World-class Treatment for Kids (and sometimes, adults): Steven's Riley Story
September 22, 2014
Topics: Riley Kid Story
Flood of Emotions
As my children got older, I welcomed the opportunity to relinquish responsibility for the myriad of details that made their day-to-day life run smoothly.
I may have let this go too far.
In my gusto to embrace the attitude of “You’re an adult now!” my 22-year old son Steven ran solo on a series of follow-up appointments with Dr. Scott Engum. (We’d been keeping an eye on a pectus excavatum, a congenital defect of the chest wall. The condition worsens with age, and finally correction was needed.)
A few days before his surgery, I called to inquire about the length of stay. When the nurse told me, “He’ll be in 6 to 8 days.” I realized I had been out of the loop on Steven’s life a bit too much. This is an extremely painful procedure, and the extended stay was needed for pain management.
Wow. Really? Long ago I had crossed that point when I accompanied Steven into the doctor’s office, so some of the detail of the surgery had passed me by. With the news of the lengthy stay, all the concern of a sick or injured child and the horrible emotions that come with that started flooding in. They’re visceral. Although he is a tough kid, this would throw him for a loop.
Easing the Pain
All of the medical professionals treated him with the same compassion as they did the much younger children on the wing. Never once did I get the feeling that he was receiving less attention because he was so much older.
Pain was the big issue they had to tackle, and they nailed it. It’s a dance, I think, coordinating four different pain meds as pain ebbs and flows. Their attentiveness to his comfort was beyond comforting to me.
Riley’s Trademark Question
I noticed that every single time the nurses left Steven’s room they’d ask, “Is there anything else you need?”
And then I noticed, EVERYONE asked this.
The lady who cleaned Steven’s room, the student nurses, and the physical and respiratory therapists— none of them considered their task complete without asking that question. In a foreign place, when you’re worried, or in pain, and oftentimes both, you rely so heavily on others for your basic needs. “Is there anything else you need?” are welcome words indeed.
Today, Steven is doing great and is a senior at Purdue University
We are lucky. Steven does not have a debilitating disease nor a chronic condition, and he’ll heal completely. We were lucky as well to have had Dr. Scott Engum as a physician all these years – a surgeon whose calm demeanor and easy style always made me comfortable. We are lucky that Riley sees continuity of care as so important, and that they took this adult patient under its wing.
Steven is now a senior at Purdue majoring in Aviation Engineering Technology. He’s back to riding motorcycles and roller coasters, so he’s definitely on the mend.
Time, money, training and care are so obviously put into every aspect of Riley. It is a world-class children’s hospital where, once in a while, an adult patient gets world-class treatment too.
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