Meet The Walker Family

I don’t think there’s been a day that I haven’t thought about our journey in Rhode Island and how grateful we are for the doctors, nurses, and staff that treated our daughter. Ronald McDonald House Providence gave me a peaceful place to land during the hardest experience our family has ever been through. It also gave peace of mind to my family, friends, and colleagues that I had a quiet place to retreat after a long day, knowing I needed to recharge for the next day at the hospital. The staff, volunteers, and meals provided were awesome (even with COVID guidelines) and something I could rely on. Even more, if I had a question, I wasn’t afraid to ask.

At the time, I didn’t have a car, so the location was great as I’d either walk or call for a hospital shuttle. I also worked remotely from RMH when my caregiver role changed as part of her treatment plan after being on leave for 5 weeks. Staff helped me sign into the network and, if I had any connectivity issues, I was told to let them know right away. All went smoothly.

I’ll share one moment of many I had that will forever be remembered and exactly why a place like RMH is important during a medical crisis that takes you out of state. One afternoon I returned home, aka RMH, after a very rough day at the hospital. I went to room 209, took a hot shower, got in my jammies, and shuffled my ugly LL bean slipper-ed feet down the stairs to the kitchen for dinner. By now I had been at RMH for over 2 months, my appetite wasn’t the best due to stress, yet I would try and eat as much dinner as I could as it was one meal I could rely on. So, as I shuffled my way to the fridge feeling worn out, exhausted and deflated about the day, I grabbed a prepared meal. I popped off the cover and tears came to my eyes. Volunteers that day had prepared an entire Thanksgiving turkey with stuffing, gravy, and even cranberry sauce. As I reheated my plate, tears slid down my face with gratitude. All I could think about was how food connects us and how truly comforting it is. I’m even teary eyed now as I write this remembering all the feels because it’s real. I was in pure survival mode working with the team of doctors to save her life and that’s where all my focus was. When I returned to RMH each day I knew I was being taken care of. The microwave beeped, I took my fork and took a taste and was emotionally transported to family Thanksgivings. I collected myself and shuffled my tired butt over to the office where I said to the volunteer, “I’m going to cry but it’s ok. I’ve had a rough day and this meal is the best thing that’s happened to me.” I let the volunteer know that those that prepared this meal need to know how grateful I am at this very moment. This is what keeps us parents going. I then shuffled myself back to room 209, and I ate the entire dinner with gratitude. I even sent texts to my family and friends about it. Ironically as I ate, I thought of my daughter battling her eating disorder and that food to her was the devil, a completely opposite feeling I was experiencing.

The transition home was difficult after being away for so long. We took it slow, set up boundaries, and have begun to adjust more each day. Next week I’m looking forward to having some time off with my family that won’t be spent out of state and being in a hospital every day. Our daughter turned 16 this past November, a birthday we were unsure we’d be celebrating not too long ago.

Here is the only photo taken of her since being home. The photo is of her and Hattie the horse that her barn is letting her have therapy with. We learned in the hospital that the connection with animals was huge to Sydney and her recovery.

The journey to my daughter’s recovery is a marathon not a sprint and RI Hospital and Ronald McDonald House is where the marathon began and prepared us to come back to VT.

We are forever grateful to Ronald McDonald House, staff, and volunteers. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and here’s to a healthy New Year!

With Gratitude,

The Walker Family

S and horse therapy