Bird

Past Stories

12 Days of Giving

Isiah

Father

I hate the thought of leaving her in pain in a hospital bed alone.

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I don’t think people understand the magnitude of the pain. Zanna looks normal right now, but she’s swollen from head to toe and her pain is out of control, which is what happens when she has a sickle cell crisis. From a very young age patients need large doses of pain medicine just to cope with the disease. The nurse just gave her Toradol, if you or I had a little of that we would be out, but she’s still sitting here functioning, talking. That’s how bad the pain is for these children. That’s why they call it a crisis.

-Dee Gaines, Child Life Assistant

 

I slipped into a depression when she was first diagnosed. I stopped eating and going to school for a while. My life revolved around only her. I couldn’t live with the thought of my baby dying from a disease we gave her. I’m a single father of four so the hardest thing is time management. I want to be here with Zanna as much as I can. I hate the thought of leaving her in pain in a hospital bed alone. But I have to get my other three kids off the bus, I have to make them dinner and help them with their homework. I can’t be in two places at once. These kids are everything to me and I just hope that one day they are all happy and healthy.

-Isiah, father

 

I’m the star of the family. I hate missing everything. I miss birthdays, Christmas and my friends at school. I hope it changes. My younger sister is a perfect bone marrow match for me. We are going to do the procedure soon. I’m excited but I am also scared. I’m excited that maybe I won’t have this pain anymore and I can be like other 13 year olds. But I am scared because what if it doesn’t go right, what if nothing changes or it gets worse.

-Zanna, patient

 

Imagine you are in a room and you are just minding your own business and all of a sudden the lights go out and you hear a crash. You know it is broken glass but you can’t find the light to see where the glass is. You fall on the floor. You keep trying to get up but you can’t and the glass just keeps going into your body. That’s what being in a sickle cell crisis is like.

-Zanna, patient

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12 Days of Giving

Andrea

Mother

When we found out that Lillian had cystic fibrosis we were devastated.

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When we found out that Lillian had cystic fibrosis we were devastated. She was almost two. We basically only knew the bad stuff. Everyone who had it at that point didn’t live very long. We did as much research as we could. It sounds strange, but we couldn’t wait to go to our doctors’ appointments. It was the one place we could ask questions and find out more. We felt pretty alone. There weren’t many people we could connect with who understood what we were facing.

-Andrea, mother

 

The hardest part is having all this pain every day.

-Lillian, patient

 

Cystic Fibrosis is a hidden disease. If you look at Lillian you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. But it affects so many different things in her body. We spend hours a day doing treatments. Last year she missed 65 days of school. It’s really hard because all she wants is go to school and see her friends. One thing we have always said is that we want her to have as many experiences as she can. So while people may think she is limited by her disease she isn’t. She goes horseback riding, plays softball, cheerleading, swimming, really anything. Those things make her happy.

Lillian recently had emergency surgery. We were at the hospital for routine care when they discovered her intestines were all kinked up. A high level of pain is so normal for her that she didn’t recognize something else was wrong. That is how tough she is, she’s a fighter. I can’t even imagine that level of pain and thinking it is normal. It’s hard to watch because your 9 year-old shouldn’t have to deal with it. We’ve been to Children’s Hospital of Illinois more times than we can count. At first we were going to a hospital in a big city but it was hard. We would drive a few hours and have to stay the night or the week. It got really expensive and because of all the time I needed off, I lost my job. We also found that Lillian had more personalized care here, we weren’t just one in a crowd. In Peoria, she has her own team of specialists. They know her, they know us. The care is exceptional and everyone makes us feel like a priority. Some of her doctors have even given us their personal cell phone numbers so we can call anytime. It isn’t uncommon to get a call from her doctor at 8 o’clock at night just to check up on her after an episode. It is this way with every person we meet there. We feel so lucky to have this hospital.

-Andrea, mother

 

I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone. But life is all about how you look at it. We could be angry and upset and only see the bad. But we choose to see the positive. You think something like this disease is so horrific but it has also been a blessing in some ways. People have been willing to help us every step. Our family, church, friends… really our whole community supports us and has joined us in raising awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis. Neighbors stop in to make sure we are okay, the bus driver stopped by to drop off her homework today, even people that don’t know us are willing to help. This has opened our eyes to all the good in the world. IT is out there. That is what we focus on, because if we don’t it would be all too easy to get down.

-Troy, father

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12 Days of Giving

Lyndsey

Mother

The day our twins were born went nothing like I expected.

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The day our twins, Josie and Hendrix, were born went nothing like I expected. It was scary, chaotic and rushed. Josie had to be resuscitated at birth and had a brain bleed. When you deliver 7 weeks early so many of the firsts get taken away from you. I had expected skin to skin contact, helping them learn to latch to breastfeed, changing the first diaper. But none of it happened. And it is so hard to let go of all of those things. It is like you missed out on something special, something that was meant to be just you and them.

-Lyndsey, mother

 

We delivered the twins at OSF Saint Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington. We only got to see them for about 10 minutes that first day. Because of their prematurity and particularly Josie’s conditions, they needed to be taken to the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Illinois. That was the hardest part for me. Our lives changed so quickly and we had two little ones to think about. Almost instantly I was signing the papers to have them transported to Peoria and I wasn’t able to go with them. It was raining so hard that day that the life flight helicopter couldn’t safely transport them. Instead an ambulance took them and because of the weather I was advised for safety reasons to stay in Bloomington.

-Lewis, father

 

When you are in the NICU, you live in a bubble. You are so disconnected from life. We were consumed with being near our babies. We would wake up and leave our home in Bloomington at eight or nine every morning and spend all day at the hospital. We didn’t go anywhere, we didn’t see anyone outside of that. Day in and day out, for four weeks, this is how we existed. For me, recovering from the major surgery I needed after the twins were born and dealing with the emotional stress of the situation was too much to handle. It took a heavy toll. But there were bright spots too. One day we came to the hospital and there was a message from Lewis’s sister on a little postcard. She had found a place on the hospital website where you can leave a personal message for a family. Soon a lot of our family and friends were doing it. It helped connect us to others and made each day a little easier. Slowly our babies got bigger and stronger as well. We formed bonds and friendships in the NICU with the staff and other families there. Our twins had the best care imaginable. They taught us how to be parents, how to care for our newborns. We are forever grateful. Without them we would have been lost.

-Lyndsey, mother

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12 Days of Giving

Laura

Mother

I pressed my lips to his forehead, not knowing if he would come back.

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It was just a normal day at the motocross track for us. My son Lance was so excited to get on his bike. He began his ride and everything was going fine. It happened so fast. He hit a newly built jump wrong. He was thrown over the handle bars and flew almost 50 feet through the air, his bike landing on top of him. Another man saw it happen and ran over. He said we needed to call 911. I was too panicked to even think. I remember Lance being in and out of consciousness, screaming in pain.

-Dustin, father

 

lance4-osfWhen Dustin called my phone that morning I immediately knew something was wrong. After dropping our youngest son off at my parents, I rushed to OSF. When the doors to the ambulance opened I didn’t expect Lance to look like that. To see your 11 year-old son covered in blood, with a neck brace and unconscious jars you to the core. We were ushered into the waiting room where it felt like we waited an eternity. I remember a whole team of doctors coming out to us. They told us his injuries were severe and he had significant bleeding on his brain. He needed emergency surgery, a team was already prepping. We were expressionless and I remember them saying do you understand. But it was all too much. We were in shock. We went back into his room before they took him. He looked so small and fragile. He was in and out of consciousness. We prayed and then I pressed my lips to his forehead, not knowing if he would come back.

There were so many roadblocks that first week after surgery. His body was broken. Because of his traumatic brain injury, the top of his skull was removed to allow the brain to swell and heal. He also had five broken ribs, a punctured lung, two broken vertebrae and a severely broken arm. It was a rollercoaster. One day his eyes would flutter and open or he would squeeze our hand and we would have hope. But he also lost feeling and function on his left side because of the trauma to his brain. As a mother it was impossible for me to consider leaving him. I stayed with him all but one of the 17 days he was in the hospital. With a traumatic brain injury it is a waiting game. We just didn’t know what was affected. Like when the doctor asked him if he knew his name, he spelled out L-A-N-C-E. He couldn’t remember how to say it, but he knew the right letters. In the days, weeks and months after his accident he had to relearn how to walk, to verbalize thoughts, even how to remember things. The nurses and doctors were amazing. They treated our family with so much respect, they made us part of his medical decisions. We never wanted for anything, they let all our focus be on Lance.

-Laura, mother

 

Honestly, I can’t remember much. I have some memories of going to physical therapy, my school making cards for me and the food in the hospital. I try not to linger too much on the past or what happened. But I am different. I don’t take risks like I used to. I second guess myself a lot because I know how bad a mistake could be. My mom remembers one of the first nights I could talk, asking her why I was still here. It is something I still struggle with. Why did God save me? What is my purpose? It’s really overwhelming. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep wondering why this all happened and figuring out what it all means. I know I am still here for a reason, I just have to find what it is. I don’t want this traumatic brain injury to define me. It changed things, but I am still me. I started keeping stats for the basketball team last year in 8th grade when I didn’t make the team. And since I can’t play football, I am on the crew that films the games. That way I can still be a part of everything. I also love to draw. Not artsy stuff, more architectural. I love it. I think I’d like to be a designer when I get older.

-Lance, patient

 

lance1-osfWhen I think about everything that could have gone wrong or could have been worse, I know we are lucky. Our son is alive and three years after the accident is a normal 14 year-old boy. Without children’s hospital in Peoria he wouldn’t be here today. They saved him. I don’t want to be grave, but there were so many procedures and decisions to be made in such a short amount of time. There were only minutes between life and death. It gives me goose bumps to think about how close we came.

-Laura, mother

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12 Days of Giving

Julie

Mother

We had to put on our big boy pants and deal with the hand we were dealt.

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I googled did my water break. It was 3:30 in the morning and I was just 34 weeks so I knew it was too soon. By 6 am we were at the hospital and immediately taken to labor and delivery. They wanted to give me steroids to grow her lungs and stop my labor. But my blood pressure was too high and I tested positive for preeclampsia. They needed to take her. When I delivered Jillian she didn’t make a sound and I just kept screaming why isn’t she crying. One of the nurses finally told me she just wasn’t feisty enough to cry.

We stayed in the NICU for 15 days as Jillian battled numerous complications. Our two main nurses were both named Linda. One was very sympathetic (we called her nice Linda) and the other was very straightforward. The truth is that we needed both of them. We needed nice Linda to hug us and cry with us and listen to us say why did this happen. But just as important was straightforward Linda who refused to let us have a pity party and told us that our little girl could only be strong if we were and we had to put on our big boy pants on and deal with the hand we were dealt.

I wish our story ended in the NICU, but Jillian has had to be a fighter her whole life. She struggled to gain weight her first year and after dozens of tests we found out she didn’t have a lower esophageal sphincter muscle. At 16 months we made the difficult decision for her to have a permanent stomach surgery. Because of this and her stomach’s inability to break down what she eats Jillian has a very limited diet. She also has a g-tube, cerebral palsy and as a result of severe acid reflux is already on extra strength adult antacids. The hardest part of all of this for me is knowing that there are things wrong with her that I cannot fix. I will never be able to fix her no matter how bad I want to. Doctors can help us and we can make it manageable but we can’t fix it. I do more of the mom thing I think. I wonder what I could have done to prevent all this, that somehow maybe it was my fault.

-Julie, mother

 

2julie1-osfI see it differently. This is Jillian. Our crazy, fun, stubborn, beautiful Jillian. And this is the way she is, the way she was made, no one’s fault. I believe she is right where she should be. She doesn’t know any different and so she adjusts without realizing. She just continues to meet each challenge. I think my biggest struggle comes with all the red tape and state/federal regulations we have to navigate. Like right now she is denied physical therapy. She has a rare form of cerebral palsy and wears braces on her legs but because she is only 28% delayed and not 30%, she doesn’t qualify. It is hard to know that she could potentially be better than she is. So we have to be resourceful and do what we can at home.

-Rusty, father

 

I want Jillian to provide hope to others, especially moms. I want them to see her and her joy and ability to do whatever she puts her mind to and know that their children can too. When I think about the future, my hope for Jillian is that she is confident and accepts her differences. She’s a little girl and I know that she will have physical scars for the rest of her life and I want her to feel beautiful. I want her to be proud of what she has overcome. I want her to not be embarrassed if she still has the g-tube and the braces on her legs in 10 years. I hope they are gone but I don’t want to dwell on it if they are still there.

-Julie, mother

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12 Days of Giving

Andrea

Mother

Now that I look back at their baby pictures, I think, how did I not know?

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People would ask me all the time “what is wrong, do they have downs syndrome?” I brought them both to my youngest daughter Kaylee’s pediatrician visit – they weren’t there to be seen by this particular doctor but I had to take them with. I’ll never forget it, the doctor said, ‘I think your daughters have something called MPS Type 6 or Hurlers syndrome. I was irate. Can you imagine being told that your daughters have a terminal illness? I was so defensive. I was in denial.

Now that I look back at their baby pictures, I think, how did I not know? The girls had no necks. They were short for their age, they were hunched over all the time. But with MPS 6 it takes a few years for these things to happen. So when they were born, they were just my baby girls and I thought they were perfect. I still do.

We are on a point system with the state. I have a day nurse four days a week, a night nurse five days a week and from five to nine every night I’m on my own. I don’t get help on the weekends. If for some reason the nurses don’t show I have to stay up all night. I’m so tired all the time.

Financially we have struggled a lot. There’s so much to keep up with and with state budget cuts, it’s not easy. I have to make sure we have money for things that insurance won’t cover, to make it to all the appointments and to keep our power on at home.

The girls’ equipment uses a lot of energy. Right now our power bill is $2,600 for about four or five months of use. We try to do everything we can for the girls seeing as they already have it rough. It saddens me that I can’t do everything they want.

-Andrea, mother

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12 Days of Giving

Dr. Javed

Physician

How do you empathize with someone whose most prized possession is in danger?

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If you would have told me when I started medical school that I would be a neonatologist I wouldn’t have believed you. It wasn’t even my second choice. But I fell in love with it. There is something special about the people that work in pediatrics. I wanted to be a part of it. Our team here is unbelievable. We constantly want to push what is possible and what we can do for our patients. We aren’t the same neonatal critical care unit we were 5 years ago and we won’t be the same in 5 years. We are doing things no other program in the country is doing, like the small baby unit we are opening soon. We are consistently in the top ½ to 1% nationally for our outcomes. How could I not be excited to be a part of this? We are changing health care.

Having a baby is the one time in your life you come to the hospital for something good. The birthing process is such a beautiful phenomenon. There are so many happy thoughts running through parent’s minds, emotionally you are as high as you can be. And then something doesn’t go right. The baby or the mom isn’t doing well. There is a sense of panic and chaos that happens. It is the hardest part of my job. How do you empathize with someone whose most prized possession is in danger? But there is also incredible joy. I give comfort to these small patients and families at a time they are most vulnerable. To be someone’s first doctor is special. This population is so unique and so resilient. I see miracles happen every day. I just never thought I would need one of those miracles for my family.

I thought about all the worst case scenarios. I couldn’t help it, I knew too much about what could go wrong. You do this job for years and you think you know and you think you get it. But I didn’t. In an instant I was no longer just a doctor. I was a husband holding the hand of his wife as we struggled to accept that our child would be born 2 months early. I didn’t realize how panic struck I would be at the birth. With our first two children everything went according to plan. We just assumed, like so many others, that this one would too. I’ll never forget the moment we heard his first cry. We were so lucky. There was so much that could have been wrong that wasn’t. He’s almost 4 years old now but that memory is so vivid. It changed me.

I always had empathy for these families. But when you go through it yourself you realize so much you didn’t before. It was hard for me and my wife, who is also a pediatrician, to absorb any of the information the nurses and doctors were telling us for the first few days. I took in maybe 10%. Now I know that I need to communicate differently with these families, I have to repeat, I have to give them time. Before families leave I always talk with them about what to expect when they go home. Yeah some of it is medical, but a lot of it is what they need to expect as a parent because I have been there. I know how trying moments can be when you feel like your child is behind. I use a lot of my personal experience as perspective for them. There is no doubt I am a more complete physician because of it.

-Dr. Javed

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12 Days of Giving

Lucy

Room Service Ambassador

I want to do everything I can to make these kids happy because I love them.

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I want to do everything I can to make these kids happy because I love them. It’s important for me to sit with the patients and talk to them about what they like to eat and what they don’t. When they are here for an extended stay they often get tired of the same things. This one little girl recently wanted nachos. Now we don’t make nachos for patient meals. But I made sure we got some from the cafeteria and had them delivered to her room. That is how I make a difference for them. I’ve been here for 26 years and I’ll do whatever I can to make their meal the best that it can be.

-Lucy, Room Service Ambassador

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12 Days of Giving

Mary

Mother

There is no time to fall apart. She needs me to be her rock.

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I get my strength from her. The way I look at it, if she can be as strong as she is and handle everything from the pain to missing school then I can do it too. There is no time to fall apart. She needs me to be her rock.

-Mary, mother

 

I want to be an artist when I grow up. I love creating and making things. I use popsicle sticks, recycled products, boxes, old shirts and things like that. It gets really boring just lying in a hospital bed with nothing to do. But then I started doing crafts and it helped. My favorite is creating furniture for my Littlest Pet Shop animals.

-Kaitlen

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12 Days of Giving

Lyndsi

Mother/Nurse

We were only supposed to be here one night and then he went into respiratory distress.

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It was my second to last week of maternity leave and I spent it here. When we were admitted James was sick and had RSV, but not that sick. We were only supposed to be here one night and then he went into respiratory distress. He came so close to being intubated. What stood out the most was the night we were transferred to the 4th floor and they didn’t have staff to take in anymore patients, they were maxed out. The charge nurse took us on as her own – the care that she gave us still makes me emotional just talking about it. It’s really easy to get caught up in the negativity and chaos of our job. Being on the other side of the bed, I now know how the care that we give directly impacts the patients and the families.

-Lyndsi, mother and nurse

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12 Days of Giving

Julie

Nurse

Being here as a kid showed me exactly what I wanted to be.

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Every Tuesday and Thursday the child life specialist would hand out bingo cards. It made my whole week. My Dad and I would sit on the hospital bed and play all day. It helped me forget about the pain and the worry. I had severe gastrointestinal problems. My large intestine was taken out at 9 and by 10 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. After all the time I spent wanting to get out of the hospital I never imagined I would end up here again.

In May I graduate from the Saint Francis College of Nursing School. I’ve done a lot of rotations, but I love working here in pediatrics the most. I’m excited every day to come in. I know what it’s like being on the other side of that bed. It’s not just about the medical care. I want to know the patients and the families. I might only care for them a day or a week but I have the power to make a difference. I don’t need them to remember my name in 15 years. I just want them to remember that someone made them smile and told them that they can do this because those are the things I remember from my stays.

My mom always says that if she were me, she would stay away from all hospitals. But being here as a kid showed me exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. I think for my parents it was harder. They never left my side, every day and every night they were here. My mom almost lost her job because she was with me so much. They are really proud that I can take my struggles and turn it into something positive. They love that I am bringing to others the care and compassion we were so thankful for.

-Julie, former patient and nurse

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12 Days of Giving

Rhonda

Pediatric Teacher

Being sick shouldn’t negatively impact your whole life.

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In the academic respect this is very different than what I was used to. It’s always something different – a broken arm, cancer, surgery. So I’ve learned that I need to change the way I approach each child. Most of the Eating Disorder Clinic students are extremely type A, high – achieving, honor students. They absolutely do not want to be here, but they also can’t stand the thought of falling behind in school. I had to learn how to deal with these students when I first came here because some of them have been places with feeding tubes already. This is their stop between in-patient and home. It’s a very challenging environment to be in.

Keeping a positive attitude is so important and I really love what I do. But the truth is we rely heavily on donations to buy the things we need to keep pace with the schools.

Technology is the biggest one we struggle to keep up with. Even printing things in color is a big deal. Printing something in color for a 7 year old can change the way he remembers content. It’s so important and yet we still struggle to provide it. A few years back we didn’t even have enough money to have our part time aide stay here for an entire day. We were scrambling. We are coming up on the end of a 5-year PNC grant and I know that we are going to start seeing more and more long-term patients who need us. For a teacher, an experienced one, we need to come up with $50,000 – $60,000 for that salary.

The educational statistics for the students that have extended absences are very low, they just drop out. It’s easy to get a whole semester behind when you are battling for your health. I’ve seen teachers within the school system not cooperate the way they probably should and I just feel so bad for the kids because they are the ones who suffer. Being sick shouldn’t negatively impact your whole life.

-Rhonda, pediatric teacher

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12 Days of Giving

Alexis

Mother

I don’t ever want Ceci to feel like she is a diagnosis over a child.

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I wake Ceci up around 5 am to help with her daily cares. Because of her Spina Bifida, her bladder doesn’t fully empty, so she catheterizes first thing in the morning and then we work on her daily cecostomy flush routine. This is a procedure that takes about an hour and a half to perform, but helps to prevent obstructions in her bowels and keeps her gastro healthy. Then I assist Ceci with showering and we work together to get her dressed, hair brushed, teeth brushed, check her legs for signs of any new fractures (she has severe osteoporosis in her legs), put on her braces and shoes and then I help her into her wheelchair. We head to the kitchen to figure out which medications she is taking for the morning (they change frequently due to infections) and then she gets her harness strapped on her wheelchair to prepare for her bus ride to school. She loves school very much and always looks forward to the days she’s healthy enough to attend. Ceci has to see the school nurse every three hours to catheterize. They also have to complete health checks. While at school she receives physical and occupational therapy as well as adaptive PE to help her stay strong. Once Ceci and the boys get home from school it’s another round of medications for our girl and some down time for her and her brothers before we begin homework and dinner. In the evening, we spend time reading the book selection for the night. Then it is more medications, pajamas and goodnight hugs and kisses. With an early start we are usually in bed by 9.

My biggest hurdle, as Ceci’s mom, is trying to keep all her medical stuff separated from our daily life. I don’t ever want Ceci to feel like she is a diagnosis over a child. I want her to enjoy as much as every other child has the chance to, and I try my hardest to remind her that she can do anything she dreams of. No one can tell her you can’t, and I love that about Ceci! I want her to know that she can make life whatever she wants it to be. I believe that she has the strength to work around all the medical appointments, testing, therapies, medications and surgeries and still have the type of life she dreams of for herself.

My own hopes and dreams for Ceci and our family is to have more good days than bad. We have a life with many ups and downs and twists and turns and it can be hard, but it’s our life and we love it! One day, I would love to take Ceci and her two younger brothers on a family vacation. We have never had the opportunity and we dream about it quite often. Having time away to just focus on our family would be so amazing!

-Alexis, mother

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12 Days of Giving

Lucille

Volunteer

I’m 95 years old now and people always ask me when I am going to quit.

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I’ve been volunteering here for 22 years. Every Thursday I come in for 8 hours. I’ll do whatever I can to make these kids feel better. Today I brought in cinnamon rolls. I’ve also done a few loads of laundry so the kids and families have clean clothes. I remember this one time years ago it was snowing so badly and no one was able to get to the hospital. Somehow my husband and I made it in. One nurse looked at me and said I’ll give the shots if you make them feel better afterwards. So that is exactly what we did. We were there all day until others could get in. I’m 95 years old now and people always ask me when I am going to quit. But I can’t. I would miss these kids too much. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m tired and I wonder do I necessarily need to go in, but then I think of the children and what they are facing. If they can be here so can I. I feel like so many people sit around and say they are bored. I want to tell them to get busy and do some good.

-Lucille, volunteer

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12 Days of Giving

Mel

Grandma

Three weeks ago, he was in acute kidney failure and within 24 hours we were in the ER.

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There’s no sense in candy coating it. Three weeks ago he was in acute kidney failure and within 24 hours we were rushing him to the ER. They sent us to a really renowned hospital in St. Louis. They didn’t know what to tell us to do, they said they knew it would happen again and again and to keep bringing him in. We left with no answers. Here they communicate with us and tell us exactly what is going to happen to Bryler each and every day. We know what tests they are running, we get updates on results – even if they have no answers quite yet they tell us that. It’s hard to believe, but at the other hospitals we didn’t even get that.

-Mel, grandma

 

We came to this hospital when my kidneys started to fail again. The stuff they are putting in my IV seems to help, but the pain starts really fast and it scares me. If I tell them I’m in pain then they stop it. If I say I’m sick to my stomach they sit with me till they figure out what’s going on.

– Bryler, patient

 

The fear of the unknown has been the hardest. It’s been a year and a half of no answers. We’re not from around here and we’ve been seen at so many different hospitals that were supposed to be the best. I was at my wits end and felt defeated, hopeless. I cried on the way to this hospital and prayed the entire car ride here for an answer. I’m praying for a miracle and we’ve kind of got it because already I feel like with this staff we’re going to figure it out.

– Stacy, mother

 

Keeping up with school has been overwhelming, especially with an older kid. You get behind and we’ve really leaned on the resources here to help keep up with school. Areas like this activity room are amazing and it’s easy for us to step in here and have a few moments to ourselves. To have fun. He’s only been in half days of school here and there and he struggles anyways with his health and the ups and downs in life. They told us they would give us a tutor and that just blew me away. As his mother I felt so good knowing he wasn’t going to fall further behind.

-Stacy, mother

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12 Days of Giving

Rick

Father

They can’t find a reason for her symptoms.

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We’ve been in here almost two weeks and we still don’t know what is wrong. They are doing a lot of tests and hopefully we’ll get an answer soon. At first we thought it was just the flu but our local hospital transferred us here. They can’t find a reason for her symptoms. It has been hard to be here for so long and not know. She’s 15 and should be in school right now. She keeps getting her hopes up that she can go home. It’s been difficult to watch her disappointment when we don’t get discharged.

-Rick, father

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12 Days of Giving

Dr. Bash

Physician

I have patients going into their 30s who were born with half a heart.

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I’ll admit that Peoria was dead last on my list. I was interviewing all over the country for pediatric cardiologist positions. And then I visited the OSF hospital and I fell in love. There was so much potential. Everything seemed just right from the Sister’s Mission to the location. It was 1986 and I never could have dreamed what we would achieve. Who would think that here in Peoria we would have such an elite medical community. I can’t believe what we have grown. Did you know that almost every pediatric cardiology advancement has happened during my lifetime? I have patients going into their 30s who were born with half a heart. It was corrected here when they were infants. They are among the first to have ever had this surgery. It’s unbelievable. These are miracles, what we do here at Children’s Hospital of Illinois creates miracles every day and I couldn’t feel more honored to be one of its founders.

-Dr. Stephen Bash, physician

 

Like everything in life we’ve done this together. We share a passion for growing this hospital. He’s the doctor and I am the woman who brings people together and champions a cause whatever it may be. We need a new piece of equipment? Then let’s go raise the money for it. When we came to this community we hoped we would be able to make a difference. It brings me such joy to see these patients grow up, to be a part of their journey is incredible.

-Patti Bash, wife

 

I look back and I do think we accomplished something. But now it is time for the next generation to come in and take us even further. Patti and I want to see this hospital continue to grow, to excel in research, to achieve, to heal. I will be sad to leave my patients but I don’t worry about them because this next group is so talented. I’m proud we’ve built something that won’t end but rather gets better with time and new faces.

-Dr. Stephen Bash, physician

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12 Days of Giving

Hailey

Patient

In the weeks before my diagnosis, I would always feel dizzy.

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In the weeks before my diagnosis, I would always feel dizzy and out of it — kind of like I couldn’t hear myself talk. The day that I ended up in the hospital my symptoms were worse. My dad took my blood sugar and then made the decisions to bring me here. I think they already knew what the doctors were going to say, but we were all hoping it wasn’t diabetes. My little brother Jarrett has diabetes so I already knew how to deal with it. I take my blood sugar about 6 times a day. It can get hard because I’m so busy with classes and sports, but I know that managing my diabetes will keep me healthy. I was scared of needles and before I got the pump I couldn’t give myself a shot. Someone always had to do it for me. My pump really helps because it drips insulin all day and so there’s not as many sticks with insulin or injections for meals and correcting blood sugar to keep it in a healthy range. I haven’t let diabetes change me, or affect what I love to do. I volunteer, babysit, love to play sports and have a lot of friends I’m always with. It’s just part of who I am now, and it will be with me until there’s a cure. I want to work here at the hospital, to become a Pediatrician. I’ve spent a lot of time here and seen the difference that the doctors make and that’s what I want to do. I want to help people like myself, like my little brother Jarrett and like my dad. We all have diabetes and we’ve needed this hospital for so much.

-Hailey, patient

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12 Days of Giving

Lindsey

Volunteer

It is hard to leave at the end of the day because the patients stay with you.

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I was fairly new to the area and I needed a way to connect to the community. Volunteering at the hospital just fit. When I am here it’s my job to help patients and families not feel so alone. It might just be sitting with them during lunch or giving parents a 15 minute break to get a cup of coffee. It is hard though to leave at the end of the day because the patients stay with you.

-Lindsey, volunteer

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12 Days of Giving

Dr. Riech

ED Physician

In the world of emergency medicine, you have to accept that you don’t know what is coming next.

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I have the honor of caring for children and their families in our OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Emergency Department. My training in Emergency Medicine comes, in part, from my 21 years of military experience in over 20 countries. Having the opportunity to see medical care in other parts of the world helped me appreciate our own healthcare system in many ways. In the military, I traveled from Iraq to Afghanistan, Bosnia to Guyana and even our own Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In all these places, there were lessons for me to learn. In so many parts of the world, children are the most vulnerable to illness and injury. Unfortunately, that can be true even here in Peoria, Ill.

In the world of Emergency Medicine, you have to accept that you don’t know what is coming next. You can always be blindsided – that excitement and uncertainty is the heart of emergency  medicine. I work with a very special group of staff down here in the ED. They have a broad range of knowledge and work incredibly hard. We care for the most critically ill and injured children and adults in the community and surrounding region.

In the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center ED, we always strive to find ways to better serve the needs of our patients and their families. For example, we have taken on child abuse as an initiative in our ED. Since we started, we have seen a fourfold increase in our identification of child abuse cases monthly. We focus on not only identifying these children and providing medical care to them, but seek to provide resources and support to families to help prevent abuse. More than anything, I hope we can prevent future injuries and stress for these children. I have always had a passion for caring for children. Coupling this with my experiences overseas inspired me to advocate for emergency care that is tailored for children in our community. When I became a parent myself, I think that vulnerability that happens when your child is sick or injured hit so much closer to home. It drove me to want to elevate our Pediatric Emergency Care to be the best it can possibly be. We look forward to growing and perfecting our pediatric emergency services at Saint Francis even more in the coming months and years.

-Dr. Teresa Riech, ED physician

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12 Days of Giving

Heidi

Patient Care Tech

It’s hard to explain how something so small can make all the difference.

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Every day I get up and wash my hair, brush my teeth and get ready. Why should it be any different for the patients here? I want to help these kids feel their best and one thing I can do to make that happen is their hair. It’s hard to explain how something so small can make all the difference. But it really does. When a teenage girl in a car accident has her hair washed for the first time in five days it transforms her. She can finally start to feel like herself again.

-Heidi, Patient Care Technician

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