With gratitude to HaShem . . .
For the past several years, Johns Hopkins Hospital has been building an all-new, ginormous, multi-story, state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital, scheduled to open April 1. So you would think that my granddaughter would be stuck in some decrepit old hospital wing, since her surgery date just missed the grand opening of the new, gorgeous ell. In fact, the current facilities are spacious, clean and beautiful and no complaints from *this* peanut gallery.
Johns Hopkins may have a chip on its shoulder for its status as a world-class hospital, but in this case, it’s well deserved. (Even the house ice cream is world class: Haagen Dazs, not some junky generic.) Yes, it’s run with factory-like efficiency for its thousands of patients and procedures each day, but it still manages to provide compassionate care, at least in the pediatric wards.
There is a deep concern for pain management, and they have specialists who make daily rounds to ensure no one is suffering needlessly. For 1 – 2 days post-op, Dassi will have an epidural, which lets her body recover a bit from the trauma of surgery without her having to feel the normal, intense pain of her wounds. (Why don’t they offer this option more regularly to adult patients?) Dassi was given a PCA, which stands for Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA). That means that she simply presses a button if she finds herself in pain, and pain meds are meted out into her IV automatically. In what could be a bewildering and frightening state of affairs, it gives the child a sense that they are in control of the pain, and makes it much less scary. I know that many hospitals use PCA for their adult patients, but it’s somewhat revolutionary to have PCAs in a pediatric ward, let alone controlled by a 5-year-old.
At one point she resisted taking an oral medicine. The nurse brought out some princess jewelery from the dollar store from the nurses’ station’s personal stash. Dassi not only took the medicine; she is now the proud owner of a faux gold bracelet with interchangeable plastic gemstones.
Even for children who are bedridden, there is stuff to do. Besides a playroom for the more mobile kids, there is a kid’s channel which schedules various activities that children can participate in from their bedside. Today it was Hospital Bingo. A bingo card was distributed to each room, featuring icons connected to their hospital stay. B-3 was a picture of a bedpan; N-2 was a syringe; G-5 was a cardiac monitor, etc. Before the game started, the emcee went over each and every prize, which the kids could see on the TV monitor. Prizes were age appropriate, from 2 to 15: dolls, cars & trucks; games; jewelry, dvd’s, gift cards. When a child got bingo, there was a dedicated phone line that one called to yell “Bingo!” and claim one’s prize of choice. Every child, bingo or no bingo, got a prize, and there wasn’t a booby prize in the lot.
Earlier in the day we got a surprise visit from . . . Elmo! According to the nurse, Dassi can expect a visit from a different popular character each day.
If simcha (happiness) is a keystone to recovery, Johns Hopkins is certainly an enabler. Distraction is working well, and Dassi is being brave and wonderful.
And she is still very much herself. When I showed her these pictures she said, “My hair looks like a mess!”
Even at age 5, she is a girly girl.
Provided she continues to heal (and she is already eating solids) and her “indoor plumbing” is successfully reconnected, we hope she will be home in a few days. Even with that, she has several weeks of recovery ahead, a future outpatient procedure to remove stents, etc. For now, continue your prayers, and thank you!!