A Day at Shriner’s

March 2, 2011

Everytime I arrive at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children for Chemobaby’s spina bifida check-ups, I feel a bit undeserving. I know that may sound strange, as we would not be receiving services there if we didn’t qualify for them. But I look around at the other special needs children, some of them with multiple contraptions that assist with mobility, others with tubes that help with other bodily functions, and I think to myself, “Wow, ‘special’ really is a relative term.”

The extent of my daughter’s special needs are minimal. She can’t empty her bladder fully on her own and she has challenges with her bowel function. But these are things she can keep to herself if she wants to later on, and the rest of the world doesn’t have to know. To some these things might seem daunting, but to those people, I say, “You should see what some of these other families are dealing with!” Holy moly.

The child that most caught my attention on my last visit there was a African-American baby that had no legs, just stubs. She must have been about 6-9 months old. She probably had the arm strength of a three-year-old, because this sweet little girl was booking it all over the place on just her arms. Like a bat out of you-know-where. And then, this young, vibrant, white woman came over to her and swept her up into the air and placed the baby on her shoulders. And I thought, what a chellenge this woman has taken on, to love and foster a limbless child. Who, let me just say, was a joyful child, full of life and wonder for the world. I guess what saddened me most was that this child was most likely surrendered by her natural mother. That mother, who would never know the joys that this little girl would bestow on the world. You see, the thing about “special needs” kids is, they’re special for what they CAN do, not for what they can’t. I always try to remember that. Everytime I go to Shriner’s, I’m reminded of  it again. Man, I love that place.



  1. Thanks for sharing your journey, Nancy.

    Amanda would be special even if she didn’t have “special needs!”

    Auntie Dina

    • This is true, Dina. We are all special in our own unique way. Amanda is special on a whole other level, but I try to keep that opinion to myself. Nobody likes a bragger!

  2. I had to take Jilly to Boston’s Children’s Hospital once for tests in a special wing of the hospital and I think of that whenever my kids are going through something tough. Those children I saw were fighting to survive and it really put my problems in perspective.

    And, I love Dina’s comment—yes, Amanda would be special no matter what!

    • Christina,
      I know what you mean. Trips to the Children’s Hospitals always put life in perspective for me. There are so many people that have much bigger troubles than we do.

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