Adriana Miele’s courage and upbeat personality inspire those around her
“The wolf huffed and he puffed, but he couldn’t slow Adriana’s spirit down.” A cartoon image of the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood was just one of many fictional characters and their messages of inspiration on posters that covered the walls of Adriana Miele’s patient room at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. In fact, not much dims the spirit of this special young woman.
“She is always smiling,” says her mother, Anna. “She loves art, music and dancing.” Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three, Adriana has faced countless medical challenges in her 33 years. Anna calls her a fighter. Everyone who meets Adriana is inspired by her.
While visits to the hospital are nothing new for Adriana and her family, she faced her biggest medical challenge so far when she was admitted to Mackenzie Health’s Intensive Care Unit in July 2015.
Complications arising from a surgery meant that Adriana would spend nearly the next year fighting for her life. But that she did, overcoming one hurdle at a time and winning over the hearts of those who cared for her at Mackenzie Health.
Mackenzie Health’s Dr. Carol Redstone, Division Head and Physician Lead, Critical Care, and the ICU team took a unique approach to caring for such a spirited woman by creating a “magnificent display of positive energy” in Adriana’s room.
“It started when we were trying to wean Adriana off the ventilator,” Dr. Redstone says. “She seemed to respond to my silly sense of humour and jokes, so we thought we would take it a step further and provide her with something that was a positive reinforcement for all her efforts to breathe on her own.”
A look around Adriana’s room revealed posters with inspirational messages, light-hearted jokes, riddles and photographs of friends and family all over the walls. At the foot of Adriana’s bed was a binder with notes of love and good wishes from staff and visitors.
Although she is unable to communicate verbally, Adriana still finds a way to connect deeply with her mom, whether it’s a smile, a graceful blink, or that “cheeky look” that Anna loves dearly. Mother and daughter have an unbreakable bond that her doctors say is an important part of Adriana’s health.
“Anna and her family have played a significant role in Adriana’s care,” Dr. Redstone says. “They truly are key partners in Adriana’s recovery. It is remarkable how much trust is placed in the medical team, and it is a trust that we deeply honour. When Anna blinked to say thanks or show her delight, there was no greater reward.”
For Anna, the trust is mutual and overwhelmingly emotional. “I am so touched by Dr. Redstone’s compassion,” she says. “I could never put into words how much she has given to Adriana and our family.”
Anna is grateful for the friendships she and Adriana have made. “The whole team has been amazing at lifting our spirits. The hardest part was the unknown. We have been frightened and afraid for Adriana at times, but the Mackenzie Health team has truly helped us get through
Adriana celebrated her biggest achievement yet in her recovery when she returned home last September, and no one is prouder of the spirited and courageous young woman than Anna.
By Danielle Luciano