Mylo's Story

Child Health | 11 days ago

Mylo’s Mighty Comeback

A trip to the emergency department resulted in terrifying news for 12-year-old Mylo Sommer. One year later, Mylo's mom recounts their journey from heartbreak to healing, and how the team at Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital supported them every step of the way.

On a warm March day in 2021, 12-year-old Mylo Sommer started feeling ill. With symptoms of headaches and vomiting, her parents, Dana and James, chalked it up to a stomach bug. But after two days of resting and waiting for the vomiting to cease and the pain to ease, Mylo’s condition didn’t get better – in fact, it got much worse. 

Dana and James called 911 when their daughter began having seizures. “We knew in that moment that this was something more than a headache or stomach bug and it required professional medical care,” Dana says. The paramedics offered to take Mylo to the nearest hospital just a few minutes away, but her parents decided to go straight to Levine Children’s Hospital, about an hour’s drive from their home. “A good friend of mine has always spoken very highly of their care,” Dana recalls. “I realize now that our decision certainly saved her life.”

The Longest Wait

After several tests and a CAT scan, a team of doctors and nurses rallied around the Sommer family to share their findings. “We heard the words that Mylo had a brain bleed … and we were completely overwhelmed,” Dana says. 

As Mylo’s care team answered their questions, Dana and James began to understand the severity of the situation. “This was certainly a diagnosis that was beyond our comprehension,” Dana says. “But we were certain that these professionals surrounding us would help us navigate these uncertain waters.”

Amidst the blur of scans and tests and being moved to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), the Sommer family experienced a whirlwind of emotions. Plans for surgery were in the works to alleviate Mylo’s brain bleed and to remove a tangle of vessels – which they learned would be a five-day wait so the bleeding in the brain could clot. 

“Confusion and fear overtook us as this was so far from what we ever expected it to be,” Dana says. “There is nothing quite like being helpless over your sick child.”

Just a few hours earlier, Dana and James thought they were coming to the hospital to help their daughter with dehydration. Now after being rocked by the devastating news that their daughter was experiencing a massive brain bleed, all they could do now was wait.

Whole Body Healing

With a talented team of committed neurosurgeons and caring clinicians by her side, Mylo and her family knew they were in good hands from a physical standpoint. But they also felt their emotional wellbeing was supported in a multitude of ways that dovetailed seamlessly with her clinical care. 

Since the mind plays an important role in healing, Mylo’s care team took a comprehensive approach that included both clinical and mental wellbeing. 

“We’re very into a homeopathic style, and we’re grateful there was space for that during Mylo’s treatment,” Dana says. “This complementary medicine is what Mylo’s body knew. It is how she responds to healing, and they advocated to get her services that would help her in any way possible.” 

As she waited for her surgery, Mylo partook in Reiki energy healing and sound therapy that provided a familiar comfort to her mind and body. Dana recalls one session in which the therapist began to lightly strum and hum a relaxing rhythm on her guitar. Coincidentally, it also happened to be one of Mylo’s favorite songs. Her body and brain relaxing in the moment. “We were once again reminded that this was out of our hands,” Dana says.

Take Two

When surgery day arrived, Mylo made it through the procedure and her parents received a first call that everything was going as planned. But when an angiogram showed another bleed, Dana and James received a second call that the team was bringing Mylo back to the operating room. 

“This was definitely not what we would have imagined given there was a 1% chance that this could be a possibility,” Dana says.

But later that evening, a second angiogram and CAT scan confirmed no new bleeds – Mylo’s brain looked great. Now it was time to heal.

Mylo’s recovery went quickly. She only needed Tylenol to help control the symptoms and was no longer on narcotics, which had been a necessity over the past five days. She also had more Reiki sessions and music and art therapy, bringing comfort and peace to her weary body.

Healing in the Hallways

Two days after her surgery, Mylo’s physical therapy team had her out of bed and walking the halls. 

 “We can only relate it to watching your child take their first steps as a toddler. Wanting them so badly to be strong, to keep going, and most of all to watch the sheer confidence on their face,” Dana says. “It was such an inspiring moment. After seeing her laying in a bed helpless for over a week, it was great to see her interact with her world again.”

Back on Track

Mylo was discharged just three days after two major brain surgeries. 

“We are still in awe at the progress she made in such little time,” Dana says. “We are convinced that our choice to go to Levine Children’s was the best decision we made. The medical care, attention, understanding, and advocacy that she received was exceptional.”

Mylo got the green light in August 2021 to resume all the things she enjoys, including go-kart racing, which had been her recovery goal. She proudly took home a second place trophy for the league championships. Mylo also started her second season of softball this spring with her team earning the championship title. She is currently learning to play hockey and enjoys honing her artistic skills. 

“Over the past year, she has grown in leaps and bounds and continues to keep us in awe with her tenacity and fearlessness for life,” Dana says. “We always tell her that if it wasn’t for that scar, it would seem like it was all a dream.”