Beads of Courage
By Madi, a Children’s National Hospital sibling and patient
When I was 7 years old, my baby brother had major heart surgery at Children’s National Hospital. He was 12 weeks old. My mom cried a lot. A child life specialist name Miss Judy gave me a pink and purple courage bead to help me feel brave. She said my brother was a strong little boy. She made my family feel more at ease with his problems, and he had a lot.
That courage bead helped me through other things, like when I was 9 and injured my knee on the playground. I had a partially-torn ligament which limited my competitive dance and volleyball. A doctor said I’d never dance again. I was crushed.
My mom brought me to Children’s National for a second opinion. Dr. Emily Niu asked a lot of questions and investigated my whole body, not just my knee. She wondered why I’d had so many other sports-related injuries the same year. She suggested genetic testing to see if I had a congenital disorder that might explain things. She spoke to me directly, which made me feel important. She also told me that I could dance as long as I wore a brace. I put my life in her hands. I knew she would make the right decision for my body.
At 17, I still have Miss Judy’s courage bead. It helps me think of ways to turn negative situations into positive ones. Children’s National has had a big impact on my life, including saving my brother’s life and keeping me dancing. I see myself working there one day. My dream is to have a positive impact on others, like people there have had on me.