I wrote this post last week, the day after I visited Nemours Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children. I sat on it and struggled, trying to decide the right time to post it. With today being Thanksgiving, I wasn’t sure if it would be right. Afterall, some of the people I met surely aren’t always thankful for the hand they’ve been given. But I think we’ll all agree that we’re thankful for modern medicine, amenities, and a place that cares so much for its patients and patients’ families, that they’re likely hosting a top-notch Thanksgiving dinner for their enormous family today.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Yesterday might have been one of the most emotional and difficult blogging experiences of my social media career. It was definitely one of the most comforting.
Yesterday, I attended a sneak peek of the expansion at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital in Wilmington, DE. 25 minutes from my home, I often, okay, usually, forget that we have one of the top children’s hospitals in the country so close by, which is odd because, in 1985, I was a patient there, too.
My boys, collectively, have had 5 surgeries since 2004. For each, they’ve been “put under” with anesthesia. It’s one of the scariest experiences as you sit, worrying for 15 or 30 minutes apart from your child, praying for success in the surgery. Of course, we count our blessings, our gold at the end of the rainbow. Each time our children have been fine.
Yesterday, I met a woman who’s daughter didn’t survive due to a communication error on the table at Nemours/AI duPont. I admire and applaud her strength. When faced with a choice: to hate-on the hospital or support it to ensure this doesn’t happen again, she chose the latter and is a top volunteer for the hospital, helping them to expand and increasing the hospital’s strength.
I met two women who’s children had successful experiences. One woman’s daughter had cancer and received treatment at the hospital. And then there was Crystal who’s two sons both have spent time in and out of the hospital. Her older son was born with holes in his heart. Her younger son, a hole in his neck. Both surgeries were successful. But when her younger son (now 6 and in Kindergarten) began having crossed eyes when he was 2, they went back for another surgery. Prior to his surgery, he had an MRI where a cyst was found in his brain. The resulting surgery, which should have been in and out in 2 days, resulted in 11 and a half months of residency at Nemours. Eleven and a half unplanned months living in a hospital. When he woke up from his coma 3 days after surgery, he’d lost everything he’d learned in his young life. He couldn’t eat, couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk.
In 1985, when I was an outpatient at Nemours, it was for corrective surgery for crossed eyes. My poor parents. My eyes are filling as I write this. I am so very lucky.
A few weeks ago, I joined Pfizer to discuss the Get Old initiative. We talked a lot about dependent care and how, as people grow old, they need more care, how we prepare for that, what’s needed to assist those who grow old.
Yesterday, I found our conversation turning in the same direction. As the middle generation, we care for the young and old. We never expect the things that we are handed. We’re never ready or prepared for a phone call of something that goes ‘wrong’ or of people losing their ability to do things, young or old.
This story has a very happy ending. Nemours is growing. As a leading hospital, they’re expanding with revolutionary facilities. Hours have been spent thinking and rethinking every single detail in their new patient wings and emergency rooms. Details you or I would never consider, but things that families — parents, caregivers, children, nurses, doctors– everyone has had opportunities to offer input. Yesterday, while touring their mock rooms, members of Philly Social Media Moms were offered an opportunity to give input. Most of us have never experienced extended hospital stays for our children, but we pointed out things like needing a spot to place our handbags or the need for an organization within areas of the rooms.
Nemours recognizes that what matters most when a family needs an extended stay at their hospital is that they can make it a home. I truly hope, like we all do, that I’ll never have to experience an extended stay at a children’s hospital. But if I do, I know of one that takes an interest in the children and their families. I’ve found a home in a hospital.
That’s comforting. And for that, I’m thankful.
Images and experience thanks to Nemours.