Thriving in 2011: a year in review

The end of the year is a time for reflection. Many events, good and bad, shaped the past 365 days, and as we get ready to swap out yet another calendar most of us will pause and remember those moments. When I recalled the news stories and personal events that resonated with me this year, more than a few Thriving stories came to mind.

As a writer I have a tendency to see life as a series of deadlines. I love crafting blogs about the inspiring people I meet at Children’s, but there’s more to the job than collecting good stories. In the back of my mind there’s always a deadline looming.

A hospital like Children’s is a living entity that never sleeps. And because it’s my job is cover all the amazing stories that are born of that entity, I have to move pretty quickly to keep up; once one story is put to bed I need to change gears pretty rapidly to cover the next in line. One minute I could be learning about a young girl’s courageous battle with cancer and that afternoon I’m being briefed on the intricacies of fetal heart surgeries.

Like I said, it’s fascinating work, but at times the pace is enough to make my head spin.

That’s why I enjoy these reflective moments so much. Not only does it give me a brief reprise from deadlines, but it also reminds me about all the amazing people I’ve worked with in the past year. The staying power of these stories, long after the deadline has come and gone, are a real testament to the incredible people I get to speak with everyday.

There’s no denying that life can be hectic. But when we allow ourselves a second to appreciate the wonder hidden behind the chaos, we’re often reminded of the real reasons why we do what we do everyday. For me that means sharing stories of strength, struggle, love and brilliance with people all over the world. It’s rewarding and important work, which is more than enough to make the chaos seem worth it. With that kind of clarity, the next deadline doesn’t seem so intimidating.

Happy New Year to all Thriving readers. Here are a few of the stories that inspired me throughout 2011 and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come.

Dr. Claire is a lot of things. Pediatrician, mother, blogger and swim team coach to name a few. Clearly she expects a lot of herself, but how does that constant drive affect her parenting style? In this blog Dr. Claire looks at the good and bad aspects of Tiger Mothering, and in the process gets a little perspective on her own parenting techniques. Read Dr. Claire’s blog, Taming the Tiger Mother in me.

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One of the most difficult aspects of hospital life is the realization that not every child can be saved. It’s a heart wrenching but undeniable fact of life for everyone who walks through our doors. The love and sadness that are intertwined in that understanding was beautifully captured last spring, in a piece by Children’s nurse Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, CCRN. Read Meaghan’s touching tribute, Celebrating the ones that slipped away.

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For toddlers and younger children, life beyond the playroom walls is somewhat of an abstract concept. But sometimes there are news stories so big that even young kids become interested in them. The aftermath of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami and death of Osama bin Laden were two such stories in 2011. In the following blogs, Children’s experts offer parents advice on how to talk to children about world events that may seem scary or confusing, but are just too big for some kids to ignore.

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Everyone loves a cute viral video. And few YouTube videos could match the almost unbearable cuteness of the babbling twins.

Sure they’re adorable, but what’s really going on in this “conversation?” To learn more I spoke with Hope Dickinson, MS, CCC-SLP, coordinator of the Speech-Language Pathology Services at Children’s Hospital Boston at Waltham. The resulting blog, The science behind the babbling babies, explores the developmental milestones these two chatterboxes are demonstrating.

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When GQ Magazine accused Boston of suffering from a form of “style Down syndrome, where too much of a good thing ruins everything” they probably thought they were being clever. But the barb stung thousands of people who live with or love people with Down syndrome, including Brian Skotko, MD, MPP.

As a physician at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Down Syndrome Program and brother to a wonderful young woman with Down syndrome, Skotko wrote a blog response to GQ article. His humorous and loving post, Mock my pants not my sister, spread like wildfire online, making it the most widely read Thriving blog of all time. It also generated mainstream media attention and inspired several Online campaigns to show GQ’s editorial staff the error of their ways.

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For many people 2011 will be remembered as the year bullying became a nation issue. From the schoolhouse to the White House, every adult who works with children is now recognizing the very real threat bullying poses to the mental and physical health of America’s young. In this moving and personal blog, Children’s patient Kelly Rock recalls how she was bullied because of her facial deformity and talks about the strength she used to overcome the situation. Read Kelly’s blog, Bullying due to a medical condition.

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One of my favorite stories of 2010 was a blog written by the father of a transgender 12 year-old being treated at Children’s. In the piece the author shared how his daughter changed his views on life, love and fatherhood. When he first began writing for Thriving this dad spoke on the condition of anonymity, but in 2011 the family reveled their true names to the Boston Globe for the first time. The story landed on the front page and attracted national attention to their struggle and Children’s Gender Management Services Clinic (GeMS).

In response to the ensuing media buzz, the child’s father—now know to the world as Wayne Maines— wrote a Thriving blog on why he and his family chose to share their story publicly, and how Children’s Hospital Boston supported them through difficult decisions.

One thought on “Thriving in 2011: a year in review

  1. Boston Children’s Hospital has some of the best Doctors and Nurses in all of Massachusetts, they were very dedicated to taking care of my new born grandson Jaedyn Marquise’ Hargrove  he was born with AT-RT brain cancer and they gave there all in all to help him to fight this deadly disease. He was diagnosed by the doctors here when he was just 5 weeks old and they were by his side in every way and i thank god every day for putting them all in our lives in 2011 Even though Jaedyn passed away on 11/18/2011 he made a huge impact on many lives and thanks to the team at Boston Childrens we had a chance to learn a lot about Brain Cancer..God Bless and keep them all.. Thank you Doris Burrell   

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