Most days are a challenge for Hallie Thiessen, but her family remains strong and is taking it one step and prayer at a time.
Cari-Lynn Thiessen is the mother of two girls, including Hallie, a three-year-old girl who has been in the hospital more times in the last few years than most people see in their lifetimes. Hallie suffers from Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease (EGID), which essentially means her stomach and intestines react to food as if she's allergic to it.
"Hallie is not doing wonderfully," says Cari-Lynn. "Right now we're in the midst of a battle with C. diff again which just puts everything on hold and makes her feel terrible. We're waiting for something called an FMT. It works really well for C. diff treatment and a hospital in Calgary is coordinating that for us."
Any other surgeries that Hallie might need coming up are on hold until the procedure to take care of her C. diff (also known as Clostridioides difficile) happens. In the meantime, Hallie is at home, often in a lot of pain.
"Right now we're supposed to be going to Sick Kids Toronto which we are so anxiously waiting for. We've been asking for this for so long and Hallie has suffered a lot, particularly this last year when it just seemed like no one knew what to do."
In 2021 Hallie was in the hospital for 170 days, which also means Cari-Lynn was there as well. During the pandemic when Hallie was in the hospital she was assigned one person, meaning her older sister Addison couldn't see her often, or her dad, John.
"I often hear people say to me, 'I could never do what you do,' or 'I can't imagine.' Once it's your own kid, you just do what you do. I'll do whatever I can to make her life better and make sure she survives today. I feel like a lot of it is just, get through today or the next hour."
Little Miracles in the Waiting
Cari-Lynn shares that her faith in God helps the family continue on.
"I really feel God sustaining us through, big time. A lot of people want to pray for the big miracles and obviously, I would love to have that, who wouldn't want that. But I feel the small miracles all the time."
Hallie's body only responds well to one type of formula that gives her the essential nutrients she needs. Recently, the company that produces this formula stopped production until 2023.
"Hallie lives off formula and we're in this crisis, and yet I've miraculously found formula all over Canada. A friend in Tennessee found a can and shipped it up here. So now I have a stash in our closet downstairs that should sustain us until they start producing again in January."
The cost of this formula is $60-80 per small can, which lasts Hallie for a day and a half. This means the Theissens spend $1,200/month on formula alone. The medication Hallie takes is roughly $500/month and if she gets an infection, which is common, that's another $600 for antibiotics. This doesn't include the flights to Toronto for other procedures and unforeseen expenses.
A Fun Event to Help with Expenses
To help the Thiessen's out with all their expenses, they decided to plan a family event called 'A Day for Hallie: Touch-a-Truck Fundraiser.'
"I know so many families that are in the same kind of boat that we are where a lot of things are not covered or they're like us who don't have health benefits through our jobs. This is not sustainable."
The fundraiser will take place July 23 at Kleefeld Park from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
"We've got construction equipment, farm equipment, and some old military vehicles, RCMP, fire trucks, a cement truck. There will be all these cool vehicles that kids can come and sit in the driver's seat. We've got bouncy castles, princesses, and face painting."
Admission is $5/person or $15/family.
"We also wanted to do something that gives back to the Children's Hospital so we're doing a toy drive. People can bring a new toy, drop it in the bin and it'll go to the Children's Hospital Foundation."
When Hallie starts to feel better, she'll be able to go on a trip of a lifetime, thanks to Dream Factory Manitoba.