“Home is not a place…it’s a feeling.” When we think about Ronald McDonald House, the first thing that comes to mind is the word home. Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwestern Ontario (RMHCSWO), was our home for 90 nights while our daughter received treatment at London Children’s Hospital.
On October 8, 2018, our four-month-old daughter, Kaylynn, suffered a seizure. We were immediately admitted into the hospital. After a few months of tests and trial treatments, she was diagnosed with a diseased called hyperinsulinism. Kaylynn spent her first thanksgiving, first Halloween, first snowfall, first Christmas and first New Year’s Eve in the hospital, but she did it all with a huge smile.
The lasting impression that we have of RMHC is that it felt like a retreat, a respite from the long days spent engaging with health care professionals. It allowed us the opportunity to have some normalcy; eat as a family, converse with fellow families, and have a restful night's sleep. RMHC handled all the little things so that we were able to better focus our energy where we really needed it; our daughter’s treatment.
From the moment we were welcomed into the House, it immediately started to feel like home. Our 2-year-old son, Hudson, stayed with us and we were fortunate enough to have my mother stay with him. Having them just across the street from the hospital at the House was our calming relief. Because of RMH we were able to play with him each day in the toy room, read him stories in the library, give him a bath and tuck him into bed each night.
Hudson was able to quickly establish a routine that included his new favourite part of the day; sharing a yogurt with the amazing staff. During our stay we built relationships with fellow families and staff that will last a lifetime. This was so important to us over the holidays. It’s hard to put into words, but it truly showed us what Christmas is all about; being together.
When Kaylynn was well enough to come over to the House she decorate her first Christmas tree, ate her first candy cane and decorate her first gingerbread house. Hudson was even asked to turn the outdoor Christmas lights on - kicking off the holiday season at the House!
The Christmas traditions we value so much were carried on at the House with our new RMH family.
At the end of January, Kaylynn was flown to Edmonton to have a specialized scan of her pancreas. From Edmonton, we were sent to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto where she had a surgery that cured her of her disease. We could not be more grateful. She is now a very happy and healthy 1-year-old and we couldn’t have gotten through it with as much ease without our home at the RMHC-SWO.
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