Saturday, March 10, 2007


"The Dance Examination," Degas, c. 1880
from the awesome Artchive
Yesterday, I met my mentee for PedPALS in the hospital for the first time. She is a teenager who had a bone marrow transplant last year for apastic anemia and she's currently spent an entire year at home due to her immunosuppressed state. It must be so hard to go through an ordeal like this when you are just beginning to learn more about yourself and as you enter puberty and adulthood. Since she was at the hospital and the social worker warned me that she was painfully shy, I bought a "paint by numbers" kit from the UCSF bookstore at the last minute so that we could paint something together. The canvases were actually much more complex than I anticipated, it was obviously for adults, but she chose to start on a canvas with a ballerina dancing in front of what looks like ancient ruins and shrubbery (ah, monty python, how you've ruined the mundane quality of that word for me). This would probably be consistent with the fact that her favorite color is pink, and she likes to drink boba too. That is very exciting to me. =)
We spent three hours together at the hospital, and I was surprised by how many hospital people came in and out within that period of time. Nurses, dieticians, child life therapists, doctors, social workers, me. It was also striking how busy the doctors were, and how genuinely nice everyone is. A nice nurse wanted my mentee to swallow some medication, even though she had already swallowed 8 pills that morning. After 15 minutes of cajoling, my mentee agreed to take the medication. I know that it must be hard for the nurse, when you know that the patient should take the medication, but you also feel sorry for the patient because you know that she's just plain sick of pills. When my mentee couldn't swallow a pill, and ended up throwing everything up onto the blanket, the nurse told her it was okay, brought her a new blanket, and said not to worry about it and that they could try again tomorrow.
It touched me because that ability to relent, I think, would qualify as grace.

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