Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Local Commercial that Bothers Me

"I woke up in the morning with a bad ear ache," a little girl says in a local commercial while distorting all the r sounds. (Sorry-I'm a speech language pathologist.)

The commercial shows the little girl going to a local doctor's clinic for help. It goes through the typical scenes and information that you would expect to see for an advertisement of a local clinic. But, then the mother of the little girl says something that stuck with me.

"There's nothing worse for a parent than a sick child," she says before the closing tag line.
I have a couple of problems with the mother's statement, which I assume was words from a script. First of all, as I have blogged before, I generally have patience for people who say anything that starts with: There's nothing worse than.... (See the post Your Worst Thing) Perspective is everything when talking about what the worse thing is. One's "worst thing" can be considered nothing to someone else. Everyone has a unique life perspective with their own best thing in life and the absolute worst. My viewpoint of the worst thing has changed over the years with different health scares with my daughter. But, most people's worse thing would never be close the scenarios our family has lived through. Still, I have patience with people walking out their own challenges. But, I don't have patience with this commercial.

After I saw the ad a few dozen times over the weeks I asked myself a question. Is the mom's "worst thing" a child with an illness that could be cured by an outpatient clinic? I think I know what the commercial is trying to say, but I don't like the seriousness of her statement in this commercial featuring an ear ache and a local clinic. There are things that are far worse.

I thought about the mothers who have lost children. Certainly, that's worse than any sick child.

My child has been in the ICU several times over the years. I can recall at least 3 times when I knew a child down the hall in ICU was dying. Generally, clergy were present. A flood of people were typically allowed into the patient's room when they are otherwise limited to only 4 visitors at a time. Most, if not all, of the equipment leaves the patient's room, and you know it's not because they are suddenly improving. The social worker is often nearby with tissues. Sometimes, an empty patient room is filled with the family's overflowing visitors eating snacks freely, which again is something usually not encouraged in the ICU. Grieving family members console each other openly in the halls.

Three times I have watched snip-its of these scenes unfold in the ICU for another family. I overheard parts of the patient's story in the parent lounge as family members shared with each other about a horrific accident or the battle with a long, serious health condition. I don't try to listen to their stories, but I hear them when I'm in the lounge eating my meals because my daughter is taking nothing by mouth.

One time, we were the room adjacent to a dying baby. My husband and I drew the curtains in our room and tried to give that family more privacy. When we saw the parents walk out of the hospital one last time with a cart full of belongings and no child, we both wanted to cry even though we didn't know them or their baby. They were experiencing the nightmare ending we were hoping to avoid, and it was too real. Not everyone has a happy ending in ICU.

Having a child in ICU has brought some of the worst moments of my life. However, my child is still here thankfully.

So as I think back to this health clinic commercial, I wish I could change the strong words of the mother. I can think of plenty of lines the ad could have said such as:
It's scary when your child is sick.
Parenting a sick child isn't easy.
As parents, we hope our children are never sick.

Still, we are all on our own journey with our own life experiences. I'll try not to judge the mother character in the commercial. However, if the clinic contacts me for consulting, I'll be happy to help with their next script. 😊

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