“Hi! So they finally got me settled into the right room. My mom is coming today to stay with me, so if you’re able to come, you could see her too!”
It was going to be a stay-at-home kind of Sunday. On this hot summer June day I was in my office catching up on seemingly important tasks. But first, of course, I took a quick glance at our social media platforms.
The first news that popped up was from a patient from one of our hospitals whom we saw periodically, a few years ago, since her medical condition required ongoing hospital care. After reaching a certain age, she had to be hospitalized on a different campus.
Her post was about being back in the hospital for yet another treatment.
So, I commented, “Lots of love to you from the Medical Clown Project! ”
Her response: “ I wish you guys were over here! It’s no fun on the adult side.“
Like the ‘Bat-Signal’, but with the silhouette of a clown, and in the form of a social media message, this stay-at-home day became a Medical Clown Request Day.
I grabbed my ukulele, changed into a simple and colorful outfit that seemed ‘normal’ as to blend in a bit more, pocketed a pair of funny glasses, and jetted out the door.
A BART train and a 15-minute bike ride later, I found myself entering the hospital. As I arrived at the room, the door was closed. I knocked a few times and then transitioned into knocking rhythmically. As I slowly opened the door, the patient was on the phone with her mother and smiled. She immediately changed the subject of their conversation to, “Guess who’s here? You aren’t going to guess. It’s Calvin, from the Medical Clown Project.”
Amidst the tangle of tubes, machines, and her weakened state, a burst of energy got her to sit up as she finished her phone call. Suddenly we rekindled the familiar feelings from the many times my team of therapeutic medical clowns and I had spent time with her. She talked about the sacrifices she had to endure as her illness overcame her, and that she had to check into the hospital for a previously scheduled treatment sooner than she’d hoped. We also shared wonderful memories of our past conversations and talked about new and exciting happenings. We even had moments that seemed like we weren’t even in a hospital.
This experience was enhanced as her parents arrived. Hugs and handshakes with big smiles went around. I got to catch up with her mom and dad, and we had more fun conversations between the four of us. I was there for a wonderful two hours, which is about four times longer than our longest visit with a patient.
Just like many of the hospital staff, our care for the patients that walk through the hospital doors goes beyond ‘clocking in and clocking out.’ This patient was a patient of the Medical Clown Project… and forever will be!