During my fourth year of University, I was required to do a practicum placement. I dreamed big and took myself all the way to Melbourne, Australia. My placement was nine weeks with the Play Therapy department at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. During my fourth through seventh weeks I was placed on the neurology ward and it was there that I met Z. Z was a child who was affected by epilepsy. He had been in hospital with his dad for a very long time in an attempt to map his seizures and eventually operate to hopefully cure him of them.
I spent 4 mornings and 4 afternoons a week with Z. He enjoyed making me put together challenging Lego sets according to the design on the box and smashing figures I had created in playdough… a typical sweet little boy. He enjoyed the fact that I have horrible depth perception (due to having only one eye- he didn’t know that part), because I could not catch anything to save my life! He nicknamed me “Butterfingers” and I can still hear his little voice and Aussie accent saying it.I enjoyed my time with him and I enjoyed being able to give Z’s dad, D, a much needed break!
Z’s seizures were successfully mapped and brain surgery followed. Surgery was eventually a success and Z remains cured. The day he went in for surgery I was no longer on the neurology ward, I had been moved to general surgery for my remaining 3 weeks. I thought about him all day long. News travels fast in a hospital, as we all know from shows like Gray’s Anatomy! When Z woke up from surgery, he asked for me and the network of nurses found me and once I was finished my shift in general surgery I went to his bedside. There he was with his family around him, smug as a bug asking me to kindly get him the playdough and have a play. I kid you not! We all laughed and I somehow changed the subject. He was a little drowsy, but way more alert than I expected a child who had just had brain surgery to be!!
I finally had the opportunity to meet Z’s mom, M, who unfortunately had not been able to remain in hospital with Z for his entire stay like his dad had. Z was one of those rare cases. Z’s mom thanked me for playing with her little guy and said that she had heard all about me from Z. Play Therapists must seem like the ultimate fun person to children, you are all about play, their favourite thing, and something so important in hospital, it makes sense that I would rank high in his books; I never had to say no!
I eventually finished my practicum and said good-bye to Z and his family. We exchanged contact information and have remained in touch since then. That was in 2005.
Z’s mom follows my blog and when she read about Matthew’s arrival she was very supportive, offering helpful and kind words about going from one child to two. She also sent us these…
Beautiful, beautiful quilts all the way from Australia. This photo does not do these justice, they are so beautifully made. M is a very talented quilter, you should check out her blog! Being a mom herself, M included a note regarding these quilts; she said they were to be used! She said they were made to be played with and “sicked on” and loved, and that they will.