By Joel van der Veen
BLADWORTH — With days left till the end of school, Brenda Townsend and her girls were making their summer plans.
For Canada Day, they were going to ride together in the parade in Elbow, having already helped Anne Willner construct her float.
After that, the Townsends had some Saskatchewan road trips in mind.
“The girls and I were going to see more of the province,” Brenda said last week.
But those plans shifted to the back burner in late June after her oldest daughter, Jessica, suffered a brain aneurysm.
As of last week, Jessica remained in the pediatric unit at Royal University Hospital (RUH) in Saskatoon, where she is recovering from surgery and undergoing treatment and therapy.
Though recovery remains a long way off, Brenda said her daughter is making progress and showing daily improvement.
“Her spirit is there,” she said Thursday. “It’s long days, but it’s still good.”
Jessica, 14, is going into Grade 10 this fall at Davidson School, along with her twin sister Breanne.
They have two younger twin sisters, Marissa and Topanga, going into Grade 7. (Brenda also has two older sons — Alek Howell, 24, and Nicolas, 27.)
On the morning of Wednesday, June 21, Brenda went to wake Jessica up for school at their home in Bladworth. Though her eyes were open, Jessica couldn’t speak, move or get out of bed. She had suffered a seizure in her sleep.
“At first we didn’t really know what happened,” said Brenda. “I called her dad and he came over right away.”
After Jessica’s father Craig arrived, they called 9-1-1. Davidson EMS quickly arrived to transport her to Davidson Health Centre, where she was stabilized but remained unresponsive.
Paramedics rushed Jessica to RUH, where a CT scan revealed an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) on the left side of her brain. The abnormality, present from birth, was causing internal bleeding.
After she suffered another seizure, the doctors prepared her for immediate surgery to relieve the pressure in her brain.
They placed Jessica in an induced coma, leaving her under for nine days. (The process also included removing Jessica’s skullcap, which is being kept in cold storage.)
Further surgery will be required to treat the AVM, and right now doctors are monitoring her response to treatment and therapy.
Jessica slowly woke from the coma at the start of the month, and on July 2 she was moved to the pediatric unit.
When she awoke, she could smile and hold items in her left hand, but spoke very little. There was no movement whatsoever on her right side.
Since then, she has made steady progress, with the help of a team of specialists that includes two physiotherapists and an occupational therapist.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to solicit donations for the Townsends. To contribute, visit gofundme.com/jessica-townsend.
For the full story, please see the July 17 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.