I wasn't so sure. " I just came out of the hospital, Mrs. Preston, and I don't think I want anyone but Abby to know. What if the kids laugh at me or treat me like I'm special? I'd hate that! I want to be like everyone else." "Special? I think that each one of the children in third grade is special," Mrs. Preston said. "And as for laughing, well, I think that kids laugh mostly when they donít understand, and when theyíre afraid"... I thought of the way that I had giggled when I first saw Heather in the hospital, and I knew that what Mrs. Preston said was true.
Heather was a girl that I met in the hospital who didnít have any hair. What she did have was a baseball cap, so without any hair, she looked a little bit like a boy. That was certainly confusing to me. I thought that I might catch whatever it was that made all the hair fall out. People would think that I was a boy, too. Yuck! So hereís what I did.
I pretended not to look at Heather, even though we were both in the play room. Maybe, I hoped, if I donít look at her, sheíll go away. Just when I was about to sneak a glance to see if the trick worked, a nurse appeared, and said, "oh, here you are, Sally. Have you two met one another?" I just giggled (thatís what I always did when I was nervous), and I started to leave the room when Heather said, "Nope, I just came in today." Before I could escape to my own room, the nurse, whose name was Tanya, introduced the two of us to one another, and Heather reached out to shake my hand. That's right, to shake my hand! I was so scared, thinking that I would turn bald any minute, but what could I do? Well, I did what I learned to do when I was younger, I went ahead and shook Heather's hand, and when Heather said, "nice to meet you", I stopped giggling long enough to say, "nice to meet you, too".
Thatís how our friendship started, and for the rest of my time in the hospital, the two of us were always together, like ketchup and french-fries. My hair didnít disappear, either! When I learned that Heather had a different kind of medical problem, and that her hair fell out because of the strong medicines that she needed to take, and that she was still nine year old Heather--funny,friendly Heather, then I relaxed, and I wasnít afraid of her any more.
Go back to the last page Fly away home Onward to the next page
Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468
Last updated: November 14, 2004