The nightmare began in October last year.
She was not hit by a car, attacked in a street or involved in an accident. She was fine one day and the next day she wasn’t. She was vomiting, she couldn’t speak and then started seizing.
She had contracted encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain. How and why she contracted it remains unknown: it was either caused by a virus, or her own immune system.
She was admitted to intensive care and had her skull removed to allow her brain space to expand.
In the days that followed Rikki’s diagnosis and hospital admission, her mother, Lisa Bryant, and their loved ones were forced to confront a gut-wrenching, shock-inducing, heart-rending fact that no parent should ever face: Rikki might die.
For many weeks, and even months, through myriad ups and down, dying appeared a distinct and brutal possibility. She kept fighting to live, despite constant seizures and many drug reactions and hospital acquired infections.
Mercifully, and against the odds, she survived.
Less mercifully, Rikki has sustained considerable brain damage from the autoimmune virus.
The day before Rikki became unwell, she gave a presentation at uni. Four months on, she is unable to dress herself.
Encephalitis has irrevocably changed her life. To say it has also changed her mother’s life is an understatement of epic proportions.
Lisa has spent her every waking minute since October last year caring for Rikki. Fighting for Rikki. Praying for Rikki. Crying for Rikki.
(And in the past five months sleeping minutes for Lisa have been wretchedly scarce. Fighting for Rikki has been an around the clock proposition.)
She spent evening upon evening, from dawn til dusk and the hours in between, at Rikki’s bedside. She’s spent her days listening to the medical team try to explain the often inexplicable.