By Rachel Faulds
Stephanie and Allan Faulds took their daughter to the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto in 2007. It
was there that their oldest daughter Jessica was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of
15. Since then Jessica has had relapses, check-ups, multiple types of treatments, countless
MRIs, invasive tests, and some hard complications. Stephanie and Allan were there every step
of the way.
the hospital effect
So yes, members of the Faulds family are familiar with hospitals. They are familiar with being
the hands to hold, the people to cry with, and the parents who are there for their children. So
when Jessica knew that the next step in her journey with MS was the HSCT treatment that
would take place in Calgary they started their preparation. This time being there for their
daughter would involve leaving their home and job to provide 24/7 support. For them to be the
support, they also needed to get support. Colleagues covered for Stephanie at work, parents
and in-laws taking over their Airbnb, friends stepping in for lawn maintenance and
encouragement found from friends and family. They prepared for this part of their MS journey as
well as they could have. The logistics were covered, but how can you really prepare to watch
your child be destroyed so that she can be rebuilt?
Stem Cell Journey
With the logistics covered they left for Calgary, ready to be there for their child. Jessica may be
twenty-seven now, but in every setback, you still see the fifteen-year-old girl who was scared of
IVs and didn’t really know what MS was or would do to her. You see vulnerability. You see pain.
You see the young woman walking into her destruction armed with only hope of a rebuild. You
see all these qualities and get your heart broken every day but you can’t show it.
So every day with the goal of being strong they would go to the hospital to see Jessica not knowing if it was a day they would celebrate a high or morn a low, not knowing if they were going to see their daughter in pain or having a ‘good day’ where she was just waiting for the process to be over. They started with a plan on what the day would be like but quickly realized that in this process, planning wasn’t a reality. They would get calls in the middle of the night to head over to the hospital to provide support because multiple pick lines were failing. They would head to the hospital again early in the morning to bring breakfast and lunch, go home for a few hours and beback again for dinner. Those hours would be occupied by time cleaning Jessica’s apartment, walking her dog, and having a quick nap.
The toll as parents
The schedule was demanding, but it was the lack of control in the situation that is the hardest.
You see your daughter hurting in a way that nobody should be hurting, you want to take that
pain away in any way possible- but you can’t. All you can do is provide support and try not to
show your stress and sadness. But sometimes they would break and cry only to have to quickly
rally to try and be strong for their daughter, but strong in the right way. Jessica is an adult, and
although she is sick there is also the pressure to respect that she is 27, she deserves the
autonomy to make her own decisions and receive unconditional love and support in the
process. So both Stephanie and Allan would do anything to get Jessica’s mind off the pain, the
fear, and the questions that were a constant for her.
For Stephanie and Jessica Faulds, they did this through online shopping. For Allan and Jessica Faulds it was through Pokemon adventures. Sometimes they feel angry, where they wonder ‘why Jessica, this isn’t fair’, but then they realize that for Jessica this isn’t the end, this has the potential to be a new beginning. And that although this new beginning has been a hard fight, it’s been a fight we’ve all been well equipped for. So
although both Stephanie and Allan Faulds has seen their fair share of hospitals, right now, for this rebuild, they can’t imagine being anywhere else.
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