Woodland girl fights serious illness

10-year-old hospitalized with viral meningitis, other complications

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Elianna's aunt, Angela Tover, set up an account to help the family continue its medical coverage as the mom stays at the hospital.

The link is: Helping Elianna's Family

LONGVIEW — Elianna Neumann’s ordeal began Sept. 9 as a mild sore throat. By the end of the day, the 10-year-old Woodland girl’s throat was worse, she had a fever and couldn’t keep food down.

Doctors initially thought she had strep — but by the end of the week Elianna was getting a spinal tap at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where she was diagnosed with viral meningitis.

Within a couple of days, she had also developed meningoencephalitis and pancreatitis.

“She is a very sick little girl right now,” said mother Miranda Neumann, who is taking time off from her job at the Kelso Safeway to stay alongside the eldest of her three daughters. “When she’s awake she’s in a lot of pain.”

Elianna, who attends Woodland Intermediate School, is semi-sedated and is being fed and medicated intravenously, her mother said. Doctors have sucked bile out of her stomach “to give her pancreas a break,” her mother said. “There is nothing that you can do to heal the pancreas other than what they’re doing.”

Although Neumann is worried about Elianna’s physical health, she’s more afraid for her daughter’s mental health.

“She’s reverted back to a childlike state,” Neumann said, such as wanting baby dolls after not playing with them since she was 7 or 8, and Elianna sometimes stares blankly into space. “I haven’t seen my true daughter in weeks.”

A brain scan was normal, Neumann said, but Elianna’s condition has not improved and doctors have no prediction of how long the illness might last.

“It’s just a hurry-up-and-wait game,” Neumann said.

Unlike bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis is not contagious and “tends to be isolated,” said Hilary Gillette-Walch, nurse manager for the Cowlitz County Health Department.

According to the National Centers for Disease Control, a variety of viral infections can cause meningitis, including mumps, measles, chicken pox, flu and herpes.

“It’s horrible,” Gillette-Walch said, but in most cases people recover after a few days. Severe cases such as Elianna’s are rare, she said.

“It depends on the person’s individual health and which virus is involved,” she said.

While Elianna is in the hospital, her mother receives outside support from her husband, Socorro Garduno; her father, Brad Neumann, who came down from Tumwater to stay with the family; and her aunt, Angela Tover of Winlock.

“While my husband works, my dad is with the kids,” Neumann said. And she and her aunt “have always been really super close. We’ve always been there to support each other.”

Tover has opened a donation account to help the family with bills, including health insurance premiums Neumann must pay to maintain coverage while she is off work.

“I’m asking everyone to send their love, prayers and any support they can,” Tover said. “Miranda is a loving and dedicated mother and will not leave her daughter until she can go, too.”

She said Neumann “is trying to stay strong, but it’s hard to stay positive when nothing positive is happening on a daily basis.”