OMAHA (KPTM)- 6-Year-Old Mikayla Gross Swims at the YMCA near 168th and Q with her mom and little sister as much as she can. "It's just fun," Mikayla said.
Her mom, Angie Gross, says she started taking Mikayla swimming when she was just 18 months old. "We asked what she wants to do. Does she want to take gymnastic, dance, anything like that? She says nope, I just want to go swimming," said Gross.
But Mikayla's health quickly took a nose dive. Last March, she began getting bad headaches that wouldn't go away. "Mikayla started complaining of headaches once a week, then twice a week, then it started waking her up at night," explained Gross.
Her doctor initially attributed the headaches to allergies. But tests eventually revealed that she had contracted Meningitis. An MRI also showed that she had developed fluid on her skull, and malformations on her cerebrum, which controls her balance. She started having hallucinations before having surgery.
Mikayla was sent to the Madonna Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln after surgery for 7 weeks of therapy.
She couldn't walk, speak, or even hold her head up.
"We started completely over with a 6-year-old," said Gross.
After seven weeks, Mikayla got her voice back, and learned important skills like how to shower again, even how to tie her shoes."
Her big motivator was getting back into the pool, starting with the pool at Madonna. "The smile on her face the first day she got to put her swim suit on and get back in the pool was amazing."
Now back home, Gross says Mikayla still gets a little weak after a lot of activity, but Gross knows she's come a long way. She's enjoying school, making new friends, and has a big future ahead.
"Just that willingness and determination to do it yourself again, she has something great that's going to happen because you're not born with that type of determination not to do something big."