Grade Schooler Kasey D. Is Still Up for Any Challenge
Today, when you meet Kasey—a lovely, high-spirited 8-year-old who will have you know she’ll be nine this fall—it wouldn’t be apparent how many medical challenges she’s been through. She was born prematurely at 26 weeks gestation and spent her first 299 days in the hospital, struggling for her life with a hole in the interior wall of her heart (atrial septal defect), chronic lung disease, a feeding tube (gastronomy tube, or g-tube) in her belly, and a tracheostomy that enabled her to breathe.
When Kasey was finally able to come home with her parents Mary and Jack, her BAYADA Nurse at the time, Andrea Grady, RN never forgot it. “From the start, Kasey was unique,” Andrea said. “Busy is the word I would use to describe her—she’s always on the go.”
Boundless energy, then and now
Flash forward to today, and you could say everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. Kasey is still a busy girl, bubbling with happy, curious energy. Yet she has come through countless medical milestones that have not been an easy road.
As Kasey grew up and her lungs grew stronger, her BAYADA Nurses encouraged her daily and helped her work toward her therapeutic goals to learn how to breathe independently. It was a scary and gradual transition, but with diligent work, Kasey was able to get her trach removed in the fall of 2013, and one year later, she had reconstructive surgery to repair the hole left in its place. “We were happy that she no longer needed her trach and ventilator,” her mom Mary recalls. “We were excited to finally let her do some things that she has wanted to do, like go swimming and take a shower."
Kasey also has been working with her BAYADA care team over time to master how to eat foods orally. She’d never done this before, but now she’s gotten the hang of it and only requires supplemental feedings through her gastrostomy tube overnight.
Even with the trach and g-tube, though, Kasey has always been active. At the age of two, when she grew healthy enough to be out in public more often, she began taking dance classes, gymnastics, and soccer. After her surgeries, she picked up karate. Today, even though she’s small for her age, Kasey is still go-go-going, doing gymnastics, horseback riding, art and music lessons, chasing around her new puppy Zoe, and selling Girl Scout cookies to all of her BAYADA Nurses!
One smart cookie
Kasey never allowed her medical challenges to get in the way of her education. She isn’t just happy to attend school with the help of her nurses; she’s been thriving academically and socially ever since she started pre-kindergarten. “Kasey is so smart,” says her BAYADA Clinical Manager Debra Reed, RNC. “She loves to read and soaks up information. Kasey just finished third grade and made the honor roll in several subjects. She’s a voracious reader and reads well above her grade level. Whenever I go to see her, she’s eager to chat about the books we’re reading, or as Kasey would say, ‘conversate!’” Debra laughs.
Today, Kasey keeps working every day with her nurses on her physical and occupational therapy goals. Her doctors comment on how well she’s developing, and her BAYADA family is rooting for the day when she will no longer need her feeding tube. Because while it will mean she’ll no longer need our care, it will mean we’ve done our job—to help her meet her personal goals and grow up strong, healthy, and independent.