Ronald McDonald House
An Unexpected Turn in the Road
By Gene Davis
Jenn and Matthew Marin were in the middle of a much anticipated family “staycation” at a vacation home in Kailua–Kona. Matthew’s parents were visiting, and it gave the family a chance to enjoy each other in comfortable surroundings. “Actually, it was just a couple of blocks away from where we live,” said Jenn, as she began to describe the day their nine–year–old son Sebastion suffered a stroke while playing in the pool with his brother Devon, 11, and sister Hailey, 4. “I went upstairs for a moment to get something for Haley, and I heard the kids screaming that Sebastion was hurt. When I got to him, he was lying next to the pool and screaming in pain like I had never heard a child scream before.”
As they readied for a trip to the emergency room, Sebastion went unresponsive and they proceeded with new urgency.
Doctors in Kona couldn’t be sure exactly what was wrong with Sebastion, but they knew he had to be sent to Oahu, and fast. It was specialists in Honolulu who determined that Sebastion had been stricken by a Hemorrhagic stroke caused by an AVM or Arteriovenous Malformation. He was paralyzed, and he wasn’t able to talk or respond. Heartbroken but determined, Jenn never left his side, continually talking to him and comforting him. Matthew, who manages a restaurant in Kona, also came as soon as he could get away and stayed for as long as he could.
But soon Jenn realized that living at the hospital was wearing her down and it wasn’t helping Sebastion if she became sick or exhausted.
“Thankfully, I knew of the Ronald McDonald House and decided to give it a try since it was so close to the hospital,” said Jenn. “Being here has definitely helped us, it’s been huge. It really is like a home environment. I didn’t know how much I needed this place.”
Sebastion has made great leaps. He had to learn to move his arms and legs again, to walk and talk again – and he has. “Physically, he is coming back well, but he still needs work on his cognitive abilities,” said Jenn. “He’s still having trouble with his short term memory, but we are so proud of him.”
“Bash,” as family and friends call Sebastion, is currently receiving special cognitive therapy at a Hospital in California. They hope he can come home to Hawaii soon, but in the meantime, Jenn is there, right by his side.