Dreams

I write this from a place close to what I’d call a second home. And to be honest, its not something most people would be proud to admit. I’ve spent countless hours in these light, airy rooms with the cheerful yellow walls and the frosted seashell designs on the windows. I’ve walked countless times the long, curving hallways looking out on the entire city of Portland to get to the 1oth floor clinic for an appointment with my oncologist or charge myself up with extra fluids while attached to a beeping IV pole. I’ve tapped my foot and pushed the buttons for the elevator, marked with  a sign that resembles “some kind of  wallaby”. aka: kangaroo, it’s an inside joke.

My point is, I’ve spent a lot of time at the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s hospital, whether it’s been for surgeries, scans, emergencies, or appointments. Some people might assume that I’d want to get as far away from that place as possible when I’m feeling healthy and well, and spend my life doing something that has nothing to do with any aspect of medical care. And I’m not ruling out the possibility that someday, I may feel that way.

But right now, I can honestly say that I don’t completely hate hospitals.

I feel like I can say that because I’ve had the chance to view it in so many different ways. I’m not saying that I love staying at hospitals, or even look forward to the experience. Definitely not. I mean, I’m here for my 9th surgery. I’ve experienced unbelievable pain here, that can’t even be controlled by the strongest narcotics that can take weeks to wean off. I’ve been stuck in bed for several days, barely able to move. (Something that especially drives me crazy!

The staff around here aren’t surprised to see me doing laps wheeling around my IV cart, trying to reach a mile 🙂 There has been plenty of tears, frustrations, worries, and stress inside these walls. I’ve had to learn to trust my instincts and my family to prove skeptics wrong and take a completely new, untraveled path to make some of my dreams reality. There have been days that I’ve been so bored that I could scream, and I’ve definitely pissed off members of my family multiple times. Hey, we all agree its hard to be in such close quarters for such a long time; we’ve learned to take breaks to keep each other sane. And of course the whole time that I’m here, I’m constantly wishing I could be at Sunset High School saying hi to my friends, chatting at lunch, learning, and being around my classmates. Recovering after a tough surgery  really highlights the whole “alone” aspect, something that’s pretty tough, especially for people my age.

So, the hospital experience…it’s not easy.

But I don’t regret all the time I’ve spent here. Through the days of pain, I’ve met the kindest nurses who will try anything to make you comfortable, are fun and easy to talk to, & will find the little things that make your life just a touch easier. I’ve learned that “just a touch” has a bigger impact than you might think. I’ve spent hours painting, creating jewelry or sculptures, sewing designs, & sketching; all things that are a part of who I am and what I love to do. Volunteers have come to my room when I’m bed-bound, playing instruments, singing, & treating me to acoustic versions of my favorite songs. Art and music are healing, that’s a fact. I sincerely believe I’ve met the best kids here. Both young and old, nothing beats someone to listen to music with, play games, talk, or just relate to! We’re all really fighting the same thing in the end and the majority of people I’ve encountered have super positive attitudes.

I’ve had a giant Santa Claus sack of gifts with a side of heaping kindness and love delivered to me when I had the misfortune of staying in the hospital on Christmas. I’ve had my hair styled beautifully, nails painted, and even got to pick out a fabulous flapper dress costume from the kind organization Chelseas Closet 🙂 And of course there are the loving CNAs who give you special attention: making your bed, getting you little treats, and always willing to bring you an ice cold soda pop. It’s these moments; the moments that make me smile and be happy, the moments when I see little kid’s faces light up despite their pain, the moments when we experience joy even though we’re stuck in a place filled with sorrow.

This is what drives me to be a pediatric nurse. I want to give to other patients what the great nurses and staff have given to me at this hospital. I want to make hurting kids’ lives a little brighter in dark times. And that’s why I don’t despise the hospital. I see the cracks in between that are bursting with love.

My recovery is going well and I’ve got the feeling that it won’t be long before I have some new scenery.

One last thing I have to mention is this great new song my dad & I discovered. It’s a fighting anthem, so it’s a little rough around the edges, a little salty (language warning!), & it’s not  for everyone. But I love listening to it and understanding the message behind it. It’s called Mission by Lupe Fiasco. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: ]http://www.weareonamission.org/

 

Appreciation

The energy of the tie-dye event yesterday filled the halls of Bonny Slope Elementary with warmth, laughter, hope, and good feelings. I was honored to be the focus of such a positive and heartfelt celebration.  I was surrounded  by bouncy slides, music, taco trucks, awesome raffle prizes, and opportunities to talk and reconnect with many generous people. I was especially pleased to see a table full of people helping support me by taking the time to write to senators and other important figures about Compassionate Use! And of course, the main attraction was a big hit. 🙂  Vibrant splatters on the floor from the dye seemed to mix themselves into the joyful and messy atmosphere of the small room. The picture posted here perfectly describes the situation. Last of all, I just want to send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved/at the event, & all who continue to support me in my fight. I am awed at how dedicated, generous, and hardworking  you have been for these past 2 years.  Your love and kindness is truly what keeps me and my family going each and every day. I’d say we definitely kicked some major ASPS! As a last side note, I’d like to give a shout out to a few people in particular who I know put everything they had into making this happen:tiedye

At the risk of leaving someone out Academy Awards style:

– To Pam Winklesky: Once again, you pull of a wildly successful event with your incredible tie dye expertise!

-To the owner of the taco truck: So grateful for your generosity, as you come all the way from Salem with your delicious food!

-To the Nunez family: You continue to support us with your love in the church community, and helped run an awesome raffle with great prizes!

-To the Samuelsons, Tais, Mans, & Newbys: You just keep giving  your time and heart to run with us! Thankful everyday to have you on our “team”!

So many others, so many volunteers! Thank you!

Welcome

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Hi, I’m Nathalie Traller. I’m 15 years old and have ASPS. I love dolphins, soccer, spending time outside, and reading. I’ll be writing on this blog about what it’s like to be a high school student with cancer, and my personal experiences as well. I hope this will give people a better understanding of what my life is like on an everyday basis. Here’s a letter that sums things up.