Why Child Life?

We have all heard the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some children change their minds rather quickly. One minute it is a fireman and the next a baker. But for some, however, they have known from an early age, what they dream of being. Since the tender age of eight, I have known my ideal job—working within the medical field with children.

Having my own personal experiences at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana helped shape my dream career. It all started when I was born…

At 32 weeks’ gestation my twin brother and I were born.  It was discovered that just a few weeks prior to this, I had stopped growing at 28 weeks. When I arrived in this world, I weighed in at 2’9 and my brother at 4’15. After delivery my mom’s doctor stated that 24 hours longer and I would not be here.

My first contact with Riley came in the middle of the night.  I had turned a bronze color and the doctors at the hospital I was born at had never seen this before.  They contacted Riley Hospital and a team came in and diagnosed me with Bronze Baby Disease.  This disease eventually got better with mediation.

On the day my parents thought they were to take me home they were asked to sign papers to transfer me to Riley Hospital.  I was being transferred because the ducts in my liver had not developed and could be as serious as a liver transplant.  However, within 2 hours at Riley a team of doctors told my parents that the liver was secondary and that their primary concern was that my head was growing faster than my body.  The next day I had surgery to have a shunt put in to release the fluid from my brain.  The doctors also discovered that the ducts in my liver were there, they had just not developed and with medication they would in time.  I was also diagnosed with heart arrhythmia and was given medication for that as well.

After a two month stay in the hospital I went home.  When I was 6 months old I was taken off of all medications.  My neurosurgeon said that the shunt would need to be replaced at the ages of 1, 6 and 13.  I had it replaced when I was 1-year-old and none after that.  However, when I was 2 years old I had to have surgery on my left eye to correct a lazy muscle and it was back to Riley for the surgery.

There is always a reason why someone decides to pursue a particular career. I am thankful for those of Riley Hospital, because without them, I would not be here today.

I would like to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, because I want to give back what I once received all those years ago—kindness and tender loving care from a great team of doctors and nurses. I want to be able to explain to a child what their procedure is about and have the child not be afraid. I could have a child tell me “Because of you I never gave up. Because of you I kept going. Because of you—I am able to face my fear.” That is why I want to become a Certified Child Life Specialist.

What about you? Have you known from an early age that you were meant to work with sick children? Leave a comment below. Until next time!

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