This week Daniel has been in hospital to have an operation on his knees to correct the way they’re growing. The op has gone well, and although recovery is slow, he’s getting there. It took a day or two, but he’s come to like the staff who interact with him. Dinner lady is one of his favourites, as is the night nurse. But its one of the student nurses who really engaged him. Her name is Zoe, and she has been fantastic with Daniel. She spoke to him, and not down to him. She humoured him when she asked what he wanted to do when he grew up when he answered “To be a surgeon like Mr Barker” (the surgeon who did Daniel’s op.) Many would have laughed it off, but she replied that the next time he saw Mr Barker, he should ask for some advice. It sounds so simple, but that kind of interaction would make any child feel respected.
Daniel and Zoe hit it off over something unlikely – The Lego Movie! Matthew & I had taken in one of the Lego Movie cups that are in the McDonald’s Happy Meals. Once Zoe saw the cup, she told Daniel she’d been to see the movie, and did he like it? Well, that completely broke the ice, and Daniel was happy to talk lego with her. It was common ground, and for an aspie that finds interaction with strangers very hard, it was amazing to see him open up with her. Her threats to steal his cup sparked Daniel, and he was able to joke about it with her. I don’t think its a coincidence that he’s been much more open with the other nursing staff about how he’s feeling, and the level of pain that he’s experiencing after opening up to Zoe.
You can see variable levels of “customer” service within the NHS, good and bad, but it may sound patronising, but the young lady that managed to open up Daniel is a real credit to nursing. There’s been so much negativity about the NHS in the media – repeating Tory dogma that the service is failing. When you see how much front line staff are stretched, anyone on the ground can see that’s down to government cuts to the NHS. So much for cutting the deficit, not the NHS. Its been the other way round. But that aside, Zoe has a superb manner that should make her a great nurse. Despite the hours, and being on her feet constantly, she always had a smile on her face, and was bright and cheery with Daniel. She would always talk to him directly, and not through us. I think it made him feel valued and cared for. The fact that a pretty young lady was paying him so much attention was neither here nor there for Daniel!
Sadly, she had her last shift on Wednesday, and will return to the classroom to resume her nursing studies. Daniel was upset that he’d seen the last of her. Its sad that she may never know what an impact she has had on a 6-year old aspie, and what an amazing job she has done with him that he trusted he so openly. We’ll be putting a card into the ward to thank the clinical and domestic staff for everything they’ve done for Daniel, but will make a note of singling out that one young lady who helped our little man so much.