Hi, my name is BayLea Akins and I am 13 years old. Two years ago, I was getting sick with strep throat a lot. I was on and off antibiotics. When November 2016 rolled around I was scheduled for a tonsillectomy. On November 4th I started throwing up blood. I was really scared and didn’t know what was happening. It was very odd to my parents, so we rushed to a hospital in Midwest City. The doctor ordered a blood test to check everything. My white blood cell count was 224,000 when it should be closer to 13,000-15,000. After we found out my lab results, the emergency room doctor said she believed I had leukemia. From there, I went to The Children’s Hospital – OU Medicine.
When I got to OU, I was not able to get a port because my lymph nodes were so swollen covering my heart and both of my lungs. I later learned if I would have had the tonsillectomy when scheduled, I could have died. They were unable to place the port, so instead they placed a double pic line in my right bicep. They started me on a very intense chemo schedule. It made me very tired, I didn’t have an appetite, and I would get sick all the time due to certain smells.
In December 2016, after the swelling in my lymph nodes decreased, they were able to place a port. Sleeping was not hard for me. They did their best to keep me as comfortable as possible. I tried to keep my spirits up, but I could tell it was wearing on my parents. I got to know my nurses who eventually became family. It felt like home away from home. I had a special group called “10 Strong” come to OU Children’s that would do activities to help me get out of my room and be around other patients.
On September 5, 2017 I fell in my bathroom at home. I lost feeling in my legs. I went into a coma after acting very strange. On the fourth morning I woke up when the nurses were changing the tape under my eyes. My parents were told I wouldn’t survive; I had swelling in my brain and spinal cord. I’m told every day I am a miracle! I overcame the odds and came to The Children Center Rehabilitation Hospital to get stronger. Whenever I first came here, I wasn’t very comfortable with doing things in therapy such as the sliding board transfers, using the shower chair, realizing my left hand is not near as strong as my right. I worked really hard with my therapy team to get stronger. Now, I feel a lot safer and more secure. I’m learning to adapt with not using my legs. I also get to work with my teacher at the hospital on my schoolwork. I feel better knowing I am not missing out on my schoolwork. I’m able to complete all of my assignments online during my education class sessions. My child life specialist helps keep me busy with fun activities and art projects which helps when I’m in the hospital. I also enjoy playing games with my recreation therapist.
I want to say thank you to all the people who have been supporting me. My family and friends, I could not make it without you. I want to say thank you to the hospital staff for making me feel comfortable, helping me overcome my fears of being in a wheelchair, and my doctors and nurses for taking such great care of me. I’m extremely excited about going home to see my family, friends, and especially my animals.
My goal is to continue to get better, stronger, and never give up!