Valerie Kessel is a happy and healthy toddler but her beginning was quite unlike the average. On November 9, 2014, Valerie entered the world a few weeks early and seemed like a healthy baby girl.
Shortly after she was born, Valerie began vomiting and was unable to tolerate any food. After what seemed like thousands of tests, emergency surgery, medications, holidays spent in the hospital and numerous doctors visits, Valerie was finally diagnosed with Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction (CIPO).
At nine weeks old, Valerie had her first central line inserted into her chest along with a permanent feeding tube and an ileostomy. Her family was left to care for her.
“We rarely slept more than two hours at a time and it was very hard to think straight,” says Christie Kessel, Valerie’s mother. “Our other two children were in tears every time we had to leave them. The financial burden was significant but our inability to be together as a family was the most difficult of all,” says Christie.
Through very diligent management of Valerie’s nutrition, the central line was removed in March of 2016, which meant Valerie could function much like any other child. Medical hardships like this demand time, money and emotional strength for a long period of time. The transportation, basic living expenses, therapies and special education needs are not often covered by insurance and take a lot of time away from both work and family.