Dr. Maladjusted and I were working in Boston. My Horoscope that day read.
“Today the Celestial energy will be trying to teach you something. Specifically it will be teaching you how to share with others. But first you must go to a place where you truly want to share something of yourself. Give other people a chance to know you.”
Toward the end of the day we walked past a room that turned my head. In the room was one of those chrome cribs with the clear plastic tops on it. Inside the crib was a person, by the size, I thought to be 8 or 9 years old. I did recognize that they were probably in for facial reconstruction. I prepped Mal as to what we would see and asked if she was up for singing a song. Mal agreed.
Little did I realize that when we got closer, the person, who we found out later, was a 12 year old girl – had no face, hands or feet. No eyes, no lips, no nose.
The patient was very difficult to look at, yet like a train wreck, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
NO Eyes, Nose, Mouth, Lips, Cheeks, or Jaw. You could see into nasal cavities, a throat, and maybe a tooth? I have seen a lot in my 19 plus years at Children’s Hospital, but this had been the most physical and traumatizing?
We stood at the door and started to play music. A simple little “soft-shoe” like song, with accents of burps, squeaks, farts, whistles, chicken, dog and pig sounds. A lullaby arranged for guitar and instruments that we clowns play so well?
The patient placed her, what we thought were hands, up to the side of her head.
A music lover no doubt?
She screamed! It was more like a squawk from a large bird. I’m guessing it was her way of telling us to “Get Out”?We kept playing a little bit more. She slowly pulled her hands down and moved a little to the music, then started moving like Stevie Wonder at the piano. – Who Knew?
She then thrust her arm through the bars. I didn’t know if she was flipping us off, or pointing to the door? Her arms went back to her head and we took that as our cue to leave.
Mal and I found the Child Life Specialist who apologized for not warning us what we had just witnessed.I explained that we had a wonderful “connect” with her with the music. The CLS eyes lit up and we both said at the same time, “It was the child within that we were taking care of.” I think the rest of the staff was taken back a little bit with our excitement.
It was wonderful news, that we were making a difference. So to make a long story even longer.
Mal and I went back once more. . .”When all else fails, ‘Slay em’ with a waltz!’”. . . a sweet song titled ” I Think You’re Wonderful ”
Again the patient thrust her arm through the bars, only this time I reached out and held her Hand? (It was more like a hoof. It had a split and some kind of fingernail almost like a goat’s foot.) She bent it down and pulled my hand towards the bars and just kept it there. I melted. We finished the song, and we left.
Both Mal and I , looked at each other through tears and in shock.
No matter what we have been through in life – “We GOT NOTHIN?”
Her face, or lack of, haunted me enough to call our emotional hygiene person. We talked about this wonderful experience and my associate explained that we might of been the first to ever engage this girl with something?
I still can’t figure why she would reach outward, instead of withdrawing?
We also talked about, who knows, at what level she is mentally. What was going on in her mind?
Music, and silly little sounds? . . . A TOUCH. . .
Bubbles, Juggling, Magic, Physical Comedy, Foam Noses and Stickers wouldn’t do it.
I do know this. She experienced JOY.
When you stop to think about of all the people in this girl’s life of twelve years, Clowns were the ones that were able to connect with the inner child.
I suggested we give her a nickname. . . . . . “Beautiful”
I wanted to go see her again. She had already been discharged… No Goodbyes, No closure. There is no need.
She left, leaving an incredible contribution to my life, our work and this art of Clown Care!
Did I ever say “I love my job!” ?