As the mother of a child born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, besides going through four open-heart surgeries and coding, my son has also had eight abdominal surgeries, including a Ladd’s procedure and resection of his colon. William also functions without his appendix, spleen, and gall bladder. In addition to every kind of therapy imaginable, he has had to endure pamidronate infusions, daily shots, G-tube feedings, and TPN. Who knows how many times he’s been X-rayed and poked by a needle. It’s been a roller coaster, but he wouldn’t be here without you: all of you.
Our thank you list includes the amazing skill and care from his doctors and nurses. However, his team of health care professionals is so much more. It includes the speech, respiratory and physical therapists, the X-ray and lab technicians, and the foodservice staff. It includes the child life and art therapists, the tutors, home health coordinators, and chaplains. It also includes the often left-out cleaning personnel who cleaned our rooms day after day, always reminding us to “be careful not to slip on the floor.”
Each of you in the field of pediatric medicine has many William’s in your professional life. So, while all of you are exhausted from being stretched and pulled right now, I want to thank you for saving the William’s of the world. You are impacting them more than just through your training. How you look at them and listen to them makes a difference. Your William’s are studying you and watching your every move. They know when you are frustrated, tired, and unsure of what to do next. They celebrate with you when things are going well and they feel your concern when they aren’t. I believe they are deeply connected to every one of you. They may forget some of your names, but they know what you have done for them.
My William will be turning 20 years old on December 4th. He’s a sophomore at the University of Nebraska and is majoring in emergency management, with a minor in journalism. He wants to help people in trouble – just like all of you have done for him. “Mom, I want to help people on their worst day,” said William recently.
We are more than a little nervous about leaving the security and comfort of your pediatric world behind. Still, to all of you amazing pediatric health professionals, it is because of your expertise and the dedication to your calling, we can say thank you and adieu. May you continue doing for children what you have done for us knowing your impact is deep and will never be forgotten.
Wendy Hind is a health care consultant.
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