Rocky Mountain House, Alberta
As written by Jessiah Cooper
Our family came to Ronald McDonald House in the spring of 2012. Our youngest daughter, Davina (just under one year old at the time), had very severe GERD Gastroesophageal reflux disease (undiagnosed at the time). At that time she was throwing up 100+ times on average per day. She was also having trouble absorbing any nutrition she was keeping down. Feeling sick as she was, she developed food aversion and began to refuse to eat. She was literally starving to death. Davina got a simple ear infection and her body just gave up. She was rushed from Rocky Mountain House Hospital to Red Deer Regional in an ambulance.
Our older daughter, Aria (four years old at the time), is shy, sensitive and sweet. She loves her sister. Aria was left behind with various family members when their father, Jamie, and I went to Red Deer to be with Davina. It wasn’t long before we knew how sad and afraid she was without her family with her.
We came to Ronald McDonald House halfway through our stay at the hospital. Davina was being fitted with an NG-feeding tube and Jamie and I would have to complete a feeding tube course once Davina was strong enough, we would go home to tube feed her.
Tube feeding was scary for us. It can be very dangerous. It’s painful for the child, invasive, constricting and a huge burden upon a child’s life. We were TERRIFIED!
The staff at Ronald McDonald House helped us find our own strength. They gave us a transition place. A place to catch a glimpse of a normal life with a feeding tube in it. Aria was able to learn to be careful but not afraid of her sister. The rest of the family learned skills to feed Davina safely and conveniently.
Most of all, they gave us the confidence to trust in ourselves. To not accept Davina’s fate. To fight for her and believe in ourselves.
Today, Davina is tube free! She is not out of the woods yet, but her medications are working and through the hard work and strength of the family, we are helping her develop the skills to learn to eat naturally and willingly.
We are so grateful for how the House kept us together, but also for the people within it; the staff, the families, the volunteers and everyone who helps us find our own strength through such a difficult time. We are so grateful and more than willing to help the House however we can.