Emme’s mother asked me to post this story I wrote about Emme.
80 percent of strokes occur without warning signs. That was definitely true for 17-year-old Emme Greenwell. On July 11, 2012 Emme enjoyed a day at the local water park and then gymnastics practice. Emme felt unstoppable.
Amanda Greenwell, Emme’s mother left for work and Emme was home alone. She enjoyed her morning routine until her aunt called. She asked if Emme would like to go to the water park with her family. Being a responsible teenager Emme called to ask her mother. Amanda said no problem and off Emme went to have fun at Wild Water Kingdom
After work, Amanda picked Emme up for Gymnastics practice when Emme complained of a headache. Amanda just figured she needed water. She dropped Emme off at practice and left for the store.
“Emme was doing flips, and then got in line to go again and she started shaking and collapsed,” said Amanda Greenwell. “I dropped her off and went to the store and as I pulled back into practice the ambulance was pulling in too, “she said.
Amanda went to get Emme water as she thought her headache was from being in the sun and not drinking enough water. The lack of water may have been the reason she hit the floor, but why wasn’t she speaking?
Emme was rushed to Akron Children’s hospital where doctors ran a cat scan, which showed no sign of a stroke. Baffled, doctors hooked Emme to an EKG to check for seizures. Nothing. Doctors couldn’t find anything medically wrong with the silent girl.
Emme was talking again Thursday morning, but she was not in the clear. Late Thursday night the MRI scans unveiled Emme had a stroke.
Then the family waited, Emme was continually monitored and because nothing was improving Emme was placed into an induced coma where she spent 18 days. Emme awoke to the left side of her head shaved and half of her skull missing. Due to the swelling of the brain doctors had to remove the skull and put a tube in her head to reduce the swelling and keep her alive. A most frightening event for the mother of a 13-year-old. Just as scary as the next words doctors spoke
At one-point doctors looked at Emme’s mother and said “I’m sorry ma’am but we don’t think she’s going to make it.”
At the thought of death Amanda Greenwell says she went into the bathroom and cried and felt sorry for herself until her best friend stepped in and said okay you need to go out there and be there for your daughter. Amanda did just that. She was with her daughter throughout the whole ordeal. When people sad “you’re so strong” Her response is simply” I had nothing else to be.
The old adage, You never how strong you truly are until strong is all you have to be, rang true for Emme and her family. Being strong was the only option for Emme’s mother, but she was absolutely terrified
“All I could do was ask questions and take care of her. I bathed her every day, changed her diapers, did everything I could, said Amanda Greenwell.” “It was frightening, horrible, heartbreaking. Being unable to fix my baby. I could do nothing. I had to stay strong and fight for her. I had to believe that it would get better. I wanted her here no matter the circumstances, “she said.
The circumstances were that Emme had to stay at Akron Children’s for 45 days where she would undergo therapy, surgery and be closely monitored. After 45 days she was transferred to Cleveland Children’s Rehab center where she continued therapy. After a week there Emme was released to go home, but her recovery was far from over. After their release, Amanda drove Emme to therapy everyday from Garrettsville to Cleveland for three months. After little improvement therapy was lessened, but four years later she still goes to Akron Children’s monthly for therapy.
Amanda interpreted me as Emme pulled at her paralyzed right hand and said “Emme coped with this simply because she had to. “It sucks and is hard, “they said.
Physicians never discovered the exact reason for Emme’s stroke although her tests were sent to doctors in the U.S and Canada, but no reason surfaced for Emme’s cerebral accident.
Emme showed none of the known warning signs for childhood stroke, but hopes to help others in the prevention of their possible strokes through her story.
She is now a senior at Ravenna High School, where she attends classes and is a part of the work-study program. As part of that she works at Kent State’s Prentice Cafe. Emme is unsure about what her future holds come graduation, as college seems difficult because it’s hard to read and write. Emme connected with a man at the local grocery store who suffered a stroke and she thought “I could work in a grocery store” that made her feel hopeful.