Tag Archives: Theodora Children’s Trust

7 things to do in hospital when you’re 8 (& 3/4)

Two weeks in hospital is long enough to challenge the sanity of any adult, let alone that of an 8-year-old who is used to being on the go all the time.  As well as his daily visits to the hospital school, M was fortunate enough to have a number of other activities to take part in, which helped wile away the ever-lengthening hours.  I don’t know how many of these same opportunities, or others like them, are available at children’s hospitals across the country, but this is a selection of some of those M chose to do during his stay at GOSH:

Pets as Therapy20141209_131336We were lucky enough to have 3 separate visits from 2 of the amazing “Pets as Therapy” dogs, Molly and Woof.  These charming animals are specially chosen for their gentle manner and make regular visits into hospitals, care homes and special needs schools to bring a great deal of comfort and love to those in the greatest of need.  I wrote a blog post not so long ago about just how much calm and comfort M draws from our cats at home and I saw the same things happening as he was able to pet and cuddle both dogs in his own space in hospital.  G was lucky enough to also have the chance to meet and fuss Molly as she visited on both Saturdays whilst Mike and G were visiting, and both children were encouraged to offer her treats for her patient behaviour when she was with them.

 

ScoutsscoutsThe visit to the 17th Holborn Scouts and Guides at Great Ormond Street Hospital was one of the highlights of M’s last hospital stay in 2013 and since finding out he was due another admission, he had talked of little else.  His biggest disappointment was that he was admitted on a Wednesday as Scouts meet every Tuesday evening and he had to wait a whole week before he could go again. During the evening, they provide a range of different crafts and games which are tailored for the differing ages and needs of the children attending that week and even reward regular attendance, an important boost for those children who are there on long-term admissions.  Sadly, M only managed to make one meeting again this year, but is already asking when he can go to Scouts again!

 

Courtesy of gosh.nhs.uk

Courtesy of gosh.nhs.uk

Saturday Club – Every Saturday afternoon, the activity centre (located next door to the school) is opened to patients and their siblings and friends for a couple of hours of crafts, games and some much-needed time together, away from the constraints of the ward.  On our first Saturday in hospital, M wasn’t keen on venturing too far from his bed, but the arrival of 2 of the Saturday club play volunteers, who engaged him and G in some riotous games of “Extreme Uno” as well as giant snakes and ladders, convinced him to change his mind.  By week 2, both G and M were chomping at the bit to join in the fun and whilst the staff there helped my 2 celebrate G’s 11th birthday with some rather nifty face-painting, an elegant birthday crown and Christmas crafts galore, Mike and I were able to escape for a sneaky 45 minute catch-up over coffee and cake in the hospital restaurant.

 

Courtesy of scholastic.co.uk

Courtesy of scholastic.co.uk

ReadWell book trolley – This was a treat we almost missed during our first week as the trolley came round as we were enjoying the ballet at the Royal Opera House, but thanks to some near-perfect timing, we stepped out of the lift just as the trolley was about to leave the ward.  M was able to choose from the wide selection of books displayed on the trolley and took great pleasure in being able to spend some time before deciding on an author we had not come across before.  To his absolute delight, not only did he have a free choice of books, but he also got to keep the books he picked out and he has enjoyed reading them since we got back home.  M also had the chance to create his own story with one of the ReadWell workers, who came into the school and acted as scribe as he weaved his adventurous tale of aliens visiting earth.

 

20141214_105928Ward Playroom – Whilst this was not the biggest room in the world, it held a vast array of games and activities to entertain the most particular of children.  M played on the Wii, found new board games to master and was able to borrow a DVD player and DVDs to watch over the weekends.  We made Christmas decorations, painted pictures, experimented with creating circuits with a science kit and M even decorated a ceramic money-box as part of his Christmas present to G.  20141214_105916

 

Courtesy of magicfree,net

Courtesy of magicfree,net

Magic – As well as a fleeting hello to the Clown doctors as we passed them in the ward corridor, one afternoon was brightened by the promise of a visiting magician.  M sat enthralled with a small group of his new hospital friends as this talented gentleman performed one awe-inspiring illusion after another.  He invited both children and parents alike to participate in some of the tricks and wowed us with his skills.  He listened as the children asked him questions about what he was doing and even watched M perform a rope trick of his very own.  My Dynamo-wannabee loved every moment of the show and dissected the tricks at length afterwards, trying to work out the secret of how they’d be done.

 

20141219_184138Post – Last, but not least is an activity that had nothing to do with GOSH itself, but everything to do with the amazingly thoughtful family and friends who were determined to bring a little cheer to our dreary corner of the long-term gastro ward.  Messages came from around the world – Canada, Madeira and across the UK – and each was special in its own way.  M received get well cards, postcards, books, stickers, games and other gifts that were guaranteed to entertain him day or night.  We decorated his bed space with the cards and added a Christmasy feel with the decorations that we had made in the playroom.  Knowing that people were thinking of us, loving us and sending us get well wishes and prayers sustained us both during the most difficult moments of the admission and brought some much-needed sunshine on the darkest days.   From the Christmas card from M’s class at school, to 2 pages of messages from Mike’s cousin and her friends and colleagues in Calgary; from cards and presents from our friends at church, to a card from the lovely members of my choir; and the 2 extra-special gifts of Angry Birds Jenga from our fabulous FABED family and signed photos and scrubs for both G and M from Holby City, courtesy of Simon Harper, my man at the BBC; all the mail was gratefully received and enjoyed hugely by us both.

                        20141220_193939

Advertisements

Welcome to the House of Fun!

It may seem an unlikely description of M’s week-long stay at GOSH, but we did end up having a week that was filled with fun and not just fear.  I had dreaded the tedium of being confined to the ward and had managed to pull together some games and treats to see us both through.  What I hadn’t anticipated were the events and activities that would be “on tap” at GOSH itself.

Courtesy of magicfree,net

Courtesy of magicfree,net

Sadly M didn’t manage to get to the first of these opportunities as we were battling the interminable wait to get him admitted onto the ward on Monday morning and the rest of the week were barely able to leave his bed or the ward.  However, the week we were there was celebrating “50 years of National Play in Hospital”.  It recognised the hard work regularly put in by fully trained play workers, who go into the hospital setting and entertain the children who have been admitted.  The launch on the Monday included face-painting, magic shows and other entertainers to give that day’s visitors an escape from the often frightening reality of being in hospital.  You can read more about this special week here.

Courtesy of scouts.org.uk

Courtesy of scouts.org.uk

Tuesday’s adventure started with a visit at 6.45pm from the leaders of the GOSH Scouts and Guides group.  They had avoided disappointment by checking with the ward nurses whether there were any children that would be able to go to the weekly Scout meeting, either on their own or accompanied by their parent.  They appeared at the curtains to M’s cubicle and invited him along for an hour of creativity and socialising.  He refused point-blank to allow me to go with him and merrily trotted off with another child from the ward – disconnected from his drip and in a state of excitement to be escaping.

Just after 8pm he re-appeared, clutching a treasure box, leaf bracelet, sheets of word-searches, puzzles and colouring, and his new most treasured possession – his first Scouts badge.  M was filled with stories of the 10 other children he’d been with, what they’d been up to and, most importantly for him, the fact that several of the others had also had NG-tubes and the news that one little girl was even “drinking her milk through it, Mummy!” Scouts is a new experience for M, but the opportunity to not stand out from the crowd because of his tube and his allergies was one he couldn’t have missed and he would have loved to have stayed another week in hospital just to go to the next meeting!

20131020_184703Treats number 3 and 4 both arrived on Wednesday.  The first was the surprise arrival of a parcel from M’s godmother, Auntie L.  She had packed a “Bored box” with an array of treats to satisfy any small  boy – Top Trumps cards, a Lego Star Wars set, a magic set, 3 packs of Angry birds trading cards, a pack of silly putty and other bits and pieces were hidden inside.  M didn’t know where to start, but slowly and surely he made his way through the box, which kept him occupied not just for the rest of the week, but for days afterwards too.  Along with the box, M also received several Get Well cards from friends and family, which brightened his day as he loves to receive post and often moans that nothing ever drops through the door at home for him.

The final surprise for the week, was a visit from Dr Mattie, a clown doctor from the Theodora Children’s Trust.  The use of Giggle Doctors in Children’s hospitals has come under debate many times, including recently in an article published by The Guardian newspaper.  Whilst it cannot be denied that some children and adults are frightened by clowns – indeed, one of M’s nurses commented that the Clown doctors gave her nightmares – they cheered M’s day. M wasn’t amused by their jokes and he wasn’t that interested in the “Spot the difference” he was given, but he waited anxiously to check that Dr Mattie would stop and chat and not miss him out of his rounds, and was fascinated by the unbreakable bubbles that clung to every surface and constantly checked to see just how long those bubbles would last.  Perhaps that old adage is true and laughter really is the best medicine.

He might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he certainly made M smile.

He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he certainly made M smile.