Reese’s bone marrow transplant was on May 2. Three months later, she started learning how to walk again.
Little nutrition, little mobility, lots of steroids, lots of complications, and lots of medicine. This combination caused Reese to loose the ability to do simple things, like walking and holding her head high. On July 28, we introduced SHOPPING for gifts. Because what girl isn’t motivated by retail therapy?
In a hospital, there is little to motivate a very weak child to “go for a walk.” (Especially when residing in the isolation unit of the oncology ward.) Reese was not interested in looking at the neutral walls, and it took an incredible amount of effort for her to get to this beige place.
This is when the idea came to me. Reese loves to go shopping. Maybe shopping can come to her?
I talked a lot about “5 minutes of Joy”. Reese got very short bursts of energy during this time period. When we saw an opportunity, we loved to fill it with as much joy and excitement as possible. Gifts can do this for a child whose entire world is limited to a hospital room. And we needed to get her moving. So I began setting up REESE’S MAG MILE in the middle of the transplant unit. I set it up at the nurses’ station nearest her room. I filled it with GIFTS that were sent to her in the hospital.
On July 28, Reese wasn’t able to walk on her own, so I carried her to “the store”.
5 days later, On August 2, she took her first step, while shopping for a gift.
Reese’s stores continued until the day she was discharged on December 20. This was the #1 strength building activity of her day, and I guarantee it helped to get her out of the hospital. It was also my alarm clock… there were days she had me in the hallway “shopping” at 5am. (This was definitely amusing to the night nurses who were still on duty.) As Reese grew stronger, her store moved farther away in the unit. Friends and family brought and sent “POP UP STORES”, which were just that. A themed store would pop up for Reese and her sisters to explore.
Eventually, I had a BOOK STORE that opened before bedtime, and each of my daughters would walk to “purchase” their bedtime book. Friends and family sent these books as gifts for Reese. The nurses, our angels, were involved in all of our stores and would “charge” all of the shoppers.
During our experience, I learned a lot about the POWER of a gift. Especially, the right gift. A normal child has stimuli all over the place. (S)he can run outside, go to school, kick a soccer ball at practice, dive at the pool, etc etc etc. A hospital patient can not do any of these things, so an incredible amount of joy comes from something NEW. A gift. And Reese was so blessed to receive a huge amount of gifts from her remarkable team.
I have compiled a list.
I started with one list. Then another. Lists of game changer GIFTS for a child. A child who is in the hospital, or perhaps held up by an illness at home. (There are also a few that could be stocking stuffers in here, that any child would enjoy. Tried and true.)
These are gifts that I stand behind, gifts that can make a difference. Please, share my lists if you can think of a way (maybe Pinterest?) If my lists can travel, they can help.