Thursday, July 26, 2018

With a little help from my friends

By Louise Kinross

Living in hospital for months of rehab after surgery can be hard for a kid and their parents.

Kim Hoben (above left) of Whitby says the kindness of neighbours, friends and family has made her stay at Holland Bloorview with daughter Riley, 8 (right), so much brighter. Riley, who has cerebral palsy, had surgery on her hips, femur and hamstrings and has been here for three weeks.

It started when Kim's neighbours collected hundreds of dollars from people in the community and her son's hockey team to cover gas and parking costs for the trips back and forth from the hospital. 

Then the family received a box with a package for Riley to open every single day she's in hospital. The bags are dated, and a great way to start the morning, Kim says. "The presents are crayons, a pencil case, books, a blanket, slippers, nail polish, and a brush. Things that keep her busy and are so special and thoughtful."

The first weekend the family came home, they were met by friends lining the driveway with balloons and a 'Welcome home girls!' sign. 

Help has also come in the way of friends offering to stay overnight at hospital with Riley, or spend time with her during the day. "On Monday night a neighbour slept over and stayed all day Tuesday. She took a vacation day to do it. My son was with my sister, so my husband and I went out to a restaurant. A teacher came one day so I could go home and watch my son play baseball."

Kim keeps friends updated on Riley's progress on Facebook and in a messenger group. 

"The days are long here, and it's hard to be here 24-7," Kim says. "The support we've had is incredible."

Kim notes that her community has come up with specific ways to help, without the family asking for it.

Parents of children with disabilities often find that people say "Call me if there's something I can do," but don't take action.

When neighbours visit, Kim says, they bring food and snacks.

Riley says her favourite activities at Holland Bloorview are "physio and rec." 

"The recreation programs here are amazing," Kim says. "Three times a day, they may do crafts, go to the gym, bake or play games. Riley likes to go on her own and do her thing, so it's also a break for me. Riley loves the student volunteers who work with the program."

As of yesterday, Riley walked with a cane for the first time. "Now she's swimming, which is great for her legs," Kim says. "She's like a fish in there."

Want to support a child and parent in hospital? Consider all of the practical ways the Hoben family has received support and take action!