Annadelle at the Flora-Bama visiting Santa Claus.By John Mullen

December 10, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – Annadelle Faulkner conveyed her Christmas wishes to Santa Claus at the Flora-Bama recently, one of very few days she’s been out of the hospital since the first week of October.

“We were admitted to the hospital Oct. 1 and we hadn’t been home since,” her mom, Neeli Faulkner said. That changed recently when Annadelle was released to the Ronald McDonald House across the street from Children’s of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham.

Recently the family took a two-day weekend and spent it at their home in Orange Beach where a Christmas surprise awaited them.

Annadelle Faulkner of Orange Beach, Alabama, continues to battle acute flaccid myelitis.“Once we got home, I discovered Chris had secretly been talking with Nicole (Watson) planning something special for our arrival,” Neeli said. “She had gotten a key to our home and spent several days rearranging and decorating for Christmas, something I thought we would not be able to do since we were in Birmingham. I was so surprised to see how beautifully decorated our house was.”

The Faulkners’ journey started back then when the Orange Beach Elementary student’s ailments led them to Children’s Hospital of Mobile where doctors told her parents she had transverse myelitis. There she spent much of her time in the pediatric intensive care unit.

An outpouring of community support through a Go Fund Me campaign has raised nearly $30,000 to help with medical bills and living expenses, $20,000 of it from anonymous donors in two $10,000 donations. Watson started the page for the family.

Neeli said Annadelle has made steady improvement regaining movement taken away by the rare spinal disease doctors are now calling acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like illness that affects the central nervous system.

The move to the Ronald McDonald gives Annadelle outpatient status and she returns to the hospital several times a day for treatments.

“She has physical therapy and occupational therapy twice a day so it’s kind of spread out,” Neeli said. “She’s been in the bed so long she’s lost some of her muscle mass so they are putting her in PT and OT three hours a day to try to get those muscles working again.”

Neeli said Annadelle can move most parts of her body but is still weak from the long stretches of being bedridden.

“She can move everything on her body almost but she doesn’t do very much because she doesn’t have the muscle strength,” Neeli said. “She still can’t move her left foot and she can’t pick up her right leg. Certain muscles are working and certain muscles are not. It’s hard to tell which ones she’s engaging and which ones she is not.”

Her family has been by her side through it all with mom Neeli and dad Chris staying in the hospital room with her wherever she has been.

“We haven’t gotten much sleep since Oct. 1 because even when we had a room in Mobile we never stayed there because she was in the PICU, she was really unstable and had to be put on a vent,” Neeli said. “It’s just been a full-time job for both of us to have to take care of her because she can’t do many of her activities for daily living. She can feed herself but she can’t go to the restroom, she can’t bath herself, she can’t dress herself or anything like that.”

Spending time at home and in Orange Beach was refreshing for the family, Neeli said.

“We rode over to the Flora Bama to meet Nicole and family and see Santa,” Neeli said. “The kids were able to do a few crafts and get their faces painted, and, of course, talk to Santa. We also went to eat lunch together, then headed back to our house. We ate dinner with my mom who had prepared an awesome home-cooked meal for us. Once we got back to the house, Nicole and family came by for a visit.”

This week the family is back in Birmingham continuing the treatments.

“We have been approved until at least Friday, then doctors will re-evaluate and determine if another week of day treatment will be beneficial,” Neeli said. “I personally believe they will approve us until at least the 21st, then send us home due to the fact staffing will be limited during the week of Christmas. That would allow us to spend Christmas at home.”

Annadelle Faulkner of Orange Beach, Alabama, continues her fight against a polio-like spinal

To keep up with Annadelle’s progress, Neeli started a blog at the web address above. Besides updating her daughter’s progress she put every Facebook post about Annadelle since she got sick with acute flaccid myelitis. Neeli said she started the site to help other parents as well as track progress.

“I created this blog in order to keep track of Annadelle’s recovery progress, not only for my own records but also with the hope I can help other parents dealing with the same diagnosis,” she said. “I’ve posted everything I’ve posted since Oct. 3. We’ve been talking to other parents about it and I put all of that on the blog so other people can go through it. The scary thing if being alone in it and they can look at it and say ‘I’m not alone because somebody else has been through it.’”