Worth it: 002

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Earlier this week we had a little 5-year-old, let’s call her Emily, visit the ER for constipation. After 2 unsuccessful enemas, the doctors and nurses decided it would be best to just have her drink a medicine that would help do the job of the enema. Little Emily would drink a sip, cry about how bad it tasted, and then spend the time between sips bargaining with her mom for alternatives to avoid taking another sip. During this chaos, one of the ed techs called for me. I went in and introduced myself. Emily was shy and serious upon meeting me, but as soon as I brought out my bubble wand she was all smiles! Leaping up to catch the bubbles, giggling, and smiling from ear to ear. Once all the bubbles popped, she looked at me to blow more – I told her that in order for me to blow more, she needed to take a sip. Immediately she grabbed the cup from mom’s hand, took a sip, and I blew more bubbles. When the bubbles popped and the giggles stopped, she said she didn’t want anymore sips. I encouraged her to take another this and then I would blow a BIG BIG bubble. She smiled again and took another sip. I then blew a big big bubble. This went on for a few minutes while she drank the rest of her medicine. In the end, I congratulated her for being brave and drinking her medicine even though it didn’t taste good and since she was so brave, I gave her her own bubble wand to take home with her. The parent’s were relieved that their visit to the ER didn’t end with their little Emily crying all the way home.

Worth it: 001

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  Often times when people learn about what I do I get sympathetic responses and gasps with comments like “that is so sad”, “I could never do that”, “how are you able to emotionally handle such a sad job”. And while yes, sometimes situations can be VERY sad, there are always more good days that bad days! Just to prove that, I’ve decided to share some stories of the good days that make it all worth it! 

IMG_6241             Earlier this week, I was helping a 7 year old girl with an IV start (I work in the ER) which she’s had many times before so she immediately started crying and screaming when the doctor told her she was going to need one. I heard the commotion from the nurses station so I quickly grabbed my “bag of tricks” and went right into her room. We talked for a little bit while the nurse was setting up; about school, things she likes to do for fun, favorite foods, her family, and Halloween plans. Once I noticed that she had become more comfortable, I brought up the IV. We came up with a plan all based on her choices of how she would like things to happen…

  • She and I would play on the iPad while they did it
  • The iPad would block the view because she did not want to see
  • The nurse would first look on her left arm rather than her right arm
  • The nurse would count to three and poke AFTER three
  • She would follow the 1 rule which is: do not move your arm.


          The time came for the IV start and she did AMAZING! She did so great that mom started crying saying that in 7 years, this was the first time that she hasn’t had to be held down while she kicked and screamed. Not only was everyone in the room extremely proud of her, she was SO proud of herself! You could see it in her face how HAPPY she was that she didn’t need to have help to hold still. The mother thanked me for everything I had done but really, it was all her daughter! By giving her choices when she felt there weren’t any, she regained control over the situation and chose what she felt would be best for her. 

Papoose Prep

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While not very Child Life friendly, it is sometimes necessary to use a papoose with younger patients in the ER for procedures such as facial lacerations. Up until now, when prepping these little ones for their procedure I’ve told them about being wrapped up like a cocoon but it usually didn’t matter what I told them as soon as the papoose was brought into the room. So, I decided to make a doll-sized papoose so that I can show these little ones about their upcoming cocoon and they can practice putting a doll in & out of it and using the velcro straps! Materials UsedHaving made the papoose out of a mailer and duct tape, it’s easy to wipe down in between patients. The Velcro is also an awesome detail to show them since the real Papoose has tons of it. The Papoose in our ER is blue so to make it as realistic as possible, I used blue duct tape. The metallic pink is from the mailer I used (its actually an ipsy mailer!) This was a nice touch because being pink & blue it can be used with boys and girls without getting annoyed looks from pre-schoolers for having brought the “wrong” color.

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Papoose’s are never fun but are sometimes necessary to keep both the patient and the physician safe when doing delicate work with sharp tools. Hopefully my papoose prep can help ease the fear and anxiety little ones feel when needing to get into their own little cocoon. One more thing, before I’m shunned for having a Barbie that cannot be easily cleaned in the papoose, let me assure that she was just modeling the papoose for Adventuresinchildlife!  I still need to find an appropriate toy to use with patients. 

So… about grad school…

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Now that I’m well into my first semester of grad school I thought I’d take the time to let you all know how it’s going. Being that this is my first time going to school while working full time, I thought it’d be a good idea to only take one class my first semester. This way I would be able to learn how to properly balance my time between work and school as well as see how crazy the workload really is for grad school.

Work Load: The class I am currently taking is an introductory course to developmental disabilities & is, as the rest of my courses will be, 100% online. We have chapters we need to read each week which range from 20-60 pages depending on the context. At the end of the week, we are to post to a discussion board online and reply to at least one classmate’s post. We also have a few projects/papers to turn in throughout the semester. The writing hasn’t been so bad to be honest, but what has been challenging is getting in the habit of using APA format! We also have 4 times during the semester where we meet on our “online classroom” where the professor gives a small lecture and we’re able to ask questions. No exams, except the final which will also be online.

Time Management: Since I work in the ER, my hours are 3pm-11pm, 5 days a week & every other weekend. So, my mornings and days off are when I’m able to do school work. I’ve found that I am able to manage my time accordingly and will definitely be ready to take two courses next semester. I do miss the “in class” aspect of school but, this “all online” version is so much more convenient and I feel it really is why I’m able to balance work and school so easily.

Course Content: I am LOVING learning about developmental disabilities and cannot wait to start taking my “concentration courses” about Child Life!

Tea Time with Activated Charcoal

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Earlier this week I had a 2-year-old girl, let’s call her Lily, come into the ER because she had gotten into her grandmothers blood pressure medication. I was able to successfully distract her during her IV, being hooked up to a monitor, etc. After all of this, however, came the hard part… getting her to drink all of the activated charcoal on her own to avoid an NG tube.

Luckily, Lily was thirsty from the moment she arrived to the ER so when she got a bottle with a “black milkshake” in her hands, she quickly latched on and chugged a good amount! After a few gulps, her mouth and chin were covered with black goop and a small drop splattered onto her hand. She stopped drinking and asked me to clean her hand for her (such a girly girl)! However, this was the end of her willingly drinking the “black milkshake” and there was still about a quarter left.

The nurse told mom that Lily needed to drink the entire amount given because this was being given as an exact dosage. At this point mom started to get a little nervous begging Lily to drink it, bribing her with toys, trips to Disney world, ice cream, you name it. But Lily was not budging – she would quickly turn her head the other way and scrunch her forehead.

This is when my “Child Life Lightbulb” turned on! I rushed out of the room and grabbed my tea set (shout out to my Child Life Assistants for always keeping my toys clean for situations like these!) I set up the tea set for Lily, mom, the nurse, and I to have some fun. We pretended to pour tea into our cups, cheers, put “air sugar cubes” in our tea, sing, etc. Lily still wasn’t too happy to be drinking out of her bottle since everyone else had tea cups so, the nurse poured Lily’s drink into a medicine cup which she seemed to be satisfied with. And just like that, Lily drank the last bit of her black milkshake! Thanks to such a pro-child life nurse & a calm & supportive mother, we were all able to work together to help little Lily drink her activated charcoal, avoiding another procedure. This is definitely a Child Life win in my book!

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Image Source: http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Laugh-Learn-Say-Please/dp/B0083IXKXK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1412110554&sr=8-3&keywords=tea+set+toy

Favorite find of the month

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I thought I’d post my favorite find of the month a couple of days early this time around - before it’s no longer available! A few months back you might remember my post about prepping little ones for x-rays. I’ve been using my “cooper gets an x-ray” book along with a little camera to teach those concrete thinkers about picture taking & the mysteries that lie in that dark, “scary”, radiology department.

Well, this month I found an awesome little “camera” – LED flash & all – at Bath & Bodyworks. As child life specialists, were always carrying a million things in our pockets (I know I am) so the thing I loved most about this little camera is that it’s also a case for your hand sanitizer and a keychain! It’s a very fancy upgrade from my tiny spongebob camera and I can use it for many different things!

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Bath & Bodyworks – camera pocketpac case