Bella is a gymnastics star in the making. She flips, jumps and spins her way through the second grade. But when her mom, Ginni Johnson-Ruble noticed Bella was bruising too easily for her tumbling life, she became concerned. Bella’s body was eventually full of unusual bruising. As any concerned mother would, Ginni took her daughter to visit their pediatrician.
After running a few blood tests, Bella’s family discovered she was suffering from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) - a condition that causes bruising due to the lack of platelets that protect the body.
Upon her diagnosis, Bella was taken to the Children’s Center at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) to receive an Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment in order to raise her platelets to the appropriate level. While Bella was admitted for this treatment for three days, she kept her spirits high. “During her stay, Bella had the chance to meet members of the FSU Football Team as part of a special visit,” said Tallahassee Memorial’s Child Life Specialist Olivia Burton. “When they walked into the room, Bella popped right out of her bed and began chatting with them like she’s known them for years.” Bella’s outgoing personality made her an instant fan favorite.
Following discharge, Bella’s pediatrician shared that Bella would need to receive frequent blood tests to check her platelet levels. “We tried to go to another lab in town, but it was not a good experience. Bella is a kid and scared of needles. After having such a great experience at Tallahassee Memorial’s Children's Center, we went back for her outpatient blood work,” said Ginni.
At TMH’s Kids Korner, located within the Children's Center, certified pediatric nurses, like Donna Ranner, are trained to provide a comfortable environment for children to receive outpatient procedures. “When Bella first came to us, she was very nervous. It took three nurses to attempt to get her blood — she cried and fought us. We spent time to get to know what Bella likes and doesn’t like. We introduced her to LMX cream, which makes her skin numb before the IV poke,” said Donna. “She knows now that it won’t hurt because of the LMX cream. She plays with the iPad and is rarely aware that we have drawn her blood. Now it’s smiles and hugs when she comes to see us.”
The specialized care they received is not the only reason Ginni trusts TMH. “After giving birth to my daughters there and seeing my husband recover from a motorcycle accident, going to TMH felt like the natural thing to do,” said Ginni. After her husband, Thomas, went through a serious motorcycle accident in 2012, he spent 12 days in the hospital, including three days in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit. Thankfully, the TMH team was able to provide the service and care he needed to make it back home to his wife and two girls.
Visit after visit, week after week, Bella and Ginni continue to come to Kids Korner to monitor Bella’s platelet levels. In most children, ITP is not a life-long condition. Once Bella’s platelet levels get back to where they need to be, she will no longer need to visit her newfound friends.