Crossing the Street
11/18/2013 10:28 AM
By Yvonne Hall
I recently had the privilege of being invited to participate in a transition orientation conference at Toronto General Hospital. The purpose of this day, aptly named “Crossing the Street,” was to help educate parents of teenagers presently at SickKids Hospital who will soon be transitioning to the adult hospital across the street. It was also designed to alleviate the fears of these teens and covered all topics of concern in making this adult shift in their lives.
Doctors, coordinators, counselors and experienced parents were available to offer information and assist everyone present with their questions and concerns. It was presented in a relaxed, informal environment where everyone could share experiences and answer questions regarding navigating to an adult hospital system.
It was a much-needed event and I am so grateful to have been invited to participate on the cardiac panel to offer any helpful information I could. Projects like these are essential for all family members in order to address any fears and queries in a non-threatening environment. It offers an opportunity to meet others who have successfully transitioned to young adulthood and meet caring doctors, therapists and hospital staff. What a change 30 years has made from when my daughter made her trip across the street.
Although this move is naturally huge for all the SickKids teens, transitions are a major part of everyone's life from early childhood to elderly adulthood. No transition is as simple as just crossing the street. This is a great metaphor to remind us that although the distance may be just a few hundred feet, the life changes presented are so much more.
Daycare and starting school are the beginning of our transitions. Then we have high school, college or university, where we are no longer a familiar face but often feel more of a number. We enter the workforce, get married, have children, and ultimately retire. These are just a few of the transitions we encounter in our lives. For the teens at SickKids, they have yet another transition to face, and sadly it happens at the same time as many other changes are taking place in their lives. It can become easier to embrace fear and overlook the reality that they will still be cared for by loving medical professionals.
From my observations of the participation from all, it was a highly successful conference. Teens got to share with each other while meeting other teen transplant recipients—and parents got to meet parents who had successfully navigated these changes whether recently, or as in Lorie's and my case, many years ago.
When sharing information with a staff worker about transitions, we fell into a conversation about the difficulty of transitioning into retirement. It is usually a welcome time where we envision freedom and a new lease on life, but along with that is a feeling of loss, and confusion about our identity and sense of purpose. We discussed how life is all about transition and how each turn in the road of life brings us knowledge, wisdom, and strength. In looking back these kids will see this as just another step on the road to maturity and adulthood.
A young man, just 17, summed it up so wisely and simply when asked how he felt about his impending trip across the street. “I don't have a big problem coming over here, it's leaving there,” he replied.
My daughter Lorie’s most recent transition from cardiac patient to transplant recipient was less than two years ago and she still hasn’t left there. Her street was merely a different floor in the same hospital and she continues to visit her previous lab techs and cardiac team to offer a quick hello and more often than not a huge hug. How strong these connections remain.
I loved the young man’s reply. He nailed it perfectly, and I believe it can be applied to every area of life. The problem isn't necessarily where we are going, but often in leaving where we've been.
Yvonne Hall is a wife, mother, grandmother and life coach in training. She blogs and journals regularly as well as holds the position of personal assistant to her daughter, Angel Thinking author and CHD advocate Lorelei Hill. Yvonne’s intent in coaching is to encourage those in their transition years to embrace their age and value their wisdom while seeing aging as a new chapter rather than the last chapter. Yvonne has a lot to offer families struggling to raise children with CHD as well as women looking to grow wise gracefully.
Copyright ©2013 ACHA Blog
3 comment(s) so far...
By Lisa on
11/18/2013 3:39 PM
Re: Crossing the Street
Great blog! My daughter is 29 and transitioning to an adult congenital cardiologist was very difficult. We all loved her team at Childrens Hospital and couldn't seem to find an adult team that we trusted. We now go out of state for her yearly check ups. We love the doctor and the staff but it is a little frustrating not to have an adult congenital cardiologist in our home state. It took us five years to find a team we trusted. Some adult doctors we went to did not feel we,her parents, should be involved any longer. I said I will be 80 and my daughter will be 60 and I will still be going to her check ups. That's just the way it is!!!
By Yvonne on
11/19/2013 8:41 AM
Re: Crossing the Street
Thanks Lisa: It certainly can be frustrating to get the care our children need. All the best to you and your daughter.
Yes, you will still accompany her when your 80. I'm 71 now and Lorie never goes to a checkup without an advocate and it's usually me. Her medical team are like extended family.
By Terra on
6/25/2014 1:36 PM
Re: Crossing the Street
Yvonne, I am hoping you could give me more information or a contact person for the Crossing the Street event. My daughter is turning 15 soon. And while we are fortunate that our medical group has both pediatric and adult CHD doctors, we are starting to talk about transitioning care. Her cardiologist has asked us and a few others to help create a guide for this big change. Issues that we are looking at include going off to college, advocating for yourself if you mom isn't there, and, gulp, mom stepping aside so that hubby or wife can become the new advocate. Any suggestions or contacts that you can share would be greatly appreciated.