How Mothers Discover Relieving Peace During Their Child’s Hospitalization

Kate, mother of nine-year-old Apollo, is well acquainted with the challenges and difficulties of having a child hospitalized for medical complexities. 

Apollo has spent well over a year in-patient at multiple hospitals and has been hospitalized more than 50 times in his young life. 

Born with esophageal atresia, Apollo's esophagus didn't connect to his stomach. After receiving surgery to repair his esophagus, they discovered a hole in his trachea (airway). After surgery to repair his airway, he was in critical condition for a prolonged period, and life-flighted from Dell Children’s Hospital to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

During nearly six agonizing months in three different Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), Apollo was treated for a life-threatening fungal infection, lung disease, and underwent a slide-tracheoplasty that successfully repaired his damaged airway at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. 

Later, Apollo was diagnosed with vagal neuropathy, causing chronic nausea and intermittent episodes of stomach paralysis and intractable vomiting. He faces acute pain and complications such as dehydration, low blood-sugar, or fever.

Apollo_Alleviate Stress and Anxiety_2

During hospitalizations, Apollo confronts high levels of stress. He feels physical pain from intractable vomiting, which lasts for at least 24 hours, many times vomiting blood. Pokes and treatments add to his discomfort. 

Kate has been with Apollo in every step of his hospitalization journey. She describes the difficulties and challenges she has faced: 

 “The experience of having a child who is medically complex and has a really complex illness is unbelievably’s a difficult life. It's difficult for our whole family. We spend a lot of time working to keep Apollo out of the hospital and we spend a lot of time with him in the hospital...It’s hard for people to understand about this disease and what we go through as a family.” 

Apollo_Alleviate Stress and Anxiety_3

Hospitalization and Apollo’s distress is difficult for Kate. Especially when Apollo isn’t feeling well, he loves to play and have fun. During hospital stays, Apollo had the chance to play in different ways all throughout his path to healing. When Apollo plays and feels better, it helps his family, too. Kate elaborates on the importance of play and the impact it makes on their entire family:  

“It’s completely underestimated especially in the medical world how critical play is for kids when they’re sick, not just that it can be distracting, but that it can just be incredibly positive...positive for the parents, positive for the whole family...”

When Kate and Apollo feel restless from in the hospital room for extended periods of time, the Starlight Hero Wagon relieves them and gives them emotional support. By attaching Apollo’s IV pole to the red wagon, they can leave his room and find excitement venturing to the gift shop or exploring the cafe and food court options that day. Kate elaborates on how the red wagon gave them something to look forward to: 

“Apollo loves a wagon ride. Hero Wagons are such a gift because they enable us to get out of the room, take a break together, and explore the hospital. We both look forward to them. Apollo thinks Hero Wagons feel safer and more fun than using a wheelchair.”  

Apollo_Alleviate Stress and Anxiety_4

When Kate sees Apollo's mood improve from using Starlight Programs such as the Starlight Toy Deliveries or the Starlight Nintendo Gaming Station, her mood improves as well. “When Apollo plays with his Lego set or engages in gaming, I can relax and feel optimistic that his health is returning,” says Kate. 

Exhaustion and boredom turn into lively enjoyment when Apollo plays with his Lego set he received from Starlight Toy Deliveries. Apollo feels energized playing video games on the Starlight Gaming Station because it takes his mind off his discomfort and hospitalization. When kids like Apollo play on the Starlight Nintendo Gaming Station, they find a positive distraction that alleviates stress and anxiety.

Apollo_Alleviate Stress and Anxiety_5
Apollo_Alleviate Stress and Anxiety_6

The hospital doesn’t feel as daunting when Apollo experiences comfort, finds relief, and feels accomplished when playing with Starlight programs. Starlight programs make the hospital a place Apollo feels at home, taken care of, heard, and loved.  

“Starlight programs are the bright spots that make the hospital enjoyable and more livable,” says Kate.

Apollo_Alleviate Stress and Anxiety_7

There are 5 million hospitalized kids with parents like Kate  who are navigating through hospitalization's challenges together.  

By improving the mental wellbeing of seriously ill children, their families feel better emotionally and mentally, too. 

Support mothers like Kate by giving their children moments of peace, comfort, and relief through a Starlight program. 

Donate today.

Apollo_Alleviate Stress and Anxiety_8
Give mothers peace and relief during hospitalization
Donate Now

More Stories