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Just Breathe and Trust

Just breathe and trust. This great piece of advice comes from Nena Johnson, Speech Language Pathologist at Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center, and can be helpful in just about every aspect of life.

Nena has recently experienced the unimaginable loss of her son Reese, and her team at Polinsky wanted to do something to honor Reese and Nena. They reached out to the Miller-Dwan Foundation to facilitate the purchase of a UV Texture Wall that could live in the pediatric waiting room at Polinsky. The textured wall is a highly dynamic and stimulating in all sorts of ways, the wall is made to capture and hold attention for hours of interactive tactile exploration.

Kristin Goman, Nena’s office mate and co-worker, wrote the following on behalf of the Polinsky team and she read it during the unveiling of the new UV Texture Wall.

“In January of 2006, Reese was welcomed home by his older brother, Griffin, Nena and her husband Scott. They were excited to begin the adventure of raising two boys. However, in April of 2006, Reese was hospitalized due to seizures and suddenly all of their hopes and dreams suddenly shifted and they began the long road of identifying a diagnosis and possible therapies/medications to help Reese live the best life possible. He was eventually diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder with no clear life expectancy or solid plan. Reese’s life was filled with uncertainties and they relied on their medical team (Dr. Manney, Dr. Forsman) to help navigate the “noisy brain,” as Nena would say.

Nena dealt with the unpredictable days by continuing to work as a pediatric Speech Language Pathologist and sharing the best part of Reese’s life with us. Very rarely did she burden us with how many hours she spent on the phone with doctors and nurses, how long it took to assemble his medications or how few hours of sleep she had. She put it all aside to come to work and help other families and kids deal with their own struggles or to offer a helping hand to a co-worker.

Nena never wanted recognition or praise for being Reese’s mom. It was the gift that she was given and she just loved him every day never knowing how long he would be with them. She would always say “Just Breathe and Trust” and “Hug your kids before they go to bed.” She always kissed and hugged Reese before he went to bed until August 2nd, 2019 when he unexpectedly passed away in his sleep.

Our team wanted to honor Reese for the amazing kid that he was. We also wanted to recognize Nena for the nurturing and caring mother that she was to Reese. Nena was frequently reminded of all of the activities that Reese wasn’t able to participate in like riding a bike, playing with toys or reading a book. We serve a number of families in the same situation and aim to provide a space in our waiting room for children that are unable to play with traditional toys. This sensory wall will be something that all children will be able to enjoy and will be a special place for our team to remember Reese and Nena.

Donations came from community members, past and present co-workers and other colleagues within the Essentia system.”

To learn more about Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center, click here.

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