I wasn’t asked to write to you; I volunteered. Happily. I didn’t just want to write, I needed to write. After the experience my family has been through this year, it’s the least I could do and the story I’m about to share is deeply personal. Although our family has contributed to Headwaters Health Care Foundation over the years, I never thought seriously that we’d ever really need it, much less depend on it.
It is my hope that my story inspires you to join me in making a gift this holiday season. For it’s a gift that will remind you that the life you save could be your own or someone who is very near and dear to you.
It all started this time last year as I looked forward to a Christmas present unlike any other: a baby! Born a week before his festive due date, Hadley was healthy and happy. He was home for the holidays, a gift to me, my husband, and Hadley’s 2-year-old brother, Fin. We rang in the new year full of cheer. We were on top of the world, as happy as can be. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
And then everything changed. One day Hadley was healthy; the next day he was not.
Out of the blue, his rosy complexion turned to grey; he refused to eat; and he developed a shrill cry that sent shivers up my spine. Within hours, Hadley’s fever spiked and we rushed him to Headwaters. I know it’s popular to complain about long waits in Emerg, but I’d much prefer one of those given that Hadley endured a battery of tests, was administered antibiotics and admitted... all within 90 minutes.
It happened so fast, I had to consciously force myself to breathe.
Paediatrician Dr. Ron Murphy diagnosed my precious baby as having Group B Strep Bacterial Meningitis, a very rare strain of the disease. Thank goodness it was treatable, but the treatment was traumatic. It was intense and it took an army of angels to see us through.
The next five days were unbearable for Hadley who had to be held 24/7 because the pain of being in one position was too great. The nurses at Headwaters went above and beyond; they ensured that not only Hadley was supported and cared for, but our entire family, too.
Three weeks later, the ‘storm’ subsided; the day before Hadley was preparing to head home. I was exhausted; I was elated! But minutes after his final exam, elation turned to devastation, Hadley had a very serious seizure. It wouldn’t stop.
Once again, Dr. Murphy was right there to help. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, he immediately began treatment and had Hadley transferred to Sick Kids Hospital. Within 90 minutes, we were flying down the highway in an ambulance. Again, I had to force myself to breathe.
When your infant son is on a respirator, each breath is laboured, and when everything seems to be spiraling downhill so quickly, it’s really easy to lose hope. But what I never lost was confidence in the care we were receiving.
It wasn’t long after Hadley had recovered and returned home, when I was once again awoken by his spine-chilling cry. I knew the meningitis was back.
Again, like a guardian of sorts, Dr. Murphy watched over Hadley, arranged for his additional care at Sick Kids, called to check in with us frequently, and then, after Hadley was transferred back to Headwaters, helped him as he recuperated for an additional ten days. The whole experience was surreal. And, writing this, I realize I’m still somewhat in shock.
It is after all of this, that I would do anything to help Headwaters. Headwaters took care of my baby boy, and we are so fortunate. That much is obvious, but there’s more... in this small town, to have a hospital that’s able to cater to all our needs and — when necessary — to be able to provide immediate access to neighbouring specialized health care centres, is incredible. It’s something that’s all too easy to discount until you or a loved one find yourself in harm’s way. As hard as it is for me to admit, Hadley wouldn’t be here today without Headwaters.
Here, we’re surrounded by angels who give and give generously without ever thinking they will ever receive anything in return. It’s hard to believe, but Hadley will soon be celebrating his first birthday. Thanks to the angels at Headwaters and to donors like you who are his angels, Hadley is now a happy, healthy boy who spends his days laughing, smiling and playing with his big brother.