Single mom struggles to support
family while child remains in distant hospital
Send a link to a friend
[June 16, 2017]
parent should have to leave their child's bedside,” said Michelle
Fields, Jewel King’s cousin. “Jewel has been left with the daily
moral battle: Do I stay at my daughter's bedside or do I return to
work just long enough to generate enough stability to keep our
Jewel’s daughter Ella was delivered by emergency C-section Nov. 26,
2016 and underwent surgery the same day for spina bifida
myelomeningocele. Two days later, she had surgery for a shunt to
drain excess fluid from her brain. After 10 days in intensive care
Ella went home with her mother and her four-year-old sister, Jemma,
but that was short-lived. A rhinovirus infection put her back in the
hospital where she then contracted the super-bug MRSA. She has been
in hospitals in Springfield and St. Louis since Jan. 24 and
undergone multiple surgical procedures, including Chiari
decompression surgery at the base of her skull. She has a feeding
tube and tracheotomy, and is on a ventilator.
Jewel has been trying to hold down her job in Lincoln while driving
back and forth to the hospital from her home in Riverton, plus be
present for her four-year-old daughter, Jemma. Twice Ella has coded
while her mother was at work.
For the past two months, Ella has been in St. Louis at Ranken Jordan
Pediatric Bridge Hospital.
For a while, Jewel’s mother Betsy King tag-teamed with her so
someone was with Ella most of the time, but because of other family
needs, Jewel is on her own again.
Traveling hundreds of miles each week and often staying in motels
when the Ronald McDonald House has no beds, she has run through her
meager savings as well as all paid-time-off benefits at Eaton Corp.
She is grateful that while she still misses a lot of work so she can
see doctors and be with Ella, her employer has been understanding.
Leaving Ella and knowing it will be days before she can see her
again is excruciating.
“As a single mom, think of making that choice to work and pay your
bills, or be in the hospital with your kid,” King said. “But if
you’re at the hospital with your kid, then who’s going to pay your
rent? Who’s going to pay your lights? Who’s going to pay your car
payment? Because you have to have a car for a kid to come home in.
You have to have a home for your kid to come to.”
“I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul,” she said of her mounting bills.
Recently, she was notified her electricity was going to be shut off,
adding to her list another agency she needed to work with.
“That’s all I do every day on my lunch break: make phone calls,”
Lately, it seems there’s no end to issues to address.
“I’m dealing with everything as it comes,” she said wearily.
So King’s friends are coming alongside her. One has created a
GoFundMe page, and Fields and her husband Alex are also trying to
[to top of second column]
“We are organizing a benefit to help ease the financial burden and
also to show emotional support that a community really does come
together in a desperate time of need,” Michelle Fields said.
They have lined up a day of food, music and entertainment to
raise funds to ease King’s burden.
Jewel King hopes for the day she can bring Ella home, but has
been waiting two months for home nursing care to be found. She, her mother and
her aunt are ready to take on the task alone but the hospital won’t release Ella
without qualified nurses to monitor her delicate condition closely.
Let’s Have a Hoot for Ella!
A benefit to help ease the financial burden and show emotional support for Jewel
King and her daughters Ella and Jemma will be held Saturday, June 17, from noon
until 5 p.m. at the Eagles Lodge, 1621 N. Kickapoo St., Lincoln. It is a
family-friendly event with live performances from Emily Johnson and Ryan
Parcelle. A pulled pork meal will be served for a fee and free fun includes face
painting, and a bounce house donated by J&J jump and slide. Other activities
include a dunk tank, cornhole games, raffles, a 50/50 drawing and bake sale.
Donations can also be made at www.gofundme.com/x3v2aw9s-single-mom-of-2.
Ella King was born with spina bifida and other medical complications. She has
been in various hospitals most of her six months and still faces many medical
and developmental challenges.