Juliana was born with Symbrachydactyly, which meant her right hand was missing four fingers and bones. She had little stumps of skin and soft tissue, called nubbins, where the fingers should have been. At 18 months old, she went in for a complex surgery to remove one bone from the fourth toe on each of her feet. Dr. Mih then split both bones in half, giving her a total of four bones to be put into her little hand, one bone for each finger. This procedure gave Juliana stability in her nubbins and greater function for her overall hand.
Juliana received a plush dog from Riley Cheer guild prior to surgery. The following week, she could not walk due to the surgery on both feet and only had the use of one hand, so she had hours of play and cuddle time with her new stuffed animal! Her mom said, “Receiving a toy prior to surgery helped us to keep Juliana busy, but it also helped to distract my husband and I as we played with our daughter instead of only focusing on our fears. What appeared to be a gift to our child, turned out to be the best gift given to our entire family!”
During surgery, Juliana had long pins inserted into her nubbins to keep the bones in place as she recovered. The post-op appointment with her hand surgeon was very scary and painful as she had these pins removed. Thanks to Riley Cheer Guild, she was able to watch a video with her mom during this procedure which offered some amazing distraction.
Juliana experienced numerous painful and invasive procedures as a toddler, which were her earliest memories and therefore became her foundation on what to expect when she saw a doctor. She has faced many challenges learning to trust doctors, but has overcome most of them with great determination and a positive attitude! Gifts and therapies provided by Riley Cheer Guild help make hospital experiences, like Juliana’s, a little easier for patients and their families.