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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

| "children know the answers" |

(She... by Kobi Yamada)

I volunteer in the pediatric unit at UCSF every Thursday night. When I tell people this, most people make some sort of a gasping noise and ask, "WHY?" Quite honestly, I couldn't think of a more ignorant question. That sounds a little bit rude. #sorryimnotsorry

I understand very well the potentially emotional ramifications of volunteering with babies, toddlers, and teens who are attached to portable IVs, fashioned in band-aids, dragging oxygen tanks, and incessantly coughing because that's what Cystic Fibrosis makes you do sometimes. But, even though some of these kids do not have hair, properly functioning lungs, or even a voice, you would never know they were ill. In fact, sometimes the only way I recognize that they are a patient, and not a sibling of a patient, is because of the required hospital bands they make you wear. You would never know that when these children aren't in the playroom, they are missing their graduation ceremony from kindergarten and the celebration of summer's start with the rest of their classmates because they need a bone marrow transplant, or that this morning they were pricked and prodded with cold, metal tools while enduring courses of unforgiving chemotherapy that make them throw up unexpectedly.

The smiles on these kids? Huge. Their energy? Unmatched. Their passion for life? I'm jealous of their passion for life. Their appreciation for life? Imagine feeling so super thankful for all the good around you, then take that appreciation and multiple it by three.
UCSF @ Parnassus.
My job is to make their stay in the hospital as normal as possible. Sometimes the children are in the hospital for months, sometimes just one night, sometimes this is a regular occurrence for them as they travel in and out of the hospital bearing treatments every month. At night we read stories, play boardgames, dress the dolls in sequined ball-gowns, race toy cars, paint our names in chalk and make a mess of googly eyes (remember those?) and pipe cleaners at the arts-and-crafts table.

What these kids don't know is that they are making my stay, here on Earth, the most gratifying. A few weeks ago a boy in his gown and underwear sat down next to me to read a book. After he helped me turn the first page, he softly grabbed my hand to hold. I would have given that boy a kidney, a limb, an eyeball -- whatever he needed -- right then and there if I could.

Parents thank me for making them feel comfortable enough to leave for a glass of water for the first time since being admitted to the hospital. I smile. What I should do is thank them for bringing these resilient children into this world. These parents! These parents have more strength than Super Man. I cannot imagine the pain involved in raising a child with a life-threatening disease.

I have so much more to learn from these children, and their parents. I can't wait.

1 comment:

  1. Sam. You have no idea how much my heart smiles reading this. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing one of your best friends light up with her passions. You, my dear, have one humongous heart and I sure wish I had my very own Sam come visit me every Thursday evening. Wish I could be there by your side to meet these brave kiddos. Keep on chasing your passion, Sammy Sam. Excited to see where it takes you.