lot to take in.

For now, a lot of the movement we are seeing right now is involuntary, which comes from the center of the brain. If McKenna has anything wrong we might not see any signs or symptoms until she is closer to 6 months of age.

But all that being said, (as frightening as it is) the good news is that her brain is still developing, so different parts of the brain could take over and learn how to do things that the damaged parts are supposed to do.

As far as her seizures... McKenna is at risk for having them long term and we will learn how to determine signs that she is having them, such as staring into space, looking up and to one side, or even something so small as moving her thumb back in forth. Sub clinical seizures present in different ways and if McKenna continues to have them, she will have her own way of showing us she's seizing. It will be a learning curve for sure, but like I told Kassy... As her mother, you'll learn to spot the signs quickly and you'll probably be so attuned to her that you'll know she's getting ready to have one before she actually has it. The rest of us will have some learning to do.

In regard to getting her off the phenobarbital, she's still having some activity/seizures in the damaged part of her brain. The doctors just kind of have to let them go at this point, since they aren't affecting any of the undamaged areas. It's more important to get her off the pheno, than it is to control the activity in the parts that have already sustained injury.

After her MRI, she did have to get some Fentanyl to calm her down, since she couldn't quite get settled with the vent. She is really hating that thing, which is a good sign. She's done awesome on all her breathing trials today and they're really trying to get her stamina built up so she is ready to breathe on her own. As of right now, they are planning to extubate Thursday morning.

So that's where we're at.

I'm sure this is a lot of information to take in. I know it was for us and to be honest, I'm still reeling from it. For two and a half weeks, we've been asking a lot of questions and now that we finally have some answers, I'm not sure we want them. I personally choose to look at this in one way. God is in control. He was there the day we had so much joy when we found out McKenna was on her way. He was there the day we were celebrating her birth. He was there the day that ball came over that fence. He is there today and He will be there tomorrow and each day after that. We may be shocked by all of this, but He isn't. God has a plan for McKenna. His plan may not be our plan, but I guarantee you that His plan is bigger and better than anything we could have ever dreamed for her. Her life is for His purpose, as all of our lives are. And I choose to rest in that truth today, tomorrow, and always. - Laura"

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Posted Tuesday, May 22 at 12:50 p.m. on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"Morning Update 05/22/2018: I'm sorry for the late and lack of updates... Aunt Laura has been slacking. In our defense, things were constantly changing yesterday, as far as the plan of action for the coming days.

So where are we at today? McKenna had some activity on Sunday night that we weren't aware of until after rounds yesterday. Because of those, the doctors have decided to hold off on extubation until Thursday or Friday. They did not reduce the Phenobarbital to Q6H (1x every 6 hrs) and have left it at Q4H (1x every 4 hrs), as of right now. They may reduce it to Q6H today, but they haven't made that decision yet.

We're currently waiting for McKenna to go down for her MRI. This is the first one she has had since 4 days after the accident, so we are excited to see the new scans and how much things have changed. They've removed all the electrodes from her head and tried to wash her hair a little. This is the first time we've seen her sweet little head since Day 4! The good news is that they're happy enough with her EEG that they're going to reduce her electrodes by half. This is some good progress!

As far as the Nystagmus (eye movements), Neuro says that they would be concerned if they DIDN'T see any. This reaffirms that the Phenobarbital is working. So, that's good news, as well.

McKenna did well during her two Spontaneous Breathing Trials yesterday. Both lasted two hours, but after the second one, she was pretty exhausted and let the vent breath for her for a while. This concerns us some. They wound up holding off on the third trial, although that is the daily goal.

As she is more and more aware, the more she seems to fight the vent. They have been giving McKenna Fentanyl to help with her discomfort, but it is still PRN (as needed) at this time, although they have orders on stand by for a continuous drip, if necessary. However, Kassy has figured out that she is more comfortable on her side and they're going to try to keep her there in lieu of giving the continuous drip.

Soooooo... If you're still reading , that's where we're at today. McKenna is just plugging away and working so hard to get better. Praise the Lord for only better days ahead! And we thank Him for the wonderful doctors and nurses here at Mayo who are doing their absolute best to give McKenna the best recovery possible! We love these guys and gals!  - Laura"

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Update, Thursday, May 17, 2:29 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page one hour ago:

"Afternoon Update 05/17/2018: OH! HAPPY DAY! HAPPY DAY!

Where do we begin?!

McKenna had an awesome night and an even better morning! She is tolerating the wean fantastically and is currently at .5 (Noon CST) on the Versed. Neuro came in while she was awake and said that her EEG is looking better and better as she is continuing the slow, but steady wean of a .1 decrease every four hours. Her epinephrine is currently at .01 and her blood pressure is stable. The rest of her stats are holding stable, as well. YAY GOD!

I'm sure that most of you saw the video last evening of McKenna with her eyes open. What a wondrous sight that was, was it not?! This morning she was even more awake! And she is showing us more and more that she is there and she is fighting hard! She is able to track Kassy's finger and her voice with BOTH eyes, she is holding and clenching Lee's and Kassy's fingers with BOTH hands, and she is responding to more than just pain stimuli with BOTH feet. She is even drawing BOTH of her legs up at the knee when Kassy runs her fingers down the bottoms of her feet. She's saying, "Momma! Stop tickling me!" LOL! Notice that I am emphasizing BOTH... This is because I for one was concerned that we would see the brain damage manifest itself in lack of motion on one side, but we are seeing movement on BOTH sides! She even stretched BOTH of her legs out when the doctors took her blanket off today. Although her right side moves a little more sluggish than the left, this may be because we are also seeing more fluid positivity on the right side as compared to the other. Or, it may just be all the meds she is on. Who wouldn't be a little loopy? I choose to believe in the promise of complete healing, so I'm sure we will see equalized movement the more she wakes up. The nurses have put a little mobile above her crib because one of McKenna's favorite things to do is watch the ceiling fan, so the mobile has brightly colored blades that spin and play music, as well as project little stars on the plastic top of the crib. McKenna is also doing quite a bit of drooling, so Kassy and Lee are going out today to buy her some bibs. I know it will do their hearts good to do something so "normal"!

Although McKenna is still at a high rate of the Versed, she is having more definitive periods of wakefulness. Part of this is due to what we are calling McKenna being a "Midazo-holic". "Versed" is the trademark name for the prescription drug name of "Midazolam". McKenna has developed a high tolerance for the Versed and as the doctors decrease the dosage, it's requiring more and more to have the same effect. While obviously they're not going to increase the dosage as that is the opposite of what we're trying to accomplish, it explains why she's receiving so much and is still able to be awake. While this isn't bad in and of itself, McKenna is more likely to experience a "Versed Hangover". To draw you a mental picture, it's very similar to an alcoholic needing more and more alcohol to get the same feeling. Then, after the bender is over, they need to sleep it off. When McKenna is completely weaned off the Versed, she will probably be doing quite a bit of sleeping, as her body gets used to not having the medication.

As part of McKenna waking up, the doctors have decided to try a Spontaneous Breathing Trial. Basically they are leaving McKenna intubated, but will decrease the amount of pressure she is receiving through the ventilator to see how well she breathes on her own. That way, she can exercise her lungs and they can see how well she tolerates breathing on her own, but the vent is still there to back her up, if she needs it. It will be some time before they are ready to take her off the vent completely, as there is still the possibility for seizures. Since there have been times that McKenna has been breathing over the vent, we are very excited to see how she tolerates breathing completely on her own for the first time in two weeks! We will let you know how it goes.

So needless to say, there is plenty of rejoicing in the Hovenga, Baldwin, and Heise families today! I for one feel like I can take the first deep breath in weeks. It almost feels as if we have come out into a blinding light from a deep, dark tunnel. I have no doubt that the days and weeks ahead will be filled with hills and valleys, but I know I can speak for all of us when I say that today we are shouting our joy from a mountain top and I know that each of you are right there with us! - ? Laura"

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Update, Tuesday, May 15, 8:48 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page one hour ago:

"05/15/2018 Evening Update: Oh! What a day! McKenna is doing fantabulous! Her chest x-ray is looking better and they aren't getting as much mucous out when they suction. She is at 1.2 on her Versed wean, which is awesome. Today when they rolled her to her side, she peeped at us more than she has been. It was so good to see those eyes! You can definitely tell when she is in her awake period because she flutters her eyelashes, flares her nostrils and purses her lips! It was so good to see!

Kassy, Lee and I had a very emotional time as we read your cards and letters and opened your gifts. The ones that really got to us were the ones from children... Especially the 6 and 7 years olds from Wylie, Texas who showed us "the Wylie way" with their cute drawings and sweet words. I have to admit I had a bout of ugly crying that I had to get under control. Lee wasn't much better. Kassy stayed strong because I think she's afraid if she lets go, she won't be able to stop. I can tell you there was not a dry eye in that room as we read your letters and cards out loud. We have been so unbelievably touched by all of you. McKenna's room will literally be covered in prayer and warm wishes, when we finish hanging up all the cards and pictures. It was so much to soak in. I think we still are trying to. You all have moved us and I'm running out of words to describe our feelings. - Laura"

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Update, Monday, May 14, 9:37 p.m.

Posted about 4 hours ago on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"05/14/2018 Evening Update: McKenna's PIC line is in and the nurse said she did great! I know the picture is kind of hard to look at (at least it was for me), but we know that it is the best thing for her right now.

We've seen some stabilization in her heart rate and blood pressure today. Her heart rate was hanging out in the 80s and dipping into the 70s. She is now sitting at about 100-ish. So that's some positive news! McKenna's blood pressure (MAPs) goal is to be above 55 and the past couple days she has been staying in the upper 40s to low 50s, but now she is at about 65-70. This is some great news, as they had really been struggling with getting her stats to stabilize.

Neuro is seeing some changes in McKenna's EEG. It's nothing major, but there is an increase in “rhythmic bursts” so they are stopping the wean of the Versed at 1.4 until further notice. They're hoping those will stabilize and we can begin to wean her off the Versed even further. Although with everything she is currently on she could technically go home taking, right now they're just at too high a level. Our goal is to get her meds down to a dosage she can take at home.

And with that, Day 12 is almost at an end... It feels like it's been an eternity and I know Lee and Kassy and the rest of our family feel like it has been too. Tomorrow I am heading to back Mayo with a sack of goodies for Lee, Kassy, and McKenna. I told Lee I was going to look like Santa Claus coming in there! The PO Box was absolutely stuffed this morning and then again this afternoon, along with packages put behind the counter for us to pick up. Our local postal worker (who totally rocks by the way) was just amazed at what is coming in to our girl! We had a good time looking at all the different places from coast to coast that the envelopes and packages were return addressed from. I actually gave her my cell phone number, so if she needed me to come get items, she could just call me. It's truly is unbelievable! I know Kassy and Lee will have a great time with reading the cards and opening the packages tomorrow and it will be a nice distraction for them. I will post pictures tomorrow!

I always think that I have regained my voice for McKenna, but once again your kindness and generosity for our girl has left me speechless. Thank you is one of the most underwhelming phrases in the English language, as it really truly cannot come even close to conveying how touched our family is by your support. We simply love you all. - <3 Laura"

Update, Friday, May 11, 4:27 p.m.

Posted 4 hours ago to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"Update of the Morning Update 05/11/2018: While I had to persuade Kassy to share what she found out this morning, we have decided to share the news from Neurology that we received. We want to remain positive, but we also want to remain open with friends and family that are following this page, as for some it is their only avenue for updates. I admit, the news is pretty grim.

Couple of things just happened in the last half hour... As you know they've been watching McKenna's lungs for the development of a respiratory infection, which is common in those intubated for any length of time. There had been a spot they noticed in an earlier scan, that they've been keeping an eye on. This morning while she was being suctioned, her respirations and heart rate decreased dramatically. They had to bag her. It didn't last long, less than a minute (about 15 breaths) and they were able to get her stable in short order. Her stats all look good now, but it was a scare. There is some discussion about possible pneumonia, but that is NOT confirmed.

Secondly, the Head of Neurology came in and we've decided to dub him with the name "Dr. Bad News", as it seems when we receive news of set-backs, he's the one who gives it to us. As you all know, McKenna was having little mini-seizures yesterday. Well, they have been able to pinpoint the locations of these seizures to the two areas of brain damage that they have been monitoring. She is still having them and they're about 10 seconds in duration. The grim news is that they feel that the brain damage in one area is "a lot" and the brain damage of the other area is "significant". These areas affect a large portion of the brain, with a good portion having to do with motor skills and development. Exactly what we're looking at? We won't know until she is fully awake. Deep breath.

So... We got news and it's not the greatest. I'm still processing. - Laura"

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Update, Thursday, May 10, 9:15 p.m.

McKenna turned 2-months-old today! And an update was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page about 20 minutes ago:

"Well... It's been an up and down kind of day. Let's talk about the good things. As you know McKenna was struggling with some seizure activity. As the day went on, they became more numerous and closer together. Basically as the Pentobarb wears off more and more, the doctors have to substitute an equal amount of the other anti-seizure medications to equal the same prevention. Sometimes with that, they're playing catch-up. The good news is that she hasn't had another cluster since 3:00 pm and it would appear that they've gotten on top of them. Also, the seizures are short in duration and not as strong as what we were seeing last week when she was in status. It's just another sign that she's coming back to us. They've increased her Phenobarbital and Versed. The Versed is at the maximum dosage, but we've got plenty of room to work with the Phenobarbital. Then great thing is, the seizures are short and they're getting them controlled. She's a fighter, our girl!

Now this good news is going to excite you, so I saved the best for last! McKenna gave her Momma a present on her 8 week birthday... She gripped Kassy's finger! YAAAAAAAAAY! And when they stroked the bottom of her foot, she pulled her leg back. Pretty stinkin' awesome! She's having bowel movements regularly and is still getting Kassy's milk with supplements plus still overriding the vent breathing on her own. So many good, good things to report! If we can just get those pesky seizures under control for good, we'll really be getting somewhere!

So it's great to end a pretty yucky day on a such a good note! Happy 2 month Birthday, Kenna-baby! Keep fighting for us! - Laura"

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Update, Wednesday, May 9, 9:30 p.m.

Two hours ago, this update was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"Evening Update 05/09/2018: McKenna's been feisty today.

Yucky news is that she's having seizures about every 20 minutes. Good news is that they're only lasting about a minute and a half. They gave her another loading dose of phenobarbital via IV and have backed off the idea of doing the oral doses. If the current seizures continue, they will give her another loading dose. There is no talk of implementing the steady drip, but they may have to up the dosage amount to keep her seizure-free.

Good news on her blood pressure. She is now completely off the norepinephrine and they are beginning to lower the epinephrine. So this is a great sign that her BP is beginning to hold steady when that had been one the initial problems. Also good news is that she continues to breath mostly on her own. Kassy is talking to her and letting her know that she is there and I truly believe that McKenna hears her. - Laura"

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Update, Tuesday, May 8, 10:45 p.m.

An hour ago, an update was posted on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page.  In it, Laura describes the seizures McKenna is having:

"Short evening update... If you take a look this picture, the pink lines are McKenna trying to breath on her own. Such an awesome sign! They took her down for a CT this evening and we're currently awaiting the results. This morning when they gave her the phenobarbital, it stopped the seizures, but also took her one step back from waking up. So McKenna's brain activity was coming back and then Neuro made the call to give her the pheno and it slowed her brain activity again. The doctors did not anticipate that happening, but it’s not uncommon. So we went one step back with the seizure activity and then one more step back with it lowering her brain activity again. However, we have made A LOT of progress since things were so bad on Friday.

I know that when most of you think of seizures, you think of the convulsive seizures that epileptics experience where there are physical symptoms that you can observe. What McKenna is experiencing is called a subclinical seizure. A subclinical seizure is a seizure that does not present any clinical signs or symptoms. Such seizures are often experienced by people with epilepsy, in which an electroencephalogram (EEG) trace will show abnormal brain activity, usually for a short time, but the level of consciousness is normal. Her brain is just firing off rapidly because it's being irritated by the blood. So basically, we can be sitting right next to McKenna when she is seizing and have no idea unless her pulse rate goes up.

Most of the time we rely on Neuro to tell us if she's having one, which they track in a completely different area. If she has one, the phone in the room rings. Sometimes it rings for other things, but every time it does, we all hold our breaths. I personally refer to Neuro as "the Great Wizard", like from the Wizard of Oz... All knowing and all seeing. Cameras monitor McKenna from various angles and they are constantly monitoring her EEG from their department. It can kind of be a little surreal, but we are so thankful there is always, always someone monitoring her 24 hours a day on top of her personal nurse that never leaves her room. I don't know what we'd do if we weren't at Mayo with the best of the best. We are so very grateful McKenna is in such good hands. - Laura"

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Update: Tuesday, May 8, 3:40 p.m.

Around 3 p.m., this update was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:


"McKenna is completely off the pentobarb as of 10:55am CST. She had remained seizure free throughout the night and tolerated the 3:00 am 50% reduction well, so they made the decision to stop it all together. Yesterday they removed the Bair Hug that was regulating her body temperature and her edema is down remarkably. She's looking a whole lot more like herself! She was trying to take some breaths on her own there for a little while, so that's good. They have started to feed her her own special concoction of lipids and electrolytes. They have blocked her G-tube in hopes that her bowels will begin to work on their own.

Now for the not so good... Not horrible, just disappointing. McKenna had her first seizure-like activity in 96 hours at 11:38 am. It appeared to be some small cluster seizing for almost a half hour, but there were no overt signs in her stats. It's not like it was before when she was in status (one huge continuous seizure) for a long period of time. So they gave her a loading dose of phenobarbital to get control of that.They've figured out that she's pretty sensitive and they're trying to find the right balance of what works. The positive news is that there are several different meds they can try before we have to put her back on the pentobarb, should there being anymore activity. Our girl keeps them on their toes that's for sure!"

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Update: Sunday, May 6, 12:05 p.m.

19 minutes ago, this was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"McKenna has been seizure free for 48 hours! Praise God! That's our girl! The doctors will start lowering the Versed a little every hour, and then at night they back it off to every 2 hours. Versed is the seizure med that she was maxed out on.

McKenna has experienced quite a bit of fluid positivity. This means she is retaining fluid and because she cannot get rid of it in normal ways because she's laying still (urinating, being held, moving), she is retaining more and more. This is why she looks puffy. This is perfectly normal in this situation. It's important to get rid of the fluid to be able to take the breathing tube out when the time comes and they can't remove it, if she's retaining a lot of fluid.

The CT came back stable, but they are still seeing the spots of possible brain damage. However... We don't know the extent IF ANY until she wakes up. Her blood levels were great! Labs are stable. They are keeping her NPO at the time, which means she is not receiving Kassy's milk"

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Update: Saturday, May 5, 12:28 p.m.

Three hours ago, this was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"McKenna is doing good this morning!! Everything is stable. Blood count stayed stable after her last transfusion. They have lowered the blood pressure meds and she is handling it very well! They also have her temp stable. There is talk of possibly starting a slow drip of food, but not worried about it at this time! AND STILL SEIZURES FREE!!!!!"

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Update: Friday, May 4, 6:43 p.m.

Three minutes ago, this was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"A little good news to share... Why could all use some, right?  McKenna has gone the longest amount of time without a seizure since we arrived. She has had no cluster seizure activity since the big one this morning. She tolerated her blood transfusion and it has been successfully completed, although they will continue transfusions as they take blood to monitor her levels. McKenna was successfully weaned onto the norepinephrine with no seizures occurring. The head of the PICU said that they are feeling very encouraged with what they are seeing and while we are by no means out of the woods, there is cautionary hope for McKenna to recover. She has very many thing working in her favor including her age and the flexibility of her skull. There are two places of traumatic injury to the brain itself that they are watching, but we have received what we hope is the beginning of lots of encouraging news."

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Update: Friday, May 4, 4:50 p.m.

KWWL continues to follow the progress of young McKenna, as she recovers after being hit by an overthrown softball in Waverly Wednesday night.

We received a message from McKenna's mom around 4:15 p.m. this afternoon.  It reads:

"UPDATE FROM FAMILY: The results of the CT Scan showed that one of the areas of bleeding had gotten larger, although this is something that wasn't unexpected by the team. McKenna has received her blood transfusion and her status has not changed at this time. She is still critical condition. Goal is to stop the seizures. Her last seizure was about 45 mins long and ended about 7:30 this morning."

Updates are being posted on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page regularly.  The most recent post was posted around 1 p.m. on Friday, May 4:

"No new news yet. We are simply just waiting for the blood transfusion to take place and still waiting for the results on the CT scan. She is stable. Her last seizure was about 45 mins long and ended about 7:30 this morning. Here are pictures from her MRI yesterday that I wanted to share with you.
First one is the fracture that is on her skull. They say it will heal on its own. Second, is just one of the MANY pictures they have of the blood on her brain. The lighter spotted areas in the red circle is blood."

And this had been posted earlier Friday morning around 10 a.m.:

UPDATE: McKenna has been taken for a CT Scan. There has been some blood loss and they're not sure if it is from the initial trauma or if something has developed since. McKenna will require a blood transfusion. I know this is redundant, but please keep praying. - Laura

Friends have also started a YouCaring page for McKenna and her parents.  You can find that here.

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Original story:

A seven week old baby is recovering after an overthrown softball hit her on the head.

Baby McKenna Hovenga was hit during a men's softball game in Waverly Wednesday night. She was airlifted to Mayo Clinic where she is being treated for brain bleeds.

Kassy Hovenga and her daughter McKenna were sitting on the bleachers watching the game when suddenly a ball flew over the fence and hit her and her baby.

"The guy was in the outfield and he was just simply throwing to the third baseman to try and get an out and it went right over the gate and hit us," said Hovenga.

Hovenga's husband was playing in the game for the Waverly men's softball league. Hovenga says she was about to feed McKenna when the ball hit her.

"A ball hit me in the shoulder, she (McKenna) didn't do anything at first, but then it was just a blood curdling scream," said Hovenga.

McKenna was airlifted to Mayo Clinic, where doctors have been treating her for the brain bleeds and a scull fracture, her mother says she is doing better.

"As of right now everything is stable," said Hovenga this afternoon. "The brain bleeds are not getting bigger, they are pretty much just clots, and they are putting pressure on her brain which are causing the seizures."

The accident has shaken the first time mom.

"You see things like this happen, you never imagine them happening to you ever," said Hovenga. "I don't even have words to describe everything that I've been through in the past not even 24 hours, to see her finally calm is very reassuring."

Hovenga and her husband are forever grateful for their miracle, McKenna.

"We had to do three rounds of fertility treatments to get this little miracle, she is definitely our miracle baby," said Hovenga.

Family says brain bleeds are causing the baby to have seizures. She was seizure free for most of the day, but tonight family says she had a seizure that lasted nine minutes.

Family says doctors are taking it hour by hour right now. They are not sure exactly how long the baby will be in the PICU, their main goal is to treat the brain bleeds.

To keep up with McKenna's recovery, CLICK HERE.

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