Written by Brother Michael Hutchison - Ontario Elks Association
Thank you on behalf of all the families we support across Canada.
It seemed to begin when we were in New York State at a family campground. Our youngest son Alexander suddenly became violently ill and his chubby little cheeks turned white. This lasted for a few minutes until he had nothing left in his belly. My wife quickly rushed him to the Urgent care clinic where he was diagnosed initially with a bout of what they thought was the flu – but to get him home and checked again by our family doctor. The next day we made the 8 hours trip home only to have Alex again become ill in the same manner as the previous day and end up in our local hospital for the next day. This continued over the next 30 days with 6-7 additional hospital visits, tests, blood work, and doctor and pediatrician appointments. The doctors told us that they wereplanning on sending us to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto or Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa for a brain scan.
As you can appreciate the next few months of additional tests, additional hospital visits for the same symptoms and doctors’ appointments continued while we waited to get him in. This was all proving to be a traumatic experience for us as parents and Alexander as 20 month old little boy. One of our Pediatricians suggested that we have Alex tested prior to any more evasive tests for allergy and tolerances to certain items. We booked the appointment and a few weeks later we proceeded to make the 2.5 hour drive for an immediate appointment with one of the top rated clinics for babies and toddlers with potential or recurring allergic reactions.
By now he was 23 months old and the testing proved that Alex was deathly allergic to Peanuts, and had further significant reactions to milk and eggs. These tests were follow by referrals for extensive blood testing and profiling in Toronto and continue today with further testing. While the outcome was sad it is a manageable situation – and we are comfortable with the information and moving forward. We appreciate that for many the results we received while impactful in Alex’s life, they are not the same results that too many young children in our home communities receive, many receive much worse diagnosis’s.
Now I write this story not for any sympathy, but to say thank you to the members of the Elks of Canada. Fortunately our family was able to take time off work, travel to the appointments and afford the costs of his care – while so many families cannot. While in the waiting room for the tests in Barrie and also in the waiting room in Toronto there were families that mentioned to us that they had received support from other not-for-profit organizations to get their kids to their appointments or else they may not have been able to bring them. The appreciation for these organization genuine because like Alex some of these kids were facing life threatening allergies that a not-for-profit played a role in the care of the child by enabling the family to attend the appointment through financial support. It was a real eye opener that these parents were so open with their ordeal and to have kids in similar situations, more importantly to see the work so many not-for-profit organizations do in our communities and families directly impacted. Too many people do not have the resources to care for their most precious resource – their children when a dramatic situation arises – and our lodges along with other not-for-profit organizations are there to lend a hand and help them in their journey of caring for their children. Going through this ordeal gave me so much appreciation for the work we do for children.
So I will end in the same way I started. Thank you on behalf of the all the families you have supported across Canada – you make a difference.