Bella’s presence has been the happiest addition to the atmosphere at Pushing Boundaries. She always arrives with a smile and catches our exercise therapist crew up on her happenings since they last saw one another. She is a typical fun-loving 19-year-old who enjoys being with friends, driving quite a distance for her beloved Dutch Bros Coffee, and watching Netflix (specifically Grey’s Anatomy).
From the beginning, in the words of her mother, Suzi, “Bella has been a fighter.” She and her twin sister arrived into the world at 5.5 months of gestation and Bella weighed just one pound, twelve ounces. She spent 105 days in the NICU and her dad’s wedding ring could fit around her tiny foot.
Years later, in February of 2022, Bella was living in Utah for school and required a heart procedure for a separate health issue. Upon waking up from anesthesia, it was evident that she was losing the ability to move the lower half of her body. She could walk a bit after first waking up, but quickly she became unable to walk at all. While working on recuperating from the procedure, in addition to navigating the loss of mobility, her body was becoming weaker and weaker. The weeks ahead led to time in the adult cardiac unit, where she was one of the youngest patients they had ever treated. In this space, she was required to lay down and remain very still, as any movement upward would cause her heart rate to spike. For an active and social teenager, this was a frustrating and difficult situation.
After more time, doctors diagnosed Bella with FND (Functional Neurological Disorder). This diagnosis can range from mild to very severe, and it tends to affect each person differently and in an unpredictable fashion. In Bella’s case, she describes her condition as her brain becoming disconnected from her legs. From a medical perspective, FND is defined as: The brain being unable to send and receive signals properly and there is a disconnection in the function of the lobes and emotional processing. Memory, concentration, cognition, and the processing of sensations also can be affected.
A possible hypothesis for Bella’s FND onset would be the anesthesia required for surgery combined with the medical trauma of the experience.
Meet us back here on Monday for the next chapter in Bella's story.