Struck by a stroke at just three: Nevaeh-Mae's story
May 22, 2023
With mum Georgia and the family being transferred from Blackpool to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, it was so important that they stayed close to Nevaeh-Mae, without the additional stress of finding accommodation.
Guest blogger: Georgia
In May of last year, our family was shaken to its core when our little girl Nevaeh-Mae suffered a stroke at just three years old.
Apart from my concern for Nevaeh-Mae’s health, I was also worried about how we would stay close to her, and to each other.
Luckily, Blackpool Victoria Hospital was already aware of the work of Ronald McDonald House Charities UK. As we were transferred, they gave us a form to fill out for Manchester so we could go straight on the waitlist.
After learning we had a room, we walked into the House and my first feelings were of complete relief. The staff immediately put me at ease with their welcomeness.
For the next 23 nights, we stayed in Ronald McDonald House Manchester and experienced all the highs and lows that come with having a child in hospital. But the moments that will always stand out to me are the House birthday party, where we could share our stories with the other parents staying. We all felt like one big family. We also made friends for life with another mum and dad who were staying at the same time, as well as still being able to celebrate Nevaeh-Mae’s birthday with family who came to visit and played with her in the big garden.
Nevaeh-Mae’s brother, Denzil, was a teenager at the time, and the House made sure that he could still enjoy being a kid, even during this difficult time, by providing us with a PS4 in our bedroom! He was thrilled.
It’s hard to give just one example of how the House impacted our family. It did everything for us. You had space if you wanted to be alone in your room, or if you wanted to just sit quietly in the kitchen by the window and watch the world go by. There was somewhere for you, no matter how you were feeling.
But firstly, and most importantly, it allowed us to stay together and be close to the hospital, even letting us have Nevaeh-Mae stay over a night on a Medical Day Pass! But it also saved us money by cooking instead of eating out, helping us to continue to eat well. We were able to make friends and felt comfortable around people who were going through a similar situation. The big outdoor area gave us somewhere to enjoy the rare sunshine and there were lots of supportive services in the Manchester House, like free food and toiletries if you were struggling to get some.
I really do believe that being so close to Nevaeh-Mae had such a positive impact on her recovery, but more than that, the House itself had a big impact on her recovery. When she was able to come over, she had the garden to explore so she could practise standing and walking again.
Without the Ronald McDonald House, we wouldn’t have been home as soon as we were. It allowed us to stay strong and not worry as much, knowing that the hospital was just a stone’s throw away. If we hadn’t of had the House, we would have had to pay for an expensive hotel in the middle of Manchester where the average cost per night could be anywhere from £50 per night, to £150! Or we would have had to have put my partner’s family out by staying in their home, which is still far from the hospital meaning using petrol or taxis or public transport every day to see our daughter.
When we were finally told we were heading home, it was emotional. We were delighted to be heading home with our little girl again, but we’d met so many wonderful families who we had met… knowing that their journey wasn’t over.
And our journey wasn’t over with Ronald McDonald House Manchester either. But instead of this journey being filled with dread and worry for Nevaeh-Mae, it was full of joy, returning to the House for a Christmas visit, the day of the 10K fun run we participated in to raise money, and being able to meet up with the family we had met previously who were staying in the House again.
Ronald McDonald House Charities UK will always hold a special place in our hearts.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, make sure to get on the waitlist for a room if your hospital has a Ronald McDonald House. Or, even whilst you wait for a room to become available, make sure you use the Day Pass. Once you are in the House, you’ll feel like it’s a second home. It’s so relaxed, friendly and has no judgement.
If you find yourself wanting to support families like mine, 1000% please do it. Even if it’s rounding up your McDonald’s by 20p, families desperately need these facilities, and you never know when you, or a loved one, might need it too.