On the night of April 1, 2006, an attending ICU physician walked sheepishly into a small crowded family room where we huddled together waiting for news. “Your son only has a 5 percent chance of making it through the night. We believe he has encephalitis,” he said nervously. At that moment, the world around me came to a screeching halt. It was as if time froze. Only when I felt my oldest son’s arms around me, would I find myself standing in the far corner of an unfamiliar room, unable to process what was happening. I immediately fled the room and rushed down a long corridor. I had to get to my son Adam. I had to help him hold on, to fight whatever was happening to his body. This was not the end.
Miraculously, he did survive. After countless tests, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome or GBS. Little is known about this disease and it took the handiwork of a very special neurologist to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The disease rendered my once active, outgoing son paralyzed from the waist down with sight and speech impediments. He was hospitalized for thirty days, being released on Mother’s Day 2006. It was the best present I’d ever been given!
After inpatient and outpatient therapy, Adam was able to walk, talk, and see clearly once again. He even resumed playing basketball just a few months after his recovery, something doctors said he would never do again. That’s defeating all odds! Today, aside from some residual nerve damage, he is the same old Adam–a ray of sunshine and a reason my heart beats. We are lucky and fortunate to have him with us.
When a child becomes extremely ill, it is impossible to prepare yourself for what lies ahead. For us, we had no idea that Adam would be transferred and admitted to Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine. The facility was an hour and a half from our house, three hours round trip. Although there was a Ronald McDonald’s house in the area, it was under renovation and unable to house families of sick children. We had no idea what we would do. If it wasn’t for the generosity of family, friends, and strangers, we would have been forced to travel daily. I had to take an unpaid leave of absence from work, which also caused a significant financial strain.
Donations poured in to cover the costs of our travel, food, housing, and other expenses. We even had total strangers donating clothes, blankets, and medical equipment necessary for Adam’s recovery. At first, I wanted to say “no.” The “proud” self-sufficient me did not want to accept what I perceived to be handouts. When I realized that the support was meant to help and that people really wanted to be a part of Adam’s recovery process, I caved. And I cried. We never would have survived without those who came together to shower us with love and encouragement.
But what happens when families are not so lucky? What happens when their child or other loved one becomes seriously ill and they find themselves unable to cope financially? Families can now turn to GiveForward in their times of need. GiveForward is one of the top online fundraising websites and easiest ways to help a loved one in need. While many online fundraising websites cater towards more general fundraising efforts, GiveForward specializes in and is the premier online platform for medical fundraising. I encourage you to visit this site if you or someone you know is facing mounting medical bills or is currently hospitalized and you’d like to help.