Tuesday, September 9, 2008


One of the classes I take had as the assignment to share a positive writing experience you've had. Here's mine!
In 1992, Amanda (my angel), had a craniotomy to remove a malignant brain tumor at LeBonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis TN. She was a patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital also in Memphis. LeBonheur has the best medical care for children. I think I'd be hard pressed to find better. In 1992, however, their ICU was not very parent-friendly. The rules were that all parents and visitors were to be removed when a child was being taken in or out for surgery, during shift change, or during an emergency. Mondays and Fridays were the scheduled surgery days. That meant many hours of not seeing your child. One day in particular, it was over 12 hours. She was in the ICU for two weeks because she developed pneumonia. It was rough with those kind of visitation rules. She was only four. After all that, she had radiation therapy at St. Jude.
We had been home about a month when I received the satisfaction survey in the mail from the hospital. I couldn't fill it out. I kept looking at it and getting angry all over again. This went on for six months. At first, I thought it was the emotions of the moment, but after that long I knew it was because I really felt as though we had been wronged. So I decided to write a letter. I knew it wouldn't do any good except make me feel better. I would have expressed my own thoughts not what was on a piece of standard junk mail. (That's how I feel about those surveys).
The letter started out with how much faith I had in their medical care. I told them I would not hesitate to take my daughter there again because I felt they had the best medical staff and facility for her. Then I told them how I felt about their visitation policies. I explained how even after six months I was just as upset as I was at the time. I also said that I would have expected it to subside. I felt that the emotional welfare of my child had not even been considered. After all, don't most people heal faster with a positive mental attitude? How scary was it for her at the age of four? I then signed my name, address, and phone number. I mailed it and forgot about it.
I received a call from the hospital's head of ICU about a month later. She called to tell me that she had been forwarded the letter from the office. After she read it, she contacted fifty other parents at random to ask them about the concerns I raised. To a parent, they agreed with me 100%. She also told me that because of the results, they had changed their policies in the ICU. She said it was because I wrote such an eloquent letter. I wasn't accusing or negative about their medical abilities. She was quite taken aback. She thanked me again and we hung up. I knew no other parents would have to go through a forced separation from their child again.
When Amanda needed the last surgery before she died, that's where she had it. I still feel the same way about the hospital and staff as I did in 1992. I had forgotten how much that meant to me until I wrote for the class. Writing is a wonderful thing. Even if you're the only one who sees it. Then again, an email to a friend can make the friend feel special and lift their spirits when they need it most.


Pam said...

I happened upon your blog today. I'm so glad I did. You are an inspiration.

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