Friday, October 12, 2012

The Miracle of Children's Hospitals:

Needing a children's specialty hospital is terrible, but having access to one is beautiful beyond measure.

We waited here while Rogue was in surgery.
One year ago today, I drove baby Rogue across the state to the specialists who would diagnose and treat her life-threatening problems.  She and I left with little warning or preparation and headed into an especially uncertain future.

When we arrived, I didn't understand the differences between a regular hospital and a children's hospital (beyond the size and age of the patients). A few days at the hospital opened my eyes, but it remains difficult to put words around such large and deep feelings.

When my child's medical needs exceeded normal service providers, it confirmed the seriousness of her situation and revealed previously unconsidered limits in our ability to protect our children. Jim and I couldn't independently make our baby grow nor could we correct the shape of her skull. Awareness of this insufficiency lodged in my throat like a brick.

Because Jim and our extended family were caring for Scout and Ranger at home, the baby and I went to the hospital alone. I thought I would feel alone there, but the hospital- from its physical building to its people to its services- was so obviously built and maintained by a generous larger community. It was hard not to be touched by being part of a huge social mechanism where friends and strangers work to offer all kids the best possible chances for a full life. The unconditional generosity toward children reminded me that raw kindness and empathy still exist in surprising measure.

 From the handmade pillows and blankets for the patients to top-notch technology and facilities to stocked pantries and hospitality carts that supplied caregivers with food and toiletries, volunteers and donors reminded us that we were neither alone nor forgotten. Institutionally, the hospital offers financial assistance funds to pay medical costs for the uninsured and insured people of limited means. For many families, the cost of a sick child might mean a parent or other caregiver relocating to the hospital for the duration of a child's treatment. That can mean the loss of an income and the need for childcare and other new costs. It's easy to see how a long-term illness could quickly devastate a family's finances, but Children's Miracle Networks provide treatment regardless of a family's ability to pay.

And now, we invite you to be a hero to sick kids and their families.

When Jim read about (a Children's Miracle Network fundraiser born out of the video gaming community), he immediately began organizing a local board gaming event so we could offer the same goodwill to other Riley families. The weekend of October 20th, we're going to play 24 hours of board games (in three long sessions) for Riley and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Please consider sponsoring a player or joining a team (and may I suggest my fledgling Great Big Table podcast team that is way behind Jim's game night team?). I can tell you firsthand, the donations do change lives.

***Baby Toolkit is the story of some Midwestern geek parents, their kids, and their communities (physical and virtual). We also podcast about board games at We love Riley Hospital for Children, our Children's Miracle Network Hospital and its caring staff and community. With profound appreciation for generous care our daughter and our family received from Riley and CMNH, this post and project are one we have chosen to undertake.