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When Nadia woke up on Aug. 7, 2015, she thought she had slept funny because the right side of her body was numb. Little did she know the next two weeks would be a complete blank in her memory. Her face was distorted, she couldn’t walk, and she fainted and then began to vomit. Unconscious. she was rushed to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Pediatric neurologist Dr. Adam Kirton was called in to assess Nadia and she was rushed into CT scan., Heather soon learned Nadia had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke caused by a tangle of abnormal blood vessels called arteriovenous malformation (AVM), and she might not survive. Heather and her husband, Fil, who had since arrived at the hospital, prepared for the worst. Heather recalls sitting in silence and feeling like Nadia was already gone – that they’d already lost her.
Over the course of the next day, Nadia underwent three procedures. At the Alberta Children’s Hospital she had a tube inserted into her skull to relieve pressure from her brain and drain the blood that had pooled as well as a dye injection (angiogram) to help specialists see the blood vessels. Then the hospital’s transport team moved her to the Foothills to inject a type of glue into the AVM to stop the bleeding. The transport team then brought her back to the ICU at the Children’s where she would spend the next week before moving to Unit 3 for a month. Heather recalls the incredible amount of care the transport team gave to Nadia, gently explaining everything they were doing even though she was unconscious.
The following days and weeks were extremely difficult. Nadia wasn’t herself. She had suffered paralysis on the right side of her body. She couldn’t remember things and oftentimes she didn’t even recognize her parents. She would wake up saying only “help.” She became aggressive – swearing and spitting. The uncharacteristic aggression soon transformed into utter sadness, where for days she would moan and cry constantly. She had to be restrained. It was heartbreaking for her parents to watch. They began to accept they would never have the same Nadia back – that their daughter, as they knew her, was gone.
A couple weeks after her stroke, Nadia turned a corner. She stopped crying. She started remembering the faces of visitors. As glimmers of her daughter began to re-emerge, Heather says she felt like she had won the lottery. Nadia began attending Gordon Townsend School at the hospital and working hard on physio and rehab to help her regain some of her movement back. Today, she has made great progress. Her personality has returned and she continues developing her motor skills. The Brogowskis are so thankful for the quick diagnosis and all of the people, equipment and programs that saved Nadia’s life and are helping her rehabilitate.