Saving for Fun
After saving for two years, TyQuan bought himself a present for his 11th birthday in April - an Xbox 360. He already has three Spiderman games and has begun saving for more. But TyQuan doesn't save his money in a piggy bank or even under his mattress. He watches it grow in an account his favorite nurse, Donna Powell, RN, set up for him two years ago during one of his inpatient stays at Children's Hospital of Richmond's (CHoR) MCV Campus. What began as a place to keep money for snacks and gifts from the hospital gift shop has become a place for TyQuan to set goals and plan for his future.
Born four weeks prematurely, TyQuan spent the first six months of his life in CHoR's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after being diagnosed with short bowel syndrome, a disease caused when a portion of the small intestine, and sometimes large intestine, is removed or missing due to surgery, disease or malformation at birth. TyQuan's condition caused bladder and bowel abnormalities, prevented him from taking a bottle as a baby and led to feedings through a Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) line, which he continues to use today.
Throughout his 11 years, TyQuan has been highly prone to infections, which have led to multiple inpatient hospital stays at CHoR. His mom, Jannette, said TyQuan, who had multiple six to eight-month hospital stays before he was eight years old, has never been home for more than six months at a time before needing to return to the hospital.
Despite TyQuan's disease, he is like most fifth grade boys. He loves to watch wrestling, listen to music, ride his bike and play outside with his brothers, ages 13, 6 and 4. He enjoys attending Bible study, is interested in science and math, loves to draw and wants to be a chef when he grows up.
"He loves to cook," said Jannette. "He helps prepare something for dinner every night."
While Jannette tries not to limit TyQuan from regular childhood experiences, she recently moved him to his own room at home (to protect his medical equipment and provide a germ-free environment) and promotes hand washing for everyone in the house. "We have hand sanitizer in every room," she commented.
Even with her precautions, TyQuan recently spent three weeks as an inpatient at CHoR because of another infection. Although TyQuan doesn't enjoy going to the hospital (and Jannette said her other sons get upset when they can't visit him daily), he enjoys participating in art projects and seeing his favorite nurse, Donna.
"TyQuan's very popular at Children's Hospital," remarked Jannette, "and he has a very big imagination. He can take a stick and turn it into anything."
During his most recent hospital stay, TyQuan had fun making an erupting volcano and participating in the Catwalk for Kids event by making a purse for his mom.
"It's purple and has a handle," TyQuan said proudly. "Purple is her favorite color, and she loved it."
TyQuan is also a big sports fan and likes to cheer for his favorite teams, the L.A. Lakers and Washington Redskins, when he's in the hospital and at home. Last year, when his older brother played football, TyQuan joined the team as the water boy, something his mom said he "was excited about." This summer, Jannette is looking into opportunities with the Special Olympics so TyQuan can participate on a team of his own.