When Josh was down at Children's for his long, long stay I found myself trapped in a small room with Josh waiting for lab results, Phil and Joey to come, and time to pass so we could go back home. I had asked at one point for mats to be put on the floor along with some sheets because I wanted to be able to get on the floor and play with my 8 month old like any 8 month old would want. Children's had play groups, but it was only an hour long in the morning, not enough activity for me, Josh, or Joey when I had both of them all day long while Phil was either working in the lounge, the Ronald McDonald House, or in the beginning back at home which at the time seemed so very far away.
One of the most fun things Josh and I happened upon one day was Hospital BINGO. Someone came up to our room and asked if we wanted to play. Thinking there was no way an 8 month old would play BINGO, the man gave me a playing card and told me to help him out. For the kids that could go to the 5th floor, they could go, or for those that needed to stay in their rooms, they could play via the television and call in when they had BINGO. Josh and I had so much fun playing, he really did watch the tv, and watched me call the second day when he actually won! The first day he did not win after several attempts, but we got a consolation prize of a little goldfish beany baby. When he did win, we got to shop from our room on the phone and tell the people what prize we wanted as they displayed them all out and told us about each one. Josh got a Build-A-Bear which was later delivered up to his room. It was something small that the hospital did, but allowed me (and I feel him as well) to feel normal, happy, and upbeat.
Phil and I are on the Family Advisory Council at CDH, as we have mentioned before, and at one meeting we were discussing some of the needs of parents and children who have extended hospital stays. Phil brought up Hospital BINGO and told everyone how exciting it was not just for the child, but the parent as well. Several others agreed and could relate to the need of something fun, interactive, and exciting.
Last month when I was at the expo for the Chicago marathon, I first came across Children's Memorial Hospital looking for people to run for their charity. A man in front of me said, "Oh my son was stayed there for a few days" and the lady behind the table handed him a shirt for him to bring home to his son. I couldn't help but think what are they going to give me to take to my son? After walking around to a few more booths seeing every charity under the sun looking for people to run for them I came across a new charity group: Open Heart Magic. Open Heart Magic is a nonprofit, volunteer group of magicians that are trained to deal with the hospital setting and children with many different conditions. They do magic for the patient, the siblings, the parents, and in turn anyone in the room. They immediately had my attention, with Hospital BINGO in the back of my head. They showed me some tricks that they would do at the bedside for a child, and told me about their program. They were so engaging, interactive, fun, and a lot of what I felt CDH could use. I quickly met the president of the group and his wife and within hours of getting home had contacted the hospital staff from the Family Advisory Council to have him come out and present to the council to determine if they would be a good fit for the hospital. Well, last night he came to our meeting and presented and I felt most if not all were impressed with the magic and the positive feelings the magicians can bring out. I am very hopeful that Open Heart Magic comes to our hospital. In the meantime, I encourage you to look at their website and learn a little more about this wonderful organization. For a child that may be in the hospital for even as little as a day or two, this organization can do wonders to lift spirits. I know Josh and I would have appreciated a little magic while we snuggled up together, and if Joey were there he would have been entertained as well.