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Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's all about perspective...

Lessons Learned…

The Hospital School


In the midst of IV’s, hospital gowns, doctors, nurses, therapists, and colorful artwork on the walls, there was a school right there in that enormous pediatric unit. Student-patients came faithfully to the hospital  classroom every chance they had because keeping up with homework kept each one thinking forward to the glorious reunion with friends and teachers and coaches in the hometown schools they each longed for.  Having health and strength to attend school and participate each day in every part of school was indeed the hopeful dream of these student- patients.  A hopeful dream not recognized at all as such by those students who have never had to study and learn in the hospital school.  It’s so easy to take for granted things that are easy and good and ours, but things can change as the wind blows. Change, expected or unexpected, often serves to bring perspective.  These dear, brave student-patients longed for school. One particular day, I was asked to do bedside tutoring with a student-patient who wouldn’t come to the school; everything hurt and everything was wrong.  She didn’t want to talk, so we just sat that day and for the next few, as well. Homework was pointless, she asserted. Okay. Interested in singing? I ventured the suggestion without making eye contact. Stupid. Too loud. Silent sitting resumed. The next day, I offered, singing in sign language because it wouldn’t make any noise. With a combination of incredulity and hilarity and contempt, our first eye contact occurred. What? Come on, it will be fun, and I wrote this song for you. L-O-V-E, love is special, a song just for her. It worked. She loved it. We learned it and continued to sing it silently on my every visit to her room. When she got tired of singing it, she let me help her with homework.  Eventually, she agreed to come to the hospital school only to help me teach her song to the other student-patients. She thought it would make them happy and she was pretty certain I couldn’t teach it as well as she could. She was absolutely right.