In high school, I thought it would be a great idea to volunteer as a candy striper (that's what we called student volunteers back then). Selfishly, I also thought the experience would look good on my college applications and help introduce me to the medical profession because, at the time, I thought I wanted to become a pediatrician. My assigned area was "Child Life". It was a new area (this was the early 80s) and an attempt to address the emotional and psychological needs of these very young patients who were chronically ill and had long hospital stays. (Most recently, my son was hospitalized -- his first since NICU discharge -- at Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles and they had a play room for the kids, staffed by professionals. It reminded me of those early days.)
What strikes me from that experience is the fact that I was assigned to the Peds Neurology floor, and I interacted with children who had challenges such as hydrocephalus, seizure disorders, CP, and other traumatic brain injuries. I remember thinking how challenging it must be for the parents of these children to lead normal lives. And, here I am now, 20+ years later, with a child who has CP and a brain injury. And, I regularly come into contact with people who forget that he's a child, first and foremost and his challenges are only a small part of who he is as a person.
When I think back to that experience, I think to myself that perhaps I've come full circle. I always wanted to be in the medical profession. My life took a different turn during college, and I did not pursue medical school; but here I am now, with intimate knowledge of my son's medical needs and dealing with medical professionals from various disciplines on a regular, sometimes too frequent, basis.
I am beginning to appreciate, though, this cyclical nature of life's journey. It reminds me that even to the most difficult challenges, there will be an end and there will come a time when the challenges are less daunting. Endurance seems to be the key; endurance and peace.