Dear Clown Doctors,
I can’t believe that 12 years have passed since you first came into my life. I was 3 years old, living in Wagga Wagga NSW and having the time of my life with my sister and my favourite toy, Puppy. It was only a couple of weeks until Christmas and my birthday had been the day before. Suddenly my world was turned upside down as one moment Puppy and I were having a fun time and next moment the palm of my hand had been burnt off because I thought Puppy would have liked a go on the treadmill. It was quite scary as a 3 year old looking down at my hand to see basically all the skin had come off the palm.
With a frantic trip to Wagga Base Hospital it was decided that the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne was the best place for me as they had a leading burns unit. Now, being nearly Christmas lots was going on including that my big sister, Emily, was in Prep and had her first school Christmas concert that night. My parents made the heart wrenching decision that Dad would drive me to Melbourne and Mum would stay with Emily so she could do her concert and they would head to Melbourne first thing the next morning. After all, the doctors had said it was not likely they would actually do much on the first day other than assess my hand. Dad did his best to keep my mind off the pain for the 6 hour drive, singing, telling stories and lots of Dad jokes. We got to the hospital and they said that they were most likely going to operate that night so it was probably best to give Mum a call and get her down to Melbourne. Poor Mum, being 6 hours away and having to pack the car not knowing how long we would be in Melbourne and go and get Emily from school before she was able to perform in her first Christmas concert. I am so thankful for all the sacrifices my family have done for me ever since day one.
Mum and Emily arrived in time for the doctors to decide that they needed a couple of days to be able to fully gauge the extent of the damage to my hand before they could operate. This is the best part of my whole story as while they were dressing my hand with their amazing dressings, Dr Tickle and Dr Fairy Floss bounded into my life. Through agonising dressing changes and hand cleaning these funny looking doctors came in and created magic. This is the moment my life changed forever and began making me the person I am today. Dr Doctor, Sophie and Dr Fairy Floss
You guys were always there for me through the tough times and are the reason I look back on my accident with such a positive spin. Seeing I spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital, I got to know a fair few of you and although you were all amazing I did have my favourites. Dr Tickle, Dr Doctor and Dr Fairy Floss were by far the coolest and funniest Clown Doctors around. I loved that moment when they would walk into the room and I just remember my eyes lighting up in delight and suddenly forgetting all that I was going through. I remember deciding that I wanted to be just like them and even came up with my own name, Dr Fairydust.
Looking back on this, I realise that the reason I wanted to be just like you guys was because you were all so kind and caring towards kids you didn’t even know. If I compare this to my personality now, I can see small traits that are similar to those of a Clown Doctor- good-humoured, loving and always so bubbly and eager to make new friends.
I have had to make a few return visits to Royal Children’s Hospital for check-ups and surgery to release my scarring and with every visit you have been there. I guess I am lucky that I attend the burns clinic on a day that you are there. It breaks my heart to think of the kids who don’t get to see you, because you aren’t there every day, because I know first-hand what an impact you have made on me. I have so many happy memories of hospital all due to you. I remember one day when I was going through a particularly painful dressing change and nothing you could do would distract me. Next minute Dr Fairy Floss was just sitting quietly in the corner of the room singing softly and playing with a little tiny doll, that we named “baby in a box” because it lived in a little box. This was a distraction of a different kind, I was mesmerised by her gentle nature and felt so inquisitive that I forgot what was going on. Another time, I remember you playing all sorts of games with carefully sterilised medical equipment, making all these metal objects feel a little less scary. I’m pretty sure the nurses weren’t very happy with you though! Your ability to understand just what I need every time I visit with you amazes me and the way you all seem to sense when someone needs you in another room. You are truly special superheros in my eyes.
Having spent nearly 12 years on and off visiting with lots of you and getting to know you I feel like you have become such a big part of who I am. I have been really lucky to have been my school captain when I was in year 6, as well as many other opportunities that I’ve come across due to my personality and I really do think this is because I have had 12 years of amazing moments with you guys that have taught me so much. You have all been awesome teachers in demonstrating how to communicate and connect with someone no matter what the situation. I also think that you have helped teach me leadership skills because you are decisive and confident in all that you do. You always encourage kids to be who they are and be proud of that. You have helped give me confidence to be who am I am no matter what. To know that I am special and that I can contribute to those around me.
You don’t see me or any other kids for our injuries or medical situations, you just see us as mates, and mates look after each other. I see all those other kids in hospitals around Australia as my mates too and I want to help them. The way I think I can help is by sharing my story with people so they see how important you are and that you need to be in hospitals everyday so every kid can experience time with you. I was again recently in the Royal Children’s Hospital and I watched you walk through the hall and I reckon you would have overshadowed any famous person that walked it, you are the true superstars. It really showed me how many other kids depend on you just like I depend on you still all these years later. I am one of the lucky ones who has benefited from your special kind of healing. My family and I always say that while the medical staff might have healed my hand you healed my heart and my family’s heart. As I get older I realise the sacrifices that my family had to make always back and forth from the hospital and I know that you always made them happy too.
Thank you to each and every one of you for doing what you do and making the commitment to changing kids’ lives. No one can ever take away from us those special moments we share with you, whether it be silly fart jokes, singing, dancing or simply just sitting together in silence. I think every one of us feels wrapped in your love, support and guidance. You give us something no one else can, not even our family. You create moments that shape us forever. I will forever be here waiting for the day that I can help you shape more children.
Love from your friend forever, Sophie xx