What They Don't Tell You About Children's Hospital Childhoods
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Health and Wellness

What They Don't Tell You About Children's Hospital Childhoods

The lessons I've learned from my visits to Gillette Children's and why I plan to help make sure other children have easier children's hospital childhoods.

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What They Don't Tell You About Children's Hospital Childhoods
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At first, it is a normality. It's almost a vacation, except with more adults in white lab coats smiling at you because they are aware of what you are not. It's almost a vacation because you get to go to the zoo. The zoo is where the dolphin tank is. Where you learned to walk; following your favorite dolphin across the way, a little bit out of the splash zone. The dolphins make getting on a plane and going on a weekend vacation to Minneapolis a little easier.

You will be one of the most empathetic people going. This is a blessing but also has the ability to be a curse. You will feel for everybody, feel their pain. In a way, this makes you a better person. It makes you want to help people. In a different sense, it means you'll be hurt much easier and you will feel everybody's pain on top of it.

You will learn the routine at a young age. Smile at the desk lady while your mother checks you in. You know that all of these polite, wonderful people have taken care of you for years. You're lucky for that.

You sit in the waiting room and watch other children much younger than you play with toys. Hear your name, get your x-rays. You'll learn to stand completely still – so still that maybe just for a second, you've forgotten that you have the ability to breathe.

After you're clothed, go sit in another uncomfortable chair until you get your height and weight checked. Get a sticker from the smiling height and weight lady. Return to another chair in the waiting room until they call your name to go do cartwheels in a room until the doctor bursts through the door. He'll be smiling, too. He'll ask you about school, and maybe even the zoo. He will put your x-rays on display, and for some reason, you'll be embarrassed. After inspecting your spine and such, he will discuss the impending doom of your surgery with your mother. This is when you take a walk and think of anything but. Repeat this process every few weeks, or until you hit the age of twelve.

The worst part of surgery is not the iv line or the anesthesia. The worst part is how you feel afterward. Don't get me wrong, the actual surgery part is awful. But, the anger hiding somewhere inside of you when you have five consecutive surgeries at the age of twelve makes the procedure seem like a walk in the park.

You will become amazing on crutches. If crutching was an Olympic event, you'd take gold. You will be able to beat your athletic friends to class, or around campus. Even though you have to sit out of gym class and watch them walk the mile, you know you could crutch it. However, since you live in California and the hallways are outside, you will be humbled when you slide into science class like you're just barely making it to first base.

Your adventures in the children's hospital will land you in a textbook. Somewhere, there is a med student looking at your x-rays. He won't know your name, but he'll be looking at your little legs and your scoliosis. He'll know that in elementary school you wore a lift in your right shoe to even out your two inch differentiated legs. He won't know that you were bullied for it, but he'll know how many inches that sucker was. He'll know that you went through seven surgeries because of an experimental device, but he won't know the lengthy battle with depression that came after it.

Despite all of this - the good, the bad, and all of the ugly. Despite hundreds of doctors visits, x-rays, smiling nurses, and everything in between. Despite the last eighteen medical vacation years, you are lucky. You can get out of bed in the morning on your own, get dressed on your own, eat on your own. You got an education, and are continuing that education at one of the best universities this country has to offer.

You are lucky because you learned so many lessons from the hospital visits. You are lucky because from this, you are stronger. You are lucky because you get the opportunity to take your experiences and help to make sure that other children's hospital childhoods are easier on the little one. And, you will; not because it's your duty, but because other children deserve an easier children's hospital childhood. Your experiences, while painful, will help other children and that's why your children's hospital childhood is still important today.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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