Persevering Through Pain

Melanna Eagan was diagnosed with a very rare musculoskeletal disease when she was 15 – but it took nearly a year to get there. It was a very scary time for Melanna and her family.

“We went to multiple doctors and had lots of testing done, MRIs, bloodwork and X-rays, none of which pointed us to her diagnosis. We felt lost for a little bit – she pretty much suffered the entire year, and it was to the point that anxiety and depression were starting to take over,” said her mom, Maria.

Their hometown pediatrician had heard about the RAPS – rehabilitation for amplified pain syndromes – program, which was a blessing for the family. The RAPS program treats children with severe and chronic pain and disability; it provides an effective solution for patients who have tried outpatient treatment methods but are still unable to function normally. It is an intensive 4-to-6-week program that requires the patients to be there every day. Knowing that Children’s Mercy had the program and that it wasn’t easy to get into, the doctor continued to call to get Melanna the help she needed.

“She was a mess at the time – she was missing tons of school and she was not herself,” said Maria.

The pediatrician took a chance one day when she was in the office, and the RAPS program had just received a cancellation for the next day. Melanna and Maria packed up and headed from their hometown of Shelbina, Missouri, and headed to Kansas City. They met with the RAPS doctors and it was decided Melanna could benefit from their intense therapy. However, a couple of weeks later, COVID hit and it didn’t allow her to come, but she was able to do some things virtually that helped her deal with the mental side. Things were much better and they were hopeful that they could control the pain with medication – and it was time for Melanna to head to college.

“She so desperately wanted to be a normal young woman and make her way but the side effects of the medications became a lot and her immune system took a hit,” said Maria.

At her yearly appointment, they revisited taking a semester off and joining the RAPS program to help her deal with her pain, free of medication. Melanna decided to go for it and Maria got them a room at the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City.

“I was not expecting it to feel like a home, and it has been pretty incredible,” Maria said.

The family had just lost their basset hound, and they both loved having Jay there to snuggle with. They also both utilized the workout room for evening and weekend assignments from the RAPS program’s doctors. But overall, the room amenities have made the Ronald McDonald House feel like home.

“For her and her pain, a bathtub is everything. And, the Tempur-Pedic beds that were in the room were perfect,” said Maria.

The Eagans have connected with other RAPS families at the Ronald McDonald Houses, particularly to talk through everything they’ve all been through.

“It was so nice to talk with another mother that ‘gets it.’ My child doesn’t have a well-known disease but she does have a disability that will leave her in pain her entire life, and other RAPS families understand that,” said Maria.

Melanna was able to graduate from the RAPS program in just 4 weeks, and she and Maria both look forward to getting back to everyday life at home.

“It’s been a long road, but I know there is a purpose for all of it. I would love to see this program grow and help more families,” Maria says.