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A good yarn

The last two years have tested Kaycee Cottam to her core but sometimes all you need is a happy yarn to help put you in a better headspace…

Kaycee Cottam helped by Satan's Little Helper

Life’s been tough for 14-year-old Kaycee. She just wants to be a normal kid, play her sport and take on the world in her own way, but she has functional neurological disorder (FND).

Her mum Lorene originally thought she might have Tourette’s, especially as it runs in the family, and her initial symptoms appeared to be the same as her brother’s, who has the condition.

Lorene explains: “She’d lose feelings in her legs. They’d go numb and she wouldn’t be able to walk. She also doesn’t cope well with stress. If she gets too stressed, she passes out and has a pseudo-seizure.

“Essentially, her brain shuts down and resets but it’s tricky because she may come out of a seizure and go straight back into it again. We’ve had that happen for 40 minutes before.”

That’s a highly distressing situation for Kaycee and her family – and that’s not all.

“Because of her seizures, she had an MRI and that discovered a chiari malformation in her neck.”

That's not all

A chiari malformation can be nasty. It’s a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. Kaycee now has to have an MRI every two years to make sure it’s not impinging on her spinal cord, which could result in serious problems.

With all of that going on, it’s no surprise to learn that Kaycee’s mental health has taken a hit. She was under the care of ICAMS (Infant Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) and Lorene says she’s made encouraging progress.

“She’s come a long way and has been discharged by ICAMS. She hasn’t had a seizure for a long time either.”

Satan’s Little Helper (SLH) was delighted to hear that Kaycee is doing better, but her journey will be a long one and, if her stress levels creep up, her seizures will come back.

A good yarn

One thing that helps her is crochet, but she lacks some of the gear to take her to the next level – so SLH set her up with a winder, some hard-to-find yarn and a few other bits and bobs.

“She was very excited, because some of the yarn can’t be found in NZ! She loves her crochet and she’s forever using the winder! She says it’s very therapeutic. It takes her mind off things, keeps her busy and gives her a focus – especially when she’s having bad thoughts. Her goal right now is to make a range of bucket hats.”

Additionally, crochet gives Kaycee something to do if she has a flare up of her FND.

“When her legs play up, she can end up in hospital. Last time she spent five days in there and she’d pass the time crocheting.”

Kaycee has had to endure a lot, certainly more than your average 14-year-old. But, as her mum says: “It’s been a rough few years but things are looking up.”


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