Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Eric's Favorite Holiday: On Halloween, a Children's Hospital Is a Monster Mash of Fun!

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Eric's Favorite Holiday: On Halloween, a Children's Hospital Is a Monster Mash of Fun!

Article excerpt

Spending so many years in hospitals, Eric and I learned that out of all the holidays you could spend in such an environment, Halloween is the most fun! We had the privilege of experiencing Halloween with some of the most creative and thoughtful individuals that planned Halloween-inspired parties and activities that were as magical as a day spent in Disney World. No easy feat when the traditional trick or treat just won't do! The care to ensure a not-so-scary Halloween in a place that can be terrifying to most on any day is nothing short of miraculous. We marched in parades that allowed for children to navigate through mazes of fun decorations, goofy sounds and spooky colored streamers. Everyone got into the spirit of the day and I have to say that seeing some of Eric's doctors in Halloween costumes, was a great reminder that we all shared a common desire to brighten a sick child's day. Getting a smile and the musical sound of giggling was the only reward required by all. If we couldn't leave our hospital bed, the holiday festivities came to bedside! On Halloween a children's hospital is a monster mash of fun!

For me, Halloween took a great deal of planning and ingenuity, and posed a few obstacles and challenges. I learned after the first couple of Halloweens that one piece costumes were not very practical for diaper changes, wires and tubing, no matter how adorable! When your child has respiratory issues, anything with a mask was automatically disqualified. For a little boy with sensory issues, I learned that choosing carefully prevented meltdowns, for it had to be as comfortable as his regular clothing, with nothing scratchy or itchy. Surprisingly, Eric didn't seem to mind hats, an eye patch or a stick-on mustache. Each year I got better at developing a check list of items to steer clear from, when it came to costume ideas. I would curb my creativity if it interfered with Eric's ability to move and was ever mindful of the length of the costume so it wouldn't get caught in the wheels of his wheelchair. I would test several versions of our costume before the big day, to get a sense of what Eric would be approving of and what he wasn't fond of. I did everything I could to ensure Eric enjoyed each Halloween, to the best of my ability, with his comfort and safety as my first priority.

You would never know it from all our fabulous photos of Halloweens past, but Eric always had something happening each October. Whether recovering from a surgery, coming down with a bug or in the middle of a full blown case of pneumonia, we managed, no matter the circumstances, to make the best of the holiday. Transforming my pookie bear into a character like a gangster or a pirate was always great fun! I so thoroughly enjoyed getting costumes for Eric, that I believe his enthusiasm for the holiday was because he knew I got such a kick out it. And since Eric could not eat anything, the Great Pumpkin always left lots of toys, giving Santa Claus some major competition. Even with all his challenges, Eric loved getting lots of toys!

I can remember the fastest costume I ever put together was due to an unplanned trip to the hospital the day before Halloween. Really, when rushing to the hospital, grabbing the cowboy costume is not high on your mind! …

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