Getting through a hospital stay isn’t only about fighting a disease — struggling with boredom can be tough, too.
By BETH LIPOFF
Special to The Star
Sixteen-year-old Noah Hastings knows that problem well, after spending many weeks in the hospital while trying to find a way to manage his severe Crohn’s disease.
“Crohn’s is not a pretty disease, so people don’t like talking about it,” said Cori Hastings, Noah’s mother.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and can cause complications such as intestinal blockages and ulcers.
The illness kept Noah homebound for nearly all of seventh grade and landed him in the pediatric ward of the University of Kansas Medical Center several times in 2011 and 2012.
When Noah, now a sophomore at Shawnee Mission North, had to choose a service project while trying to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, he thought of his time there. He’d brought his Xbox along to the hospital, but it was still tough being stuck in the hospital.
“There were times when it was really hard, especially when you know you’re going to have a procedure, and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” Noah said.
He made friends at the hospital, but they always seemed to get better before he did. His school friends did their best to visit whenever they could, but it was still a difficult time for Noah.
“There were days when he was really sick that he’d put his head on my shoulder and say, ‘Mom, fix it,’” said Cori Hastings.
Noah, his family and other members of his Boy Scout troop embarked on a fundraising effort to buy various items to provide entertainment for patients in the pediatric ward.
“I didn’t want them to go through it as badly as I went through it,” Noah said.
Noah became the driving force behind a massive garage sale in the front yard of his Merriam home, a car wash, a pancake breakfast, trash bags sales and other activities.
The project is typical of Noah, his mother said.
“He draws people together,” she said.
Six hundred volunteer hours later, his variety of fundraising methods did the trick. Last week, Noah gave the hospital CD players with iPod docks for 25 new rooms in the pediatric ward, along with a guitar, three music therapy xylophones, four recorders, 13 Xbox 360 games and a variety of CDs and DVDs.
“I did feel like Santa,” he said.
He raised $6,307.70 — much more than he had hoped — and presented the hospital with a $1,600 check to be used for more entertainment for the ward.
Noah’s doctor at the hospital, Osama Almadhoun, said that the distractions these items can provide are helpful for patients.
“Any kind of activities in the hospital that can get you busy and get you out of being focused on being sick can definitely help,” said Almadhoun, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
He’s seen big changes in Noah since they first met. Back then, Noah had been told the way to manage his condition was to have his colon removed. Through a lot of time in the hospital and many medication adjustments, Almadhoun helped Noah heal without that surgery.
“He was severely sick when I first met him in the hospital. Looking at him and seeing him (now), he’s like a completely normal kid,” Almadhoun said. “Every time Noah and his family come to the clinic, I feel really happy to see him doing well and going to school.”