CORNWALL, Ontario – In a matter of just a day or so Isabella Carriere will go from life in a wheelchair, to floating on what will probably feel like a cloud.
The 13-year-old Lancaster girl is grappling with metachromatic leukodystrophy – a mouthful of a degenerative disease that attacks the brain’s ability to communicate with nerves.
This communication breakdown often leads to a host of issues for patients, including loss of function, paralysis, blindness and seizures among others.
Isabella’s case has kept her confined to a wheelchair, and has led to complications like scoliosis, separated hips and shoulders that are beginning to separate.
What it hasn’t dampened is her spirit, and that of her family.
“Isabella was given a poor prognosis,” said her mother Melissa, adding at birth her daughter appeared normal until the diagnosis at 20 months of age. “At the time, of course, we were devastated.”
Isabella eventually lost the ability to sit, crawl and eat orally.
Her spirit, though, endured and has helped the family grow.
“Now she’s 13, and although her health is complicated, for the most part it is stable,” said Melissa. “It’s not a journey we planned on experiencing.
“But she has made us see life in a different light. We’re just thankful for every day we have with her. There are a lot of blessings we’ve enjoyed.”
A rather large blessing is on the horizon. A therapeutic pool is being installed Thursday at the family’s home. Thanks to a partnership between Rachel’s Kids in Cornwall and Cobra Pools and Spas in Perth, the pool (complete with heated water and jets) is being donated and will allow Isabella to enjoy some relaxation away from her wheelchair.
“It’s just the perfect therapy for her,” said Melissa. “It will relax her…and it’s fun.”
For the whole family. Melissa and her husband Stephane are looking forward to seeing their other daughter Mya, 11, splashing around too.
“It’s difficult for a sibling in the shadows, so I told her it’s just as much for her,” said Melissa.
The pool is expected to be fully functional by Friday or Saturday.
“Bill Brady from Cobra Pools organized the whole project, donated two days of his time with his staff, and provided equipment and supplies,” said Melissa. “He also asked other businesses to donate their help. Romanko Excavation dug the hole. MacGregor Crane lifted the pool into place. Villenueve Water Supply filled the pool. Cruickshank-Glengarry donated two loads of stone dust.
“The pool was purchased from San Juan and paid for by Rachel’s Kids.”