An Update from the Chwok Family

By  |  August 3, 2023 |  ,


Since last year’s fundraising golf tournament, Karynna has made significant progress. Much of
the transition from her hospital stay to returning to home was made successful because of the
generous people who attended and supported last year’s golf tournament. We were able to
purchase a ramp for our front door, a bed, a secondary suction machine, upgrades to her
wheelchair and many other necessities for Karynna’s care. However, it was by no means an easy
journey getting to where Karynna is now since the golf tournament.

On the date of last year’s golf tournament, Karynna was still a patient in unit 4D at the Stollery
Children’s Hospital. Not long after the golf tournament, she unfortunately contracted COVID-19.
As she has with every other battle throughout this journey, she fought hard and beat COVID,
just in time to return home at the end of August. Karynna was home for a few days and was
able to celebrate her dad’s birthday and parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. This was very special
for her and her family to finally share the moments that should be spent together as a family.

About a week later, she left to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to start her stay as an
inpatient. Unfortunately, a respiratory doctor at the Glenrose felt Karynna’s respiratory care
from the Stollery Children’s Hospital was inadequate. Many changes were made, and as a result,
her condition deteriorated rapidly. Karynna aspirated and contracted pneumonia after only a
few days of being at the Glenrose. She was then admitted to the Misericordia Hospital ICU on
September 15th, 2022. She made steady progress throughout her stay and was discharged on
September 28th. For the next couple of weeks, the family enjoyed going on fall walks together
and spending quality time at home. Everything was going well, but after a few days, Karynna’s
oxygen levels started to drop. Her physician gave her two antibiotics to help with what they
presumed to be lingering effects of the pneumonia. However, her oxygen levels further
deteriorated, and she was readmitted to the Misericordia Hospital ICU on October 12th. It
turned out Karynna was still fighting a more aggressive strain of pneumonia. Her condition was
very serious. She spent a month in the hospital and unfortunately had to have a tracheostomy
before she was able to come home. On November 10th, she was discharged from the hospital
and has been home ever since. Karynna breathes on her own during the day, but is connected
to the ventilator at night on minimal support. One of the specialists she sees has already
mentioned that decannulation is the goal.

Karynna’s family discovered a paralysis recovery centre, called Reyu, in Edmonton. Karynna
started attending rehabilita;on sessions at Reyu shortly aIer she returned home. She left the
hospital with minimal control of her head and neck; Karynna is now able to independently hold
her head for over an hour while seated and can also hold it when she is being lifted into and out
of her wheelchair. She is now able to independently lift her left arm from the elbow, move her
left shoulder and can move several of her fingers. She also has small movements in other parts
of her body that they are excited to continue building on at Reyu. These developments are all
thanks to the amazing team at Reyu, who are so positive, uplifting and encouraging.

Karynna has also seen several speech pathologists both at the Chris Clinic in Sherwood Park and
at the Glenrose. As a result of the many times she was intubated, her tongue and teeth have
suffered significant trauma. One of her vocal cords was also damaged as a result of being intubated several times. Karynna’s voice has gradually become louder over the past few months. Her secretions have decreased significantly, which is another step in the right direction.

Karynna attends the Steadward Centre for Personal and Physical Achievement once per week,
which is a disability inclusive gym operating out of the Van Vliet at the University of Alberta. She
uses a stationary bike from the comfort of her wheelchair with electrical stimulation pads on
various muscles in her legs. This encourages the brain to remember the several connections it
takes to ride a bike.

Karynna’s recovery is multifaceted, in that a portion of her rehabilitation involves reintegrating
into typical, everyday routines and venturing into greater society. Her current weekly schedule
consists of 4 days of rehabilita;on. She is attending the Glenrose as an outpatient, the
Steadward Centre and Reyu. She has also enjoyed visits from several of her friends from school
and dancing over the past few months. As well, Karynna’s piano instructor has been providing
music therapy sessions for Karynna from the comfort of her home. Karynna’s siblings, Annalise,
Lukys and Yaleena are home from teaching and school for the summer. They enjoy spending
time with Karynna and attending rehabilitation sessions with her. Karynna’s mom, Deonne,
continues to be her primary caregiver throughout the day, as her dad, Steven, continues to work
full time for Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission remotely. The family has enjoyed several
outings together recently, such as the farmer’s market, the museum and Yaleena’s high school
graduation. They are so thankful to be able to enjoy these moments together again, even if
outings look a bit different now. Day to day life in the Chwok household is extremely busy, but
Karynna and her family are thankful to be together under the same roof.

The family would like to express their sincere gratitude and appreciation for all the work Peter,
Sam, Rene and the rest of the Nitza’s team put into last year’s golf tournament. Their time and
efforts have made the world of difference in Karynna’s recovery. The family encourages
everyone to attend this year’s golf tournament in support of Ryland and his family. Ryland
attended Karynna’s tournament last year and was an absolute ray of sunshine and a huge help.
Thank you again to everyone for supporting Karynna!