Lilly’s first experience at the Alberta Children’s Hospital was a four-week-long stay over Christmas in 2015 due to a high fever. Much to her mom Allison’s surprise, it was the best Christmas of Lilly’s life! Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves and reindeer visited and she was showered with attention and gifts. Now, several years later, and for unrelated reasons, Lilly is a “frequent flyer” at the hospital, and Allison is so grateful that thanks to that wonderful first experience and the many special moments and personalized care that have followed, Lilly loves going.
Over the last year and a half, Lilly was diagnosed with a chronic liver disease called autoimmune sclerosing cholangitis as well as ulcerative colitis. She has had several surgeries, scopes and procedures to help control internal bleeding and minimize the impact on her GI system. She goes to the hospital once a month for iron and medication infusions to help manage her symptoms. Though she’s been through a lot, Lilly loves going to the hospital. The specialized pediatric care designed to make kids feel comfortable has done just that for Lilly. From one of her gastroenterologists asking her what her favourite drink is (it’s chocolate milk) and pairing it with her meds, to the nurses in Medical Day Treatment, where she gets her infusions, letting her pick which hand she wants her IV in. Child Life has also played a big role in Lilly’s care, keeping her entertained and distracted during otherwise uncomfortable procedures and now, she calls that team her “friends.” Doctors and nurses remember her name and always say hello in the hallway, there are arts and crafts to do, and Lilly gets excited to add to her Beads of Courage each time she visits. Lilly loves the hospital so much, her siblings have actually become jealous she gets to go, says Allison.
Since the beginning, Lilly has been inspired to give back. After receiving a toy herself and realizing how much it brightened her day, she has been adamant about bringing toys or gifts for other kids every time she visits. She has become a regular donor to the Kids Helping Kids program, which Allison says has served as such an important, tangible sense of purpose for Lilly and because she loves donating each time she comes in, she actually counts down the days to her hospital visits.
Lilly will rely on the hospital until she’s an adult. Because of this, Allison is grateful the care has been so amazing that not only does Lilly love going there, she’s inspired to give back.
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