Our RMH experience
September 15, 2009
My five-year-old daughter, Seonaid, was born with an eye condition called Congenital Fibrosis of the Extra Ocular Muscles, and as a result has to make several trips each year to the hospital in Halifax from our home in Newfoundland. On our visits, we have had the good fortune to stay at the Ronald McDonald House.
The Ronald McDoanld House in Halifax is a beautiful building in the heart of Halifax, just a five-minute walk from the hospital. It has a comfortable, relaxing sitting room, a dining area, fully-equipped kitchen, and my daughter’s favourite, a well-stocked play area. From the moment you enter the house, you truly feel like you are home.
The House has been a godsend to us throughout Seonaid’s frequent check-ups and surgeries. Despite what she has to go through at the hospital, she is always happy to get on the plane to go to Halifax because she is going to the Ronald McDonald House. The staff greets her with a big hug and she includes them when she is naming her best friends.
For her, the trips to Halifax are no longer all about her disability, but more on the joys of being a child.
When Seonaid had to have her first eye surgery, she was very nervous and desperately wanted her older sister to go with her. She was so proud to take her sister and introduce her to the staff and volunteers at the House. Being able to show her sister around took her mind off the upcoming surgery. Following the surgery, while still in the recovery room and groggy from the anesthetic, Seonaid cried to go back to the House.
On our most recent trip to the hospital, we were told that Seonaid would have to return the following month for further surgery. Although initially worried by this, Seonaid than couldn’t wait to go to tell the staff there she would be back again next month. And they, of course, responded they way she expected them to – with a big hug. The stress of having my little girl have surgery is greatly alleviated by the comforting thought that our ‘home away from home’ is there, with a place to relax and friendly faces to talk to.
I think building a House in St. John’s will mean so much to the children of Newfoundland and Labrador and their families. Many families have to travel hundreds of miles to get to the Janeway Hospital, not knowing what they will be facing for their child. It would allow families the ease to focus on being with their sick child, and having as much fun as possible in spite of the reasons they are there.
Life can be so unpredictable, and medical problems can occur so unexpectedly, yet even in the midst of traumatic times, it is good to know that there can be happy, memorable moments. Seonaid and I have had many such moments over the years. In Seonaid’s own words “Going to Halifax would not be so easy without the Ronald McDonald House.”
By Allison & Seonaid
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