Daniel has faced many challenges in his 19 years. He and his mother, Frieda, have traveled across the country seeking treatment for multiple medical conditions. When their journeys recently brought him to Cincinnati, they stayed in our House. Daniel shared what his experience was like:
I’m writing this from my room at the Cincinnati Ronald McDonald House- or what I call my home away from home. My mom and I traveled here from Texas so I could see doctors to help look for treatment options to help get my health improved as much as possible. I have a lot of chronic conditions but this visit focused on Crohn’s Disease, gastroparesis and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome because all are affecting my GI tract. Since my earliest memories, eating has caused me pain. I’m now on a GI tube for nutrition. There’s no way to hide that and I really don’t try to either. It’s still kind of hard to see how others react when they notice my line. I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. My GI tube has improved my life so it’s not a bad thing. Having had to travel pretty often growing up for surgeries and care, I realized real fast that at the Ronald McDonald House no one sees my line or notices my pump backpack. There’s no sad stares. I’m just another teen and I’m welcomed like I’m home. I can’t explain how much that really helps. It’s hard to be so far from home when you’re sick and it can be scary at times too. But here at the House the support and encouragement is so much a big part of things. The friendships form fast and that helps. And it helps that my family doesn’t need to add on the worry of needing to pay for a hotel and meals every day. That’s a burden the Ronald McDonald House takes away for us.
If you’ve never had to leave home for medical care then you’re very lucky. But if you’ve had to then you’re pretty blessed that the Ronald McDonald House and their staff and all the great volunteers are here for you and your family. Knowing I have a safe place to go after a long day of medical tests makes things easier too. And meeting other teens that understand about growing up in and out of the hospital helps. This visit was life changing too. I met another teen that has grown up not being able to eat normally and deals with a lot of the symptoms I do. Not many people can understand how hard it is try to fit in growing up and not being able to eat like your peers. It makes you stand out and causes you to be left out of a lot of things that involve food. People get uncomfortable having someone at birthday parties or dinners who doesn’t eat. Eating is kind of a social thing so if you can’t eat normally, and deal with constant nausea, you stand out. But here at the house I’m no different than anyone else.
If you’ve never supported the Ronald McDonald House I want to ask you if you’d consider visiting one. Just visit it and see what it’s like. See the families that are being helped, meet the kids who are fighting some pretty tough illnesses and see the way the house helps all the kids hold on to their childhood and teen years during their medical fight. The house helps so many families but they need your support to keep doing that. Please will you think about making a donation to support the house that is a home to some of the strongest kids you’ll ever meet?