Since I was as young as I can remember, Good Friday for me has always been synonymous with the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.
And how could it not? Being a Melbournite, the appeal for donations to the children’s hospital is broadcast on Channel 7 all day – from 9am to approximately 12 midnight. Being the public holiday that it is, there has been many an occasion where I’ve turned the telly on and ended up watching a couple hours of the fundraiser.
My heart was always sad for the stories I saw broadcast. I would usually shed a tear for the kids, and even though the stories had generally good outcomes, it was so devastating to see a 1 month-old baby hooked up to tubes in a little hospital bed. Driving around on the public holiday, if there were volunteers holding tins for the cause, Hubbie and I would pop some coins in. I always thought it was worthy – a state-wide appeal to raise funds for a children’s hospital, in order to give kids going through whatever they were, the best chance at survival through the best equipment, technology, doctors, nurses, and of course, prettying things up in there so that they could put a smile on a sick kid’s face, and make their time there much more manageable.
When I had baby girl, 8 and a half weeks in, we were told she had hip dysplasia. It was easily treated, but it meant that she would have to wear an external brace for a good few months, in order to correct the bone that wasn’t sitting correctly into its hip socket.
I was devastated. Still sleep-deprived and learning all I was about motherhood, this news threw me. I was just so, so sad, and upset. Thinking of how she would handle the brace, how she would function, and how it would hold her back in her development of crawling and walking… I was beyond shattered.
The first night with the brace, was mildly put, hell. Yes, it was hard. But, within 24 hours she had grown accustomed to it. She wore the brace 24 hours a day except for bath time, for a couple of months… then for the next couple of months, she wore it only at night. All up she wore it for just under 5 months, and her follow-ups since being off the brace have been positive, with only one more check-up required in about 2 years time.
Our baby girl, the trooper. She was amazing in my womb when we were going through so much sadness at that time in our lives, and now outside, she was ripping it up again. You go girl.
I was relieved. I was ecstatic. She was walking by 16 months, which I thought pretty awesome considering she was held back by her brace for 5.
But most of all, I was grateful.
I was grateful, to the various doctors and nurses who hadn’t given up, and kept referring me to more check-ups when they weren’t sure if she did or didn’t have the hip dysplasia. If it had gone untreated, it could have caused problems when she started walking, which would have then resulted in surgery.
I was grateful to the specialists at the Royal Children’s Hospital for tending to my baby girl, assisting us in our worries, our fears, and for basically, making her hips normal.
But most of all… I was grateful that she only had that. I was so grateful, that she had something so easily treated, something that didn’t need invasive surgery, or serious ongoing medical treatment. Because all those times we were in the waiting room awaiting our check-ups, I saw kids with broken arms, legs, all manner of things… I saw young children being wheeled around in the hospital, tubes coming from their arms, their nose, smiling sweetly at baby girl and I as we stepped out of the elevator… and it just put everything into perspective.
I just… I just can’t. There are so many sick children out there, fighting serious, life-threatening diseases… it’s just not fair.
I feel bad to say it, but I really am grateful, hip dysplasia is all it was.
So now, I donate to the Good Friday appeal, every Good Friday. It’s my way of saying thanks to the hospital, to those that make it work so well, to those who help save children’s lives, and to help support the amazing work that the Royal Children’s hospital provides.
Children should not be sick like this. But I am so grateful that this appeal exists for them.
The children are our future. Give so they may grow.