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Happy and Healthy

  • Happy and healthy, happy and healthy…That is what I prayed for every day of my pregnancy. After two miscarriages, my husband, Mark, and I were very excited for our little bundle of joy to arrive. Gavin James Padding was born at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, KS, on November 9, 2010. He weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces and was 20 inches long. Gavin was tested for Cystic Fibrosis using the Newborn Screen when we were at the hospital, but that week was a “new baby blur” with little sleep, so we don’t remember exactly when it took place. But such a quick and simple test would make a big difference for us in the weeks and months to come.

    A few days after we arrived home from the hospital, we received a call from our pediatrician’s office asking us to bring Gavin back in because one of his tests came back abnormal. We were scared and a bit sleep-deprived, but of course, we complied. CF didn’t run in either of our families, so we were a bit confused. A few days (and many many prayers) later, we received the call from Dr. Kinnane, our pediatrician, confirming the diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis. We were shocked, devastated, scared and had so many questions. “What does this mean for Gavin? What do we do next?” We were quickly set up with an appointment to meet with Dr. Maria Riva at the CF Clinic and to have Gavin undergo a Sweat Chloride test, which confirmed the CF. After the first meeting with Dr. Riva, Gavin began a daily regimen of enzymes, inhalers, nebulizers and CPT (chest physical therapy). I couldn’t believe my three week old baby was eating applesauce off of a spoon and taking enzymes with every meal – he wasn’t even holding his head up yet!

    As a hospital social worker and patient advocate by profession, I wanted to educate myself and my family about Cystic Fibrosis and find a way to get involved in the CF community. Thanks to CF Social Worker, JoAnn, I was paired up with another CF mom who I could talk with and ask questions to. It was a tremendous help to speak with someone who really understood what I was going through as a new mom dealing with a new diagnosis.

    A little bit about me: My background is in Social Work and Family Studies/Human Services. I was born and raised in a rural community (a town of approximately 350 people) in North Central Kansas. My mother is a Nursing Home Administrator and RN, my sister is an Occupational Therapy Assistant/Clinical Manager at that same nursing home, and my aunt is a geri-psych nurse/regional manager - we are a health care family! My father is retired from the railroad and tries very hard to stay out of our "gross medical discussions"! After college at Kansas State University, I moved to the Kansas City area and started my career in the field of domestic violence and my Master's Degree in Clinical Social Work. I was on the front lines of providing crisis care, shelter options and safety planning to women who came to the ER looking for a way out of the cycle of violence. I had the opportunity to work in four major hospitals in the Kansas City area. After that, I started my career with an older generation of folks - I worked for Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities and Hospice Care. I then moved to Wichita to be with my (now) husband, and resumed my medical social work career in a hospital setting. I currently work at Wesley Medical Center - Galichia Heart Hospital providing/facilitating discharge planning options to patients and families and have been there for almost four and a half years. I meet with patients and families on a daily basis to assess their needs and facilitate SNU, Home Health, Rehab, LTAC, Hospice, community resources, etc. I act as a liaison and advocate between the physician and patients and families. I am well versed in medical terminology and feel like I could have a degree in physician handwriting deciphering/interpretation!

    I believe that growing up in a rural community and then moving to and living in the two largest cities in KS provides me with a unique health care perspective. I can see the unique differences in health care between the rural and urban areas. I feel so blessed that I live in a city that has a pediatric CF clinic - I can't imagine driving three to four hours from my home town to get specialized medical care for son. I am also blessed that we are now in an age of social media - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc - so that I can connect with and keep in touch with other CF moms and friends. What a wonderful way to have so much emotional support and countless resources, right at your fingertips. It is also a great way to fundraise, advocate and advertise for the CF events that I am involved with at a community level. I have been part of the Great Strides Walk event for three years and the CF Wine Opener Event for two years.

    I am so thankful for the Newborn Screen and the early detection of Gavin’s Cystic Fibrosis. I believe he is growing and thriving today because of preventative treatments were started right away. We are also grateful for the incredible support from the CF Clinic staff and Mid-Kansas Pediatrics who have been on this journey with us since the beginning. Gavin is now two years old, a whiz with the iPad, loves potato chips and pizza and loves to play outside. And for now, he is exactly what we prayed for…happy and healthy!

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