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'She'll just tell you her heart is broken:' Single mother asks for help with travel costs for daughter's medical appointments

Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus - 12/6/2022

Dec. 5—Avery Mitchell's favorite class in school is gym because the 4-year-old delights in movement.

Memorizing dance moves has turned into memorizing medication names after Avery was diagnosed with heart failure in August, her mother, Chelsea Mueting, said.

She has tried to explain Avery's condition to her as they make trips to Peoria for doctors' appointments and prepare for a meeting in St. Louis with a heart-failure team. The girl understands, simply, that her heart needs fixing.

"She'll just tell you her heart's broken," Mueting said. "She doesn't exactly know what's wrong with her; she just knows her heart isn't functioning."

Avery and her mother were nominated for the Quad-City Times Wish List program by Skip-A-Long Community Services Home Child Care Network Director Malia Owens. Owens said Mueting had struggled to work as Avery's health fluctuated, and all the travel had added to the single mother's expenses alongside medical costs.

The mother is hoping to put funds from Wish List toward gas, food and hotel costs while traveling between appointments, as well as car upkeep.

It was right after Avery's fourth birthday when the Colona woman took her daughter to the emergency room with breathing difficulties. Avery's lungs were filling with fluid, and after being transferred to Peoria, they learned that one of her lungs was collapsing because chambers in her heart were not functioning.

Mueting said she moved herself and Avery in with Mueting's mother after the diagnosis to save money and have extra help. She's had to take time off from her job at Texas Roadhouse to get Avery to appointments and pick up prescriptions, which she has to do in Peoria.

While Avery isn't on the heart transplant list yet, Mueting said she's unsure what the future holds. The medical team in Peoria has scaled back from seeing Avery weekly as her medications have stabilized her somewhat, but they'll continue to see her consistently for blood work and changing her prescription when needed. The mother and daughter will head to St. Louis in January to consult with a heart-failure team.

"It's so crazy to me because every time I think she's getting better, we go to Peoria, and then they tell me her (echocardiogram) was still the same," Mueting said. "I just want it to be from a virus, but now they're thinking that maybe it just wasn't caught, like that no one knew.

"That's the most frustrating part, not knowing why she went from being healthy to sick."

Doctors originally thought Avery was experiencing complications from COVID-19, which she previously had, but the line of thinking has shifted to a possible pre-existing condition.

Regardless of the news that could come out of the appointment, Mueting said she's determined to make the St. Louis trip fun for Avery.

"When we go to St. Louis, I'm going to get a hotel, and we're going to stay up there, and we're going to go to the aquarium and stuff," Mueting said. "Make light out of it for her."


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