If you’ve never had a seriously ill child needing medical treatment out of town, it’s hard to fully appreciate groups like Highway to Healing.
The stories in this week’s paper are heart-wrenching, and are definitive proof that this support mechanism is sorely needed for these families.
I know first-hand how important it is to receive this type of support, and I feel compelled to share my story.
My 11-year-old daughter had good grades (A’s and B’s) in school. She was confident and sharp.
One day she came home complaining about being physically bullied by two or three classmates. It didn’t sound that serious, but it was to her.
Soon after the incident, her writing started to appear jagged, and her fine motor skills began to decline. Fast-forward several months and her writing was illegible; you couldn’t read a word of it. She could no longer do jumping jacks or ride a bike, and it took her a minute to count to 10.
Her academic regression shocked teachers and medical professionals as she slipped from a Grade 5 level to a Grade 1 level. She had uncontrollable temper tantrums at home and could no longer participate in normal classroom work. Seeing her being alienated by her peers at school was very “sad,” a word she often used to describe her feelings.
I wanted my daughter back; it was like I didn’t know her anymore.
She underwent a litany of blood tests and scans, but no physical ailment could be found. She was finally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. She spent a month in BC Children’s Hospital, which required travel and accommodation for the whole family.
The Shriners bus that took us to Vancouver (free of charge) was a godsend, and alleviated the stress of driving. I expected to pay a percentage of the hotel room cost, but that was free too. Needless to say, it would have been a great financial burden if we had to pay these costs.
My heart-felt thanks go out to the Shriners and to Oliver Rotarians who have established Highway to Healing. These caring people are true saints who put the needs of others ahead of their own.
I encourage residents to support this new organization for the work it does for sick children and their families.
My daughter can ride a bike again, and her academics have greatly improved. She came back to me, lifting my heavy heart and giving me hope for the future.
Lyonel Doherty, editor