Update on baby hit by softball: "OH! HAPPY DAY! HAPPY DAY!" - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Update on baby hit by softball: "OH! HAPPY DAY! HAPPY DAY!"

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This MRI scan, posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page, shows the skull fracture. This MRI scan, posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page, shows the skull fracture.
Photo taken of McKenna just hours before the softball game (Facebook) Photo taken of McKenna just hours before the softball game (Facebook)
McKenna on May 8, 6 days after the accident McKenna on May 8, 6 days after the accident

Update, Thursday, May 17, 2:29 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page one hour ago:

"Afternoon Update 05/17/2018: OH! HAPPY DAY! HAPPY DAY!

Where do we begin?!

McKenna had an awesome night and an even better morning! She is tolerating the wean fantastically and is currently at .5 (Noon CST) on the Versed. Neuro came in while she was awake and said that her EEG is looking better and better as she is continuing the slow, but steady wean of a .1 decrease every four hours. Her epinephrine is currently at .01 and her blood pressure is stable. The rest of her stats are holding stable, as well. YAY GOD!

I'm sure that most of you saw the video last evening of McKenna with her eyes open. What a wondrous sight that was, was it not?! This morning she was even more awake! And she is showing us more and more that she is there and she is fighting hard! She is able to track Kassy's finger and her voice with BOTH eyes, she is holding and clenching Lee's and Kassy's fingers with BOTH hands, and she is responding to more than just pain stimuli with BOTH feet. She is even drawing BOTH of her legs up at the knee when Kassy runs her fingers down the bottoms of her feet. She's saying, "Momma! Stop tickling me!" LOL! Notice that I am emphasizing BOTH... This is because I for one was concerned that we would see the brain damage manifest itself in lack of motion on one side, but we are seeing movement on BOTH sides! She even stretched BOTH of her legs out when the doctors took her blanket off today. Although her right side moves a little more sluggish than the left, this may be because we are also seeing more fluid positivity on the right side as compared to the other. Or, it may just be all the meds she is on. Who wouldn't be a little loopy? I choose to believe in the promise of complete healing, so I'm sure we will see equalized movement the more she wakes up. The nurses have put a little mobile above her crib because one of McKenna's favorite things to do is watch the ceiling fan, so the mobile has brightly colored blades that spin and play music, as well as project little stars on the plastic top of the crib. McKenna is also doing quite a bit of drooling, so Kassy and Lee are going out today to buy her some bibs. I know it will do their hearts good to do something so "normal"!

Although McKenna is still at a high rate of the Versed, she is having more definitive periods of wakefulness. Part of this is due to what we are calling McKenna being a "Midazo-holic". "Versed" is the trademark name for the prescription drug name of "Midazolam". McKenna has developed a high tolerance for the Versed and as the doctors decrease the dosage, it's requiring more and more to have the same effect. While obviously they're not going to increase the dosage as that is the opposite of what we're trying to accomplish, it explains why she's receiving so much and is still able to be awake. While this isn't bad in and of itself, McKenna is more likely to experience a "Versed Hangover". To draw you a mental picture, it's very similar to an alcoholic needing more and more alcohol to get the same feeling. Then, after the bender is over, they need to sleep it off. When McKenna is completely weaned off the Versed, she will probably be doing quite a bit of sleeping, as her body gets used to not having the medication.

As part of McKenna waking up, the doctors have decided to try a Spontaneous Breathing Trial. Basically they are leaving McKenna intubated, but will decrease the amount of pressure she is receiving through the ventilator to see how well she breathes on her own. That way, she can exercise her lungs and they can see how well she tolerates breathing on her own, but the vent is still there to back her up, if she needs it. It will be some time before they are ready to take her off the vent completely, as there is still the possibility for seizures. Since there have been times that McKenna has been breathing over the vent, we are very excited to see how she tolerates breathing completely on her own for the first time in two weeks! We will let you know how it goes.

So needless to say, there is plenty of rejoicing in the Hovenga, Baldwin, and Heise families today! I for one feel like I can take the first deep breath in weeks. It almost feels as if we have come out into a blinding light from a deep, dark tunnel. I have no doubt that the days and weeks ahead will be filled with hills and valleys, but I know I can speak for all of us when I say that today we are shouting our joy from a mountain top and I know that each of you are right there with us! - ? Laura"


Update, Tuesday, May 15, 8:48 p.m.

Posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page one hour ago:

"05/15/2018 Evening Update: Oh! What a day! McKenna is doing fantabulous! Her chest x-ray is looking better and they aren't getting as much mucous out when they suction. She is at 1.2 on her Versed wean, which is awesome. Today when they rolled her to her side, she peeped at us more than she has been. It was so good to see those eyes! You can definitely tell when she is in her awake period because she flutters her eyelashes, flares her nostrils and purses her lips! It was so good to see!

Kassy, Lee and I had a very emotional time as we read your cards and letters and opened your gifts. The ones that really got to us were the ones from children... Especially the 6 and 7 years olds from Wylie, Texas who showed us "the Wylie way" with their cute drawings and sweet words. I have to admit I had a bout of ugly crying that I had to get under control. Lee wasn't much better. Kassy stayed strong because I think she's afraid if she lets go, she won't be able to stop. I can tell you there was not a dry eye in that room as we read your letters and cards out loud. We have been so unbelievably touched by all of you. McKenna's room will literally be covered in prayer and warm wishes, when we finish hanging up all the cards and pictures. It was so much to soak in. I think we still are trying to. You all have moved us and I'm running out of words to describe our feelings. - Laura"


Update, Monday, May 14, 9:37 p.m.

Posted about 4 hours ago on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"05/14/2018 Evening Update: McKenna's PIC line is in and the nurse said she did great! I know the picture is kind of hard to look at (at least it was for me), but we know that it is the best thing for her right now.

We've seen some stabilization in her heart rate and blood pressure today. Her heart rate was hanging out in the 80s and dipping into the 70s. She is now sitting at about 100-ish. So that's some positive news! McKenna's blood pressure (MAPs) goal is to be above 55 and the past couple days she has been staying in the upper 40s to low 50s, but now she is at about 65-70. This is some great news, as they had really been struggling with getting her stats to stabilize.

Neuro is seeing some changes in McKenna's EEG. It's nothing major, but there is an increase in “rhythmic bursts” so they are stopping the wean of the Versed at 1.4 until further notice. They're hoping those will stabilize and we can begin to wean her off the Versed even further. Although with everything she is currently on she could technically go home taking, right now they're just at too high a level. Our goal is to get her meds down to a dosage she can take at home.

And with that, Day 12 is almost at an end... It feels like it's been an eternity and I know Lee and Kassy and the rest of our family feel like it has been too. Tomorrow I am heading to back Mayo with a sack of goodies for Lee, Kassy, and McKenna. I told Lee I was going to look like Santa Claus coming in there! The PO Box was absolutely stuffed this morning and then again this afternoon, along with packages put behind the counter for us to pick up. Our local postal worker (who totally rocks by the way) was just amazed at what is coming in to our girl! We had a good time looking at all the different places from coast to coast that the envelopes and packages were return addressed from. I actually gave her my cell phone number, so if she needed me to come get items, she could just call me. It's truly is unbelievable! I know Kassy and Lee will have a great time with reading the cards and opening the packages tomorrow and it will be a nice distraction for them. I will post pictures tomorrow!

I always think that I have regained my voice for McKenna, but once again your kindness and generosity for our girl has left me speechless. Thank you is one of the most underwhelming phrases in the English language, as it really truly cannot come even close to conveying how touched our family is by your support. We simply love you all. - <3 Laura"

Update, Friday, May 11, 4:27 p.m.

Posted 4 hours ago to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"Update of the Morning Update 05/11/2018: While I had to persuade Kassy to share what she found out this morning, we have decided to share the news from Neurology that we received. We want to remain positive, but we also want to remain open with friends and family that are following this page, as for some it is their only avenue for updates. I admit, the news is pretty grim.

Couple of things just happened in the last half hour... As you know they've been watching McKenna's lungs for the development of a respiratory infection, which is common in those intubated for any length of time. There had been a spot they noticed in an earlier scan, that they've been keeping an eye on. This morning while she was being suctioned, her respirations and heart rate decreased dramatically. They had to bag her. It didn't last long, less than a minute (about 15 breaths) and they were able to get her stable in short order. Her stats all look good now, but it was a scare. There is some discussion about possible pneumonia, but that is NOT confirmed.

Secondly, the Head of Neurology came in and we've decided to dub him with the name "Dr. Bad News", as it seems when we receive news of set-backs, he's the one who gives it to us. As you all know, McKenna was having little mini-seizures yesterday. Well, they have been able to pinpoint the locations of these seizures to the two areas of brain damage that they have been monitoring. She is still having them and they're about 10 seconds in duration. The grim news is that they feel that the brain damage in one area is "a lot" and the brain damage of the other area is "significant". These areas affect a large portion of the brain, with a good portion having to do with motor skills and development. Exactly what we're looking at? We won't know until she is fully awake. Deep breath.

So... We got news and it's not the greatest. I'm still processing. - Laura"


Update, Thursday, May 10, 9:15 p.m.

McKenna turned 2-months-old today! And an update was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page about 20 minutes ago:

"Well... It's been an up and down kind of day. Let's talk about the good things. As you know McKenna was struggling with some seizure activity. As the day went on, they became more numerous and closer together. Basically as the Pentobarb wears off more and more, the doctors have to substitute an equal amount of the other anti-seizure medications to equal the same prevention. Sometimes with that, they're playing catch-up. The good news is that she hasn't had another cluster since 3:00 pm and it would appear that they've gotten on top of them. Also, the seizures are short in duration and not as strong as what we were seeing last week when she was in status. It's just another sign that she's coming back to us. They've increased her Phenobarbital and Versed. The Versed is at the maximum dosage, but we've got plenty of room to work with the Phenobarbital. Then great thing is, the seizures are short and they're getting them controlled. She's a fighter, our girl!

Now this good news is going to excite you, so I saved the best for last! McKenna gave her Momma a present on her 8 week birthday... She gripped Kassy's finger! YAAAAAAAAAY! And when they stroked the bottom of her foot, she pulled her leg back. Pretty stinkin' awesome! She's having bowel movements regularly and is still getting Kassy's milk with supplements plus still overriding the vent breathing on her own. So many good, good things to report! If we can just get those pesky seizures under control for good, we'll really be getting somewhere!

So it's great to end a pretty yucky day on a such a good note! Happy 2 month Birthday, Kenna-baby! Keep fighting for us! - Laura"


Update, Wednesday, May 9, 9:30 p.m.

Two hours ago, this update was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"Evening Update 05/09/2018: McKenna's been feisty today.

Yucky news is that she's having seizures about every 20 minutes. Good news is that they're only lasting about a minute and a half. They gave her another loading dose of phenobarbital via IV and have backed off the idea of doing the oral doses. If the current seizures continue, they will give her another loading dose. There is no talk of implementing the steady drip, but they may have to up the dosage amount to keep her seizure-free.

Good news on her blood pressure. She is now completely off the norepinephrine and they are beginning to lower the epinephrine. So this is a great sign that her BP is beginning to hold steady when that had been one the initial problems. Also good news is that she continues to breath mostly on her own. Kassy is talking to her and letting her know that she is there and I truly believe that McKenna hears her. - Laura"


Update, Tuesday, May 8, 10:45 p.m.

An hour ago, an update was posted on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page.  In it, Laura describes the seizures McKenna is having:

"Short evening update... If you take a look this picture, the pink lines are McKenna trying to breath on her own. Such an awesome sign! They took her down for a CT this evening and we're currently awaiting the results. This morning when they gave her the phenobarbital, it stopped the seizures, but also took her one step back from waking up. So McKenna's brain activity was coming back and then Neuro made the call to give her the pheno and it slowed her brain activity again. The doctors did not anticipate that happening, but it’s not uncommon. So we went one step back with the seizure activity and then one more step back with it lowering her brain activity again. However, we have made A LOT of progress since things were so bad on Friday.

I know that when most of you think of seizures, you think of the convulsive seizures that epileptics experience where there are physical symptoms that you can observe. What McKenna is experiencing is called a subclinical seizure. A subclinical seizure is a seizure that does not present any clinical signs or symptoms. Such seizures are often experienced by people with epilepsy, in which an electroencephalogram (EEG) trace will show abnormal brain activity, usually for a short time, but the level of consciousness is normal. Her brain is just firing off rapidly because it's being irritated by the blood. So basically, we can be sitting right next to McKenna when she is seizing and have no idea unless her pulse rate goes up.

Most of the time we rely on Neuro to tell us if she's having one, which they track in a completely different area. If she has one, the phone in the room rings. Sometimes it rings for other things, but every time it does, we all hold our breaths. I personally refer to Neuro as "the Great Wizard", like from the Wizard of Oz... All knowing and all seeing. Cameras monitor McKenna from various angles and they are constantly monitoring her EEG from their department. It can kind of be a little surreal, but we are so thankful there is always, always someone monitoring her 24 hours a day on top of her personal nurse that never leaves her room. I don't know what we'd do if we weren't at Mayo with the best of the best. We are so very grateful McKenna is in such good hands. - Laura"


Update: Tuesday, May 8, 3:40 p.m.

Around 3 p.m., this update was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"McKenna is completely off the pentobarb as of 10:55am CST. She had remained seizure free throughout the night and tolerated the 3:00 am 50% reduction well, so they made the decision to stop it all together. Yesterday they removed the Bair Hug that was regulating her body temperature and her edema is down remarkably. She's looking a whole lot more like herself! She was trying to take some breaths on her own there for a little while, so that's good. They have started to feed her her own special concoction of lipids and electrolytes. They have blocked her G-tube in hopes that her bowels will begin to work on their own.

Now for the not so good... Not horrible, just disappointing. McKenna had her first seizure-like activity in 96 hours at 11:38 am. It appeared to be some small cluster seizing for almost a half hour, but there were no overt signs in her stats. It's not like it was before when she was in status (one huge continuous seizure) for a long period of time. So they gave her a loading dose of phenobarbital to get control of that.They've figured out that she's pretty sensitive and they're trying to find the right balance of what works. The positive news is that there are several different meds they can try before we have to put her back on the pentobarb, should there being anymore activity. Our girl keeps them on their toes that's for sure!"


Update: Sunday, May 6, 12:05 p.m.

19 minutes ago, this was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"McKenna has been seizure free for 48 hours! Praise God! That's our girl! The doctors will start lowering the Versed a little every hour, and then at night they back it off to every 2 hours. Versed is the seizure med that she was maxed out on.

McKenna has experienced quite a bit of fluid positivity. This means she is retaining fluid and because she cannot get rid of it in normal ways because she's laying still (urinating, being held, moving), she is retaining more and more. This is why she looks puffy. This is perfectly normal in this situation. It's important to get rid of the fluid to be able to take the breathing tube out when the time comes and they can't remove it, if she's retaining a lot of fluid.

The CT came back stable, but they are still seeing the spots of possible brain damage. However... We don't know the extent IF ANY until she wakes up. Her blood levels were great! Labs are stable. They are keeping her NPO at the time, which means she is not receiving Kassy's milk"


Update: Saturday, May 5, 12:28 p.m.

Three hours ago, this was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"McKenna is doing good this morning!! Everything is stable. Blood count stayed stable after her last transfusion. They have lowered the blood pressure meds and she is handling it very well! They also have her temp stable. There is talk of possibly starting a slow drip of food, but not worried about it at this time! AND STILL SEIZURES FREE!!!!!"


Update: Friday, May 4, 6:43 p.m.

Three minutes ago, this was posted to the Healing for McKenna Facebook page:

"A little good news to share... Why could all use some, right?  McKenna has gone the longest amount of time without a seizure since we arrived. She has had no cluster seizure activity since the big one this morning. She tolerated her blood transfusion and it has been successfully completed, although they will continue transfusions as they take blood to monitor her levels. McKenna was successfully weaned onto the norepinephrine with no seizures occurring. The head of the PICU said that they are feeling very encouraged with what they are seeing and while we are by no means out of the woods, there is cautionary hope for McKenna to recover. She has very many thing working in her favor including her age and the flexibility of her skull. There are two places of traumatic injury to the brain itself that they are watching, but we have received what we hope is the beginning of lots of encouraging news."


Update: Friday, May 4, 4:50 p.m.

Our sister station KWWL continues to follow the progress of young McKenna, as she recovers after being hit by an overthrown softball in Waverly Wednesday night.

We received a message from McKenna's mom around 4:15 p.m. this afternoon.  It reads:

"UPDATE FROM FAMILY: The results of the CT Scan showed that one of the areas of bleeding had gotten larger, although this is something that wasn't unexpected by the team. McKenna has received her blood transfusion and her status has not changed at this time. She is still critical condition. Goal is to stop the seizures. Her last seizure was about 45 mins long and ended about 7:30 this morning."

Updates are being posted on the Healing for McKenna Facebook page regularly.  The most recent post was posted around 1 p.m. on Friday, May 4:

"No new news yet. We are simply just waiting for the blood transfusion to take place and still waiting for the results on the CT scan. She is stable. Her last seizure was about 45 mins long and ended about 7:30 this morning. Here are pictures from her MRI yesterday that I wanted to share with you.
First one is the fracture that is on her skull. They say it will heal on its own. Second, is just one of the MANY pictures they have of the blood on her brain. The lighter spotted areas in the red circle is blood."

And this had been posted earlier Friday morning around 10 a.m.:

UPDATE: McKenna has been taken for a CT Scan. There has been some blood loss and they're not sure if it is from the initial trauma or if something has developed since. McKenna will require a blood transfusion. I know this is redundant, but please keep praying. - Laura

Friends have also started a YouCaring page for McKenna and her parents.  You can find that here.


Original story:

A seven week old baby is recovering after an overthrown softball hit her on the head.

Baby McKenna Hovenga was hit during a men's softball game in Waverly Wednesday night. She was airlifted to Mayo Clinic where she is being treated for brain bleeds.

Kassy Hovenga and her daughter McKenna were sitting on the bleachers watching the game when suddenly a ball flew over the fence and hit her and her baby.

"The guy was in the outfield and he was just simply throwing to the third baseman to try and get an out and it went right over the gate and hit us," said Hovenga.

Hovenga's husband was playing in the game for the Waverly men's softball league. Hovenga says she was about to feed McKenna when the ball hit her.

"A ball hit me in the shoulder, she (McKenna) didn't do anything at first, but then it was just a blood curdling scream," said Hovenga.

McKenna was airlifted to Mayo Clinic, where doctors have been treating her for the brain bleeds and a scull fracture, her mother says she is doing better.

"As of right now everything is stable," said Hovenga this afternoon. "The brain bleeds are not getting bigger, they are pretty much just clots, and they are putting pressure on her brain which are causing the seizures."

The accident has shaken the first time mom.

"You see things like this happen, you never imagine them happening to you ever," said Hovenga. "I don't even have words to describe everything that I've been through in the past not even 24 hours, to see her finally calm is very reassuring."

Hovenga and her husband are forever grateful for their miracle, McKenna.

"We had to do three rounds of fertility treatments to get this little miracle, she is definitely our miracle baby," said Hovenga.

Family says brain bleeds are causing the baby to have seizures. She was seizure free for most of the day, but tonight family says she had a seizure that lasted nine minutes.

Family says doctors are taking it hour by hour right now. They are not sure exactly how long the baby will be in the PICU, their main goal is to treat the brain bleeds.

To keep up with McKenna's recovery, CLICK HERE.

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