Nellie The Elephant

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This is Nellie.

Chances are if you ever see my Daughter Rowan, you will see Nellie with her.  Rowan is 22 and sometimes feels a little insecure about carrying a stuffed animal around with her everywhere she goes, but she’s learning to not worry so much about what other people think, and have fun with it.

You see, when Rowan was just 5, she had a stroke that left her pretty messed up physically.  She basically had to relearn how to use the entire left side of her body, and the effects of the stroke still creep into her life to this day.    When she started to grow, her left side didn’t grow as fast as her right, so when she was a teenager, she had to go through some pretty intensive surgeries to lengthen the muscles in her left arm and hand.  She can’t really run, or ride a bike, and when she stands for long periods of time, her back hurts because her hips are constantly out of alignment.

I’ve watched Rowan deal with this for basically her entire life, and she’s become a master of hiding it.  Most people never even know she has this issue.  However, Nellie is something that can be a little difficult to hide, she is an elephant after all.

Since the muscles in Rowan’s left arm refuse to grow properly, they are constantly tight, and she has a difficult time relaxing her left hand.  Sometimes her hand squeezes so tight that her fingernails will even start to cut into her palm.  Make a fist as tight as you can, then hold it like that all day long.  That’s what it’s like for Rowan sometimes.  This is where Nellie comes in.  Rowan can hold Nellie in her left hand, so if her hand happens to tighten up, it will squeeze something soft, and doesn’t hurt so much.  Rowan has tried stress balls, and everything else like that under the sun, but she likes Nellie, and the soft fleece feels good in her hand.

Not everyone understands why a 22 year-old girl is still carrying around a stuffed animal, of course, and Rowan is often faced with the choice of offering long explanations or just hiding what’s going on.  For years she’s chosen to hide.

Now though, she is starting to be more open about it and Nellie is becoming an important part of that.  Rowan is learning about photography and Nellie is often the subject of her camera’s eye.  Nellie has gone with us on various road trips, met tons of people at various comic book conventions, and been with Rowan through some pretty tough times.

Nellie is teaching both Rowan and I about accepting our faults, and embracing the things that make us happy, even if other people might not understand.

I love you Rowan.  I don’t tell you thin often enough but you’re my hero.

Rowan has set up a Facebook page where you can follow Nellie’s adventures.  Go give it a like, and tell them I sent you.


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