Wednesday, October 24, 2012

H is for Hospital

One thing that keeps us from having a set school structure is our frequent-flier status at duPont Hospital for Children in DE.  People think I'm kidding when I say duPont is our second home - when people ask where do I live, I often joke, "Do you mean where I spend the most time, or where they send my bills?" Between Jude and four siblings, all with multiple medical issues, it seems like between appointments for doctors and therapy, we spend more time there than we don't!  In 2012, we drove over 14,500 miles just between there and home.  (Seriously.  84 miles round trip times an average 3 trips/week, and I know I'm lowballing because several weeks I was there 6 times in 4 days).  I could have driven to see my friend Cristi in Arizona at least twice,  and I bet that road trip would have been a lot more fun!  2013 had almost as many trips, and while I haven't figured out 2014's tally, I know it's going to be crazy high because of all the trips for PT, OT, and speech.  The staff knows us by sight and waves in the hall; when one kid is missing they know which one (by name) and ask where he or she is.  Honestly, though -- I think duPont is the best hospital with the best specialists in the country.  We've been to a lot of doctors and hospitals, and I can honestly say that duPont docs treat "Kids who are sick," not "sick kids." It's an important difference, because they put the child first and their medical conditions second; NEVER have they let the diagnosis define the child.

 It makes sense that in our life, H stands for "hospital." These are pictures of what we do to pass the time at the Hospital waiting for doctors and appointments. 

Stopping at the cafeteria is always one of our favorite things to pass the time.  There isn't a whole lot of safe-for-our-allergies food, but thankfully the few things we can have are favorites.  If we have a mid-morning appointment, we stop for breakfast. An early start out the door means breakfast before the morning drop-off routine is sacrificed.  There usually isn't enough time to go home after dropping of the other kids, but it's too much time to just sit in the car and wait.  The timing is perfect for a quick meal of "cube potatoes, cylinder sausage, and sphere blueberries"!  Early morning appointments are usually followed by lunch before heading back to do the afternoon pick-up.

If we have enough time, we squeeze in a few minutes of schoolwork after eating. If we have a long wait between appointments and it's not a busy mealtime, we head back to the cafeteria to take advantage of the table space.  Otherwise, we try to combine lessons and fun in waiting or exam rooms.

Things to do waiting for the doctor:

Watch TV (most waiting rooms have TVs that are for kids' programming only).

(There's also the iPad or mom's phone.)


Crayons and exam table paper are great for murals, tic-tac-toe boards, and writing practice.  And if you run out of paper -- no problem.  The doctors are really good about letting you pull out a new surface.

Hide and seek:

Some of the older clinic rooms have privacy curtains.  They're good for playing hide and seek, or turning yourself into a mummy.

One of our favorite areas to play is the Outpatient Therapy Unit.  They have a whole wall that is a blackboard (for working on writing and occupational skills) and some great wavy benches that are great for climbing (Physical Therapy warm up!). Sometimes if we have a long wait, our school work is done, and the weather is too icky to go outside, we go hang out here.  This is Jude waiting for his brother's feeding therapy appointment to start. He is drawing how we get to the hospital.  We start at our house, go over the suspension bridge, and then drive around to the hospital.  Here he's putting the finishing touches on the "hop-a-copter that brings really sick kids to the hop-sital super-fast."

It's not a scale map, but he's got the basic geography - if you look at a map, NJ is on the right, DE is to it's left, and you have to go back past the bridge to get to the hospital.  He has a better sense of direction than I do -- my brothers will tell you I can't find my way out of a paper bag even if you cut both ends open and give me a hose.

There are also kid-sized tables there, making it perfect for doing quiet, on-the-go schoolwork like math worksheets.  The hat comes in handy for both the weather outside and instead of noise-blocking headphones.

If the weather is nice, there is also the playground.

This is Jude and his friend Joseph playing together on the slide.

Some days I wonder how did we survive without electronics? It certainly makes the"Keep them Occupied" bag much lighter.  Jude is happy to play games on the iPad, or watch a movie.  Once a grown up logs him into the wifi network, he's good for as long as the battery holds out.  Or, if you don't want him to wander at all, bring the charging cord.  He won't go farther from his seat than the cord will extend.

 We have some REALLY long days with appointments lined up from early morning until late afternoon.  One day, we went to eat lunch between appointments, and he decided he wasn't interested in his food.  After spending four hours zig-zagging across the hospital, Jude just wanted a nap.

On another really long day, we had a 2 hour gap between appointments, but it was close to 100° - way to hot to be running on the playground.  If we have several hours between appointments, we will leave and either go run errands or have a picnic at a local playground.  We've found quite a few in the surrounding area that have become our favorites.  But if we don't have long enough to leave, but too long to just sit in the cafeteria, we take our lunch out to the car and then watch a movie for a little while.

Back in September, I was asked to join the Neurology department's Parent Advisory Committee.  One question asked of the committee: "What can make waiting better?" Many of us stack appointments so we can maximize our time there.  The answer was, "An outpatient lounge -- someplace kid-friendly to hang out that isn't in the way of the open clinics, and is comfortable for long breaks."  It's something that the facilitator was going to place high on the priority list, especially with winter coming.  Yay!!

And on our way back home, we always check up on the workers again (and wave goodbye) as we practice our letter recognition.  This word is "Big P, o, n, t."

Through the Calm and Through the StormIf you'd like a virtual visit with my friend Cristi, head over to her blog, Through the Calm and Through The Storm.  She's been my biggest cheerleader and best source of homeschooling and blog ideas.  She's been my best friend (after the hubby!) through all of the kids' medical ups and downs and is the best Sancho Panza a mommy could have ever asked for.

Cristi, in 25 words or less: Follower of Christ. Military wife. Nurse (via on the job training.) Homeschooling Mom. Allergy-friendly cook. Aspiring photographer. Chauffeur.  Blogger. Runner. Friend. And much, much more.

Blogging Through the Alphabet There's a whole dictionary of words that start with H.  Come see what others' favorite H words are over at Blogging through the Alphabet!

1 comment:

  1. What a handsome little guy you've got! Our children don't have any medical issues but I do have a 3 year old who seems to be very "accident prone", so I feel like we've been getting to know our local children's hospital pretty well recently too.


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