Four of our five kids have been admitted into the hospital—Olivia twice for asthma, Catalina for a tonsillectomy, and the twins for the NICU stay and a second time for RSV. From experience, it never is fun, no matter if it is planned or unplanned. Christmas Eve, though?
Dell Children’s was a place of such generosity.
When we went to the ER, I was optimistic that we wouldn’t be there long and didn’t think to bring any additional clothing for Olivia. After they realized we were going to be there for awhile, they pulled some pajamas—including pants with emoji on them. Olivia pointing and trying to laugh at them through an asthma attack while on a treatment got us through a solid portion of the initial hour-long treatment.
The staff, as always, were some of the nicest folks around. I couldn’t really complain that we only ended up with three hours of sleep. 😴
Up on the floor, I was surprised when a representative from Dell’s Child Life Department visited. Their office basically tries to make the hospital as kid-friendly as possible. She told me that Austin Police Department’s Blue Santa program would be stopping by in a few minutes to drop off a gift and asked if I would be okay if local media filmed it. After saying they really didn’t need to do that, I signed the media release.
(Additional coverage from the Spectrum TV News and the Austin American-Statesman paper).
Olivia is a good kid. She handles all of her medical things pretty well. She doesn’t complain much and makes the best of almost any situation. She was labeled their “happy wheezer” since she was in better spirits than most kids in her medical condition.
Even with her cheery default, her reaction to the assistant police chief entering the room with a stuffed bunny was great to see—true surprise. I didn’t give away why Child Life came to talk to me.
Added on, the Jennifer Wilks Foundation had a holiday dinner in the family room outside of Olivia’s unit that they graciously invited us to and gave us both a surprise gift. Beyond generous.
I know how lucky we are. The twins were only in the NICU for 11 days. Olivia only has asthma and severe food allergies. We were in the NICU next to triplets that were in there nearing 90 days. Jennifer, of the Jennifer Wilks Foundation, was in the hospital for over 400 days. We are lucky compared to too many.
That said, I forget how much Olivia has to deal with compared to most kids. We were invited to the holiday dinner, but Olivia didn’t want to go unless we could bring her hospital food tray. It took me a little time until I got out of her why—she was afraid that 1. she wouldn’t be able to eat what they had because of her allergies and more importantly 2. if they didn’t know how the food was made and gave us incorrect information, then she would react to it and I wouldn’t have her allergy medicine with me.
Seeing how excited she was to still go to the dinner nevertheless, to get a toy from Blue Santa, to have Jennifer Wilks Foundation visit, my heart was full.
We didn’t need the charity. Olivia had plenty of toys under the tree back at home. As Olivia herself said, it meant much to her to know that people were thinking about the kids in the hospital and to me, to see how it brighten her day, it was the best gift I could have received this Christmas. I’m so full of gratitude toward the community and feel the duty to contribute ourselves.
Over the last few months, I’ve let plenty of negativity in and seeing the selfless good from the community was a very welcomed and needed breath of fresh air.
In the end, Olivia was able to escape on Christmas Eve night and we were able to wake up together on Christmas morning. While the visit was short, my gratitude toward Dell Hospital, the Austin Police Department, those that donated to Blue Santa, and the Jennifer Wilks Foundation and their volunteers and donors will extend for a long time to come.
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