Soon after birth, my daughter Belle was diagnosed with a kidney disorder. Doctors estimated her organs wouldn't last more than 18 months. To everyone’s surprise, Belle's kidneys showed unexpected improvement for several years. But at age 6, Belle’s blood pressure was equivalent to that of a 65-year-old smoker. Needless to say, she was in critical condition and in need of a kidney donor.
My husband Kyle and I quickly tested as donors, which led to doctors finding two malignant breast tumors during my routine physical. Now two of us were in need of immediate help. Thankfully, Kyle was a perfect match and willingly gave his kidney to save our daughter.
After many months of treatment and recovery, we are now a healthy family again. I am in remission, both Belle and Kyle have functioning kidneys and we are all back to normal routines!
Watching your child suffer during an illness or injury can be almost debilitatingly painful. So, parent-to- parent, here are a few things that helped me cope while Belle was hospitalized:
Communication is key. Medical terminology can get complicated. Take notes. Try to keep a running list of questions so you are prepared when the doctor comes. Never hesitate to ask. Stay informed and be your child’s best advocate.
Keep the glass half full. Your child may not always understand what’s necessary to get better. Staying positive as you watch your child suffer is hard, but it’s worth the effort. Don't let your child continually dwell on what they can't do or ask, “Why me?” Lift their spirits by reminding them of what they can do.
Don’t forget to play. Take advantage of all the fun distractions a CMN Hospital has to offer. Belle loved petting the service dogs and visiting the hospital library. Even if your child isn’t able to leave the hospital bed, kind volunteers are often near to help with fun crafts. Spoiler alert: You’ll have fun too!
Soak in the sunshine. Even a short, brisk walk was refreshing during particularly difficult moments in Belle’s journey and my recovery. Don’t sacrifice filling your lungs with fresh air and clearing your mind of hospital worries for at least a few minutes a day. Making time for our needs as parents will give us the strength and perseverance to help our kids to the best of our ability.
Know when to ask for help. Friends and family want to provide support and comfort during times of need. Allow loved ones to sit at your child’s bedside for a couple of hours, bring comfort food, relieve you to call a friend — or take a shower! People are eager to lend a hand. And giving friends the chance to meet some basic needs helps them feel valuable.
Looking back, our family is thankful for these seemingly negative circumstances. Without them we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy the many miracles that have come from them. We now know firsthand how good can grow from what seems like a hopeless situation.