In October 2016 my son got Strep throat and pneumonia, but, unfortunately was ineffectively treated for the pneumonia. Three months later, that medical error manifested itself in acute and intense anxiety, presenting as an extreme fear of vomiting on a full stomach at night. Subsequently my son was diagnosed with and treated for PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections). This intense anxiety continued until April 2018 when my son developed severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
He has a severe fear of contamination and was terrified of most things that he had normally never given a second thought to. The life he had known was gone in an instant and was replaced by this totally crippling and debilitating disease. The lives of our entire family were turned upside down as OCD became the strongest, loudest member of our home. We frantically read as much as we could and desperately sought help for our son.
For the first year of his OCD, our family was truly in survival mode trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. We managed to get through the first year and my son was able, though therapy, to understand that this condition was most likely to be ongoing for him and learned many different ways to cope and manage his OCD.
The problem was that his OCD would not allow him to implement these strategies.
What seems like something harmless to most of the world, sends my child into crisis mode that if he (or his family) come in contact with what he deems is contaminated, that it will not only hurt him, but, it will kill him!
By the grace of God, there was a woman on a PANDAS Facebook group from California who had a son like mine who had PANDAS and severe OCD. She took her son to Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island for treatment and was very candid about how it helped her son. As we had absolutely no mental health services that my son needed anywhere in our state, I proceeded to call Bradley Hospital and we were placed on a waiting list.
On December 17, 2019, after a seven month wait, we received the call that changed our lives! We arrived at the Ronald McDonald House on January 2nd and my son began the Intensive Treatment Program for OCD at Bradley Hospital on January 3rd.
The treatment program for my son was nine weeks long. The outpatient day treatment program was Monday through Friday from 8:30-1:00 with home visits to the Ronald McDonald House or out in the community. My son worked incredibly hard to change his life. He said he was very motivated by meeting others that had the same struggles as he did. He did not only meet these children at Bradley Hospital. He made good friends at the Ronald McDonald House as well.
My son and I traveled to Rhode Island and were away from the rest of our family for nine weeks. Staying at the Ronald McDonald House was like staying with family. It is that simple. From the people who work there, to the volunteers that come in weekly, to all of the volunteers who take time out of their precious and busy lives just to come make dinners so these families in crisis have a wonderful hot meal each night at 5:00 p.m. One of the things I loved so much about our stay at the House, was the opportunity to get to know everyone that we came in contact with. We made so many wonderful friends while staying there. These are friends I am sure we will remain close to for the rest of our lives. I cannot even begin to tell you how comforting it is to meet people who can personally relate to your struggles and hardships! We talked, we cried, we laughed and we all became very close.
Staying at the Ronald McDonald House provided us with everything we needed and much more. It is a beautiful and peaceful place to live away from home and the staff truly care so much about the families and their struggles and it shows in so many ways.
My son’s OCD went from being very severe to moderate because of all of the hard work that he put into the program. His life is manageable and enjoyable now. This would not have ever been possible if we had not stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. It truly changed the lives of our family and OCD is NOT the strongest member of our family any longer. The dynamic has changed and it is once again a loving, happy environment not constantly plagued with chaos and uncontrolled stress and anxiety.
From the bottoms of our hearts, we will be eternally grateful to you all!
Ann-Marie, Nicholas and Family