Sunday, January 24, 2010

Special Thanks

There are a lot of things that I was thankful for during my son's hospital stay. We are, of course, the most thankful to God, for deciding to allow our son to come through the whole thing unharmed, and thankful for the many many people praying for him. We are grateful for a great hospital staff. Our family and church family was supportive and there for everything we needed. There was one other thing we are thankful for, as it just made our lives infinitely easier during this high-stress time:


We live about a half an hour away from the hospital where my son stayed. It doesn't seem like a lot, but going home would have been a lot of work. Besides the simple lack of the need to travel, the Ronald McDonald House provided a nearby haven.

The Ronald McDonald House is a charity of the McDonald's Corporation. They provide temporary housing for the families of hospitalized children. We stayed there for a week while Daniel was in the hospital. This is what they did for us:

Meals were provided. Most nights a meal was made for everyone, but the kitchen was always open and full of left-overs. Had we come home, I would have had to do a lot of work cooking, which would have kept me away from my son.

There was an on site laundry room. I could wash and dry a load in an hour and a half, just like normal Americans. We brought four outfits per person and did laundry every few days. This simplified everything.

Late night hospital visits were a must. There were a few nights that Thomas and I stayed overnight at the hospital (while Bobby and Dan stayed at the Ronald McDonald House), but on nights that we didn't, it wasn't unusual for me to visit. Either I couldn't sleep without my son or my son couldn't sleep without me. Being right down the street from the hospital made these visits possible.

They had the internet. The hospital did too, but we couldn't access Facebook from the hospital. I was able to write a post from there, moderate comments, and send out email updates to family and friends.

There was one phone designated for long distance phone calls. I discovered this after dumping a few dollars into the hospital pay phone, but it still came in handy.

They had gifts for our sick son. There was a box full of stuffed animals and books that we could choose from. We found an excellent Thomas and Friends book that we read to Daniel several dozen times. There was also a box that must have been donated by RedBox, as it had RedBox DVDs and a sign saying we were welcome to take one home. There was a Thomas and Friends movie in there that Daniel loves.

The volunteers were amazing. Between people donating food and those coordinating our stay, they were understanding of the guests' unique position, being non intrusive but still available.

Dan and I have had a long-term hypothetical debate about which would be better to sleep on: the Sleep Number Bed, or a Tempur Pedic. After a week on a Sleep Number bed, I can't imagine a bed could be more comfortable, which means I lost the debate.

Anyway, people have asked many times if there was anything we needed. Every time, we answered that the Ronald McDonald House had taken care of all of our needs. Even after the $10 nightly donation, we technically saved money staying there, considering the cost of gas to visit the hospital and meals costs. But if anyone felt led to do something, we told them they take donations. Before this all happened, I didn't know much about the Ronald McDonald House. Now, I consider it an exemplary charity.


Linda said...

I have often wondered if the Ronald McDonald's house's were a good charity and it is nice to hear first hand that they are. I can't imagine having to travel back and forth to the hospital. Being right there is important. Thanks for this post and so glad things are well with you family.

I'm Lori...and maybe I'm you, too. said...

I'm glad you took advantage of the thoughtfulness of the Ronald McDonald House. It's a great organization, and this is exactly the type of situation it was meant to help.

Oh...and I've slept in both. Don't give in. The Tempur Pedic is even better.

Teaching Money to Kids said...

When my youngest son was born and kept in the NICU for 5 days, we felt blessed to have a Ronald McDnald House nearby, in fact we were lucky to have it as part of the hospital. Which was extremely handy for doing late night breastfeeding ,etc. We had no idea how helpful it was before, and what a ministry they were providing. Now they are one of our chosen charities.
It is so easy to feel "homeless" at the hospital, but we felt right at home. Well, actually it was even nicer than home.
I am glad to hear you had a great experience. And maybe your story, will help spread the word about a great charity.

liveoncejuicy said...

My youngest brother has a new baby girl who was born with an underdeveloped eye. She's blind in that eye, and needs to go to a doctor in Los Angeles (from Las Vegas) several times per year to have a prothesis put in to ensure that her eye socket grows properly. She'll have to have one her whole life, but while she's growing they have to be changed with alarming regularity. The Ronald McDonald House puts my brother, his wife, and his step-son up and takes care of them while they are in LA. It's an amazing charity, and I'm so grateful for them as well. My family plans to make a donation every year.

Kerry said...

I could not agree more. They took care of my cousin-in-law and her family several years ago.

The people at Ronald McDonald House are amazing. If I ever win the lottery, they're going to get a BIG check from me.

JennyWLS said...

I agree with you 110%. We stayed at the RMH in Ann Arbor Michigan while our son was having open heart surgery. They really do think of everything and provide for all those little details. It's one of our favorite charities to support, and we've done so with money and also going one night and cooking a meal. While McDonalds does fund a hefty portion of the capital costs, they do not provide for the day to day expenses, so every little bit truly does help

simple in France said...

Wow! That is a fabulous resource. The travel to and from the hospital can be killer. I'm glad that you all were so well cared for. I'm very, very impressed by this charity.

Tammy said...

Our home school co-op did a service project at a Ronald McDonald house a couple of years ago; we spent a day cooking, organizing toys, and cleaning. Of course we had a tour and learned a lot about the place. They are wonderful, as you found out!! Praise God for the people who make it possible.

Penniless Parenting said...

That is amazing that the Ronald MacDonald house was able to help you like that. I remember when my son was in the hospital for a week and it was so hard because there was no food for me, I was unable to leave my son by himself and would definitely have appreciated something like the Ronald MacDonald House.
I'm glad Daniel is home and sending you lots of positive energy and hugs!!!

Colleen said...

Emily, this is by far my favorite of your blog postings. I'm so glad the Ronald McDonald house was there for you and your family in your time of need.

Healthy Happy Place said...

I frequently support the Ronald McDonald House Charity..they are exemplary and I'm glad they helped your family during your time of need.

amulbunny said...

The RMH always gets my change at Mc Donalds. They provide so much to families of sick kids in the way of a sense of normalcy, food to come back to, comfortable rooms and just a community of people who know what you're dealing with.

I am so glad that you could stay there while Dan2 was in the hospital. They are blessings to so many people.

MrsKamorri said...

I haven't got any experience with RMH but I am so glad they helped you in your time of need. Makes me feel good about the few dollars in change I have throw in those boxes over the years. I will try to throw in more, even though I at eat at McDonald's less than I used to.

I did want to say, as one who has slept on both, Sleep Number whoops it up on TempurPedic :) My husband slept on the floor Friday night rather than on my mom's TP guest room bed. I chose the bed but just barely. We love my folks but getting home to our Sleep Number was wonderful!

Devon said...

My husband stayed at RMH every weekend while my son was in the hospital (2 months). We live 2.5 hours away from where my son was, so it was a real benefit to us. It really is a great charity.

Sarah said...

I have used a Ronald McDonald house a few times with my oldest child. If you have medicaid, they can file with them to see if medicaid will cover the $10 per night fee. It might be too late to do it now, but maybe this tip could help someone else in the future.

Helen said...


I am so glad that little Daniel is home, that you had great medical care, and that RMH was such a great resource for you all. RMH is one of my favorite charities for donations so I'm delighted that you were able to use them. It is great to see my few $$ in action, so to speak :-).

Having said that, I do hope it was, as one Doctor said, a one off event. However, if I were you, I would leave no stone unturned to figure out the cause. I hate to say it, but metabolic disorders can be incredibly hard to diagnose, and Drs are only human. You also have little Bobby and Thomas to worry about. You must get to the bottom of this. For their sakes.

Many tests take weeks to come back. Little Daniel may need on-going help for full recovery, including PT and further tests. You also may need supports in achieving that. Please draw on all the resources you need. Forget "thriving" on limited resources for the moment. Please take offered assistance as you need it. For the sake of the children.

With all best wishes,


Susan said...

I give RMH my change EVERY time I go to McDonald's. The RMH has been there for family and friends a multitude of times. I am so glad you were able to stay there.

ClaireJ said...

I've never heard anything but lovely things about the Ronald McDonalds houses. It makes me feel a little less guilty about occasionall McDonalds trips to put my spare change in the boxes.

BTW, I've slept on both as well and ended up with the Tempur-Pedic. To us, it far and away is the best mattress I've ever slept on. But compared to our old, cheap inner spring... all nice beds felt like heaven. ;)

Melissa said...

What a great organization! We have a Ronald McDonald house here in Philly right next to Childrens Hospital and my sister often volunteers there. It sounds like they truly are a blessing to so many families!

Still praying for Daniel!

God Bless,

Our Family Is His said...

A friend of ours stayed in an RMH when their newborn daughter had to immediately be moved to a children's hospital due to a huge cancer tumor on her stomach (she weighed nearly 5 lbs, the tumor weighed an additional nearly 4lbs). They were there for a very long time and it was a blessing to them to have that resource.

Scottish Twins said...

What a wonderful charity!

I have to disagree about the bed though - we have a Tempurpedic and it is heavenly :)

Daisy said...

My husband and I have three sons. Our middle son is profoundly disabled and medically complex. Like you, we have benefitted from Ronald McDonald House. I cannot share with people how these homes help.

I am so glad your son is on the mend.


Treva said...

I've known about RMH since high school when my homeroom teacher's daughter was born with spina bifada. The children's hospital in our area was about an hour from where we all lived, so it was a huge blessing to them. I've never heard anything but positive praise for what they do for families. I'm so glad you were able to benefit from their services.

We have a tempurpedic and I *love* that thing. The first time I crawled in I imagined it must be what it would feel like if I could sleep on a marshmellow. But that's just my weird analogy. Try one out before deciding!

Sabrina said...

I am also so glad that your needs were met so well by RMD House. I do not have experience directly, but one of my dearest friends has a child who has been in and out of the hospital all of his four years, and she always raves about how wonderful this organization is.

Emily, I am so glad Daniel is better and that you are all at home. For what it's worth, I missed you while you were away! :)

Early Modern Mom said...

Hmm, I have had -zero- experience with RM House, but I'm really glad to read this. I'll remember them next time I'm making a non-church donation.

crabcakes said...

I never knew how much the RMH provided until now. McDonalds is a rare visit for us, but I love the coffee and in the summer we walk there for ice cream cones. Now when I go, I will think of Daniel and put some money in that box that I've probably overlooked other times.

Jen said...

When my daughter was born with a catastrophic genetic syndrome, she was hospitalized in another city for 28 days. We stayed at a RMH during that time, and it is every bit as wonderful as you say, Emily! It truly is a home away from home when families need it most. I highly recommend charitable donations to this wonderful organization! There were several other hospitalizations throughout the 7 years my daughter lived, and we stayed at RMH every time one was available.

BTW, she was born in 1990, and the nightly donation was $10 then too. I'm happy to hear it hasn't gone up, and that it is still such a great resource for families of sick children.

I'm so happy your family is back home, and that Daniel is on the mend. :)

Andrea said...

I am so glad that you guys are home and he is doing much better. Thank the Lord that they had such an awesome resource for you guys in your time of need.

Rachel in Fl said...

RMH is a wonderful program. We live two hours away from Sacred Heart Hospital, where a large NICU is located, and many extremely ill children are sent. Our twin grandsons were born there. The Ronald McDonald House is right next door. Our son and dil never stayed there, preferring to go and come in one day when little Jackson was in the NICU for 6 weeks. But I always give to RMH. I know a family who was able to use this resource when their newborn was sick.

Another great charity are the Shriners Hospitals. My neice has cerebral palsy and has been to the Shriners hospital many times. Not only to they pay for all the child's treatments, they pay for the parents transportation, hotel room and food.

I am so happy that Daniel is home and doing well. Take care of yourselves!

Rebecca said...

Unfortunately, we had a different experience with RMH. They have a mile limit for staying there. I think it's having to live 60 miles away from the hospital. We live 59 so we had to drive the 1 1/2 hours each way repetatively over the summer for my baby's (he was 2 months at diagnosis)cancer and hydrocephaly treatments.
They also have a number limit on the rooms-4 or 6 I think. With our family size, we would have had to have two rooms (we have 7 children). Since I was staying in the hospital when Jude was in for overnight stays (he nurses only due to damage to his throat from the intubations and a hyper-active gag reflex so I have to be right there), this prevented my husband and children from being near since they are not old enough to room alone and he couldn't be in both rooms. It was quite frustrating to be away from them so much! Jude was in the hospital once for 2 1/2 weeks, once for a week and 2 times for 2-3 days plus his chemo tx's and MRI's.
I have heard wonderful things from others about RMH but it sure didn't help us!

Happily Frugal Mama said...

Several members of our family have been guests at the RMH... my aunt delivered triplets at 30 weeks, so she was a frequent houseguest for the 6 weeks they stayed in the hospital.

This is a great resource for families, it's worth throwing in some extra change next time you drive by a McD's or considering them as a donation at tax time.

I'm so glad to hear they took good care of you!

I'm voting for the tempur-pedic... my hubs is on the same page though... so that's what we will be getting eventually. In the meantime we will keep walking around like 80 yo's!

Organizing Mommy said...

Praise the Lord for the provision of the Ronald Mc Donald House! Sounds like a great charity!

Melinda said...

Rebecca, the Ronald McDonald House Charities have done many wonderful things for many families, (including my own), just as you stated in your post.

I am very sorry to hear about your little boy and what he, you, and your family went through. It cannot be discounted that there are some houses that, sadly, many find their families are placed on the waiting list as soon as they contact the charity. I have a feeling that, taking your specific situation into consideration, such as that you lived within 59 miles and that you would need two rooms (and yes, before I get any comments, it cannot be said that seven children are the norm within the United States at this moment in time of 1.87 (, it is expected for each family to have only one or two more children other than the hospitalized child and only need one room) as well as the fact that you needed to stay with your little one constantly and had only one adult to be with the other children, that the particular RMH at which you were waitlisted felt that another situation would be better suited for you and your family. It must have been very, very frustrating and terrifying for everyone and to add the stress of driving the distance with such a delicate babe so much.

I would like to humbly suggest that you relate your experience in a letter to the charity itself, which I have found to be very open and responsive, as all families, including their opinion of 'large' ones should be able to have access to their facilities or at least have a similarly helpful charity on hand to suggest for larger families. I pray that your Jude has recovered and may God bless you and your family, always.

Maria said...

We also benefited from the in-hospital RMH at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. When our fifteen-day-old daughter had her first heart surgery, we stayed in the RMH a few nights. The various charge nurses on the different floors sort of triaged parents according to need. Some nights we got a room and some nights we slept on couches or chairs in the 17th floor waiting room (also supported by RMH.) Yes, it was uncomfortable to sleep in a stiff chair, but I didn't care. I was near my baby and that was all that mattered.

When we take Nyx back for her next open heart surgery in just a few short weeks, we'll make use of the RMH again. Dave and I now support RMH with as much as we can spare. We also tell friends and family of their kindness to us.

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