Live From the Hospital: An Interview With Ellen Sykora

Hello from the hospital! I’ve been here with my family for about a week now. This is our second stay in two months. But it’s not me, it’s my sister unfortunately. She’s having a really rough go. She’s had three strokes in two months, and we basically have no idea why. She did have a brain tumor when she was five, so her medical history is more complex than average, but it hasn’t given us many clues as to why this is happening.

Today we’re passing some time while we wait for an angiogram of her brain this afternoon. And she’s fasting, and it’s lunch time now, so we’re trying to keep distracted. Ellen has dealt with a lot and I’ve been meaning to interview her for a long time. So, without further ado, here’s Ellen!

First, if you could, give us a little intro to your medical situation?

I had a stroke last month and additional strokes this month and I’ve been in the hospital to find the cause of them. I had a [brain] tumor when I was 5 and two surgeries to get it removed. I had an additional surgery to correct my vision and growth hormone therapy. My condition makes a lot of the simple things in life a bit more complicated.

Alright, now say a little about you.

I’m Ellen and I’m Rachel’s sister. I’m the coolest. I like pink. I love working with kids. My current job is babysitting at my church. I have 2 dogs and a cat who I love dearly.

You graduated from college; how did illness affect your academic life?

My tumor I had when I was 5 has continued to affect my life and abilities in school. I used the disability program in college and I had lots of help with math and such. I had tutoring and out of school help, too. There was often times when it seemed like there was not enough time in the day to do all the things I needed to.

What did you major in and why?

I majored in elementary teaching because I love working with kids. I know how to make them laugh.

What does a “bad day” illness-wise look like for you and how do you deal with it?

Headaches and waiting in the hospital with no results. Dis-coordination of care at the hospital. I have had seizures. I deal with it with tylenol and coming to the hospital I guess. My family being with me has helped me immensely.

What is your favorite comfort when you’re sick or just feeling down?

Mom and dad.

Many of our interviewees are writers, and you are too! What do you write?

I write poetry and stories. I enjoy writing about the sky and daydreams, and I write a lot about the way I feel. Writing the way I write kinda helps me get away from the stress I’m having sometimes. And other times it helps me just express those feelings and clear my pallet. I write to express myself and to share ideas.

Do you have any advice for writers in general?

Follow your heart and write what you feel. I do like to read about spiritual things, I would like to read more things like that. And fantasy.

You can follow Ellen’s poetry page here: https://www.facebook.com/ellen.sykora/

Other than writing, what else do you like to do?

Paint and draw and do puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles.

What are your plans for the future?

I guess job search for a second job. Hoping to leave the hospital soon. Right now I’m focusing on that, I guess– on getting well. Getting back home and being able to return to my job babysitting, seeing all the kids. I’d like to teach every kid I work with that God loves them and died to forgive their sins.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?

To be honest I gotta say volunteering and helping out in the community. I used to volunteer at a daycare before this job and I knew all the kids really well, and I helped teach them morals.

How has your faith affected your experience?

Talking to God in prayer is how I react to illnesses and problems. My faith in God has helped me through my whole brain tumor. Every year we celebrate the day I got my brain tumor because that’s the day when God started showing me his love and shedding his light on the situation.

Do you have any advice for people still looking for answers/a diagnosis like you are?

Trust that God is always with you and has a plan for you. Trust your doctors– they know what they’re doing. When you get impatient, find something to do to pass the time. Ask a friend to come along and help you, or read a book.

Obviously you don’t LOOK sick. How do you look? How do others see you? How do you see yourself?

Others see me as different. Just a little different from them. They don’t see… they don’t know what I’ve been through. And I see myself as another human just like them.

Anything else you want to say?

If you see or hear someone else in the hospital, you don’t know what their situation is so accept them as they are.

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4 thoughts on “Live From the Hospital: An Interview With Ellen Sykora

  1. “Dis-coordination of care at the hospital. I have had seizures. I deal with it with tylenol and coming to the hospital I guess. My family being with me has helped me immensely.
    What is your favorite comfort when you’re sick or just feeling down?
    Mom and dad.”
    She is so smart. So talented. So impressive.
    She blows me away.
    And so do you, and your family.
    Love to all of you.

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