Wednesday, 26 April 2017 11:22

Swift Current mom writes about experiences of caring for a child with serious medical conditions

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Kyla Thomson at a book signing event at Urban Ground Coffeehouse in Swift Current, April 11. Kyla Thomson at a book signing event at Urban Ground Coffeehouse in Swift Current, April 11.

First-time mom Kyla Thomson of Swift Current is using her passion for writing to help parents deal with the stress of caring for a child with a serious medical condition.


She wrote a chapter on surviving the mental anguish in the book Dear Stress, I’m breaking up with you by Ky-Lee Hanson. The book provides perspectives by women from all walks of life on reducing the impact of stress on their health and well-being.
Thomson’s contribution to the book is published in a section on healing the body with knowledge. She writes from personal experience of caring for her three-year-old daughter Bella, who was born with a number of rare medical conditions.
Bella has spent a total of 637 days in hospital, mostly in Calgary, and she only came home for the first time shortly after her second birthday. Thomson spent all that time with her daughter in hospital and she started an online blog to document Bella’s struggles and progress.
It can be a lonely experience to spend so much time in a hospital and Thomson used her writing to keep a connection with the outside world.
“I used Bella’s hospital room as sort of a virtual tunnel to the outside world,” she said. “Any contact I would have with anyone else or getting my information or my advice out there has always been through writing and my blog.”
She worked as a teacher before focusing all her attention on caring for her daughter. She has a minor in English and writing has been a long-time passion, but since starting her blog it became something else.
“Writing is my form of therapy and how I write is very personal,” she said. “I found that when I explained all the turmoil, all the struggles in my writing and I shared that, it was helping others and I began receiving more and more acknowledgement for my blog posts and my writing online. A lot of people would say this is helping me, I’ve been through that exact scenario and your information in your writing is helping me know what to do.”
Ky-Lee Hanson, the lead author of Dear Stress, I’m breaking up with you, read Thomson’s blog and asked her to write a chapter for the book.
“We were just home after one of our third long-term stays in hospital and bringing Bella home and dealing with all of her ongoing medical needs at home was a huge time consuming stress,” she recalled.
She felt compelled to write the chapter about stress because she has so many tools that can help other parents who are in a similar situation.
“So I worked through the timeframe that was given to me from the head author and just was very excited about getting my chapter written in the timeframe they needed and then it was published in February,” she said. “It was quite difficult. I would write late at night when Bella was sleeping or I’d write when she was napping. … About a month before the book was actually published, we were back in hospital for her fourth long-term stay for emergency bowel surgery at the end of January and it was kind of funny, because as my book was published in February I was in hospital, requiring what I wrote in my own chapter.”
Parents who have children with serious medical needs do not always realize how much stress they are experiencing while caring for their child.
“The shock and the initial amount of information that’s thrown at you when your kid is in hospital is numbing at first and a lot of that stress actually does come after you’re out of the hospital too,” she said. “We’ve been back and forth many times for our daughter, and I find that a lot of the stress isn’t just in hospital, but the majority is also when you finally get to bring your child home. So I talked a little bit about both.”
An important step is to realize that people do not need to live with stress and that one can do something to find help and support.
“It’s a combination of two things that allowed me to manage the stress,” she said. “That was identifying what others could do for me and finding out what I could also do for myself. I lived in a children’s hospital and there was no mental health support, there was no services for the parents, it was all for the children, and even when I got home too, I found that no one was offering me options. So I had to make a point of seeking it out.”
Bella was born with Hirschsprung’s disease, a condition that affects the colon, and almost a year later she was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).
“Her bone marrow transplant for the SCID, the immune system, has been 100 per cent successful and her immune system is growing very well,” Thomson said.
Bella has had 13 surgeries since birth and her fifth major bowel surgery took place in January. Her doctors are happy with her progress, but she needs constant care.
“I have to be home with her because she’s not allowed to eat yet,” she noted. “I’ve been trained to give her IV nutrition and that’s all she can have right now. My husband and I are the only two that have been trained with it. Apart from that she has ileostomy and we’ve been trained to manage that as well.”
The family has ongoing expenses related to Bella’s medical treatment and care, varying from monthly trips to Calgary for appointments to the cost of specialized medical supplies. Sales from the book will help to cover the cost of Bella’s medical needs and there are also ongoing fundraising efforts in the community to help them with their numerous expenses.
“We’ve had huge support from family and friend that have come up with many different ways to fundraise for us,” she said. “We’ve never expected this many medical issues to last for three plus years, and the support from our family and friends have been continuous. … With my book I finally can start supporting myself a little bit. So that’s been really good for me, because I’ve had so many people give us so much because I haven’t been able to work or do anything for myself.”
A paint night fundraiser for Bella takes place at Houston Pizza in Swift Current on May 11, starting at 7 p.m. More information about Bella’s journey is available on the blog bellasmustardseed.blogspot.ca and the Facebook page Isabella’s Mustard Seed.
Copies of the book at $30 each can be purchased from Thomson. To purchase a copy send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Matthew Liebenberg

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