Aaron was hospitalized for the first time when he was three years old with acute bronchiolitis. We spent the next several years seeing doctors and specialists as his lung function gradually decreased. Upon moving to Hawaii the second time in August of 2013, the doctors decided to diagnose him clinically with Cystic Fibrosis.
He suddenly went from being a kid with some lung issues who took a couple of inhalers, to a kid with a life-threatening disease who spent a couple of hours every day doing treatments, taking medication, and going to long doctor appointments that lasted most of a day. By the time the following summer rolled around, we had a pretty good handle on our routine.
In late June, Aaron got really sick at Boy Scout camp which caused a CF exacerbation. He was hospitalized for 15 days during which time they put in a PICC line, gave him IV antibiotics, did extra vest treatments and did surgery to put in a g-tube to help him put on weight. But, Aaron is a tough kid with a good attitude, which made it much easier to manage. It was during this time that our doctor gave us the Make-A-Wish Hawaii referral paperwork.
And then, Aaron was told to Dream…
Our first real contact with Make-A-Wish Hawaii came from Talia, our wish granter, who was wonderful, friendly and warm. She gave us a packet of paperwork and told Aaron to start thinking about his wish. It was perfect timing since we were struggling with getting in all of his treatments and trying to balance our lives. It gave Aaron something fun to focus on at a critical time. Aaron and I talked about lots of different ideas, but I didn’t know what his wish was going to be until he told Talia that he wanted to go to MineCon, the convention for the Minecraft video game, which was scheduled to be in London in July of 2015. I think a major reason he chose MineCon was because inside the video game itself, he can connect with all different types of kids, and they are all treated the same.
A Joyful Journey
Greg [Aaron's dad] was home in time for the Mauli Ola surfing day. Aaron surfed with James, a Make-A-Wish Hawaii staff member. Aaron really looks forward to these surfing days. We are incredibly grateful to the surfers and volunteers who make it happen.
In February, Talia invited us for a fun day at Dave and Buster’s which provided some amazing surprises! It was here that Aaron received the news that he would be going to Minecon!
Finally, the big day came! The first thing Aaron wanted to do was ride the London Eye, so we hopped on the train, found a place to eat dinner, then arrived at the London Eye in time for sunset. Our first full day was on our own, so we packed in as much sight-seeing as we could. Aaron was really excited to see The Tower of London, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and more!
On the first day of Minecon, we were given bags with lots of goodies! Right off the bat, he got signatures from many of the developers of the game, as well as famous YouTubers!
The Exhibition Hall was an amazing sight! Nearly everything you can think of in the game was brought into tangible form!
A Fresh Start and a New Perspective
The wish experience came at a very important time for Aaron. One of the biggest challenges for Cystic Fibrosis patients is compliance with treatment recommendations; treatments are forever. They aren’t something that kids do for a short time in their life, get better and move on. They have to do them every day-whether they feel well or not. Pills, vitamins, sinus rinses, vest treatments, numerous nebulizers, G-tube feedings at night; all of it is time consuming and disruptive. The wish experience told Aaron that someone understands all of that. The people he met on the trip - Make-A-Wish volunteers, YouTube celebrities and even the other kids with medical issues he met on the journey helped him understand that he isn’t alone in his fight. Many people are willing to help and support him along the way. I’m sure it will help in the long run remain dedicated to his health and well-being.
It gave him a breath of air in the midst of our busy lives. It gave us time together to do things that everyone enjoyed. We could not possibly have made such a big trip without the help of Make-A-Wish. We’ll forever be grateful for that time together.