When Knightdale High School senior Daneshia Slade was born, doctors told her mother, Paula Slade, not to expect her daughter to do simple things, including knowing what to do with a pacifier.
Immediately after the doctor said that, Daneshia Slade, who was born four months premature and only weighed 2 pounds and 2 ounces, took the pacifier in her mouth.
“Daneshia put it in her mouth and looked at the doctor … and he said, ‘Well, I guess she can,’” Paula Slade said. “Even as a newborn ... she’s always had that attitude that ... (she) does what (she) does because so many people said (she) couldn’t.”
Over the past four years in high school, Daneshia Slade has taken what doctors warned she might not be able to do and done it twofold.
She recovered from four separate brain surgeries related to a shunt she had inserted when she was a baby. She had excess fluid in her brain and the shunt helped drain it.
She also managed to create an impressive resume, filled with sports. She is the varsity cheer captain at Knightdale High, participated in the school and recreational dive teams, volunteers at church and has worked to earn a 2nd-degree black belt at Black Belt World in Knightdale.
In between her demanding athletic schedule and surgeries, Daneshia Slade managed to stay on her school’s honor roll.
Daneshia Slade said her focus on all her activities is really what gets her through the unexpected medical issues that have come up in the past few years.
“It helps me heal,” she said of all the sports she participates in. By keeping herself physically fit, she said recovery is easier and often times, quicker.
Proving doctors wrong
Doctors didn’t anticipate that she would need any changes made to her shunt. Being born so premature, they figured Daneshia Slade wouldn’t grow very big.
But her freshman year of high school, doctors had to fit her with a larger shunt because the internal tubing was stretching too much.
When she was a sophomore, the shunt stopped draining correctly so doctors had to fix it.
A surgery her junior year was the most painful, Daneshia Slade said.
Headaches that began at the end of her sophomore year in high school intensified through the middle of her junior year.
In December of her junior year, she had to miss two weeks of school because of the headaches’ intensity.
After a CAT scan revealed the pressure in her shunt was nearly eight times higher than it should be. Doctors told Daneshia Slade she would need surgery the same day.
Doctors had to drain a pocket of fluid from her abdomen, put in a temporary external drain and rearrange her internal tubing. When it came to the last task, doctors wanted to run the tubing through Daneshia’s Slade shoulder, but all her efforts to stay fit had paid off – she was too muscular and doctors instead had to run the tubing in her neck, near her jugular vein.
“It was just the worst surgery ever,” Daneisha Slade said. “All the other ones, I was just like, ‘Oh, new scars.’” That surgery, though, brought her to tears because of the pain.
Afterward, Daneshia Slade said it took about a month before she was back to her normal routine, which includes 5:30 a.m. workouts at Planet Fitness and at some times, leaving one sports practice for another and then returning to the first one.
Now, about a year and a half after her last surgery, Daneshia Slade is preparing to go to college at East Carolina University to study sports medicine and physical therapy, majors she chose because they include her interest in how the human body works and athletics, two things that formed her high school experience.