On December 15, 2015, Meredith hit her head on the granite counter top while picking her homework off of the kitchen floor. There was no bruising or external bleeding, but rather an immediate onset of headaches. After a couple of days visiting the school nurse, it was determined she may have a concussion and she should see her pediatrician. What started out as a likely concussion quickly escalated. Her journey commenced with her pediatrician, to the Pediatric Neurology team at The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center with later and ongoing care at Boston Children's Hospital . (This was not Meredith's first time experiencing head trauma. In August 2013, Meredith experienced her first concussion as a result of an automobile accident.)
Meredith's health significantly deteriorated from December 2015 through March 2016 with no real known explanation other than the concussion. School work and activities were stripped away, school days were reduced and homework was no longer an option, yet Meredith's health continued to worsen. Following a visit to her Ophthalmologist at the end of March 2016, significant swelling of the optic nerve and fluid-filled optic discs were found, further launching a myriad of testing and an initial diagnosis of intracranial hypertension due to the head trauma, in addition to her concussion.
It wasn't until early April 2016 when her growing medical team found a thrombosis (blood clot) in the base of her sagittal sinus vein. Meredith was hospitalized in April 2016 to address the blot clot and pain management. She did not attend school from April - June 2016, missing out on her last year of elementary school. During this time, Meredith remained in significant pain. In addition, she lost her balance forcing her to walk with a cane, spent many hours enduring tests and sitting in doctor offices, attended physical therapy several times a week, participated in alternative treatment options, was tutored and some how managed to get through each day with grace.
Not to mention, Meredith did try to enjoy a daily dose of the Ellen DeGeneres show to make her laugh. It usually worked. "Hope" was, and is, a word we use daily. She received fantastic news at the end of August 2016 when the blood clot had dissipated, her balance had returned and she was able to return to school as a proud middle-schooler in September 2016.
Although the blood clot cleared, there are lingering medical issues that remain, with the most prevalent long-term side effect of a constant headache resulting from high intracranial hypertension and a narrowing of the veins in her brain. Neither can be seen to the eye, but are part of the hidden illness that have never gone away.
Why a Non-Profit?
After meeting with many doctors at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center and The Brain Injury Center at Boston Children's Hospital, Meredith was encouraged to get involved with something that would help replace what she had lost in terms of her participation in contact sports/activities, and to help with the associated psychological impact. After one physician had learned of Meredith's 2016 philanthropy efforts, she was encouraged to move forward with the Mighty Meredith Project. Therefore, after months of discussing the purpose and potential charitable offerings, Meredith decided on the following mission for the Mighty Meredith Project:
Bring education and awareness to having a Traumatic Brain Injury as an adolescent, with specific attention on their hidden impact - both physical and psychological
An avenue to give back to the medical community involved in her care, both past and present and support TBI research
Perform random acts of kindness, especially to those who may have a "hidden injury or illness"
Presently, Meredith's recovery is slow and sometimes stymied by complications from the TBI. While she is able to go to school and participate in activities such as Student Council and Peer Leaders, and re-defining her new "normal" through the world of dance, philanthropy and the advent of the Mighty Meredith Project; some things will always remain off limits and her life has been forever altered with one hit of the head. The hope for the MMP is to bring a bit of hope, joy and education to as many people as we can.
A Bit About Meredith
Today, Meredith is a proud 7th grader at the North Reading Middle School - Home of the Hornets. She is the middle child of three girls and makes people aware all the time she is the "Middle Child". If you have not figured it out by now, she loves everything pink, and if "sparkle" were a color it would be her favorite; hence the name of the family's two cats: "Shimmer" and "Sparkle". She has an incredible fashion sense and just loves to shop, making Paris her ideal travel destination. In addition to her love for everything "pink and sparkle", Meredith is an avid dancer, a great artist, enjoys her new found school activities, a huge New England Patriots fan and loves to go on family vacations - especially the beach. Not to mention, she makes the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet.
Most of all, Meredith is forever thankful for her friends and family who have been, and continue to be, by her side through this journey.
The logo for the Mighty Meredith Project, designed by Joyce Wells, of JWells Design, is intended to look like Meredith with brown hair and a pony tail - her signature look, only now with a cape, because Meredith is a real life “super hero”.
My Story in Pictures