Read about how the Clown Doctors transformed George’s hospital visits
Eight-year-old George used to be filled with dread when he walked through the doors to the hospital, tensely holding his mother’s hand. His heart would race with anxiety and his eyes would fill with tears.
George was born with bilateral cataracts which caused him to live without any vision at all until he was three years old. As a result of his condition, George needed to visit the hospital every three months for a procedure that required eye drops to be put into George’s eyes. The eye drops, designed to dilate the pupil and allow doctors to look into George’s eyes beyond the cataract, are full of chemicals and would cause painful stinging for poor George. As necessary as this procedure was, George grew to hate the drops and learned from a young age that hospital was where he experienced pain.
“It would break my heart to see how afraid George was of going to the hospital’, says George’s mother, Taryn. “It could take up to three doctors to hold George down when the drops needed to be administered. George would fight so hard against the doctors that he would burst blood vessels in his face. He began to associate hospital visits with pain and discomfort.”
But then something magical happened to completely turn George’s hospital experience around. He met the Clown Doctors.
“As George got older his comprehension of what was required of him increased but, sadly, so did his anxiety levels. Getting him to those hospital appointments became increasingly difficult and traumatic. Fun was certainly not something he expected at a hospital visit…
“I clearly remember the day we first met the Clown Doctors. Waiting at the Eye Clinic, I spotted the Clown Doctors having just completed their rounds and asked if I could introduce them to George to distract him from what he knew we were there for. They came over to meet George immediately.“
By supporting our Clown Doctors, you are not only helping children and their families in hospital, you are also providing much-needed support for the medical professionals working hard to treat their young patients.
“By engaging with George one on one, the Clown Doctors took his mind off how scared he was and put him in a happy place. When we were called in for the appointment, he was still on a high from his encounter.”
Just think how much easier it is for doctors and nurses to give a child a needle, or an uncomfortable procedure like George’s eye drops, when the child is feeling calm and positive, rather than terrified and frantic.
“The Clown Doctors were just amazing. They were both very interactive and instantly created a bond with George. George still asks before every visit if the Clown Doctors will be there. They clearly had a big impact on him!
“If we could have Clown Doctors at the hospital for every visit it would make the world of difference. As a parent, there is nothing better than seeing your child switch from anxious and scared, to happy and laughing. Seeing the smile that they put on his face was amazing.”
“George has now had three operations to remove the cataracts and correct the direction of one of his eyes. It’s been a real process to get to this stage. The cataracts had to be removed one at a time, and then as his eye muscles were so weak, his right eye had to be corrected so that his eye faced forward.”
George has made brilliant progress in his journey towards having full sight—and is requiring fewer medical procedures as he grows older.
“We knew quite quickly that the operations had been a success, as George immediately started covering his bad eye so that he could use the one with the cataract removed…
“It was wonderful to see but you can imagine how difficult each of those hospital visits were. Our average visit to the hospital was around 3-4 hours. Without the Clown Doctors, all George had to focus on was the negative experience ahead. Anxiety was high as there was nothing to distract him…
“The Clown Doctors brought cheer and positivity in an otherwise distressing environment. Being able to change a child’s state of mind from being petrified to laughing is an amazing skill.”
But sadly, George will not be the last child to turn up at the hospital filled with fear and anxiety.
Whether undergoing treatment for an illness, or having suffered an injury, being in hospital can be a frightening, lonely, and traumatic experience.
And it does not have to be. That is why I want to make sure other children like George do not miss out on a visit from the Clown Doctors.