Dave & Victoria | Oakville, ON
Mitochondrial disease and autism
“My daughter Victoria is the most positive person I know. She’s so playful and happy. At times, I lament my lot in life and maybe don’t appreciate life as I should. Whenever I get in that sort of funk, I look at Victoria and think, ‘Wow, look at this girl and her attitude toward life. I need to adopt that!’
Eighteen years ago, when Victoria was a year old, we went through a very scary time. She developed a minor fever and we took her to the ER just to be safe. At the hospital, Victoria’s condition suddenly degraded really quickly. She started hyperventilating and the doctors couldn’t stabilize her. Over the course of an hour, she slipped into a coma. The doctors sent her to SickKids by ambulance.
It was just as awful as you could imagine. I’ll never forget walking out of the hospital, pushing an empty stroller.
It turned out that Victoria had lactic acidosis and a brain injury. I think she was in a coma for about a week. When she regained consciousness, she could no longer control her movements, speak, or swallow. She had to get a G-tube for tube feeding, surgically. They did various tests and diagnosed Victoria with mitochondrial disease.
“I’ll never forget walking out of the hospital, pushing an empty stroller.”
After the trauma Victoria went through, we couldn’t get a smile out of her anymore. Not that she should have been smiling – but no amount of stuffed animals or funny noises was getting a reaction.
When Victoria got home she couldn’t even sit up but I’ve never seen anybody so determined to do just that. Through sheer force of will, she learned to sit up on her own – and then to crawl. Eventually she even decided she wanted to learn to walk, and although I thought it was inconceivable, I supported her and she eventually got it. She really is amazing.
Victoria never regained the ability to speak and was diagnosed with autism around the age of three, but she’s doing amazing today. She loves animals, listening to music, car drives, and puppets. Seeing her laugh and smile all the time makes me so happy, because there was that time when she didn’t at all. Now, I certainly don’t take it for granted.”