This past fall I was in Ann Arbor for another check up and after my early morning appointment was over my mother headed off to a work thing over in Detroit. She offered to take me along so I could sit around and do my homework, but the appeal of being able to spend the morning wondering around A2 alone won out in the end. I had my mom drop me off downtown and ventured out into the diag (basically the center of campus...I think). It must have been in the middle of classes because the traffic was light and I just kind of sat there for a while alone. Borders wasn't open till 10 and Starbucks was packed, so I just sat down on one of the stone benches. The temperature was just beginning to drop (high 40's probably) and it was starting to look like rain, but I didn't care. After a while I got a text from a friend and decided to meet up with her for some pumpkin spice while she studied for a test (I'm pretty sure I was more of a distraction, but I was thankful for something to do). When it came time for her to head to class, I headed back into the very center of the diag. By now it was lunchtime and people were everywhere, so I sat down on another bench and attempted to focus on reading "Sir Gwain and the Green Knight" (people watching was much more entertaining though). A few feet in front of me was a big teeter totter and students with signs asking passersby to donate to Mott Children's Hospital. One kid started yelling "DONATE TO MOTTS SAVE THE TOTS!".....which I thought was pretty catchy. I watched for almost an hour, as most people passed right on by, finally I got up to get out of the cold and dropped a 5 dollar bill in the bucket....I think the students were shocked, they all were very thankful for my donation. I realize as a broke college student, many people don't have a dollar or more to donate (and luckily my mom gave me $20 that day, or else I probably wouldn't be able to either).
Mott's has always been my home at the University of Michigan. I grew up following the animal paws on the wall that led us through the big scary maze. One animal led us to the Cranial Facial Clinic, one to the X-Ray people, and another to the surgery room. I even consider the giant Big Bird in the waiting room a friend (in a mentally healthy way of course). For those of you who don't know anything about the hospital at the University of Michigan, many of the cases they take on are unusual ones. Students are able to intern and do their residency there in order to learn how to handle cases such as mine. Cases that take time and care. I always find it funny when the new students meet me for the first time and realize I'm not longer one of the kids. Technically I should no longer be in that department, but I'm glad they're finishing what they started. When I spent those few weeks in the hospital during the summer of '08, all I wanted was to go home and "feel normal".....which basically meant get back to my normal routine and life. But looking around the 5th floor, I realized how many children spend not just weeks but months on end in the hospital. I am one of the lucky ones...and I remind myself of that every time I start to feel insecure or helpless. I'm healthy, I'm alive, I'm safe at home, and there will always be people who have it worse. Hospitals can be scary, especially as a little kid, but the nurses and all the staff are so comforting. It was Mott's that introduced me to art therapy, child life, and music therapy. Like I mentioned the other day, they bring in dogs to make people more comfortable and bring you gifts like your choice of books/magazines, handmade blankets, banners, and pillowcases. Things that make hospital rooms less like white boxes of doom, and more like an enjoyable place to be. The more comfortable a person is the sooner they will heal. Which is why I want to dedicate my life to giving back, helping kids just like myself get through the rough patches. Mott's holds such a special place in my heart and I hope someday I can repay all of the people that have helped me through what has been a long journey.
They have been working on building a bigger and better Mott's for probably over a year, and we just found out last week that they plan on moving in around the end of THIS YEAR! I'm so amazed at how fast the building came along. It will be so nice for each patient to have their own room and larger spaces in general.