Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why I Love My Job

Part I:
Last fall, I met with a family whose newborn son had been born with some serious health complications. Eventually it was determined that he had a very rare disease that would be life-limiting. The family was devestated, but also optimistic, and through their faith and strength, they faced the uncertain future of their baby with a sense of determination and also peace.

During their stay, I would often go check in on whichever parent was around, just to give them the opportunity for adult conversation. We'd talk about their children and family and friends and life in general, and they'd ask me about school and my life as well. As an intern, I was aware of the fine line between sharing too much about my personal life with this family, and at the same time, I knew that what they needed at that point was conversation that didn't revolve around their son's health issues, and so I shared with them little stories about school and such.

This family has returned to the hospital for outpatient visits since their original stay, but my schedule hasn't allowed me to drop in and say hi.

Yesterday I managed to catch them, and when the mother saw me her face lit up. We talked and caught up. She told me that though her son wasn't doing any better, they had managed to take a trip to her native country so that her family could meet him. She still had the same positive attitude and peaceful demeanor that I remembered. And most surprisingly, she remembered things about my life that I had shared in our conversations so long ago. She asked about school and my plans for the future, and pulled out details that even I had forgotten I had shared.

It was incredible to re-connect with this mother, and to know that I was as memorable to her as she was to me. I left work with a smile on my face.

Part II:
Today I was riding an elevator with a patient, her younger brother, and their mother. The younger brother was jumping out of his skin with excitement, and when I commented that it looked as though they were going on an adventure, he said, "We're going to see firemen!" All of the family members looked so excited to be getting out of their hospital rooms and going to a hospital event.

I followed them to the event and hung out in the back for a while. It turned out to be a policeman and not a fireman who was there, but the little boy didn't seem to mind.

It was a nice break to my day, and I continued on my way.

As it happens it was a rather slow day today, and so later on I was walking up the stairs and saw a sign - hand-made by someone who I am guessing is about 10 - advertising a magic show.

So I stopped to watch.

If any of you ever need to have your day improved significantly, I highly recommend watching a children's magic show. Not for the magic, but for the reactions of the kids.

There was laughter, there was shouting, there was one kid who just kept exclaiming excitedly "No way!" every time the magician performed a trick.

I couldn't stop grinning. And I still can't.

All the difficult days I've had here were erased with the sights and sounds of a room full of sick kids and their parents being given the opportunity to forget their illnesses for a few minutes and just be kids.

I love this place.


Melissa said...

The angst and the agonies of the job are well worth it when you get those smiles. I totally hear you.

Sarah said...

Nice. I'm happy for you that you have found something so rewarding.

smukai said...

"Why I love my job" - version Seth.1

I reffed one game on Sunday. Nothing special, just a High School hockey game; not something I was looking forward to. I thought I'd much rather be at home helping Dad and Jeff fix the downstairs bathroom. Or just hanging out with the pregger wife.


One of the guys I was working with I have known for a few years. We have always been very friendly but never exceptionally close. He had already worked about 4 games before the one we were doing together. He said all he wanted to do today was skate.

He had woken up that morning, looked at his son's death certificate and reflected on the 8 years that had gone by since his son's passing.

So I did my best to make sure he was having fun during the game. We laughed, joked and goofed off while play was going on. When play was stopped, I asked him questions about what his son's name was, what he was like, what he had been interested in, what he had done with his twenty years before he died of a genetic heart defect. And we continued to laugh and joke all the way to the locker room.

When I first started reffing 5 years ago, some "teacher" at the first clinic I attended told us that we would hate what we were doing. We'd be cold. We'd be tired. The players, the coaches and the fans would hate us. We wouldn't be paid enough. He was wrong.

Some games are more fun than others. On Sunday, it made my day and my game to see him smile. For that 90 minutes, there was no place I'd rather be. I think that was the most important game I have done all season and I have made a promise to myself that I will schedule a game with him in a year and every year afterward. I want to learn something new about his son every time.

pickledfairy said...

The experiences you relayed, so mad eme miss my job as a child life specialist. It is moments like those that I tell people when I get the comments "Oh, it must be so hard to work with children with cancer". Wishing you many more wonderful experiences.