Christmas is a time to celebrate with those whom we love the most – family and friends. Christmas is also a time to ‘lengthen our table,’ as the saying goes, and share with those who are less fortunate than us.
In health care, we are often faced with families who, for various reasons, struggle during this time of the year; but we are also inspired by the resilience they have.
I am an orthopaedic technologist at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre, and I remember last Christmas quite vividly.
We were caring for a baby who was born with clubfeet, a congenital deformity of the foot and ankle. Clubfeet is not painful, but treatment – which consists of a series of casts – should start immediately.
So mom, who had a five-year old and a spouse back home, travelled a fair distance to St. John’s every week to get casting done to correct the baby’s feet.
At the Janeway, our team tried to help as much as we could. I remember I went in to work a few Saturdays to ensure the baby had a cast before their next flight.
But after 13 trips to the hospital in nine weeks, and Christmas looming around the corner, commuting to the city was no longer feasible. Mom had to stay in St. John’s until her baby’s treatment was complete. Because she had no one in St. John’s, I got them in contact with the Eastern Health’s Hostel and Ronald McDonald House to help mom and baby find accommodation.
Over the numerous visits, treatments and weeks, we became friends.
Mom would call me if she needed anything that wasn’t readily available, and she would come visit me every day at the cast room.
But as Christmas neared, mom grew worried; the baby’s treatment and travel had put a dent on the family’s finances, and she was particularly concerned about providing a good Christmas for her five-year old daughter who was home.
Filled with the season’s spirit, I approached our orthopedics team to see if there was anything we could do to make the Holidays a brighter time for this family.
And, after a just a short few days, we were able to get some money together and compile a few gifts for the children.
Mom was so happy and thankful! She cried tears of joy when she said that we had literally made Christmas a special time for her and her children.
To me, that moment is worth a thousand gifts.
It is what Christmas is all about – extending a hand, building friendships, helping out the less fortunate – it’s a warm, happy feeling that stays with you, and that spreads around!
Twelve months later, we still keep in touch. Mom often sends me pictures of her beautiful baby who is now doing great and walking.
This season, I wish you and yours a happy Christmas filled with joy, friendship and laughter. ■
This story was written by Catherine Gaudon, an orthopaedic technologist with Eastern Health.