As you pass by the grounds of the Cambridge Memorial Hospital during the holiday season, you notice beautiful trees, decorated with colourful strings of light. For some, these Trees of Caring evoke feelings of warmth and cheer. For me, they will forever be a reminder of the day my infant daughter, Ruthie, became gravely ill, and the wonderful staff at Cambridge Memorial saved her life.
I am so grateful to every person in our community that supports and helps Cambridge Memorial to buy essential equipment, like the AIRVO respiratory machine that pumped air into Ruthie’s tiny lungs last Christmas.
Both Ruthie and my middle son, Allan, ended up in hospital together two weeks before Christmas 2016.
My middle child, Allan, who then, at 2½ years old had to be admitted to CMH because he had pneumonia and a common respiratory infection called Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). RSV, as you may know, is highly contagious so babies often catch it when an older sibling brings it home from school or daycare. But we needed to keep a closer eye on Allan because he has a heart condition.
Throughout this time, the rest of our family was also sick with what we thought was just a nasty cold. However, when I came home at night, I noticed that Ruthie’s cold had gotten worse. I took her to see our pediatrician, but he wasn’t concerned. He simply suggested we keep an eye on her. The next day though, she still wasn’t nursing well, and her diapers were dry. I was worried, so I took her to the doctor again. This time when he examined her, he said, “You need to go the hospital right now.”
By the time I got Ruthie to Emergency, her heart rate was extremely high. She was very lethargic and her skin was doughy. I realized how serious things had become when the emergency staff couldn’t get a proper reading of her oxygen levels. The team rushed my daughter to a special room on the pediatric unit, and called in a second respiratory therapist who said, “We need to get her on the AIRVO right away.”
It turned out that Ruthie had pneumonia and RSV, just like her brother.
Right there, before my eyes, the AIRVO machine, purchased with donations to the Trees of Caring campaign, saved my baby from severe respiratory distress. The AIRVO pushed warm, humidified air into Ruthie’s lungs, expanding them so she could absorb the oxygen.
Meanwhile, Allan, was down the hall, facing his own struggle with pneumonia and RSV. The next 48 hours were a complete blur of worry and exhaustion as we went back and forth between the two rooms, checking on each child.
In time, they both started to show signs of improvement. I’m quite certain that if Cambridge Memorial didn’t have that AIRVO machine, Ruthie would have been in real trouble.
Throughout the days and nights that followed, the multidisciplinary team — doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists and more — were not just professional and knowledgeable; they were also incredibly kind and supportive.
Balancing our time at home and at the hospital was only possible because Ruthie was nearby and Grandma lived just 10-minutes away by car. This allowed us to lean on friends and family for support which wouldn’t have been possible in Hamilton or Toronto.
Thankfully, after a week, we were able to take Ruthie home, and on December 27th, we had a lovely Christmas celebration which was all the more precious because of what we’d been through as a family.
Noah and I understand that a health emergency like Ruthie’s could easily happen again, at any time, to any of our kids. So having our community hospital nearby gives us peace of mind.
I hope we never need help like that again, but ifwe do, we are confident that the staff at Cambridge Memorial will be there for us.
My family is proof of the amazing impact that your hospital can have on a life.