Every family has its set of day-to-day and long-term challenges, and some families seem to have more on their plate than others. The Wieschowski Family – Mark and Katie and their kids Joshua, Kai, Isaac, and Austin – are one of those families.
When Austin was two months old, he was diagnosed him with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and spent two and a half months in the ICU, his family staying at the RMH for four months. When he was finally sent home, medical staff were skeptical for Austin’s future, surprised that he was even able to go home.
Austin, now five, proved them wrong but has also been diagnosed with hypotonia, macrocephaley, common variable immune deficiency (CVID), mitochondial disease, gastroparesis, brittle asthma, astigmatism, hypogammaglobunemia, and RSV.
At the same time, six-year-old Isaac has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), CVID, epilepsy, brittle asthma, and autism.
On top of all this, their sister Kai is both bipolar and autistic, their father Mark has undergone brain surgery and is no longer able to work, having to rely on disability.
The family has been trying to piece together information to determine how best to help the boys. And that means frequent trips to the RMH, which the boys always consider a treat.
“They love it here. It’s like family to them,” Katie said, adding that she maintains contact with many of the families she meets at RMH through social media. “We get to see some of those friends when we come to RMH.”
The boys return every four weeks for IVIG treatments, arriving Sunday evening and leaving Monday afternoon. Ronald McDonald House takes a huge financial burden off the family’s shoulders. Austin will need these treatments for the rest of his life, allowing him the chance to run around and play. Isaac also takes pain meds, has a heart monitor, and will eventually need surgery for his EDS.
Despite these challenges, the boys remain active and happy-go-lucky. They always get excited with the prospect of visiting RMH, jumping up and down and remembering past visits that have included outings to baseball games, movies, and aquariums. Further diagnosis and medication help them manage more and more with every visit. While the family continues to help the boys, they rely on the open doors and opportunities offered by RMH.
“It’s nice for my sons to be comfortable because the hospital visits are not pleasant,” Katie said. “It’s hard to manage our lives because of all the health conditions, but these are happy boys and that makes a big difference.”
By Alison Barrick and Joe Harless