The Reynolds Family – You Made A Miracle Happen
I live with two types of muscular dystrophy. One affects my legs, the other everything above my shoulders. There’s no way to give words to the feeling of losing control of your body.
Last summer, it began with a bad cough. But it quickly worsened to the point that I ended up in the emergency room. I thought that I’d be home soon. But after two weeks in a hospital bed, I was brought to the Intensive Care Unit.
A row of doctors came in to see me. Some days, it felt like every doctor in the hospital passed by to examine me— to ask questions. Each time, I asked the doctors, when am I going home? I needed to be with my kids. It felt like no one could hear me.
Weeks passed by and each time the answer was the same: No. No. No. It was all I heard. You might be strong, but after a while it gets difficult to keep hope alive.
Soon came the tracheotomy. My muscles—my body— couldn’t be trusted to keep me alive any longer. I woke up to a hole in my throat, a tube snaking down to my side. I felt air flowing down my throat and into my lungs. You can imagine how strange that felt. Breathing is so natural— you don’t usually think about it, until it’s all you think about.
Weeks turned to months. Summer was over. Every day, my husband Lucan brought the kids to visit. It was the best part of each day. He was always moving— from school, to the hospital, back to school to get the kids, home for food and homework and then back to the hospital. He was exhausted. You wouldn’t want to put your family through it. I felt so helpless.
I lay in bed when the first snowflakes of the year fell. Out my window I could see the world turn white and I knew that time was running out to make it home.
The next time I saw the doctor, I told him I fully intended to be home for Christmas. I’d missed summer with my family; I wasn’t going to miss the holidays too. Instead, he told me that I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital. My heart dropped into my stomach.
A few weeks later I believed them. My hope was almost all used up. It’s funny how things happen though. You never know what tomorrow will hold, it’s something of which I try to remind myself.
One of the brightest spots was the nursing staff. They fell in love with my family. How couldn’t they? You’d love them too if you met them. My three sweet children and my loving husband at my side, every single day. I don’t know how I got so lucky to be so loved.
After months of seeing the kids come and go, the nurses decided to make our Christmas in the hospital as special as they could.
In secret, they collected presents for the kids. Reporters from television came to share the story — a special piece about my family for the evening news. I joked that I didn’t want to be in bed when company came over, but in the end, I didn’t have much choice.
After we opened presents and everyone left, I kissed my husband and kids and sent them home. I had no idea that you were about to make my dreams come true.
The next day at school, the kids were famous. Their friends had seen the news the night before. They were all jealous of all the presents the nurses had given the kids! You’d think they forgot about me! But thankfully, they weren’t the only ones. One of their teachers had seen the piece too, and she had an idea of what to do.
She forwarded the story to her husband, a Fire Fighter in the town of Port Perry. Without anyone telling him what to do or how to do it, he decided to do something. You probably know that Fire Fighters have been saving people with muscular dystrophy for more than 60 years, but I had no idea!
He picked up the phone and made a call to his contact at Muscular Dystrophy Canada, an organization he’d been volunteering with for the past couple years. He had a feeling they’d know what to do. And maybe with a little luck, we could turn a no into a yes.
For months, I had felt alone in the hospital. Now, I had an army by my side. I wish you could have seen it.
Meeting after meeting, the Muscular Dystrophy Canada team kept pushing the doctors harder and harder. Every time a new problem popped up, they had a solution ready. They really believed that they could get me home for Christmas. And I started to believe it too.
First, I needed a ventilator, then a special bed, a lift, and a battery— all just to get back in my home. The equipment was expensive, and without an organization like Muscular Dystrophy Canada, families would have to pay for it all on their own.
But you must know all about that. You’re the reason they can do what they do. It’s funny that you knew about their amazing work before I did— and I have muscular dystrophy! You are doing something incredible by donating. I can’t begin to imagine how many families you’ve saved, just like mine.
With only days before Christmas, it all still seemed too complicated. After what I had been through, I felt crazy for feeling so hopeful, but it’s all I had.
On Christmas Eve, everything started to come together. Everyone involved was working around the clock. The holidays are busy, but the team from Muscular Dystrophy Canada never stopped. They stayed with me. They never gave up.
Finally, after all of the false starts, the moment I had waited months for happened. The doctors came to see me. I was going home.
You were there for me when I needed you most. We don’t know each other, but you made my dreams come true. You must have known that it was possible all along, and it’s why you give. It was you who brought my family back together just in time for Christmas.
It was just before midnight when the ambulance pulled into my driveway. They snuck me into the house under the cover of darkness.
Things inside the house had changed with all of the new equipment. They helped me into a special bed on the far side of the living room. I had a perfect view of the glowing Christmas tree, with all its lights and decorations. But best of all, I could see the bottom of the stairs where I knew my kids would be in just a few hours.
After months of separation, Lucan and I finally cuddled on the bed in our living room. We were back together. I didn’t want to close my eyes in case I woke up back in the hospital. But eventually I dozed off.
When I opened my eyes, it was still real. When everything seemed hopeless, you made my dreams come true. Your donations to Muscular Dystrophy Canada made a miracle happen for my family. You can never be thanked enough.
It wasn’t long before I heard feet hit the floor as the kids raced downstairs. From my bed in the living room, I could see them as they made their way to the Christmas tree. But then they saw me. We held each other tight, crying and laughing. That was, without a doubt, the greatest Christmas we’ve ever had.
I know I’m one of the lucky ones. Because of you, I didn’t have to spend Christmas in the hospital. I made it home in time to be with my husband and kids, to be their mom again. You gave my family another Christmas together, a gift I will cherish for the rest of my days.
With love, thanks, and warm wishes to you and yours,
P.S. You made sure I got home for the holidays. I’m so grateful for the gift you gave me. I know other families that aren’t so lucky. Let’s give this gift to another family in need. You can’t put a price on seeing your children’s faces light up on Christmas morning.