PICU. Do you know what these four letters stand for?
If you don't...then phew...be glad.
If you do know what the PICU is, you have probably been in one with your child, know someone whose child has been admitted, or work in the medical field. The PICU stands for Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. I hope you never have to go there…EVER...for any reason.
When your child is in the PICU, one day feels like a lifetime. The roller coaster of hopes and fears, good news and bad news catapults a parent into a foreign, and very lonely world. For families whose children stay for an extended period of time, seasons pass, holidays come and go, and all concept of time is lost. Self care goes completely out the window. The question becomes “have I even taken a shower this week” instead of “should I wash my hair today?” You sleep in 30-minute increments. Face wipes, hand lotion, and deodorant feels like a spa day. A clean outfit from home is like having your very own shopping spree.
Your ‘home’ is split up in many different locations, because honestly, your home is wherever your loved ones are. Home becomes the hospital room as well as the house you long to get back to.
You don't see your other children sometimes for days. You’d do anything for an uneventful, 'normal', boring day like the ones you used to take advantage of. You daydream about cleaning house, doing laundry, and fixing dinner for your family like you once dreamed of being at the beach.
The world keeps moving on, all around you, and you actually don’t even care. Your main concern is now survival, for your child, the rest of your family…and for yourself. Fear, worry, loneliness, and isolation are all the norm. Quite honestly, it is a parent’s worst nightmare come true. It is like being stranded on an island.
There is light in the darkness. God is still good. People are giving and generous. In this exasperatingly unfathomable place, you find that hope is your lifeline, compassion for one another is ingrained in you like never before, and small acts of kindness make your heart smile and refresh your weary soul.
Things you once cared about make you chuckle under your breath. The division and arguing on social media makes you scream on the inside and you no longer see things the way you once did.
Cultural, political, and language barriers are broken down on this island of the PICU, where the simple truths of survival, hope, faith, and love bind everyone who enters.
You’ve never known weary like this level of weary; you’ve never known fear like this level of fear; and the depth of your love is greater than ever before. Beauty is given for ashes, and this crazy roller coaster called the PICU makes sure of one thing - that your life will never be the same.
This is why our Hospital Outreach is such an important part of our mission. I know what it’s like to be a PICU momma, and to spend days, weeks, months in the hospital with your child - how lonely and scary it is.
If you added up all the days Julia Grace spent in the hospital, it would probably equal to more than a year of her life. It was our home away from home. At SJGF, we want to do our small part to let families in the hospital know they do not walk this path alone. We deliver sunshine to show them that the 'outside world' or maybe we could say in this situation the ‘mainland’, is cheering them on and sending much needed support.
The Sweet Julia Grace Foundation’s Hospital Outreach Program brings SUNSHINE On a Rainy Day to children and families in a hospital setting. SJGF provides parents and caregivers with care packages filled to the rim with essentials, toiletries, snacks, comfort items & a whole lotta love; and children with gifts that bring joy and fun surprise. And guess what - you can help too by having a packing party.
Everything we do takes a village, and we are so thankful for ours!