Monday, December 13, 2010

Leaving Little Rock

This past weekend was our last in Little Rock and next to last until I fly home for Christmas.  It is definitely a bittersweet feeling.  I am looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, especially after being gone for the first time on Thanksgiving, and spending New Years with my friends, but I am going to miss Children’s Hospital and the team. 

To celebrate our last weekend a few of us tried to fit in as much as possible, so Saturday we attended the basketball game vs. Ole Miss.  The game was great, but UALR lost.  However, the coach did invite us to come and watch them play in Denver on Jan. 2nd, so I think a few of us that will be back in town are going to try and go to it.  The next day, Emma, Annie, Kiera, and I got up and went to Pinnacle Mtn. where we hiked the West Summit.  It was so cold and windy, but totally worth it for the view.  It’s the closest to outdoor rock climbing I will probably ever come.  After that we went to the Clinton Library, which I loved.  I could have spent days there just reading about all the things he did during his presidency and everything he is doing now to continue and try to make the world a better place.  I definitely plan on looking into the Clinton School of Public Service and CGI, as well as several other programs he has started.

This week is a short work week for us.  We worked today, will work tomorrow, and then travel back to Denver for the next two days.  To say thank you to our team today, all of our supervisors joined us for a luncheon.  We introduced ourselves and told everyone what units we had been working in, and then our supervisors went around and thanked all of us individually for the work we have been doing.  Talk about a confidence booster.  This entire time I was worried if I was doing a good enough job, and all the supervisors had nothing but nice things to say about all of us.  My afternoon supervisors gave me two really sweet cards that I will cherish, and our main supervisor, Melissa, gave us all grab bags from Volunteer Services full of goodies.  It was a great way to start the week.  I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow and making the most of my last day.

I won’t be posting anything until I return to Denver, so if you need to know about what I am doing over the holiday, call me.  Most likely I will be spending it with those of you who are reading my blog anyways!

"And I was like, 'OK, Where is the camera?'"

This past week has been one of the most challenging weeks I have faced in my life so far; with flight delays, a funeral, incident reports, and the busy atmosphere of the hospital.

When I got news week before last that Arlyn (who I could never describe in just a few words, but most well known as my loving friend and roommate) had lost her father to a year long battle with cancer.  I was devastated.  I was upset with myself that I was not there to be with Arlyn, upset that I did not get to see him one last time, and mad that such a wonderful man and loving father was taken away from family and friends.  Mr. Baer was my dad in Spartanburg throughout college.  He treated me like I was his daughter, always greeting me with a hug and a kiss and conversations about my classes and how my family was doing.  Mr. Baer is a man that I greatly respect and love, so I knew I would do whatever I had to in order to make it to his funeral.  I let Ar and the rest of the girls know that I was coming home and started looking for flights.  I booked my flight home for Monday, the night before the funeral, however, my flight was later delayed and cancelled for unknown reasons.  I worked it out with the airline to have my ticket changed to fly me into GSP the next morning, and I was able to make it in time to have lunch with my friends, attend the visitation, and the funeral.  The ceremony was beautiful and something Mr. Baer would surely be touched by, but embarrassed to have his family tell such wonderful stories about him.  Ar spoke and played the violin for him one last time, she stood up in front of all of us bravely and stronger than I have ever seen her.  I love you Arlyn and appreciate and care for your family more than you will ever know.

I returned that same night to Little Rock, rested, and went to work the next morning.  I was exhausted.  My supervisors, as has been their character throughout, recognized how tired I was and with complete understanding, gave me some more relaxed tasks for the next two days while I caught up on my sleep.  Friday proved to be eventfully making up for the two previous days though.  In the Holiday tradition, choirs, bands, and various performers have been coming to spread some Holiday cheer in the atrium of the lobby for all the patients and families since the first day of December.  Since Volunteer Services is over this programming and has it broadcasted over CCTV (the hospital’s own channel), I was given the task of running the camcorder.  I have really enjoyed doing this for the second half of each morning.  It’s fun to interact with other volunteers and to speak with families as they bring down their patients to watch.  Unfortunately, Friday did not go as smoothly as the rest.  The second group was an elementary aged choir, who had arrived an hour early and had been playing outside for that time.  They came in, lined up, and I began recording.  Shortly after they began their second song, one of the children passed out and fell forward onto the tile floor.  The child was upset and bleeding, so I had admissions call back to the ER, and I got a wheelchair and pushed him back.  Once I had him squared away and chaperones were with him, I went back out to the choir, who was still performing, to make sure that everyone was ok and try to console the kids who had stepped off camera because they were upset.  About two minutes after I returned, another child passed out.  Luckily the child did not fall, but had a medical condition which was made aware to the STAT team, and they called a code, which means we had to sit there until all the nurses and doctors arrived and then admit the child into the ER as well.   Since that has all been said and done, I have become a running joke among my supervisors.  I have apparently written the most incident reports of any Americorps ever placed at the hospital.  What a title to hold.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Taxes in Texas

First of all, I want to thank everyone that has sent me a card, letter, and especially my parents, Aunt Sandra, and grandparents for my fabulous Thanksgiving package. It is so nice to get mail while I am here in Arkansas, especially around the holidays.

Second of all, I want to apologize that I have not talked about my assignment or the hospital more in my blog.  It’s difficult to tell much about my days without discussing patients and interactions with them, but I obviously am unable to share too much information about them and don’t feel there is too much else to share outside of those interactions. 

I can say that the hospital is gearing up for the holidays and preparing for one of the busiest times of the year there.  I helped the nurses in the Neuro unit decorate the playroom by cutting out and hanging snowflakes from the ceilings.  The room is pretty plain and doesn’t have too many activities in it, so I think it made the room much more welcoming for the patients.  I have also been helping prepare for Christmas day by pulling toys and different stocking stuffer items for the patients that will be spending the holiday at the hospital.  I can’t imagine being sick on Christmas day, much less spending it in a sterile hospital room without a Christmas tree or a big dinner at my grandparent’s house.  Volunteering there over the holidays has definitely made me appreciate being able to spend that time with my family.

This morning at the hospital I was able to record 2 music groups that came to perform for the patients.  A Spanish class and a hand bell choir came and performed various Christmas carols and some religious songs.  I couldn’t have asked for a better job.  I got to listen to the groups perform and broadcast it in the patients rooms, so that the ones on bed rest could enjoy them as well.  My supervisor says that we will be having at least 1 group perform everyday for the rest of the time I am here and all the way through the end of December.

This week my team and I did our first Independent Service for this round.  We were able to volunteer with a group called CARTI, which provides transportation and treatments for Chemo and Radiation patients.  Every year CARTI hosts the Festival of Trees as a major fundraiser for the organization.  The Festival of Trees is a big three day event that has several different things going on including a father-daughter dance, a silent auction, and a black-tie ball.  We volunteered to help with the set up of the space that these events will be taking place in, so we were able to help with clean up and small jobs and even got to decorate a few trees.  This weekend we are going to do two more ISPs involving the holiday season.  Saturday morning we are going to help with pet pictures with Santa for Care Rescue Center, and that afternoon we are going to help with crowd control for the annual Christmas Parade.

It’s crazy to think that we only have a little over a week left here, and then we will be returning to Denver, and I will be returning home.  Arkansas has been fun; I went to my first and probably last Razorback tailgate, went ice-skating for the first time, and met some unforgettable kids.  I can’t complain, this was a great first round.

Unfortunately, I am not thrilled about our second round.  We found out yesterday that we will be in Wichita Falls, Texas doing taxes.  Yup, taxes.  Not only taxes, but working with a predominately Spanish-speaking community.  We are all trying to stay positive and remember, “there is no such thing as a bad project,” but it might be a struggle for us to come to grips with this.  Once we get there, I know we will make the best of it, but for now I am going to sulk about it.  Hopefully, I will find some fun things to do there that will boost my spirits.  If anyone else feels the need, please find something fun to do for me!