Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's not Dumbo

Alright, we know how to help out the elephant's caretaker, but what about the one riding the elephant night and day. Wait, let me re-phrase that...what about the one tugging this 8 ton weight on his/her shoulders? The one that has to deal with the symptoms, surgeries, procedures and numerous hospital stays. How do we help them carry their burden?

I'm going to tell you something that you may find odd - do not treat them different! Have you ever reacted badly, or worse...not reacted at all to someone walking in a building with a elephant on their back? Have you ever turned your head away from a child in a wheel chair? Are you guilty of rolling your eyes when your dinner is "ruined" by someone suffering from Autism or Tourette's syndrome as they scream and shout due to some trigger that set them off? Have you ever whispered behind your hand to another person as you watch someone receive a treatment of some sort that might be shocking to you, as you have never witnessed it before? Come on, admit it. I can guarantee that everyone has done at least ONE of those things at some point in their life, whether they were 5 or 50. I know I have. :(
Don't be scared to make eye contact, smile and say hi to someone with an elephant. Yes, carrying an elephant around can form thick skin and calluses, but their hearts are still very tender. They know something is different about them, their lives. But they still need friends, love and a gentle touch. Can it be overwhelming - absolutely! Matthew had many visitors in the NICU when he was born - both family and friends. I remember the reaction of each person when they met him for the first time...95% of them cried. It is intimidating seeing a baby just shy of 4 pounds hooked up to so much stuff, but I can tell him how loved he was that so many people went out of their way to see him.
It's alright to be curious; it's ok to ask questions. Please do! If the elephant handler is too young to answer - ask the zoo keeper! Even if you do not know them! Trust me, it's OK. Yesterday, Matthew did NOT want to nap (stinking three year old transition time) so off when went to a nearby playground. There was a little boy there already when we showed up. William and the boy took off fighting invisible zombies (I think they watch too much Scooby Doo!) Since we were out in the middle of the afternoon, I had to bring Matthew's supplies for water boluses. As I was taking out the syringe and placing it in Matthew's g-tube extension, the little boy walks over. "what are you doing to him?!?" (The look of astonishment on his face was priceless by the way) ;) I told him that this was the way Matthew took in food and drink. He asked more question, and I answered them. His mom had come over as well and we talked too. When I gave Matthew a small cup with water in it to try and get him to take a sip (and he did - YAY), the little boy clapped louder than any of us on Matthew's victory. Such a small thing, with so much meaning. It meant he was pulling for my little elephant handler and celebrating his accomplishments. Naturally us moms traded phone numbers and will meet back up soon.
An elephant handler does not need a free cruise or to meet the popular NFL star of the year, they just need to be accepted. In the littlest of ways - a smile, a playdate or a hug. No need to go above the call of duty. No need to change your life around or do anything out of the ordinary. Just say Hi when you come across one. You'll see their back straighten and their shoulders lift. That elephant won't be so heavy for the remainder of the day. And that means a lot.

1 comment:

Randi Jo :) said...

thanks for sharing that perspective. great wisdom & information there! :) <3

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