I met her there, on the transplant floor (liver and kidney) where she sat, her eyes full of a sadness I couldn’t quite place, next to her son. The second of her three children to lay in a bed just like that one, all suffering the same rare genetic liver disease. The guilt was written all over her face – she hadn’t known that she and her husband were carriers for this disease – it hadn’t occurred to her to be tested. Not until later – much later, after her first son required a liver transplant.
I had her during my clinicals that week, so I spent a good deal of time with her. They lived in some BumFuck Southern town, temporarily moving to Chicago where the premiere doctor who treated this particular liver disease practiced. She and her husband and their other kids, moved, where so many do, into the Ronald McDonald house attached to the hospital I’d been volunteered to rotate through.
A student nurse then, the horror of a hospital – a big, beautiful, wonderful, cheerful hospital – that treated only children, her eyes haunted me long after I’d stopped being their nurse.
Their son, he was three at the time, I think, and while he was bloated, sorta like Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka, he bore enough of a resemblance to my own tiny son that I couldn’t help but see him every time I administered medication or checked his vitals.
We walked past the house a couple of times. Visiting the dialysis center. Other offsite clinical stuffs. It was there. The logo was similar to that of my most favorite fast-food joint – McDonald’s – and I thought, each time, of the families who had to live there, while they waited to see if their children could be cured.
It was an honor to have been placed there – Children’s Memorial Hospital – and I was one of six lucky recipients.
In a twist of fate no one could’ve foreseen, my daughter, not even a glimmer in my eye at that time, had her neurosurgery at a branch of the very same hospital. She wore the same gown that all of my patients back then did, making me feel as though I’d somehow walked into an alternate universe.
I’m close enough now to Children’s Memorial that I didn’t have to stay at the Ronald McDonald house when she was born so sick. Or when she had to be readmitted for her surgery.
But I never forgot.
I never forgot what an amazing place the Ronald McDonald House was. When I think of it even today, I am reminded of the woman with the sick boys, who harkened from BumFuck, USA, living in the Great Big City of Chicago while she awaited her son’s fate.
My friend Paula, another transplant mom, who I happened to meet through this very blog (who also works with me now, on Band Back Together), began something a couple of months ago. She inspired me.
She’s been collecting pop-tops to donate to the Ronald McDonald house (not the same one that I’ve been to). She inspired me to do the same.
And now I ask you, My Pranksters, to consider helping me with this.
McDonald’s Corporate HQ is about thirty minutes from my house and I plan to collect as many pop-tabs as I can to donate to their charity.
If you’d like to join me, (PLEASE?!), you can collect these pop-tabs and drop them off at your OWN Ronald McDonald House, or you can send them directly to me.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org for my address.
Time to use The Internet for some good.
P.S. If I get enough pop-tabs, I will totally do something random for you on a dare. Like go out in public in jeggings or something. YOU PICK THE DARE.
Also: if you’re participating, go ahead and link up, yo!