11 August 2023
A day at Addenbrookes Children’s Hospital
Isabel Squires our Programme and Quality Coordinator shares this wonderful story of her time spent on the wards with Dr Mish Mash and Dr Geehee.
“This is my favourite part of my job, the days when I hop on the train to go and meet the Giggle Doctors at a hospital. I make an unfamiliar journey and I arrive at a hospital where I feel a little overwhelmed by everything going on around me. And then I see the familiar, smiling faces of the Giggle Doctors (not yet in their costumes), and I relax a bit.
While they get changed, I drink my coffee and reflect on how a child might feel making that same unfamiliar journey and arriving in the busy hospital, uncertain about what awaits them.
I follow the now transformed Dr Mish Mash and Dr Geehee through the hospital and up the stairs. They say hello to everyone they meet with such a force of friendship people can’t help but respond in kind – a pair of contractors seem to greet them like old friends and I start to wonder if they’ve met all these people before.
On one ward we visit, all the curtains are closed around the beds when we arrive, which makes the room a little gloomy. Dr Geehee asks a boy his name and introduces him to the child in the bed opposite. And then something magical starts to happen. By the time we leave the curtains are all thrown back, the room flooded with light, and all the children know each other’s names.
Every person there is smiling, and as I follow Dr Mish Mash’s bright blue shoes out of the room, I hear the chatter across the beds, “Did you see when she had the poo sticker stuck to her chin?”, “They were so silly!” Just for a few minutes children and adults alike are united in a moment of shared playfulness which transports them somewhere new.
I’m trying to capture this incredible atmosphere on camera, but how can you show a feeling changing? It’s in the details: a quiet moment of hands touching, a toddler’s wonder at the chance to press the button which makes the bubbles flow, the little girl who received the gift of a magic wand and uses it to take control of her situation, the row of nurses at the station laughing.
When I leave the Giggle Doctors and walk through the hospital to go home, I no longer feel overwhelmed. Yes, it is busy and there are so many signs it’s hard to see the one I need, but seeing the hospital through the Giggle Doctors has made me realise it is a building full of humanity, with space for play, for joy and laughter, for connection and friendship. It is in fact not just a hospital for patients, it is also a space for children.”
Thank you to all supporters who have helped our Giggle Doctor Programme be possible at Addenbrookes hospital, including the funder ACT!