Siblings Maylee and Alex Homer have spent a significant portion of their childhood in a healthcare setting. Maylee has grown up with lung disease and Alex was born with half a heart and has had a heart transplant. They discuss the ups and downs of being in the hospital for extended periods, learning to trust doctors, and making friends with other patients.
Maylee Homer: What's it like to be born with a heart defect?
Alex Homer: It's crazy to know that I'm different. I was born with half a heart. I've had a heart transplant, I've had a liver resection, and I've had lots of check-up surgeries. I have to have one every year just to make sure my heart hasn't rejected or anything. Maylee, what is it like to be growing up with lung disease?
Maylee: I have to go to the doctor. I'm on oxygen. I want to say that doctors are people that can help.
Alex: The doctors are the best. She's had surgeries too. She had a spinal cord surgery.
Maylee: I have two gummies in the morning, the medicine, and then this medicine that you put in the little squeaky thing in the syringe, and then you put it in my mouth, and then I take a little bit of water. Gator, how many meds are you on?
Alex: I'm on nine in the morning and eight at night. I started taking pills when I was really, really young. First you have to start with a sprinkle. And if you can swallow a sprinkle, then you can swallow a bigger sprinkle, and then you just kind of move up to the biggest sprinkle. Then you move to a mini M&M, and then you move to a normal M&M; then you can swallow any pill. But when you come to the hospital, we try not to think about the bad things that are going to happen. We always think about the fun things like getting prizes if you have to get a poke.
Maylee: Yeah, like the playroom, crafts and cars.
Alex: Going to the playroom—cars, crafts, you can do Play-Doh as much as you want.
Maylee Homer: Mm-hmm. Getting candy.
Alex Homer: So many fun things. Up in the playroom they have a spot where you can pretend that you're a doctor, and they have baby dolls that you can pretend like you're doing procedures on them.
Maylee: Sometimes I also like playing monkey bar.
Alex: They have a music room, and you can play as loud as you want because it's sound blocked. I like to get the electric guitars, and sometimes when I was angry, I just played as loud as I could and then I'd ask for the drums, and I'd just smack it as hard as I could with the drumsticks. It was funny. I was just frustrated to be in the hospital, but I got over it and now I like it.
Maylee: Gator, what's your favorite thing to do outside?
Alex: I bet you can guess. Go ahead and guess.
Maylee: Ride your bike.
Alex: She guessed it.
Maylee: Have you always been able to ride bikes?
Alex: Not at all. I was able to ride my bike when I was younger before my heart transplant and stuff and before I started to get sick. When I was in the hospital, I couldn't ride my bike. I had to ride a trike technically; it's a big wheel trike. It is funny.
Maylee: Gator, what's your favorite thing to do inside?
Alex: I have a neighbor, and he is my best friend. He's got half a heart too. And I have another friend, and he's got a half a heart too. So we’re the three half heart bros. We'll go and play on Nintendo Switch and we'll have like huge Nerf gun fights. It's fun.
Maylee: Hey, Gator, maybe we should go home and start playing Legos.