The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 10, 2012

Community rallies around family

Andover boy will spend holidays in hospital

Star Beacon

ANDOVER — Tubes stick out of 5-year-old Chase Guysinger’s arms and the machine next to him beeps rhythmically.

Mom Heather Guysinger sits next to her son, her head heavy with stress and exhaustion.

Nothing is working out for the Guysinger family this Christmas, Heather Guy-singer said, and the worry over Chase’s physical condition and the emotional toll on the family is wearing everyone thin.

“With Chase back in the hospital, it has been really hard,” she said. “He has another infection in his brain and the pressure on his brain is really high again. The doctors did a spinal tap and it came back bad.”

Chase has been in and out of the hospital since July, when doctors discovered he has a Chiari malformation of the brain.

This birth defect blocks the flow of spinal fluid from the brain, causing headaches, fatigue, muscle weakness in the head and face, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination, and, in severe cases, paralysis.

With a fever of 105 degrees and more surgeries in the new year, it looks like Chase will spend the holidays in bed at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, Heather Guysinger said.

Brain surgery in August was unsuccessful as Chase’s body rejected the bovine graft used to correct the malformation. Cases of encephalitis and meningitis nearly killed the little boy and caused further brain damage.

Chase takes 23 medications three times a day and a recent bowel surgery left his health even more deteriorated.

Guysinger was at the hospital with Chase in September when she got a shocking telephone call.

Her rented home had caught fire. Everything was lost, and the family had no insurance.

The single parent Chase, 5, Ariana, 8, and Alyssa, 6, Guysinger said she is struggling and needs help providing a Christmas for her children.

“I would appreciate any help,” she said. “It would be such a relief for me, to know my kids will have a good Christmas.”

The community rallied around the family for a fundraiser in November, but Guysinger said she is far from finding a place the family can call home.

“Everything we found fell through,” Guysinger said, “so we are back to looking for a home. I am so sad, because all I wanted was a place for my children to have a normal Christmas.”

Because the family lost everything in the fire, household items, toys, furniture, appliances, kitchen utensils, linens and blankets, beds, a couch, a kitchen table, and other home goods are needed.

“All I want is for us to be back in a home for Christmas,” Guysinger said. “I want my children to have a house with their own beds and their own toys.”

The family needs beds, dressers, appliances, a coffee table, night stands, curtains, toy boxes, kitchen appliances, pots and pans, utensils, dishes, a dining room table, bathroom supplies, rugs, an electric stove, space heaters, a television, an entertainment center, towels and wash cloths, toys, bedding, lamps and clothing.

The children need snow clothes and boots.

For more information on the family’s needs, call Guysinger at 645-8562 or Juanita Farmer at 645-7821 and leave a message. Donations can be dropped off at 519 E. 16th St. in Ashtabula. To coordinate a drop off time, call Traci at 813-8267.

Donations can also be dropped off at Farmer’s home at 112 Hickory St. in Andover or at 6123 Pymatuning Lake Road, in Andover.

The family can also pick up donations.

“We are so grateful for everything,” Guysinger said. “People have been so supportive and I can’t thank them enough.”

Guysinger said what her family needs most is a place to call home.

“We need housing and we need it desperately,” she said. “If anyone can help, please call.”

In spite of the many trips to the hospital to visit Chase, Guysinger said her family is keeping in the holiday spirit and trying to make the best of a heartbreaking year.

“My girls told me to tell Santa that all they want for Christmas is a house so we can all be together on Christmas and for their brother to feel better and not be sick,” she said. “I just hope we catch a break soon, because I am really trying my hardest not to break down right now. My heart just hurts so much and I can’t handle seeing him suffer.”