In person

“They” say a picture is worth a thousands words. I agree. I also think that meeting someone in person in way way more valuable than just communicating online. Our 3-year-old’s latest way of communicating a lot is “a google million”. So, meeting someone in person is worth a google million words.

We packed light! In true Vander Kooi fashion, we showed up just in time to grab one snack and then board the plane. No waiting around.

And, today, we get to do just that! Cincinnati Children’s brachial plexus center found sponsors and today, they offer a free day at YMCA Camp Kern for all current families. We flew direct from Minneapolis to Dayton, Ohio yesterday. Sometimes flights to Dayton are cheaper than Cincinnati and this time they were. The camp is equidistant. We spent last night in our first-ever Airbnb and it’s been great.

Liv making some morning tea. Dayton is just an hour north on Cincinnati and is home to the National Air Force, so lots of that aviator decor in our half a house that we are renting through Airbnb for a few days. So nice to have yesterday’s laundry done!

So, today, we will get to meet families from all over that have a child with an injury similar to Ava’s. The severity differs greatly among patients, but as families we can all relate. I am so excited to see how all these kids have adapted to this world as they eat, play, craft, and swim.

In the 3 years since Ava’s accident, I have spent hundreds of hours researching all things brachial plexus. I know more about these 5 nerves that give sensation and function to an arm than I could have ever imagined.

I feel very fortunate that my degree in animal science and my work on the farm have taught me so much about how to research an issue. Joe is the same. Very few people travel to 3 different hospitals specializing in this injury to compare surgeries, teams, nerve transfers and options but we did it, assuming that was the ONLY thing a parent would do. Because of this research, I have been able to offer guidance to hundreds of parents in online forums and support groups. There are so many good things that have happened since Ava’s injury and I am incredibly proud to be able to help other parents cope and make a plan. My goal is to make sure a parent or caregiver never leaves a doctor’s office visit until they have the correct questions asked. So many times, a parent doesn’t even know what they need to know, and I really try to help them build that bridge between their child and their medical team.

Here’s a snippet from today. This lady is in India and just had a orphaned 9-month-old come to her. He has lots of hand function but no shoulder movement.

After today, we will go into full-on vacation mode for a few days, and then we have Ava’s check-up on Tuesday. We fly home on Wednesday. There is never an easy time to get away from a farm, but I thought we just had to make today and this trip happen. It’s going to be a great day!


3 thoughts on “In person

  1. Rita, I know you are not asking for, and more importantly, even wanting praise but, you have my utmost respect for sharing the knowledge you’ve gained with other parents whose children have brachial plexus injuries. It may not seem like much to you, but to them it means the world to have your loving help. God has amazing plans for you. Have a wonderful family day a camp and vacation and I will keep Ava, and all of you, in my prayers when you meet with her doctors.
    God Bless You!


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