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I'm thinking about becoming a volunteer...

Posted by on Dec. 15, 2008 at 11:19 PM
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but I want to get as much info as I can from all perspectives before I commit myself to doing this. I want to work with the 0-3 age group at either University of Illinois Chicago medical campus or the Chicago Children's Hospital. I would really love to hear some of your stories, what I should be prepared for, what to expect, your feelings on the volunteers- that sort of thing. I don't want to let these people down because I wasn't prepared to take on this responsibility, you know? Any information would help greatly because I have just never been in this type of situation before, but I do feel a strong calling to it. I am GREATLY blessed to have a healthy child, and wish to help families who aren't as lucky. If I offended anyone by the previous statement, I apologize. I just really want to help!

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ~Mahatma Ghandi

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by on Dec. 15, 2008 at 11:19 PM
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Eris822
by Group Owner on Dec. 20, 2008 at 9:59 AM

First thing, don't remind people that you have a healthy child. Our children aren't lepers, they are situationally sick. Between chemo treatments, many of our children are very healthy.

Second, be prepared for vomitting. Gross, I know, but an unfortunate fact for us. Various other bodily fluids may come into play as well.

Third, the smells of the hospital room. I don't know about anyone else, but my son's room had a really funny smell that I've never smelled before and have only smelled in heme/onc.

Fourth, the IV's. I don't know how much experience you have in a hospital, but at times the number of IV's my son had alarmed me, often as many as 6 pumps on one pole. There will be any number of things from saline, to chemo, to drugs, to blood running through those lines. The blood always made me nauseous. Most hospitals will cover the blood bags with a pillow case if you ask.

Ask the parents what is normal for the child. If the parents aren't there, ask the nurses. It's like any other situation, if you don't know the kid, ask questions.  Know who the child's primary nurse is by name and sight. You may be placed in a situation where there is an emergency and you are the only one with that child.

The Broviacs and ports. Don't be embarrassed if you can't handle watching a port access. There were a lot of parents who couldn't stand to go in with their child for it. Broviacs are a little better as they are basically hardwired IV lines. No needles required.

Most hospitals have a no stuffed animals or flowers policy. If you'd like to bring in a toy, make sure it's washable.

Bald is beautiful. My son was never cuter to me then when he had no hair at all. I'm really not sure why.

Children die. It's a fact in our world. You may be a helpless bystander to it on an oncology floor. You may also face respiratory and cardiac codes. The flood of doctors that respond is alarming. I know this from personal experience. My son was coded after his stem cell transplant. Get out of the way as quickly as possible and stay out of the way. You may be asked to leave entirely.

Use the services provided. There may be a chaplain or a counselor at the hospital you volunteer in. Talk to them. Nothing prepares you for seeing what these kids go through and it will be a shock.

As for how *I* personally felt about volunteers.. I only used them 3 times. I didn't want to leave my son. You may be welcome, you may be looked at as an encroacher. Don't take it personally. We're scared, exhausted, miss our other children, miss our significant others, and miss our world before cancer. Treat our babies better than you would treat your own. You chose to be there, they don't.

Lastly, if you or anyone in your family has a communicable disease, don't go to the hospital. Our children can be killed by a single cold germ. Wash your hands constantly and wear any protective clothing you are instructed to wear properly.

It's nice that you feel so compelled to help. I know a lot of this information is overwhelming, we all thought so too. Be yourself, remember the hospital's guidelines and you'll be fine, I'm sure.

First_One_8_18
by on Dec. 22, 2008 at 1:26 PM

THANK YOU for your reply! I have been looking for this exact thing when I wrote this and PIOG. I just want to be ready for it. your post was very helpful!

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ~Mahatma Ghandi

Baby Names - BabyNamey.com Name Badge Ticker

Eris822
by Group Owner on Dec. 23, 2008 at 9:53 AM

Glad I could help! They don't really prepare you for the stuff you're going to see in those rooms. I heard stories about volunteers leaving because they freaked out when they saw some of the kids they were supposed to hang out with.

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