Fulfilling Dreams: Kami’s Story

In 2016, then 15-year-old Kami was diagnosed with with a rare condition called slipping rib syndrome. Now a 21-year-old college student, she shares her experience and how the House helped her fulfill her dreams.

I was diagnosed with a very rare case of Slipping Rib Syndrome six years ago. After three failed surgeries in my home state of Indiana, we found a specialist in Phoenix, Arizona. I underwent two thoracic surgeries in Arizona, which left my ribs in the best condition they had been in years.

Still, my body had been through too much and I was suffering from debilitating chronic pain. That’s when a pain specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital stepped in and thought of a surgery that might work to take my pain away completely. The problem was that this surgery had never been performed in the United States.

It’s been a year now since I was wheeled back into a packed operating room to undergo a groundbreaking medically advancing surgery that could have left me paralyzed from even the most minor error. I still remember the fear I felt and, on top of that, being 1,500 miles away from all my family and loved ones.

I will never forget waking up in the recovery room begging my mom to touch my legs. I cried as I felt her touch me and I knew at that moment that my outcome was the best-case scenario and that I was going to be able to walk out of that hospital.

However, that didn’t make my recovery easy. This surgery left me unable to walk. It was like my legs didn’t know what to do anymore. It took me days to relearn how to walk and weeks to build up my strength. It was an incredibly humbling experience relearning how to do something that is easily taken for granted by so many people every single day.

Kami’s Art

But no matter how uncertain this journey was, Ronald McDonald House was there. It provided my mom and me a wonderful place to stay during every trip out to Arizona, totaling 34 nights. It was so incredibly hard to be away from my family back home, but the staff at Ronald McDonald House became family. Members of the staff visited me every day. They took walks in the hallway with me as I was learning to walk again. They provided food and constant love and support to me! I still find myself in tears as I think of the way Ronald McDonald House truly changed my life.

I still regularly talk to staff members, and they always are so eager to hear about what I am doing. The love that they provided my mom and me helped us get through the darkest moments of our lives! The love and compassion this organization, especially this staff, shows to their patients goes well beyond the time spent at the House. It’s a lifelong relationship of love and support. I have truly never met more loving people!

Since my surgery, I have lived a life that I was told for years wasn’t possible. I have held a job as a Pharmacy Technician and have been working full time. I was never able to hold a job, let alone a full-time job because of the pain I was in. I am so grateful to get up and work every day.

Kami in 2021

I underwent two major surgeries during my time in college and was still able to thrive. I spent countless hours at Ronald McDonald House attending classes and submitting homework before each surgery. Now, I am on track to graduate college early this December, and I will start graduate school in January in my dream field, Speech-Language Pathology! One of my biggest accomplishments has been being named one of the top 25 Students at my university with over 20,000 students enrolled.

I am incredibly grateful, and I owe so much of that to this incredible organization that truly gave everything to help me beat this battle I have fought so long and hard far!