Happy Story: Makayla’s Art Therapy Story

December 13, 2018

 

Makayla’s Art Therapy Story

When 10 year old Makayla was diagnosed with a devastating brain tumor, doctors at Dell Children’s were struggling to manage the level of pain she was in. During one of her many hospital stays, a monitor was surgically placed in the ventricle of Makayla’s brain to collect data and monitor the pressure around her brain.  As the pressure around her brain became increasingly unstable, her pain was spiking to unmanageable levels. During this period of waiting for doctors to evaluate her situation a Dell Children’s Art Therapist was sent in to help distract and “entertain” Makayla.  As she sat in her hospital bed, the therapist began to paint with her. Makayla’s mother sat and watched that monitor which has been fluctuating dangerous levels for days…and she quickly noticed that the more she painted, the more stable her pressure numbers became. When Makayla would stop painting, the numbers would quickly begin to rise again to dangerous levels.  What the family learned over time is that while Art Therapy wasn’t “curing” or “fixing” any of Makayla’s conditions, it was a way to control her pain by at least temporarily stabilizing the very thing causing her pain- the unregulated pressure around her brain.  Art Therapy has changed Makayla’s life by giving her an outlet to express the emotional struggles that come with a chronic illness as well as providing a safe alternative for her lifelong pain management needs. This program including the Art Therapy staff at Dell Children’s would not exist without philanthropy.

old Makayla was diagnosed with a devastating brain tumor, doctors at Dell Children’s were struggling to manage the level of pain she was in. During one of her many hospital stays, a monitor was surgically placed in the ventricle of Makayla’s brain to collect data and monitor the pressure around her brain.  As the pressure around her brain became increasingly unstable, her pain was spiking to unmanageable levels. During this period of waiting for doctors to evaluate her situation a Dell Children’s Art Therapist was sent in to help distract and “entertain” Makayla.  As she sat in her hospital bed, the therapist began to paint with her. Makayla’s mother sat and watched that monitor which has been fluctuating dangerous levels for days…and she quickly noticed that the more she painted, the more stable her pressure numbers became. When Makayla would stop painting, the numbers would quickly begin to rise again to dangerous levels.  What the family learned over time is that while Art Therapy wasn’t “curing” or “fixing” any of Makayla’s conditions, it was a way to control her pain by at least temporarily stabilizing the very thing causing her pain- the unregulated pressure around her brain.  Art Therapy has changed Makayla’s life by giving her an outlet to express the emotional struggles that come with a chronic illness as well as providing a safe alternative for her lifelong pain management needs. This program including the Art Therapy staff at Dell Children’s would not exist without philanthropy.