Diana Connell, RN
A lively blonde, blue-eyed first-grader, Diana Connell’s daughter Alayna is an outgoing, articulate first-grader. She loves to read; special favorites are the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park, which feature the adventures of a girl about Alayna’s age.
Alayna is on target scholastically. She receives a little extra tutoring help with visits to the Sylvan Learning Center in Farmington, New Mexico, about 100 miles from the small town in Colorado where she lives.
Alayna was born prematurely and only weighed about four pounds. She underwent in utero surgery to close her spine; however, later on she needed additional surgery to close the lesion. She was so tiny that breastfeeding was difficult; her mouth was so small, and her legs were bent. “I had to nurse her upside down,” recalls Diana. Alayna is an only child, born after several years of her mother’s hoping to have a baby. And one can certainly see that she is the light of her mother and stepfather’s lives.
Due to hydrocephalus, Alayna uses a shunt and has had surgery on both legs and feet, in which a tendon was taken from her calves, wound around and attached to her heels to control extreme ankle dorsiflexion. She used AFOs for a while but no longer needs them. She runs and walks beautifully; in fact, she loves to race her stepdad, Rich, to the front door.
Alayna is very active and has participated in Special Olympics and Pee Wee cheerleading, in which cheerleaders from a local high school host a workshop to teach younger ones the art.
Diana appreciates the online support group. “When you run into a problem, there’s no one like those who have been there—the doctors have good suggestions, but for practical ideas, they don’t always know what works best because they haven’t actually had to do these things.”