Nothing will stop Amy’s girl.
Here, Amy Wilkinson, 39, tells the story in her own words.
N￼estling into her daddy Pete, all our girl wanted was a cuddle.
‘I have a sore belly,’ said four-year-old Mia.
After that, she was sick all night and the next morning the doc diagnosed her with gastro.
So, while Mia’s big sister, Ellie, six, and baby brother, Max, one, played, she curled up on the couch and watched telly.
By the afternoon, Pete and I noticed her eyes were vacant and she was disorientated.
Terrified, I raced her to the hospital. When the nurses tried to weigh Mia, her legs hurt so much she couldn’t even stand on the scales.
This time, Mia was diagnosed with influenza B and viral myositis – a condition which causes muscle pain and weakness during the flu.
‘She just needs some rest,’ a doctor said. But that night, Mia’s legs were in agony.
Ringing a health advice hotline, we spoke to a nurse, who told us to take Mia back to hospital if she showed any more symptoms.
Sleeping in her room, I checked on her every two hours. And the following day, I kept a close eye on my baby.
Around 5pm, I saw a light purple rash had bloomed on her legs. Buckling Mia into the car, I raced back to Emergency.
There, a nurse took one look at my girl and led us through to an exam room, where medics quickly surrounded her. ‘Is your husband on his way?’ a doctor asked, gently.
What’s happening? I fretted. She only has the flu! Leaving the kids with his aunt, Pete was shocked to find us in triage.
We were heartbroken having to hold Mia down while an IV was inserted into her veins.
‘I’m fine, I can go home now!’ she sobbed.
But Mia was placed in an induced coma, so a breathing tube could be fitted. During the procedure her heart stopped.
‘Peter, we’re losing her!’ I screamed.
Clinging to each other, we stood there, helpless, as the docs tried desperately to bring our girl back.
The relief as Mia’s heart beat again was profound.
Hooked up to life support, she made it through the night, but her hands and feet were dark purple.
‘Mia’s blood pressure is critically low,’ a doctor said.
They’d put her on drugs to keep it up. In turn, it diminished the flow of blood to her arms and legs.
It turned out Mia had sepsis – a life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. I’d never even heard of it...
As the days went on, Mia’s fingers and toes turned black and began to shrivel up.
What about the damage we can’t see? I worried.
Mia was a sweet, kind kid, who told me she loved me out of the blue all the time.
When she was woken up six days later, it was clear she was still our Mia.
‘Do you know how much I love you?’ she asked her daddy a few days later. ‘Probably a lot!’ he smiled. ‘All the way around the world!’ she declared.
Sadly, a bone scan showed that no blood was circulating past midway up Mia’s forearms and calves. They’d have to be amputated.
‘Your hands and feet are really sick and the doctors can’t make them better,’ I told her.
A few weeks later she was wheeled in to have her hands removed.
‘I don’t want them to take my hands,’ Mia said, scared.
Lying in bed afterwards, she started crying. ‘How am I going to play with Ellie?’ she sobbed. ‘We’ll find new ways of doing things and playing games,’ I soothed her. And we did!
A whiz, Mia quickly learned to play on the laptop using her elbows!
Two months later, last January, she went in to have both her legs amputated below the knee.
But our brave Mia took it in her stride, giggling and mucking around before she was wheeled in.
In the next few weeks, our amazing girl celebrated her fifth birthday and had her first day of prep!
It’s been more than a year since Mia got sick.
Every day, she amazes me with her positivity and can-do attitude.
Mia can now feed herself, ride her special scooter, and even draw pretty pictures and write by using her arms.
‘That’s neater than Daddy’s handwriting!’ I laugh.
She’s also learned to walk in her new prosthetic legs. They can be uncomfortable, but Mia’s determined to get around on her own two feet.
‘I got sick and no blood went to my hands and feet, so the doctors had to chop them off,’ I heard her tell her friends recently.
‘What was it like to be in hospital?’ one kid asked. ‘It was good and bad,’ my girl replied, matter-of-factly. ‘I got lots of presents, but I wish I could have my hands and feet back.’
In the next breath, she was giggling and playing with her pals, scooting around on her new legs.
We’re sharing Mia’s story to raise awareness of sepsis – it can be a killer. We’re so lucky to still have our Mia – we love her to the moon and back.
Donate to the Mia Wilkinson Trust – Necessitous Circumstances Fund, visit: movementformia.org
Read more in this week's issue of that's life, on sale now.