I’ve always been a firm believer in both signs, and paying it forward.
Anyone who has read my blog at all over the years, or who knows me in real life, will know that my best friend, Amber, has a little heart warrior, my ‘nephew’ AJ. He was born with a myriad of CHD’s, and, over his two and a half years on this earth, I have been there with them both in Chop and U of I, for some of his surgical procedures. During the time I was there, I was overwhelmed by the sheer generosity and kind spirit of people. From super hero capes and cards, to baskets of toiletries and snacks – Amber was well taken care of by the generosity of both charities and local people who donate various things to the hospital floors. After I returned to Houston, I was so moved by the generosity of strangers, that volunteered for the local Ronald McDonald House for a while before we left (I also wrote a couple of short posts from the hospital here and here) to do a little ‘paying it forward’ of my own, on behalf of AJ, Amber and their family.
Isla and her mama Heather
Fast forward a little to our recent trip home to Houston for the holidays, it just so happened that I was in Houston, at the same time a Heart Mama, Heather, and her three month old baby heart warrior, Isla, got transferred to town from Dallas (leaving her hubby and two older sons at home). It also just so happened, that Heather, is a friend, of an online friend of mine, Allyson. Allyson shared Heather’s story, Amber saw it, and, knowing what I’m like, tagged me in it and said, “Hey, in case you want to go say hi…or organise a basket” and I was off to the races! I put out a call to some of my local Houston mama-friends to see if anyone wanted to donate to a goodie-basket. I passed the hat around (ok, ok, so, my paypal address – not as cool as a whip-round in a hat) and I asked Amber to come up with a list of things that she thought would be of benefit to Heather, from her own time and experiences in the ICU with AJ.
Anyways, armed with my heart-mama-hospital-room-survival list, group fundage, and the kindness of a couple of absolute strangers from the Houston Rae Dunn BST pages, this was the goodie bag I put together for her.
Positive message card – everyone needs a ‘you got this’, every now and then.
Good quality tissues – hospital tissues suck.
Snacks – veggie straws, pretzels, trail mix, wheat thins, snack mix, fruit chews, granola bars and a little chocolate treat.
Good toiletries – I threw in a bunch of Perfectly Posh samples I’d been given, some Posh products, some deodorant, toothpaste, facial wipes, soap, lip balm and lotion etc, as I remember the hospital being incredibly dry. Hand sanitizer – I threw in Bath and Body works stuff, but after a little education, I realise I shoulda went with generic store stuff as it is often more effective than the cute, yummy smelling BBW’s types.
Portable charger – Hospitals have outlets, sure, but carrying this emergency back up around, makes things just a little easier.
Colouring supplies – For those long procedure waits or insomnia ridden nights.
Gifts cards – I picked Chick Fil a and subway as those are available within the hospital. I also grabbed a Starbucks gift card as it’s a block or two from the hospital and I remember Amber needing to leave the hospital walls for a moment on occasion)
Cash – For hospital parking fees and gas.
Heart themed trinkets – One of the Rae Dunn ladies had found this ‘Bless your heart’ canvas that she wanted to donate. The same lady made the two ‘heart quote’ tea towels to add. I tracked down a Rae Dunn ‘Heart’ spoon rest to add to the basket – turns out, the lady I got it from used to be an ICU nurse on the same floor, at the same hospital that Isla is in right now! And I finished the bag off with a pretty heart necklace that I picked up in the same store as the heartbeat necklace I got Amber a couple years back.
I messaged Heather on Facebook (the key to all communication these days) and we arranged for a quick, parking lot meet-up as she had a meeting come up with one of Isla’s doctors. I gave her the gift-bag, we chatted for maybe twenty minutes and both went on our way.
That night, I invited her to dinner with my Krav-folk, to get her out of the hospital and to introduce her to some people in Houston, as her network isn’t based there at all. The following night, we convinced her to attend a Krav class and join us again for dinner, and, just like that, we’re fast friends – I’m sure you’re all shocked. I actually wish I’d had more time in Houston to introduce Heather to a few of my mama-friends before I left.
I wanted to share this on my blog, partly because, until Amber gave me a list? I’d have had precisely zero clue as to what to put into this bag to gift to the mama of a long-term hospital stay baby – so if anyone happens to be moved to donate to their local PCICU, here’s a few suggestions of what to throw in the bag. I also wanted to say thank you to all of those who gave me money or donated, and to show them where their funds went. But, most of all, I wanted to share with you all, Isla’s story, and ask for some prayers and good wishes that this little heart warrior continue to fight, get stronger and can eventually go home to her daddy and big brothers in Dallas.
You can read about Isla’s story and condition here, at Isla The Invincible. They have also come up with a t-shirt to help show support for Isla and all the other Heart Warriors out there, it’s on sale for a couple more days, if anyone is interested in picking one up, go here. And, if any of my Houston friends want to connect with Heather and hang out, just let me know and I’ll put y’all in touch.
Keep on fightin’ lil Isla <3