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As Elk River family tends to 4-year-old recovering from strokes, his older sister becomes violently ill


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    ELK RIVER, Minnesota (WCCO) — An Elk River family is still processing what happened to both their kids in a matter of weeks.

Like many Minnesotans, the Warehams know how to savor a summer day. To get to the point of enjoying a day, they’ve pushed through an unimaginable spring.

“April Fools’ played the really long game on us this time,” daughter Marna Wareham said.

There are smiles now, but they come after tears. It started in early April, when 4-year-old Rowan Wareham started vomiting and acting wobbly on his feet.

“Just these little things that individually by themselves didn’t really kind of perk any kind of concern,” father John Wareham said.

But then Rowan lost bladder control, and then he lost clarity.

“Rowan started sounding almost intoxicated, really confused, was talking about like a cloud or something,” mother Melinda Wareham said.

John Wareham is a west metro police officer with EMT training. Out of instinct, he performed a Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale evaluation and saw Rowan couldn’t control his little arms.

“I turned and looked at her and said, ‘Something’s not right, I don’t like this,'” he said.

Rowan was at the ER in Princeton within 30 minutes.

“They immediately brought him in for a CT scan and his brain lit up,” Melinda Wareham said. “What they came in and said was, ‘He has a lot of lesions on his brain and there’s a large one on the right side.'”

Rowan was transferred to M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s where he was diagnosed with a stroke; in fact, he’d had several of them.

“When I heard that, I was thinking what? How? Why? What else is going on here underlying that caused this?” John Wareham said.

That’s when Dr. Amanda Moen came in, a pediatric neurologist at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

“Stroke is just as common are brain tumors are in kids,” Moen said. “It’s something to be aware it can happen, it’s unlikely to happen.”

But they can, often after a virus or after trauma.

“In Rowan’s case, his stroke was probably caused by a really minor trauma combined with a congenital difference in one of his blood vessels that set him up to have a blood vessel injury,” Moen said.

Unlike adults, kids tend to recover faster. Over a matter of days, Rowan regained the use of his arms and legs. His prognosis is hopeful, but he has a regimen of daily acidic injections and an around-the-clock neck collar.

A week after Rowan got home from the hospital, another emergency struck. This time older sister Marna was off kilter. She started vomiting profusely, so they went back to the ER.

“When she got there she weighed 67 pounds. She lost 13 pounds in a day and a half. So the doctor came in and he said, ‘She’s really sick.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, she is,'” Melinda Wareham said. “So he kind of leaned on the side of her bed and said, ‘Lightning struck twice for you this month.’ And he said, ‘You have Type 1 diabetes.’ And I saw her look from the doctor quickly over at me to see what my reaction was, she didn’t know what that meant. And I said, ‘We can manage that.'”

They see the back-to-back timing as a gift, since they were already off work and covered by a meal train of love.

“It was like we couldn’t have a need for more than an hour without someone jumping in to fill it, so the only thing that we had to worry about was keeping our kids happy,” Melinda Wareham said.

The conditions are not related in any way; it was just coincidental timing.

Marna’s diabetes is now under control. Rowan’s doctor says they have a plan to help Rowan keep healing, and that he is the only 4-year-old she’s seen who never complains about his neck brace.

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