Occupational therapy with sick babies?!

UPDATE: OTS Emily ran in the St. Jude 1/2 marathon quite successfully despite being in pain! Go Emily!!

Saturday morning did not quite go as planned…

I wrote this yesterday:
It normally takes me 5 minutes to get to the local pediatric hospital where I volunteer. This morning, it took 45 minutes. The St. Jude marathon was going on and they were running all around my area. I tried to go down Peabody. Nope. Went down Union. Blocked. Went to Madison. Blocked. Went to Jefferson, Washington, tried to go to Poplar…blocked. Went up a back alleyway. Got stuck. Two lanes only, and a stupid cop lets a hearse take up one of the two lanes. Seeing as how everyone in one lane is completely blocked and needs to turn around, a hearse blocking the other lane wasn't very helpful. It was sad there was a hearse there at all though, obviously. Anyway. Called the hospital security and was like um….I've been trying to get there for 30 minutes now. What do I do? They looked at a map and the only thing they could figure out to do was to take this huge circle around downtown, which I am not familiar with enough to be comfortable executing. I finally did what I should have done immediately had it occurred to me – park at UT Memphis and walk up the hill to the hospital. So I was 30 minutes late instead of 10 minutes early.

When I get there, I found out my two favorite babies of all time there, had passed away yesterday. Huge blow. 🙁
Held adorable babies for an hour and a half. I feel like my OT knowledge helps me better understand their needs, both medically and developmentally. I'm getting a lot more comfortable with the babies.

I feel like the pacifier fairy sometimes….running around just popping in lost pacifiers. I typically end up holding 1-2 babies in a 2 hour session. With gown changes, dragging up a chair, checking with a nurse, repositioning tubes, gingerly picking up the baby….it is a long process. Once I have the baby, I keep them for at least 30 minutes to an hour and a half plus, depending on how the baby is doing. So when I finally transition from one baby to the next, I pop in pacifiers for the crying babies as I go…with hand cleaning each time, of course! I am sad I'll miss the next three weeks while out of town, but starting in January I'm going to try to go at least once a week, maybe two. I'm excited. I find it very rewarding to hold these babies.

Went home…marathon still going on, so took me about 15 minutes with a few detours. Glad to see so many people support St. Jude, but it sure made my morning hectic.

I was thinking about how much I enjoy volunteering and/or the idea of being an OT with this type of population…sick babies. To me, it is kind of funny how I can cry at Gary the Snail from Spongebob almost starving to death, and yet two of my babies die and I'm like Ouch. Moving on. No tears. But I've thought about it and it's not that I don't care or have an emotional problem – it is that I know that if I want to keep helping these babies, I have no choice but to keep the heartbreak contained within a tiny area, so that I am not overwhelmed. I think the kind of person who can work with this population is just as compassionate as anyone else – we just have the ability to set emotional boundaries. If you would have asked me a few years ago if you thought I'd be an OT for sick babies, I probably would have laughed at you. And I haven't even started my Level II fieldwork's, so maybe I'll change my mind again. But for right now…working with the frail sick babies makes me most happy. Not the tiny babies though – I'm still freaked out by the newborns. They have to be a few months old before I stop being scared. I think with time I'll even get used to the teeny babies.

Saturday night was the OT Christmas Party and it rocked! A lot! More details – and carefully chosen non-PDE ruining- pictures, coming soon.

Dec 02, 2007 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none