Thank you for the opportunity to share my family’s story about our hero, my son, Michael Zimanske. My family completely supports Crescent Cove’s mission, as we know first-hand the importance of building a pediatric hospice home in Minnesota.
We were the typical suburban Minnesota family until a day in 1999 when a team of doctors from the University of Minnesota told us that our 7-year-old son, Michael, had S.I.O.D. This rare syndrome has a life expectancy of only 12 years.
I thought that was the worst day of my life, but I was wrong.
Following that diagnosis day, we spent years traveling all over the state for appointments. We went from one specialist to the next desperate for medical help to address the complicated disease that affected five areas of Michael’s small body. We were constantly away from our home. Our daughter, Jessica, who was 10 years old at the time, had to spend more time with family or friends than my husband and me. I took multiple leaves of absence from my job, so that my husband could continue to focus on his job, which was very important since it provided our health insurance. Money quickly ran out and stress was everywhere. Worst of all, there was no cure for our Michael. But we never gave up hope because Michael never did.
Only a few years prior, at the age of five, Michael was the fastest runner on his T-ball team. By the time he turned nine, he was simply the small boy in the wheelchair who needed a kidney transplant. As Michael’s disease got worse, we ran out of care options and there was no where to turn. We often needed a break, especially when kidney dialysis at the University of Minnesota increased to four times a week and his mini-strokes worsened. Family and friends wanted to help care for Michael, but his disease required professional medical care. We all hit rock bottom physically, mentally and spiritually. I even missed Jessica’s 16th birthday party because Michael was in the hospital.
Crescent Cove’s mission to build a home and provide respite for children with life-limiting conditions and their families is needed today. Right now, there is a mom who is just like I was – desperate and wondering where to go for help. We need to build Crescent Cove for her critically ill child and for her other children who need support. We need to give them a home away from home and rest for their weary souls.
We are extremely grateful for the medical care that was available to Michael, but it was not enough. When Michael had a massive stroke in March 2005, we needed something more than a sterile hospital room after the doctors told us Michael’s end of life was near. We needed a sacred space where our daughter could say goodbye to her brother. We need a place where our family and friends could gather and stay as long as needed. My husband and I needed a special place where we could openly display raw emotion and tend to our broken spirits as we held one child in her grief and ushered another into heaven.
Crescent Cove is that place. It’s the home that thousands of critically ill children and their families wait for to get the help they need. Please help us build Crescent Cove and open the door for those who can’t find adequate rest until Crescent Cove is built.
Praise to God for all He has done in our lives and entrusted to us. Truly, it is His strength that moves us forward without Michael here on earth with us.