In early December 2018, our 18 year old son Malachi was in a serious auto accident while visiting relatives in Memphis, TN – far from our home in the U.P. He sustained a traumatic brain injury called diffuse axonal injury and was life-flighted to a hospital in St. Louis,MO. After five and a half weeks, the hospital there told us there was no further medical aid they could provide.
All our research and testimonials we heard indicated Malachi should go to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids. It was so overwhelming to know we would still be nine hours from our home.
I really didn’t know what we were going to do about lodging since we had already spent a lot of money in St Louis on hotel costs. Even a minimal cost of $40/night was too much; with bills at home that still needed to be taken care of, how could we afford another “home” in Grand Rapids? There were so many decisions, and I didn’t even know what to do or where to begin. I cried when I learned there was a room available for us at the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan (RMHWM)! My parents have been with us from day one of Malachi’s Journey, and it was a blessing to hear that all of us could stay together, and at no cost.
When we came to Grand Rapids, we had no clue how long we would need to stay. At Malachi’s first evaluation, the team of doctors, nurses, and therapists estimated 12 weeks. This last week, we learned that he would stay an additional four weeks because he is now starting to participate in his therapy. This is huge! Initially, we were given the prognosis that Malachi would likely remain in a vegetative state in a bed. But miraculously Malachi has moved out of the vegetative state into the minimally conscious state!
I really didn’t know what to expect at the RMHWM other than a bed. But it’s really a house! So homey and comfortable. There was a homemade dinner offered in the huge kitchen. All the volunteers that cook food for the guest families are a true blessing. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the house. Oh yes, a bathtub in the room! You don’t realize the things that you have at your own home that you just take for granted. You do not expect to have your whole life changed in one instant.
When the flooding took place at the house, I was devastated. I felt like I was getting acclimated and meeting “new family” at the house. Because the people that work at the house and other guests that were staying at the house felt more like family than strangers. In the kitchen, we would talk to others and hear their stories. Others would ask how Malachi was doing. It seemed like we were sharing one another’s burdens. The RMHWM has been so gracious to put us up at a hotel nearby and provided meals, but it’s not the same as being in the House. The snack bags and notes we’ve received help make the long days at the hospital a little more enjoyable to know that we are thought about.
Thank you to all who work at or support the House – for allowing us to have a “home-away-from-home” while we are experiencing the devastation in our life. We are so grateful to be together as a family and with Malachi as much as possible.