Mom’s Touching Tribute To Son With End Stage Renal Disease

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It is a pair of shoes that has gotten Jessica Schrank through so many sad, scary and hopeless moments. And it is those same “Riley shoes” that give her so much hope.

They are tan and they are not flashy, just plain, comfortable shoes.

They are the shoes Jessica Schrank wore when her son, Hudson, was rushed to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health after being diagnosed with end-stage renal disease.

“These were the shoes that I slipped on in the morning, rushed to Riley to spend each and every possible moment I could with my baby,” Jessica says, “not knowing if I would ever be bringing him home.”

Hudson, who was born in March of 2016 with the last stage of chronic kidney disease, is on 10 hours of nightly peritoneal dialysis. He is fed completely by a gastrostomy tube. He takes nine daily medicines and he has weekly therapy appointments and monthly follow-up appointments and blood work done at Riley.

The 22-month-old is full of smiles, even with all he has to go through. He is a ray of sunshine. And Hudson is awaiting a kidney transplant to save his life, hopefully this spring, from his dad Bryan Schrank.

The other day, someone suggested Jessica Schrank throw away those worn out, tan shoes. But she just can’t. And she wrote a touching tribute about what they mean to her.  

“I know so many moms and dads of Riley patients can relate,” Jessica says. “I hope it brings encouragement to them.”

My Riley Shoes, By Jessica Schrank

The other day as I was taking Hudson to Riley I couldn’t find my shoes. You know, the tan ones -- my Riley shoes.

I have worn these shoes since the beginning.

When Hudson first got transferred to Riley Hospital for Children, these were my most comfortable shoes. They were newer, but broken in and I knew I could make it a whole day wearing them without my feet hurting. 

These were the shoes that I slipped on in the morning, rushed to Riley to spend each and every possible moment I could with my baby, not knowing if I would ever be bringing him home.

These were the shoes I had on my feet as the day ended, wearily walking away, leaving my baby behind to go back home as my other children needed me, too.

These were the shoes I was wearing when we got to bring him home. 

And these are the shoes I wore when he had to go back and back and back again. 

As I slip my feet in my shoes on the way out the door, I always say a little prayer asking for protection on our ride to Riley. And I remind myself that I’ve got this. God’s got this.

As I park in my usual third floor, left side of the parking structure and head in, I say another little prayer asking God to please let my baby only have to be poked once. And if not once, please no more than twice.

These are the shoes I’m wearing as I’ve held my baby down to be poked with needles for blood draws or IVs over and over and over again. These are the shoes I’m wearing as I sit patiently in doctor’s offices going from appointment to appointment. Bouncing, walking, swaying, singing -- anything to keep Hudson entertained and somewhat quiet.

These are the shoes that I’m wearing when we often had to stay longer than we wanted. 

Someone said, “It’s time for a new pair of shoes.” But I’m not ready to throw them out yet. These are the shoes I was wearing on the hardest days of my life, full of dried tears and so many memories.

As I slip my feet in these shoes for each and every appointment, I know I can make it through the day without aching, weary and exhausted. They remind me of how far we’ve come. How far I’ve come. And they remind me I’ve got this because God’s got this.

If you look closely, you’ll see the spots of my son’s splattered blood, the dried stains of vomit and the holes from the many hours of rocking him in hospital chairs. Yet, these are the shoes I come home in and slip off and say another prayer thanking God that we are home sleeping in our own beds tonight.

These are the shoes I’m wearing while I hold my baby and look down to see him smiling after all he’s been through. 

These shoes, you know the tan ones, dirty, worn, weary, but full of hope ones? Yes, these are my Riley shoes. 

-- Compiled by Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

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