Dance helps teen deal with health problems - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Dance helps teen deal with health problems

CAMDEN, SC (WIS) -

Every time Elizabeth Touchberry laces up her dance shoes, it's a reminder of what she loves and a way to find relief.

 "I want to go back to dance because I get so stiff and stuff," she says.

 At 13 years old, Touchberry has spent nearly eight months of her life in the hospital.

She says the last time she was there she had to stay for 28 days and have four surgeries.

Her mother Brandy Stevens says that no matter how long the stay, she is always by her daughter's side.

"We've spent many nights snuggled at the hospital, but I wouldn't trade it for the world at all. I mean, those are some of our best times that we get to spend. It's just alone time. No one but me and her. The world is not out there fighting us," Stevens says.

No matter how long Elizabeth spends in the hospital she always ends up back at Dance Extradonaire in Camden.

"Doctors told me to try to keep her involved with dance, that it would help with her balance and different things," Stevens says.

"Usually she goes back within a day or two of getting out the hospital. She wants to be there and they have worked with her so well that she just gets in there and does her thing," she says.

Stevens says that dance has become a necessity for her daughter, who has battled several health issues since birth.

At one point doctors told Stevens that Touchberry could be born with holoprosencephaly, meaning a portion of her brain would not be formed normally.

"They just told us that if she was born she would be a total vegetable," says Stevens.

When Touchberry entered the world at eight pounds two ounces, that wasn't the case.

Stevens says 19 people were in the delivery room for her c-section and not long after she received much needed positive news.

"Then they came in about 5:00 in the afternoon and told us that she was doing good and one of diagnosis that they had diagnosed her with she no longer had, I couldn't even sleep that night we were so excited," said Stevens.

But Touchberry wasn't in the clear and had other issues to face.

According to her pediatrician, she was born with hydrocephalus -- a condition where there is an excess amount of water on the brain.

Touchberry has had a shunt placed in her head when she was born, and still has one today. The shunt relieves abnormal fluid buildup on her brain and must be monitored daily.

Sometimes she gets severe headaches, which means it's time for a new one.

Shunt complications could put her back in the hospital at any time. Touchberry's pediatrician says this is something she will deal with the rest of her life, but her mother says she won't let it keep her daughter  from conquering the normal things in life.

"It took her a little while to tie her shoe, ride a bike, do what we would say are normal things, it just takes her a little bit longer to process some of the things but eventually she catches on. We just work with her and we get it,"Stevens said.

No matter what life throws Touchberry's way, her mother says they will continue to have faith. And, of course, dance.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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