19 May This is Why I Do What I Do
Yesterday it all came back to me.
Yesterday for the first time in a very very long time, I walked down the halls of the 6A unit at the Hospital for Sick Children in downtown Toronto.
That used to be my “hangout” spot.
6A is the GI [gastrointestinal] unit of the hospital where they stick all the kids with Crohn’s or Colitis or things similar to those. I was a regular there for 2 years between the ages of 11-13. I remember when I had to get a room up there, it took days [it was a popular place]. Eventually I became a regular and had my own VIP room waiting for me every time. Sweet, eh?
I went back yesterday because I was asked for help by my old GI doctor. She had emailed me about a 12 year old girl who was in desperate need for surgery but both her and her mother were opposed to getting an ostomy. They needed me to come in and be, in essence, real life “proof” of what surgery can do.
When I first got onto 6A, before seeing the girl, I was met at the front desk by two receptionists who had been working there while I was a patient. The three of us talked and reminisced about how my mom used to come from her job at a different hospital nearby to visit me on her lunch hour and how my dad would wander the halls and the receptionists would tease him at any chance they had. I didn’t like telling them he had passed away…
Anyways, so after we had our little catchup session I was taken down the hall [not the hall I had always been in, which I oddly remembered] to see this girl. But as I’m about to walk into this girl’s room, a mother comes running down the hall and says, “Are you Jessica, the ostomy model? Miss Canada told us all about you, can we talk after?” I was taken completely off guard, but of course I agreed to see her after. [It turns out, one of my friends who was recently crowned Miss Canada Galaxy, Natalie, had met this woman and her young daughter on the train. They had begun discussing how the young girl had an ostomy and Natalie showed them my campaign. I just so happened to be in the hospital when they were there! What a coincidence!]
Anywayssss, I got ready to walk into the room but before I could even step foot into it, this little, extremely emaciated and pale and small and sick 12 year old girl came to her door and stared at me in my super way too tight skinny jeans and said “I can’t see it. Where is it?” I told her to guess where my ostomy was. She guessed wrong.
I walked in with my old Dr. and stood in front of her and her mom and began to just talk. I explained my medical past and all the things I had gone through and hoped that this would help the girl and her mother relate. It seemed to work. My Dr. then quietly excused herself and I was left to continue talking to the two. They both had tons of questions and wanted to know everything they could. I wasn’t surprised they had so many questions as they kept saying “well on the internet we saw…”
Never look on the internet for stuff like this.
So an hour and half later both the mom and the girl seem to be out of questions. I’m just about done and I start to talk about ostomy camp and how I was volunteering there this summer and the girl says, “Ostomy camp?! I want to go to ostomy camp!”
I had clearly won her over.
I think I helped saved her life.