This post has been written by a guest author. Melissa Kiger, our eldest daughter has been so kind to write it. I asked her to write this because she was the one who actual worked with FMCA Assist through this leg of the journey.
This is the third installment in the Unexpected Journey series. If you haven’t read the first two posts of the series you can find them down below.
Having a sick parent is difficult! Having a sick parent who is critically ill and lives in an RV and is over 1500 miles away feels a bit like a nightmare. When my dad called on November 27, 2020 to tell us that he was in the hospital and had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, I was shocked. My Baptist preacher father had never been a drinker and I just couldn’t understand how this was happening. He spent about 2 weeks in the hospital but when he was discharged he was still so weak and swollen from all the fluid his body was retaining. My sister and I flew to Harlingen, TX to spend a few days with my parents, to see for ourselves what was going on. When we arrived, we knew our dad was not better but during our time there, I was able to go to doctors appointments with dad and felt like they had a plan to get him on the mend. Raychel, my sister, and I returned home on December 19th knowing that Dad wasn’t improved but trusting his medical team to care for him and praying for his healing.
Less than a week after we left, Dad went back into the hospital. He had very little strength and on December 23rd, Mom texted us and asked for a family video chat. The medical team at the hospital had told them that not only was Dad’s liver not functioning but his kidneys were failing too. Things were critical!
My family drove to Minnesota on Christmas Eve to be with Raychel’s family and on Christmas morning Raychel and I flew back to Texas. Due to COVID protocols, only 1 person was supposed to be able to visit dad per day. A friend of our parents picked us up at the airport and took us straight to the hospital and thanks to one of the Christian Resort Ministries chaplains Dad was working with, Raychel and I were able to go in and see Dad. We were able to meet his medical team and hear the prognosis ourselves.
Mom and Dad decided that they would need to return to Michigan since they already had a support network here. The problem was that dad was way too sick to travel. Dad mentioned to me that they had joined the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) and that part of the membership provided assistance in emergency medical situations. A couple of days after Christmas, Dad asked me to reach out to FMCA to see what would need to happen to get their help to return to Michigan. He knew that the information said they would fly them home and get their RV and truck back as well.
I made the first phone call to FMCA Assist on December 27th. From the beginning, I found the FMCA representatives to be so helpful. I gave them all of the information about Dad’s condition and our desire to get them back to Michigan. Once his case was open, they assigned Dad to one of their teams and I communicated regularly with a representative. He checked in with me every couple of days and their nursing team kept in communication with the medical team at the hospital. Within a few days, they had a plan for how to get Pete and Pen (truck and fifth wheel) back to Michigan and assured me that as soon as dad was cleared by his medical team they would get him and mom back to Michigan.
Finally, Dad’s medical team felt he was well enough to fly. FMCA Assist provided Mom and Dad a flight home and were able to help me get booked on the same flight home. Since Dad still required medical care, the company also planned for a nurse to fly with him. Dad and his nurse flew in business class and mom and I were in coach. We flew home on January 13th. Pete and Pen were also picked up the same day and started their journey to Michigan. A representative from FMCA stayed in contact with me until the truck and RV were parked in front of my house a few days later.
I highly recommend FMCA if you (or your parents) are thinking about becoming full time RVers. They made a very stressful time a whole lot easier and I am thankful for their support and care for my parents. As you know, that is not the end of Dad’s medical journey but it is the beginning of a great blessing for our family.