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Thursday, October 11, 2007

A whole ‘nother world


After more than a week spent at the children’s hospital with my daughter I have finally figured out the feeling that I get when I walk through the facility. It’s a very surreal feeling… today it dawned on me that it’s almost like entering another world.

As parents, most of us pray and hope that our children will stay healthy and safe, and even if they do get sick it doesn’t normally warrant a hospital stay. Some Tylenol, soup and an entire box of tissues may be all that’s called for. But what about when your child is really sick? Where are the children with leukemia, the children who need kidney or bone marrow transplants, the children with life-threatening birth defects or the ones who have been in life-altering accidents?

They’re all at the children’s hospital. At the children’s hospital it’s normal to see the smallest of patients walking around with face masks. It isn’t odd to see an adorable toddler, playing with an animated screen, with a feeding tone protruding from her neck. And it is especially “normal” to see the shell shocked, exhausted look of parents and loved ones trudging through the halls carrying a child, pushing a child in a wheelchair, or pulling them in a wagon.

In the short time I’ve spent there (short compared to some of the other parents) I’ve gazed at the other children and wondered about their ailments. I’ve glanced at parents (identified by our “parent access badges”) in the elevators and I’ve pondered the very existence of children on this earth. The very thoughts make me wonder if I’m an oddity or if others are thinking the same thing I am.

When you enter the world of the children’s hospital 99.99 percent of the staff (whether medical or support) are friendly and helpful. When you enter that world a vast majority of the parents have something in common. The children quickly form bonds as they attend school, story time, go to the library, visit the garden... yes, this is all at the children’s hospital.

The children’s hospital is a sad place; a place that reminds us of the reality of life. It’s also a place of hope and courage. It’s a place – a whole ‘nother world – that can teach us a little something about life!
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