“I knew that everything would be okay”
Dee Hansford from Jersey, remembers vividly looking out of the window of Southampton Children’s Hospital at a huge construction site.
“What a huge building! Do you know what it’s going to be?” she asked the ward nurse.
“That’s our new Ronald McDonald House,” She said. “It will be for families like yours, so they can stay close to their little ones whilst they are being treated in hospital.”
Dee stopped and thought. It was April 2013 and her son Nixon was currently being treated at the hospital for an unknown severe muscular condition. She was travelling the 30 minute journey each day back and forth from her B&B to spend as much time with her poorly son. This meant that she couldn’t be with him as quickly as she wanted to be, should there be a problem and transport and accommodation was extortionate.
Friends and family came to stay with Dee when they could but the reality of being away from Nixon when he really needed her, and her other son Riley and husband Ross was lonely.
Thankfully, Nixon’s treatment went well and he recovered to the extent that mum and son were able to fly home, back to Jersey. It was on the proviso that they would be back again in future.
In February 2015, Nixon needed urgent care in the Intensive Care Unit at Southampton Children’s Hospital. However, this time things were very different. Dee and Ross we are able to stay at the newly opened Ronald McDonald House. The contrast was unbelievable, the close proximity meant that the couple could spend as much time with Nixon as possible and not waste a minute. They were able to pop back and have a much-needed cooked meal and a short nap.
But above all else, it meant the world to Dee that she could wash Nixon’s favourite comfort blanket.
Dee says, “There were days when I wondered how I was going to face another day. Being able to make a cup of tea and chat to staff and other families made it so much more bearable.”
Nixon stayed in hospital for 19 days and everything went to plan. Dee was back at the hospital again this summer when Nixon had his tracheotomy out and after the procedure, he was able to stay over at the Ronald McDonald House for crucial respite. The family formed happy memories; Nixon took his first ride on the bus and experienced his first time in a playroom, at a Ronald McDonald House.
Dee adds, “Now, every time we have an appointment I know everything will be okay.”
There is still no diagnosis for Nixon and three weeks ago, Nixon became very unwell and was air lifted to Southampton as he caught a virus. His respiratory needs were high so his tracheotomy went back in. He is supported by a ventilator and Ross and Dee are doing a week each at there at the moment. It's a hard time again for the family but they say that the House has been a “godsend".