“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 is just one of the many images of fictional characters and their messages of inspiration on posters covering 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,” her mother, Anna, says. “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 yet when she was admitted to Mackenzie Health’s Intensive Care Unit in July 2015.

Complications arising from a surgery meant 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 her 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 I thought I 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.”

Posters with inspirational messages, light-hearted jokes, riddles and photographs of friends and family cover the walls. At the foot of Adriana’s bed is a binder, in which staff and visitors leave notes of love and good wishes.

Though unable to communicate verbally, Adriana 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, the two have an unbreakable bond.

“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 I deeply honour.”

“When Adriana blinks to say thanks or show her delight, there is 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 has been the unknown. We have been frightened and afraid for Adriana at times, but the Mackenzie Health team has truly helped us get through the worst.”

Adriana celebrated her biggest achievement yet in her recovery when she returned home in September 2016 and no one is prouder of the spirited and courageous young woman than Anna.


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