Our
Journey:
Avalon's Army of Angels
October 21, 2009
Wednesday, Day 7
We started today with some wonderful visitors!  Two of my hospital buddies stopped by, Lori
and Bryan.  It happens that they both came at the same time, but funny enough, don't know
each other.  I know Lori from the committee I was on that was desperately trying to start a
parent-to-parent mentoring program for the hospital.  We have hit a bit of a brick wall, but all of
us agree, we're not ready to give up.  Bryan, is our much-adored Bryan from the Children's
Foundation.  Bryan is the director of "Children's Champions", the part of the Foundation that
uses hospital families as ambassadors.  

I'm sure several of you would question why we are still willing to be ambassadors. The answer
is simple, the children.  This place, this hospital, these people....are truly amazing.  Do I abhor
a few of them?  Absolutely.  There is no absolution, EVER, for Voldemort, or the administrators
who continue to protect him.  However, the other 99% of the people who work in this building
are Amazing.  Besides, when we're helping to raise money, we're helping people just like us.  
The kids didn't harm Avalon, Voldemort did.  It's as simple as that.

Bryan and Lori are two of the people that always make my day.  They both have warm smiles
and generous hearts.  I have laughed often with both of them, and appreciate their
friendships.  Bryan's little boy, Carter, is terribly sweet on Ambrosia!  At an event this Summer,
we finally had the pleasure of meeting Carter.  He could have cared less about the rest of us,
he only had eyes for 'Brosia...  Ahh~young love....

So, THANK YOU, Lori and Bryan!  Avalon and I really appreciate the morning pick-me-up!  
((HUGS))

Today was another student-nurse day, and I do believe we got the very cream of the crop!  
This particular unit gets nursing students from probably 1/2 a dozen schools.  I would guess
it's the most busy "teaching" floor, and with good reason.  Nursing students are limited in what
they can do.  Neuro kids are a good middle ground.  They need to be checked, often need
help with basic life functions, but they don't have chemo running, or need blood products, or
run vents.  We are a good middle ground for someone learning.  The monitors and IVs are
there, but dangerous stuff isn't.  

Since we came in last Thursday, I think we've had 7 separate students, not to mention two
amazing instructors.  (there have been other instructors, but they didn't stop in to chat)  We've
had students in teams of two, students by themselves, students for whom Avalon was their
very first clinical case, and even a student who used Avalon as the subject of a case study.  All
in all, it's been fun.  But none of them have even come close to today's student, the masterful
Corey.

As a man, Corey is already a rarity among student nurses.  But Corey had something that
made him even more unique, he had that inexplicable "X" quality that screamed he needs to
work with children.  Any medical mom will tell you, there are competent nurses, there are 'good'
nurses, and then there are the EXCEPTIONAL nurses...the ones who have helped you survive
to fight another day.  We have been blessed with many EXCEPTIONAL  nurses in our five
years, and I will never be able to thank them all enough.  Today, I met an
exceptional-in-training.  I was utterly impressed.  

I didn't manage to wheedle out of Corey how he came to nursing.  But I did find out he's close
to my age, and has two daughters of his own, one of which is close to Avalon's age.  He was
so wonderful with Avalon, not forced, not by the script, just natural and caring.  I have never
done this before, but I truly BEGGED him to apply at Children's.  Seriously, with the new
corporate persona our hospital has adopted, I am loathe to recommend in to anyone.  
Nationwide Children's is all about preaching family-centered-care, but they act on it about 85%
less than they did when we started 5 years ago.  It's a hostile work place at the moment, so I
hate to ask anyone to come there, but in Corey's case...I couldn't help it.  Man or woman,
Corey had that elusive "X" factor that means his heart is with kids.  But...being a man makes
him so very special.  Patient boys are in such need of men to care for them.  They are in
scary, sad situations, and having a man to help them with private matters, or even to bond with
them when they are scared...oh, it can mean so much.  

As for us today, Corey helped do Avalon's first pre-surgery hair wash.  You see, I had
accidentally discovered last night that Avalon's scalp is covered in glitter!  (not a great idea
when a surgeon is about to hack into it)  I later found out that Ambrosia had put the glitter in
Avalon's hair on Wednesday, when she was laying on the couch feeling awful.  Ambrosia was
trying to cheer Avalon up, and she thought magic fairy dust would help.  Lovely idea, horrifying
result of glitter that had sunk in and adhered to the scalp.  And, obviously, the first mistaken
bed hair wash had not gotten all of it out.  

So, Corey and I decided to tackle the hair and scalp again.  He wrangled in another student,
and they let me teach them what I had learned about washing hair while laying down.  They
found all the supplies we needed, and never once grumped or scowled.  In fact, we all had a
lot of fun, and Avalon loved her second "spa day".  This time, it was a tad easier, because
Avalon could sit up a bit to help us with towel placement, drying off, and hair brushing.  As it
turns out, with a little girl of his own, Corey was a master with the hair brush.  Deft fingers and
a quiet friendliness, and he got much further with Avalon than dummy-old-mom would have.  
Go Corey!

This was also a big fun day because Child Life came back and followed through on a promise.  
Anyone who has been a regular follower of Avalon's knows how I feel about Child Life at our
hospital.  It would not be untruthful to say we have had AWFUL experiences with them.  By and
large, they have either utterly ignored Avalon, or worse...have made promises they did not
follow through with.  Taaa daaa!!  Today, a CL worker did the impossible...she redeemed her
profession for me!  

The first time CL came in, she was really excited to see all of Avalon's Halloween decorations.  
She really like Avalon's holographic spider balloon that Pappo had given her.  She offered
then to try to make a web for the spider.  Honestly, I thought,
right, here we go...another empty
promise.
 I'm pleased-as-punch to report that today she followed through!  Avalon is now the
proud owner of a fantastic spider web.  We had lots of giggles during its construction, and
have enjoyed it immensely since it was born.  Child life, you get an A+ for today!

Avalon also had some special time with Miss Melody today.  Melody is a T3 nurse that we just
adore.  She's quiet, warm, and perfectly wonderful.  There was an offer of a free lunch for
in-house parents down in the Family Resource Center.  Shannon came to tell me about it (Go
nurse Shannon!) but I couldn't figure out how to escape to go partake of it.  After the fiasco of
the book fair, Avalon wasn't about to let me go off floor.  Since the floor was short of PCAs, I
asked if they could track down a volunteer to sit with Avalon for a few minutes.  NO...no
volunteers available.  Melody overheard me asking the unit clerk for the volunteer, and told me
that if I could wait a minute or two, she could sit with Avalon.  Woot for Melody!

When I came back to the room, I found the scene I photographed below.  Not only did Melody
stay with Avalon, she read to her from Avalon's new princess book, and played along on the
book's "Ipod" that Avalon is so proud of.  Now, Aunt Nettie had done that with great fanfare on
a previous visit...but that seems like 'Aunty' behavior to me, not typical 'nursey' fare.  Yet there
Melody was, being sweet, engaging, and a perfect friend to Avalon.  Is it any wonder I'm
constantly singing the praises of this floor?  The people here are amazing (OK, MOST of them
are).  I'm endlessly surprised by the amount of love they are willing to share with our kids.  
Thank you Miss Melody!  You are divine!
Nurse Melody...she's as sweet as her smile!
Corey and 'Spa Day' number 2!
Building the spider web...Avalon loved it!
You'd think after all those pictures I'd be done, wouldn't you?  Nope!  I've got lots more to say
(and show)  Like I said, today was another student nurse day.  Corey was only here until 12, I
actually rode down in the elevator with him when I popped down for my free lunch.  We had
more nurses to come.

Before the new students arrived, we had a surprise visit from Doug and Lori.  Doug and Lori
have been so busy lately, we actually haven't talked to them in ages.  It was nice to get caught
up a bit, even if they did report proof positive news of what we already knew, we are 100%
written off by the Blue Jackets.  Seriously, I don't get it!  We worked our tails off for two
years...and now they don't even send us the emails with the monthly newsletters.  So much for
inviting one of the top two for dinner.  You'd think I poisoned her or the kids' hugs were toxic.  
But we don't even get news anymore, much less invitations to volunteer.  Yep, BIG hurt feelings
here...

Anyway, my bitterness/hurt about the Blue Jackets has nothing to do with Doug and Lori - I
simply mention it because it's kind of like salt in a huge, festering wound.  As for the two of
them, they spoiled Avalon rotten, as usual.  They brought 2 types of cookies to tempt her
tummy, and a new Webkin to tickle her fancy.  "Poochie" is a Chihuahua, and a darn cute one,
at that.  Avalon was thrilled.  I hope we were able to give back a little to them.  Lori's heart is
very heavy right now, and it's hard to know a friend is hurting.  Lori, I hope our hugs and
smooches helped you as much as yours helped us!  We love you two!

Later on, Aunt Nettie came for her daily visit.  I don't know that "visit" does it justice.  Aunt Nettie
is mom's daily dose of humor and sanity, as well as my 'dealer' in Diet Coke and junk food.  
Aunt Nettie plays with Avalon while I sneak a potty break, run to the cafeteria, or track down a
nurse for something we need.  She also does laundry and makes delivery runs between us and
home.  All around, she's damn helpful!  She's also stinkin' funny...and prone to making nurses
and I laugh so hard we require that door-shutting thing.  

Tonight, Aunt Nettie delivered clean laundry and oodles of giggles.  As we were chatting,
Avalon's evening nurse, Shawna, came in.  Nett and I amused her so much, she went to get
Shannon to "show" her the two of us...and how much we are alike.  That's hysterical!  Nett was
also with us when we got our two evening students, both of whom looked terrified.  Annette
deals with lots of student followers/interns in her job, so she knew 'the look'.  It didn't take long
to pry out of the girls that this was their first clinical.  They were scared witless.  Not sure what
effect we had on them.  A seasoned medical mom and an irreverent Aunt Nettie...  Let's just
say I hope we didn't damage them too much.  :-)

I've got more pics below, but  would you believe I keep forgetting to photograph Aunt Nettie?  
She's made umpteen trips here...and yet she's apparently invisible.  Sorry, Nett!  I swear to
photo-document you next time!  oops...
I hope we didn't scar these girls, they were adorable!
Long day, she's done in.  The dog on the upper left is "Sally".  I would have preferred to name her
'Hot dog', but I was over-ruled.  I got Sally at the hospital book sale.  She had a pack in her tummy
that you can take out and microwave or freeze.  Then she helps keep a kiddo warm or cool, depending
on what you need.  'Hot Sally' helps with Avalon's aching arms from the IV disasters.  

The doll in the mask is Mia, Avalon's MUCH LOVED (and only!) American girl doll.  I was in terrible
trouble when I went home on Sunday, and forgot to bring her back.  Aunt Nettie gets a Gold Star for
showing up with her the next day.  The mask Mia is wearing is courtesy of Dr. Kosnik.  He was on the
floor giving someone a post op report and had to walk past our room.  Next thing you know, he popped
in and handed Avalon a mask.  He didn't say much, he just grinned at her.  The mask is now revered,
and was placed in a position of great import...on Mia.  So funny what speaks to little kids.

The dog you see next to Avalon is "Poochie" the new Webkin.  She's quite smitten with him.