PORTLAND -- A 10-year-old girl first believed to have strep throat is the victim of a rare form of severe meningitis. Elianna Neuman was admitted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital on Sept 14 and was diagnosed with viral meningitis, meningoencephalitis and pancreatitis.
Elianna is heavily sedated and drifts in and out of mental clarity as she continues to suffer in the vise of the infection, said her mother, 29-year-old Miranda Neuman.
"She has decent moments when she can communicate and play with her Play-Doh," Nueman said. "But those moments are rare."
Most of the time, Elianna is vomiting and in agony.
Elianna began became ill on Sept 9. Her family doctor diagnosed her with strep throat and prescribed codeine and antibiotics. Shortly afterwards, the Elianna's symptoms escalated and she developed an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. Elianna's mother took her Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver. The hospital took Elianna off antibiotics but believed the child simply suffered from a strong virus.
By Sept 14, Elianna was vomiting, had intense stomach and back pains, and a sore throat. Nueman then took her daughter to Dormbecher's in Portland.
"I knew there was something wrong," Nueman said. "A mother knows. I know they are the best. So I brought her in and said 'We're not leaving until you find out what’s wrong.'"
Doctors recognized the meningitis right away, but quickly determined they had a rare and particularly severe form on their hands.
Viral meningitis normally occurs in children younger than 5 years old and can usually be overcome in a week or more. However, Elianna’s case is rare and doctors are unsure when she will recover. She has to complete a 21-day antiviral treatment and take things day-by-day.
"Other than that they can't give us a time," Neuman said. "Every case is different. It’s just a sort of freak thing."
Elianna’s brain has swollen and it causes her to regress to an earlier emotional state. When she can, she plays with dolls she had long since outgrown.
Nueman said that Elianna was slowly improving. Neither she nor doctors believed the condition will be fatal. But no one seems to know what lasting impacts Elianna's strickening will have.
Neuman only leaves her daughter's side to eat in the hospital cafeteria. The girl's father, Socorro Garduno, takes care of the couple’s two other girls, Lluliza, 8, and Marisol, 5.
"We have limited visiting hours and it's hard. We are a family that's used to being together all the time," Neuman said. "The girls don't understand what's going on, or why they can't be with her. They don't understand the severity of the situation."
Neuman said that her extended family, friends and the hospital’s Child Life Therapy Specialist have given her the emotional support to withstand the suffering of her daughter.
"I'm a very well composed train wreck," Neuman said. "To watch your child suffer, to absolutely suffer, it's the worst thing in the world."
Neuman's Aunt Angela Tover has set up a fund to help pay for the family's expenses and medical bills. HERE for more information.