Like any parent of a gravely ill child – and despite her strong faith – Stephanie Stanley questioned why.
Why was her baby boy, Payton, suffering from seizures? Every time she nursed Payton, Stephanie noticed his hand would twitch. Soon, the twitching moved to his arms and legs. Then, at just a few months old, he had his first seizure. After several visits to their local hospital in rural Oklahoma, their doctor sent them to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and Dr. James Wheless, co-director of the Neuroscience Institute at Le Bonheur.
“We came here with that same MRI and showed it to Dr. Wheless. He said, ‘No, it’s not normal, he has brain damage on the whole left side’,” Stephanie remembers.
Due to a stroke in utero, Payton was diagnosed with polymicrogyria, a condition characterized by abnormal brain development before birth. The condition resulted in a second diagnosis, intractable epilepsy, which required two brain surgeries and numerous other procedures, all performed at Le Bonheur.
Throughout the surgeries, Payton’s family has found comfort at FedExFamilyHouse.
“I couldn’t imagine my daughter being by herself here,” says Virginia. “I come and stay with her and help take care of them. In 2015, we were here for three months. And if we didn’t have FedExFamilyHouse, it would have been a really hard on us. I wouldn’t have been able to be here — I wouldn’t have been able to stay here and be with Stephanie, Robert and Payton.”
For Stephanie, FedExFamilyHouse is a place of true respite. Since Payton is so young, she is hesitant to leave his side overnight. “I know he’s in good hands, but his mommy’s hands are better,” says Stephanie. With the hospital just across the street from FedExFamilyHouse, Stephanie can rest, shower, and get some laundry done – tag teaming with her mother or husband, Robert, on staying at Payton’s bedside. During their three-month stay in 2015, Payton was intubated and on life support for a month.
“My mom and dad stayed with Payton down in the intensive care unit, and my husband and I went to FedExFamilyHouse so we could get a good night’s sleep, take a hot shower, get something good to eat, and just take some rest away from the stress a little bit,” said Stephanie.
There’s never a cost for families to stay at FedExFamilyHouse.
“With our medical bills and everything with Payton we have to pay for, there’s no way we could have paid for a hotel if we didn’t have FedExFamilyHouse. So we are extremely fortunate and blessed to be able to have this,” says Stephanie. “FedExFamilyHouse is great for our patients,” says Dr. Wheless. “It allows folks to come from out of town, and have a free place to rest and recharge while we’re taking care of their kids here.”
Stephanie says her family has been lucky in that there has always been room at FedExFamilyHouse when they’ve traveled to Memphis. She is excited about the expansion of the facility, so more families can be accommodated during their child’s hospitalization.
“There’s only 24 suites, so getting more rooms for families to go over there and stay is a blessing for sure, because I know FedExFamilyHouse has been a blessing for us,” she says. “I don’t know what we would have done without them.”