I used to work in security at Children’s National Hospital. I saw kids come in every day for broken bones and sometimes more serious things. I witnessed parents’ pain but never had experienced it myself.
Then one day, my happy-go-lucky 4-year-old daughter Naomi woke up complaining that her legs hurt. We thought maybe she was just tired, but the pain expanded to her arm and she stopped eating.
Naomi had difficulty standing by the time we got to Children’s National. It was tough to watch. This was my daughter — my heart. She was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like illness that affects the nerve cells in the spinal cord.
My daughter spent two weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit. Care providers always treated her like she was the most important person in the room. The little things meant so much — the nurse who turned on a cartoon to distract Naomi while her spinal fluid was drawn and the staff person who brought her a pumpkin to paint and let her pick out a costume so she didn’t miss Halloween.
Naomi is now 7 and 100 percent back to her active self. She plays soccer, runs track and does gymnastics and cheerleading.
No one wants their child to be in the hospital, but if you have to go, go to Children’s National. I’m sure that every single person who works there has touched a family’s life in one way or another. I walked in confused and uncertain, but soon felt confident that my daughter was in the best possible hands. They gave me hope that everything was going to be all right.
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