After daughter’s rare diagnosis and house fire, Delta couple grateful for community support
A Delta couple is thanking their community, after receiving blow after blow to their family over the holidays. First came a devastating medical diagnosis, then losing everything they own. But now, random strangers have given them a reason to feel thankful.
Hearing fun sounds from her singing musical toy, 10-month-old Sage made squealing noises as she hit buttons, sitting in mom Linnsie Gage’s lap Wednesday. Dad Joshua Travis sat next to them, watching his daughter play in their living room.
While Sage was preoccupied with the noises from her toy, mom and dad could hear something else: Her breathing.
Each inhale sounded like a squeaky struggle.
“If she fusses for 10 seconds, lips are turning blue,” Linnsie explained.
They started noticing the noisy breathing not long after Sage was born, and doctors initially told them she would outgrow it. But as the months went on, the struggle to breathe continued.
Linnsie and Josh noticed that Sage wasn’t growing very fast, staying in the fourth or fifth percentile in weight for her age. She isn’t yet crawling, and if Sage starts playing too hard, she can’t breathe and will go limp. Sage has difficulty swallowing and often aspirates food and liquid.
Several doctor visits led them from their small Delta community to Salt Lake City two hours away.
In early December, they finally received a diagnosis at Primary Children’s Hospital: Bilateral vocal cord paralysis (BVCP), laryngomalacia, inspiratory stridor, obstructive sleep apnea, and a tongue tie.
“Breathing is like breathing through a coffee straw,” Josh explained. The more energy she exerts, the lower Sage’s oxygen levels drop.
Less than 140 babies worldwide are born with BVCP, Linnsie said, and in fact more babies are born every year needing open heart surgery.
It’s difficult to find specialized medical care for BVCP, and Sage may also need a tracheostomy. Which, for Linnsie and Josh, will mean a lot of medical bills. After a sleep study and MRI, doctors put Sage on oxygen for now.
That was the first hardship.
Then, the day after Christmas, they each received a call while they weren’t home.
“He says, ‘Your house is on fire,” Josh recounted. “It was just, it’s a hard concept to grasp. You understand it when it’s somebody else’s house is on fire, but when it’s your own you’re like, ‘What do you mean my house is on fire? I was just there, it was fine.'”
Racing back to Delta, Josh and Linnsie arrived to find there wasn’t much left of the house they’ve owned the past three years. Three vehicles burned in addition to their home. The couple says a chimney failure started the fire.
They lost everything.
“It was heartbreaking,” Linnsie said.
The couple has homeowner’s insurance, but said it’s been a slow process with a lot of paperwork and so far, not a lot of assistance.
Others heard what happened, and the Delta community quickly came together to help them get back on their feet. People stopped by where the family was temporarily staying and at other family members’ homes with supplies and donations.
“People have brought us everything from formula, and diapers, and wipes, to clothes for all three of us,” Linnsie said, looking at boxes and crates full of clothing, toiletries, blankets, and medicine in their new living room.
A high school friend of Josh’s was able to help them with a new place to stay.
“The fire department was great. They had put together a care package,” Josh said. He said that care package included sweatpants, long sleeve shirts, shoes, and cash.
They don’t know what comes next, but as the couple rebuilds and gets Sage the care she needs, they’re hoping the community can now hear just how grateful they are for all the support.
“The community just pulls together,” Josh said, getting emotional. “It’s just been so great and heartwarming.”
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