2008 Birthday Project ~ Two Children...and Child Life

Give in Johnny's honor and support a Wisconsin children's hospital.
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Theresa
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2008 Birthday Project ~ Two Children...and Child Life

Unread postby Theresa » Mon May 19, 2008 11:37 am

Emily's Story

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Upon waking every morning during her five lengthy stays at UW Children's Hospital during 2005, Emily would usually ask one question: "When is Child Life coming to my room?"

For 12-year-old Emily—and for virtually every child that comes through our doors—Child Life staff are dedicated to making happy memories when a child is hospitalized. Be it organizing an art project or craft, helping arrange patient visits by Wisconsin Badger football players, or comforting a crying parent, Child Life provides a soothing presence.

"Having a hospitalized child can be very stressful both for the child and the whole family," says Mary Kaminski, Director of Child and Family Services. "Our job is to help the child still feel like a child, not a patient. Whether it is minimizing the fear a child may have before surgery or setting up a pizza party, we find that children heal better when their ability to have fun is not compromised by being hospitalized."

Emily, of Windsor, Wisconsin, has been a frequent hospital patient since being diagnosed at age one with a chronic disease known as hydrocephalus—a life-threatening condition in which excess cerebral spinal fluid builds up in the brain. Accordingly, Emily requires a surgically implanted shunt in her head that helps drain the fluid from her head to her abdomen, where it is reabsorbed in the body.

Emily's first shunt was implanted when she was 17 months old. Over the years, she has required several surgeries to replace the shunt, including three instances in 2005.

"On New Year's Day, 2005," recalls Emily's mom, Debi, "Emily was having terrible headaches. We brought Emily into the Emergency Room at UW Children's Hospital." There, Dr. Bermans Iskandar, a pediatric neurosurgeon, did emergency surgery to replace Emily's shunt, which had been malfunctioning.

"We were there for nine hours that day," Debi remembers. "From the minute we arrived in the ER, I can't tell you how many times Julie Auenson (a Child Life Specialist) was there to help calm the situation. She stayed with us in the holding area just before Emily's operation. She repeatedly offered to get me something—a drink, a tissue, anything. She also offered several times to sit with Emily after surgery to give us a break. Because of the way Child Life took care of me, I could be a better parent and more comforting to Emily."

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Theresa
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Unread postby Theresa » Mon May 19, 2008 11:41 am

Lisa's Story

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16-year-old Lisa was looking forward to her first prom, excited to be making plans with friends about dresses and hair styles. Then, one month before prom night, the news came that Lisa has cancer.

Lisa felt like her world was crumbling. After hearing about the course of treatment that would involve loss of hair and weight, Lisa decided not to even go to prom. She became depressed and angry, and she began to resent her friends, who were continuing to make plans for prom without her.

Concerned about what they could do to encourage Lisa to go to prom, Lisa's mother asked the pediatric oncologist for advice to help Lisa to change her mind. The oncologist referred Lisa and her mom to the Positive Image Center.

After several consultations and visits, Lisa changed her mind – and she attended prom with her friends.

Just as the center helped Lisa to enjoy one of the rites of her teenage years, the Positive Image Center's purpose is to facilitate healing in mind, body and spirit for our young patients, while remaining sensitive to each child's needs, despite their physical circumstances.

As each child encounters the negative effects of illness and treatment – such as loss of hair and weight loss or gain – healing health care provided at the Positive Image Center will help protect the child's dignity.

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Lucky13
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Unread postby Lucky13 » Mon May 19, 2008 12:46 pm

I couldn't help but get a lump in my throat reading about these two lovely girls and how grateful to be able to make a donation to help make someone's day a tiny bit brighter.

Thank you for sharing, Theresa. :lilyrose:
~ Yah, I wanna take that ride with you!

I'd rather have a moment of wonderful, than a lifetime of nothing special. April 7, 2008

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Kittycat88
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Unread postby Kittycat88 » Mon May 19, 2008 2:05 pm

Thank you Theresa...so nice to see smiling faces...when they have such heavy burdens so young. I hope the Birthday Project will allow for many many smiles !!!

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Unread postby part-time poet » Wed May 21, 2008 9:51 am

Thanks for sharing those stories, Theresa--and :thanks!: to all our generous donors for their contributions to this year's Birthday Project.

It is wonderful to be able to comfort a child, and in doing this we are following in Johnny's footsteps. How many times this spring have we seen him bending down to give special personal time to the youngest members of the crowd?

:goodvibes:

Part-Time Poet
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
-- J. M. Barrie


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