Izzy proves doctors wrong

A determined child fights daily to overcome affects of in-utero stroke

Tiffany TuellAugust 30, 2012 

Two and-a-half year old Izabel "Izzy" Platt is full of energy, smiles, giggles and chatter as she runs around her Coarsegold home in a hot pink tutu dress with a giant cupcake embroidered on the front -- proving her pediatric doctors wrong with every step she takes and every word she speaks.

When her parents, Philip Platt and Kris Roubique, welcomed her into the world Sept. 9, 2009, Roubique immediately sensed there was something wrong with her little girl when she noticed her left eye remained closed even when her right eye was open. Doctors said it was just from drops they had put in her eyes but Roubique's motherly intuition told her differently.

She took Izzy for a second opinion and at three months old, Izzy underwent an MRI at Children's Hospital Central California. It was then that doctors discovered Izzy had suffered an in-utero stroke during the second trimester of Kris' pregnancy and it had resulted in her third cerebral nerve being destroyed, affecting the right side of her body. Doctors said she would never be able to walk or talk.

"When they told me she wouldn't walk or talk I was devastated and would have done anything to help her," Roubique said.

Doctors also told Kris and Philip that they would need to learn sign language so they could communicate with their daughter. However Kris wasn't ready to give up and at 22 months, her persistence began to pay off when Izzy began to walk. Shortly after, at age two, she began talking.

"When she took a couple steps it felt amazing," Kris said. "It was very emotional for everyone."

Izzy's grandmother, Jocelyn Roubique, couldn't be more proud of her granddaughter.

"Izzy is such a determined young lady and her only limitations are what we put on her," Jocelyn said. "When they said she wouldn't walk, she'd hop on her knees, and when said couldn't crawl, she'd roll. She's very special and a very determined young lady."

Because the stroke affected the right side of her body, Izzy has to wear a brace on her right foot/calf. Her depth perception is also off so it's easy for her to bump into things, often falling. She can't run and needs help up the stairs. She has physical and occupational therapy at Coarsegold Elementary School through California Children's Services and a speech therapist visits the family home.

Izzy also wears protective glasses when outside. Her eyesight has been an ongoing issue with the family traveling once a month for two years to Oregon Health & Science University to see a pediatric ophthalmologist. Because her third cerebral nerve was destroyed, she can't move her eyes to look up or from side to side without moving her whole body and head. She had two surgeries at 10 months old to correct her closed, left eyelid and another one at two years old. It's now partially open but her vision in that eye is still blurred.

Her brain will shut off sight to that eye if it doesn't stay open so its an ongoing issue. Kris said she will have to undergo another surgery on her left eye in a year and her eye will be a continuous issue. The family was recently able to find a doctor at Stanford University so they'll no longer have to make the monthly trips to Oregon.

To keep up with all her doctor's appointments and to make sure Izzy had the most opportunities for her future, Kris had to quit her job as an insurance broker.

"It was really hard on us," Kris said. "My whole life had to change. It was hard financially and our family dynamic changed. It made me slow down and realize this does happen to people. It made me a better person for having her in my life and made me stronger."

Kris works with Izzy every day and says Izzy is a very bright child. She knows all her shapes, colors and numbers.

"She's doing outstanding with speech and is very bright," Kris said. "She has a lot of fight in her and was a miracle to begin with."

She loves being outside and going to the park and Kris is right there with her on the play equipment to make sure she doesn't fall because her diminished depth perception.

"When she gets going to fast, she'll fall over but gets right back up," said Mikaelle Trayer, a friend of Kris' from Mother's of Preschoolers (MOPS). "She's always very cheerful and always so happy."

Izzy also loves to be tickled, do puzzles and play in the pool.

"She's very adaptable," Jocelyn said. "Each time I see her she's just developed so much more and grown so much more. She's just doing very well and doesn't seem like a stroke survivor."

Trayer said Kris has done a lot for Izzy and it really shows.

"I know other little girls that are the same age as her and it's crazy -- Izzy can point out a pentagon and other two-year-olds don't even know what that is," Trayer said. "She's such a sweet, smart little girl (that) you wouldn't know anything was wrong with her."

Recently Izzy was visited by a very special visitor -- Pat Bearowitz. Pat, a world traveler, came from New Hampshire but has visited as far away as the United Kingdom and Australia. Pat, a Pediatric Stroke Awareness Bear, visits children around the world who have a suffered an in-utero stroke. A journal travels with Pat so that at each stop, Pat's visit can be documented with photos and stories of his adventures with pediatric stroke survivors.

Kris sent a request for Pat to come visit Izzy for her first birthday, but he had so many requests that he couldn't make it right away but finally made it last week -- not long before Izzy's third birthday.

Kris has become involved in many pediatric stroke organizations and would like to start a chapter in the Central Valley if there are other mothers like her out there. She wants to raise awareness for the health hazard that affects one in 4,000 pregnancies.

Kris said she wants to make sure other mothers aware that this can happen to them and there's no way of knowing during the pregnancy, but that there is hope and there are organizations willing to help.

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