Holding babies in a hospital, or appealing to a Philanthropist, it never ends

Whew. Been a very busy week with a lot of late nights. It’s a good thing most of my OT classmates have Verizon too or I’d be over by about 500% on my minutes. The night before two of the of the big presentations, my call phone log went something like this “Brooke Brooke Allison Brooke Brooke Camiell Anna Camiell Brooke Brooke Allison…” etc.

The class enjoyed the Cognitive Behavioral video we made that I showed a few posts down. It was easy and FUN to make. Overall our presentation was good, the game we prepared was not so great. I also had staff meeting, which is where once a month I meet with the faculty as the student representative (Co-VP of Academic Affairs along with one across the state). I pointed out that I think I’m pretty “with it”, organized and efficient, and yet it was near impossible for me to keep up with all the different groups we were in. Especially Thursday and Friday, when I was interacting with ELEVEN other people in FOUR groups for THREE different things. But we’re also in a Lab Group, a Group Group, a woodworking Group, and in about 9 other group projects with 2-3 people, and then oftentimes the groups have to interact with other groups, doubling the trauma. One thing about OT school, at least our OT school, is that you RARELY will do ANY project or big paper alone. You are in a group for pretty much everything. Now, I hate group work, but you eventually get used to it and it gets more fun, so don’t think OT school isn’t for you just based on what I said.

I was thinking today about how much fun I’ve had in the last few months. EVEN when I’m stressed and exhausted and threatening to drop out of OT school like I was this week, IT WAS STILL FUN because of the material and the people. I feel so lucky to be doing something I find so fascinating. The Visitable and Accessible Environment Project we have been working on is also over, we presented to a philanthropist a 20K budget proposal for a home adaptation using my home, as needed by a woman with ALS who had a power wheelchair and bilateral upper extremity weakness. We had to get estimates on getting a ramp put in, widening doorways, lowering the closet, raising the electrical switches and lowering the light switches, and changing the furniture around. Then we had to pretend the philanthropist rejected us and we had to present a 2K budget to the family, just getting down to the basics – not always pretty but at least functional. I learned a lot from my project as well as watching everyone else’s.

One big mistake the people who went on Day 1 made was that they did not really “appeal” to the philanthropist. They didn’t cater to his emotional drive or his generosity or explain why he should do it. It was just like “We need this, we need that”. The philanthropist, who was actually our normal professor, did a good job of being abrupt and busy, which took us all aback but was a good learning experience. It reminded us we needed to get down to the nitty-gritty. A philanthropist offering up to 20K doesn’t care about 10 dollar things, he wants to know why you want 3K for this object, 5K for this object…etc. Those of us that went on Day 2 got to go change our stuff around based on the stuff we saw happen on Day 1. It was fun. I can basically recite to you my part..”…how can you help? Home adaptation allows us to modify her home to make it safer, improve her quality of life, and provide her with more independence. Unfortunately the people who need it the most are often the ones who can least afford it. This is where your generosity comes in….” etc.. and btw, the people on day 1 DID do a good job, they just didn’t get the benefit we got of knowing how the professor/philanthropist was going to ask and how he was going to challenge our choices.

I’m really tired today – I had work until midnight and then I am now volunteering every other Saturday from 10am-noon at the local children’s hospital. Since I haven’t had much sleep anyway, that was extra hard this weekend. The first baby I tried to hold was receptive when I was standing over him, but as soon as I picked him up he was unhappy, so I put him back in and felt kind of incompetent. The next baby I went to was adorable. She had been in that particular ward her entire life. She smiled at me a lot and I interacted with her a long time. I eventually found her nurse to make sure I could hold her and then literally held her for about an hour and a half. I just stroked her feet and arms, held her close to my body, looked her in the eyes, and sang to her. A lot of the babies in those wards who have been there long enough, especially those without parents, tend to develop some bad habits. Like they may develop sensory issues and not be able to handle a lot of touch, and/or may only be able to calm down if left alone. This one seemed fine and just needed the loving. At one point, staring into her eyes, I got tears in my own. It just seemed heartbreaking to me at that moment, thinking of all she has gone through and what her future might be. She seemed perfectly content to be held by a stranger, just soaking in love. She eventually fell asleep in my arms and I continued to hold her, as I figured it was probably a rare luxury for a baby to get to sleep in someone’s arms when they are in a hospital without a parent. Unfortunately at that point I needed to go, but I hated to think I might wake her up by accident. I gingerly put her back in bed, and she started to open her eyes. I quickly put my arms in and held her arms and legs against her body, and it worked for a few minutes, but when I then moved again, she woke up for good. I felt bad, but by now I was already like 20 minutes late, so I had to go. I am really glad I got the experience of being at that hospital for my Level 1 rotation, because I had a much better idea of what to do with these babies for calming. The babies are still intimidating with all their tubes and issues, but it gets easier with time I think. Plus weekends are calmer and that helps a lot to volunteer during those times. Plus I am not as scared of the monitors as some volunteers would be – like the baby’s respiration monitor would drop to zero and I think the average person would panic, but since I had been there before watching an OT I knew that I should monitor her behavior, and since her heart rate and oxygen were fine and she was breathing the same as she had been, it was probably just that one of her connections to the monitor had gotten lose. That was probably one of the most important things the OT taught me about being in there – yes, watch the monitors and listen to them, but when the baby seems fine and it says their oxygen is at a life-threatening level all of a sudden, it’s most likely due to a connection issue – watch the baby, watch the monitor, and look for correlations.

This is long and has no real flow, but I had a lot of random things to get off my chest. I’m about to head out but I hope to be back early because I am REALLY tired and I desperately need to start working on some tests, one needing to be submitted Monday and one in Wednesday in class. Tomorrow I will work a lot on them, but I’m supposed to meet several different people and run to several different stores, so as always, I’m low on time!

I always like to promise a more coherent blog post will come soon, but who are we kidding. More random blog posts to come.

Aug 11, 2007 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

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