“Our son, Eddie, spent many Christmas days in the hospital. The hospital made sure Eddie and my daughters had a Christmas. Each time, Eddie was surrounded on his bed with toys. That was very special to me. They make sure the kids have Christmas, that they feel special and have a good memory.”
So says Taylor Hernandez about Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, Texas. Taylor’s son, Eddie, now 18 years old, is a nine-year patient at Children’s.
Nine-year-old Eddie was standing in the lunch line one day and experienced a seizure lasting four minutes. He was rushed to the hospital and transferred to Children’s. Tests showed that Eddie had had a stroke at some point and was diagnosed with Epilepsy.
“He was a perfectly healthy boy up till this time. So, this was scary and confusing. We didn’t know what it meant, and neither did Eddie,” recalls Taylor, Vice President Assistant, Region 4 at America’s Car-Mart.
From age 9 to 17, Eddie experienced massive seizures and was care flighted to Children’s twice. He failed many medications and continued to have seizures, causing him to stop breathing. During these years he was hospitalized multiple times where he was taken off medication and sleep-deprived to induce seizures.
These were weeklong stays where the doctors did video EEG’s. The doctors said Eddie was a suitable candidate for surgery. Electrodes were placed on the surface of his brain to induce seizures so doctors could see the location of Eddie’s speech, vision and motor skills, so as not to cut in those areas. After the surgeries, the doctors removed the electrodes and resected the stroke from the brain. In total, Eddie had three brain surgeries.
“It was horrific,” remarks Taylor. “After one surgery, they had to leave him open with cords and cables coming out of his head. Then they had to induce seizures. It was a nightmare to watch,” remarks Taylor, while adding that Eddie unknowingly pulled out the cords during a violent seizure.
Eddie’s time in the hospital was [and is] made better by the nurses and doctors. On one occasion, the nurses in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit brought coffee to Taylor, and the nurses played Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders with Eddie in the middle of the night as needed to keep Eddie awake. “They are so warm-hearted and compassionate,” Taylor says. “They are so experienced in every little thing. They make sure you understand what’s going on. We’ve had amazing care at the hospital.”
During one stay, radiation was inserted into Eddie’s IV during a seizure so it would ‘light up’ where it was happening in the brain. While administering the radiation, Eddie was seizing, and it accidentally splashed out in the open. “It was like a movie scene with folks in hazmat suits coming to clean up. After this, the hospital changed procedures on how to administer the radiation and Eddie is a history maker,” says Taylor.
Today, Eddie is doing better. “He still has seizures, but he went from dozens to having a few or more a week. He suffers from a peripheral vision deficit, but it does not affect his overall quality of life. We are hopeful that with time, the seizures will diminish even more,” she adds.
Eddie graduated from high school in May, and he now works at Walmart. He plans to go to school for radiology. During high school, Eddie maintained an A grade point average.
For nine years, Taylor has been – and continues to be – strong for Eddie. “It’s been a hard road, but we have each other. I’m a child of six so my siblings offer a lot of support,” says Taylor, while adding that Eddie’s sisters, Emma, 12; and Ella, 10, are his ‘little nurses.’
She recalls a family outing at a lake many years ago. “Eddie had a seizure in the lake. He was bobbing in the water and drowning, and Emma got to him and held him up out of the water. She saved him. They help him. They’re right there by his side,” says Taylor.
“The toy drives mean so much”
Eddie remembers Christmas in the hospital, and he recalls the toys.
“If there’s a child in the hospital over the holiday, they are already going through so much, and they know it’s Christmas time,” Taylor says. “I can relate to how the parents must feel. They’re stressed and worried about how their child is going to have Christmas. So, when the hospital provides Christmas, it’s very special.”
“This is a small thing to make them happy and to put a smile on their face, and most of all, to make sure they’re not forgotten,” adds Taylor, a coordinator for Car-Mart’s Holiday Toy Drive.
Taylor holds the toy drive near and dear to her heart. “It means the world to me – I am so blessed to have the opportunity to give back. Car-Mart has given me that opportunity and it means everything to me.
It brings me such joy to give back to other children and families because we have been where they are. I don’t think there’s a word that describes this feeling.”
“I’m appreciative to Car-Mart, and the joy they’re bringing to kids in the hospital,” Taylor concludes. “Car-Mart is a very compassionate company. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
Want to help kids like Taylor?
Bring a toy (or two or three) to your local America’s Car-Mart. We’ll take it from there. In December, our Car-Mart associates will deliver the toys to the kids at 25 children’s hospitals in our 12-state area. Learn more about our Holiday Toy Drive.