In Their Shoes

We had three kids, when my husband joined the staff at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. As a new graduate, the idea of being part of such a high-calibre team was daunting. But—with the guidance and support of amazing mentors and staff—he quickly rose to occasion.

There are many challenges when it comes to caring for and about children and families with specialized needs. And looking back, it’s clear he had two choices about how to approach the time he spent there.

He could provide clinical care to his patients, while doing his best not to get emotionally involved. Or he could let all the ups and downs of caring for these amazing families, become part of who he is and how he practises.

Luckily, he chose the latter.  And judging from the letters and cards and heartfelt gratitude he has received over the years, our family is not the only one to benefit from his approach.

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We are parents to four kids now, and like many families, we’ve experienced our share of bumps and bruises. We’ve sat through emergency room waits and we’ve dealt with everything from spider bites to broken limbs.

Some of those experiences have brought us to SickKids. When our son broke his leg as a toddler and needed a brace to support his leg after the cast came off—to give him extra support while he learned to walk and run again—we went through the orthotics department at SickKids. They made him a racecar themed brace that he loved to wear.

Not only did they give him the physical support he needed to heal, they gave me the emotional support I needed to let him go back to being a kid. And I did need it. Watching him go through that experience was hard on me and it definitely impacted the way I parented. 

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{Our youngest daughter at SickKids’ Orthopaedic Clinic}

When our youngest daughter, was born with a “clicky hip” several years later, we found ourselves at SickKids again. Whether it was the memories of the experience I had with our son, or just that I felt overwhelmed, I turned to my husband one night and said, ”Other families are so lucky not to have to go through this….”

He went quiet for a moment and then said something I’ll never forget.

“I know you’re upset and worried. But I don’t want to hear you say that again. Look around you when you’re there, and never forget how lucky you are.”

He was right. When we returned for our next follow-up appointment, I struck up a conversation with a family in the waiting room. And I was deeply moved by the challenges they had overcome and the resolve they had for the ones that still waited ahead.

The clinic we were visiting is separate from the heart of the hospital and it was very easy to come in and leave again without crossing paths with a lot of the other families that spend time in the hospital.

After my daughter’s last appointment (when she had been given an all-clear), I pushed her stroller out to the lobby and we watched the heart of the hospital as it beat around us.

My eyes filled with tears and it struck me how many times I had seen my husband’s eyes fill with tears at the end of one of his days there. And it was never because he felt saddened at another family’s “luck”, but always because he felt honoured to be sharing their child’s journey with them.

My husband has been changed as a parent, because of his time at SickKids, and I can see it in the way he raises our kids. And because of him, I’ve been changed, too.

I want our children to follow their dad’s lead, like I have. I want them to know how lucky we are to have access to a hospital so dedicated to children and their families.

Runners

This September 27th, we plan to lace up our shoes and joining thousands of other walkers for the The Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk to benefit SickKids. We will walk beside other families, through the streets of Toronto, united in a common goal to support SickKids—and its incredible doctors, nurses, staff and patients—and help improve children’s health.

Your family can enjoy a full day of adventure, and challenge themselves to a 5, 10, 15 or 20km walk with fun-filled stops at campsites along the route. Each campsite has a theme and games and activities to keep the walk challenging and fun.

If teaching your children the value of philanthropy and gratitude is important to you, please consider this worthwhile event. We would love to see you there.

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This post was brought to you by The SickKids Foundation, however the story and images are my own. If you would like more information on The Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk to benefit Sick Kids, please visit: http://www.walkforSickKids.ca

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Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who blogs from elanmorgan.com and works from elan.works, spreads gratitude through the graceinsmallthings.com social network, and speaks all over. They have been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health and Woman's Day magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.