Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Real Santa Claus- Possible tissue warning

Hi, all- I hope you've had happy and peaceful holidays so far.

Mine were a little different than normal, but still very nice, but this is not a post about my loot from Santa or exactly how much junk food is in the house at present.  Instead, this is a true story that was shared with me by Lady's cousin Chip who is a NICU nurse, as we spent time with their family on Christmas Day.

"I saw the real Santa Claus last night," she said to me, and I smiled patiently, thinking she was teasing.

"Oh yeah?"

"No, I really did. He's been the Santa for the Downtown Christmas Parade and for the Children's Hospital for the last 30 years."

"That's commitment," I remarked. "He must be a really nice man."

"You have no idea. He comes into the hospital every year the week before Christmas and visits every single child. Every ward, every floor, from Pediatric Oncology to my tiny sick babies. He takes a picture with each one, and comes back on Christmas eve to deliver the developed pictures to every little boy and girl, or Mom, who's still there. The kids who get out get them mailed to them."

"Was he by last night?"

"Yes- He went to every single bed space and incubator. There was a little girl there about 5 years old who we had let in because it was Christmas Eve. We told her Mom he was coming and she said the little girl was kind of afraid of Santa but she hoped he could get some nice pictures of the little girl because she wouldn't sit on the lap of the Santa at the mall. Her baby boy was really sick too, so she liked the idea of having their picture taken together by our Santa."

I was well hooked on the story by this time and I asked,

"How did she react to our Santa?"

"Well, she heard his bells coming down the hall and she ran to peek out every minute or so, and come back to tell her Mommy 'Mommy, Mommy he's coming!' When he came in, he doesn't come in like most Santas with the big "Ho Ho Ho!" He's very meek and mild because most of our kids are so sick, so she sidled up to him and he showed her a book he had made about 15 years ago that shows the plane he uses when there's no snow, and the special entrance he uses to get into the hospital."

"That's amazing," I could feel myself smiling. "Did she sit up in his lap?"

"She sure did! Her Mom was so happy she was snapping away with her own camera trying to capture it. Then Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas, but she only said that she wanted him to see her brother because he was really sick."

"Did Santa go over to the incubator?"

"Yup- He's got the poses down to a science. If the baby can be taken out he'll take them up in his arms or just cradle them. If they can't come out of the isolette, he'll peer in at them, it's so sweet."

"What a beautiful story...what did the little girl do then?"

"She was really proud of the baby, and Santa's daughter happens to be our pediatric cardiologist who makes her rounds with him. Santa carries a bear on his mailbag every year and he chooses one child in the hospital to give it to. He tried to give it to the little girl, but she wouldn't take it at first because she was afraid he might be lonely for it."

"I can't believe there are still people like that in the world," I said, feeling the need to track down some tissues rather quickly.

"Tell me about it." Chip answered. "His daughter just looked at him with such admiration- I mean everyone looks at their Dad with admiration- but this was just *awe* at what a good person he was."

"It must be a calling."

"It must be. Do you know what else he did last night?" Chip's eyes began to fill as she brought it up.

"There can't be more..."

"Yeah, there is. We have one baby  who we've had for months, and whose parents don't come to visit him. Santa asked why he was all alone. We explained that he didn't get visitors- no one would have known any better if he had just passed that baby by or had just leaned in over the incubator for a quick picture- but Santa asked for a rocking chair instead. He took that baby boy out, with his ventilator tubes, and rocked him to sleep. Everybody cried."

"I bet they did!" I could barely get the words out. "I guess you really did see the Real Santa Claus last night."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Taking a Break From Surgery Posts to Answer a Question

This post published about 4 times before I was ready. I'm sorry if its shown up in your reader multiple times

Hi, my name is Ashley and I have food and sensory issues...

Hi, Ashley

CP is a mixed bag of gifts and troubles. Sensory Integration Disorder is one of the... not so nice parts about it. I have sensory needs that directly impact my life. One of the biggest issues I have is around food- I have an almost phobic reaction when presented with and expected to eat "new" foods. (For those of you who are coming to Orlando, no worries. People can eat whatever they want around me)

The other piece to my food puzzle is anxiety. CP affected my swallowing fairly significantly when I was a baby, so people were *very* anxious while feeding me. I picked up on that, and became anxious about food in response.

I was giving some ideas on another blog as to how someone's kiddo with sensory issues might be able to eat a wider variety of healthy foods, and promised to post about my own strategies. Here they are, in no particular order.
  • Relax, relax, relax: Make mealtimes and food as easy as possible. Do not bribe or punish for refusing or trying new foods. Praise, even just for having something new on the plate, however, is good
  • Supplement: Until the kiddo is able to eat a wide variety of foods, use pediasure and or vitamins to make sure nutritional needs are being met. (This helps a lot with relaxing) You may need to have bloodtests done, especially for B12. I was severely lacking in B12, and I choose to supplement through monthly injections
  • Offer, offer offer: While giving your kiddo what they are able to eat, don't be afraid to offer what you might be eating. Do this in a no-pressure way. Your kiddo might surprise you and say yes one of these days
  • Positive Peer Pressure: Have your child watch others eat- People they look up to or respect. Lunch dates with older siblings or heroes is a great idea. Give your child things they are comfortable eating, but offer what the other person is eating too. This can also help with a really embarrassing issue that can come up: Not knowing *how* to eat a certain food because you've never eaten it before. Example- How do you eat pizza? How do you pick up a chicken wing? Sometimes "monkey see monkey do" is less scary than asking
Finally, this is my method for trying a new food. It might take several "offerings" but it works for me.

  • Get used to the smell of the food. Maybe even sniff it. 
  • Poke it with one finger (you would be surprised how hard this can be!)
  • "Play" in it with the proper utensil- How does it feel on the spoon or fork or chopstick?
  • Put it in your mouth- Have a napkin nearby. How does it feel on your tongue? If you need to spit it out, that's okay.
If all of these steps yield positive results I can usually add the food to my "I can eat it" list.

Happy Eating!