Thanking Our ‘Village’

November 19, 2012

Casey with her nurse at ENT

I am sure we have all heard, and many of us have used the saying ‘it takes a village’.  When dealing with a child with special needs and/or medical issues this really hits home.  Life for my daughter started in the NICU with a team of medical professionals treating her.  Casey turned six in April and each year we have added more and more specialists, therapists, nurses, etc. to our medical team.  Some of these professionals are in our home each day, while others we see outside of the home. We see some daily, some weekly, and some every few months (with many phone calls between visits).We always joke about the fact that we don’t even have to identify ourselves on the phone with some of the nurses anymore.  They still answer the phone though, and are so happy to help us in any way they can.  It took us many years to build the team of professionals that we have.  We have had to change a few over the years.  We have a team now that all are fully committed to our plan and to help keep Casey as strong, healthy and comfortable as possible.

Each year as we reflect on everything, we have to recognize that we are where we are largely in part to the work that our team does day after day.  How can you thank someone for keeping your child alive, home, happy, safe?  How do even begin to say thank you for a gift of that magnitude?

Each year we make an effort to let our team know just how much they mean to us.  We used to pick one day and write out thank you notes and get little gifts to take to all of the members.  As I already mentioned, the team grows each year.  There is not enough time to thank everyone on the same day anymore.  Now we have two days of thanks.

Pumpkin bread decorated

Three years ago we decided that on Halloween we will take Casey in her costume around to each of the doctors to say thank you and deliver goodies.  By doing this on Halloween it gives Casey a chance to trick-or-treat at locations that we know will have stickers or other items she can have.  The doctors love it too.  They are always very excited to see Casey all dressed up.  We give all of her nurses, therapists and teachers gifts of thanks during Christmas.

Pumpkin pale prep area

For the doctors we are really saying thank you to the entire staff (the doctors, the nurses, the schedulers, the techs, etc.).  When giving a gift to a group of people you really don’t have the option of making it personal.  Instead, each year we pick an edible treat.  One year we took bagels to all of the offices.  We left our house bright and early, but there were so many offices to visit that by the time we got to the last few stops it was already after lunch.  As much as we loved the idea of taking breakfast, we decided not to redo that one.  Last year we made pumpkin bread.  We decorated each loaf pan with Halloween stickers, orange ribbon and we tied a little knife onto each package so that the staff could slice up the loaf and enjoy.  This year we found a Halloween themed Chex Mix recipe.  We bought a bunch of pumpkin trick-or-treat pales and filled them all with the mix.  Some years we hand write the thank you notes, some years we do photo card thank you notes.  Regardless of the method, we are sure to let them know how much they mean to us.

Casey with some of her nurses and mom

Over the holidays we give gifts to members of the team that we see daily or weekly at a minimum.  We spend a lot of time with the different home health nurses and therapists.  Many of these members have been on the team for many years.  We try to do something a little more personal.  We do not want any of these people to feel obligated to get Casey or us gifts in return, nor do we want them to feel bad about accepting a gift that may seem to elaborate.  We try to find something personal, but nothing overly expensive.  Her therapist all wear silly socks for example, so we like to get them fun socks.  We know they will appreciate them, and they will not feel guilty about us spending too much money.  We get different items for each of her nurses based on their likes and interest.  We spend a lot of time with her nurses so we usually know them well enough to find a gift just for them.  We will typically do some holiday baking and send a tin of goodies to the teachers and/or school therapists.

Depending on your budget, and the number of people you want to thank each year, you may want to stick with a hand written thank you note or you may want to give gifts.  There are some great gift ideas on Pinterest.  If you search for “Teacher Gifts” you will get back lots of ideas for almost any budget.  A lot of the ideas are homemade and can easily be adapted for nurses, therapists, etc.  Your ‘Village’ is not expecting anything.  Do not feel as though you have to spend a lot of money.  They are just as excited to receive a note from a family as they are to receive baked goods or anything else.  As long as it comes from the heart, it will be the right gesture of gratitude.

We would not be where we are without our ‘Village’.  I am so grateful to them all.  I look forward every year to being able to express my gratitude for all of their efforts.