When Tracey Whiting and Todd Wright welcomed their little boy Braxton into the world in December of 2012, they were none the wiser that they would later embark on a medical journey together.
After all, it was only when Braxton was 5 years old that years of discomfort culminated in a shocking diagnosis: he was diagnosed with Increased Intracranial Pressure, or ICP.
ICP is a condition in which there is an excess of pressure surrounding the brain, beneath the skull. There can be a number of causes for ICP to occur, but what was the most upsetting part of Braxton’s diagnosis was the fact that he could have been suffering, undiagnosed, for years.
Without immediate treatment, ICP can be life-threatening.
“When Braxton was a baby, he would scream a lot. Doctors blamed the fact that I had postnatal depression, and thought I was rubbing off on him,” says Tracey, Braxton’s mum. “I kept fighting the medical system and saying ‘there’s something wrong’.”
In 2018, a doctor decided to check Braxton’s intracranial pressure, and when it appeared to be significantly higher than normal, Braxton and his family began their journey with Ronald McDonald House®.
It was a hard time for parents Todd and Tracey, who have two other children as well as Braxton. They travelled from their home in Levin to stay at Ronald McDonald House Wellington for the first time in October 2018.
“I was devastated,” Tracey says. “I felt that I should have fought harder when he was younger.”
In the last year, Braxton has gone through two skull surgeries to relieve the excess pressure between his brain tissue and the bone of his skull.
One of these surgeries had been effected by the COVID-19 lockdown. Originally scheduled for late April, Braxton’s critical skull surgery was postponed until June – once New Zealand had reached Alert Level 2.
For two months, Braxton suffered immense pain while waiting for his procedure. You can imagine the relief for both Braxton and his parents when they could finally return to the hospital in June.
"After the surgery, the doctor said he was lucky that he had the surgery when he did, because the pressure was starting to crush his spinal cord," says Tracey.
During such a stressful time, Tracey and Todd couldn’t have been more grateful for Ronald McDonald House Wellington. While they dealt with mixed emotions of frustration and worry for their son, the staff at Ronald McDonald House made sure they were fully taken care of, and offered a listening ear for when times got rough.
It’s only because of kind supporters in our community that Ronald McDonald House Wellington was able to be there for Tracey and Todd while Braxton had his procedure. Right now, in the midst of a global pandemic, hundreds of families are facing the same reality as Tracey and Todd.
You can be the one to help them. Please make a donation at www.rmhc.org.nz/donate today.