Dancing For Distractions - Joan's Story

“You can keep sleeping” I hear the resident whispered over me, but it’s too late. The cold stethoscope is sending shivers down my back, I can hear the beeps coming from the IV pump, and the lights overhead have already flashed in my eyes. This is an occurrence called pre-rounds, because who does not love being woken up by a 6:30am physical exam? This is not a scenario children should be accustomed to yet too many are. At age 20 I know this reality all too well. While the rest of my friends are woken up by their alarm clocks and iPhones, I am woken up by early morning blood draws and pre-rounds. I am just one of the hundreds of patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who are woken up this way every year. And that is why I dance.

HootaThon raises money so even if a child is woken up by a doctor the rest of their day can be a little brighter. This is where the child life department comes in. In a hospital too often children have to grow up to fast, missing bits and pieces of their childhood along the way. The child life department helps make sure that every kid gets to be a kid. They plan activities for children who are stuck inpatient, provide art, music, and pet therapy, bring kids who aren’t allowed to leave their room fun toys to pass the time. During one of my long admissions last year I was really upset because I had to miss the first two weeks of classes. The Child Life Specialist on my floor heard this and asked me to help her with an activity for Celiac Education day as a distraction. When you are in the hospital it is the little things like having something to take your mind off missing class and not getting to see your friends yet that make all the difference. I dance for distractions.

I will continue to dance until no child is woken up by a cold stethoscope or for a blood draw. I will continue to dance until no child has to misses school or classes because they are stuck in a hospital room. At HootaThon we are dancing for a difference!


- Joan Fanwick
Chop Saved, Temple Made