Chevy Shop Social: Portland, Part 1
When I was asked to take part in Chevy Shop Social: Portland to benefit Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, I was thrilled.
In another post, I’ll share with you the happy things: the new Chevy I got to drive while I shopped for the contents of my Raffle Basket, the awesome local products you can win for a song at the Chevy Shop Social event next week – all of that. But today, I need to tell you why I’m so grateful to be part of this, and why you should care. Why take money from your pocket and time from your day? You need to know why first.
Let me start by saying that this is one of the hardest posts I have ever had to write, because in order for you to understand why this is so very important – why this simple fundraising event is so crucial for you and me and every Pacific Northwest resident – I have to revisit one of the most difficult and scary times of my life.
You never think it will be your child, but sometimes it is.
In the spring of 2009, when my daughter Laura was just twelve years old, she was admitted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital with a ruptured appendix. She presented with none of the traditional symptoms of appendicitis and by the time it was discovered, doctors estimated that she had been septic for at least two to three days.
I could give you a lot of medical jargon, but this pretty much sums it all up: it was very, very bad. Moreover, I can only reflect on it all from a mother’s perspective: my daughter’s experience was her own, and I am sure that she would share a different story.
Laura spent over a month in Doernbecher, in 10 North, Room 24. (Six years later, she can tell me the room number without even thinking.) She endured two rounds of surgery, required five drains, a blood transfusion, and was at one time hooked up to 19 tubes and wires.
And yes, I counted them. Every day.
I also knew each one’s purpose, how they were hooked up (and could do it myself if the need arose), and learned quickly and thoroughly how to monitor and read their output as well as anyone there. Ask any mom who has ever had a child in the hospital under such circumstances, and she will likely tell you the same thing. Because in the time it takes your heart to catch its beat again, you become your child’s most dedicated care-giver and fiercest advocate.
You sleep on hard windowsill cots and wake to the smallest rustling of her sheets. You get used to talking to doctors at 3am, because that may be the only time you see them all day. You cling to the kind faces and encouraging words of gentle nurses who become your closest, most trusted friends.
Those nurses. There are not words enough to thank them.
Doernbecher is a teaching hospital, and as such, sometimes the Residents, with their new white coats and shiny diplomas, well-meaning as they are, have not yet learned the value of a mother’s intuition. But the nurses know. They know that mothers know things that science cannot possibly discover in time. They were my lifeline. They advocated for Laura when I felt the frustration of the institutional process. They calmed my fears while she slept and I felt so alone and powerless to help her. They held my hand as she suffered through her second surgery.
They counted the tubes and wires with me every day and celebrated when the numbers started to fall.
They sat up with me on that one dreadful night when we were all quite sure it was over.
I do not have words. I can barely see through my tears to type.
So yes, this event is important. Because without the generosity and support of Doernbecher, not only would I have gone bankrupt in the process, but I would have lost my child and my hope.
And I think, in the end, that is the most important thing that Doernbecher gives to families – Hope. And that is why we, as a community, must be there for them. So that we can pass on that Hope to the next mother sitting in the dark, praying her child will live through the night.
PLEASE join me, Laura, and the rest of our family at Pioneer Square on May 21 at 6PM for the Chevy Shop Social: Portland for a chance to win one of 15 awesome Raffle Baskets. The event is open to the public and will also feature live music by Adventure Galley. Food trucks will be on hand, including the Grilled Cheese Grill and Ramy’s Lamb Shack, as well as samplings of local beverages including the Portland Cider Co. and Abbey Creek Vineyard & Winery. Proceeds directly benefit Doernbecher.