Fairy Dust: The Best Medicine
by Valerie Wiseman
Q: So, tell me about fairy dust.
A: In my first year of nursing, I had a young Cystic Fibrosis patient whose family wasn’t able to stay so she was usually alone and would never go to sleep— I’d turn off the TV and leave, and when I came back to check on her, she would have found a way to turn it back on! One night, she asked me for a bedtime story… the rest is history!
I told her all about a little girl who was afraid to be in the hospital. I told her that every kid that comes to the hospital has a personal hospital fairy assigned to them. I explained that these fairies can be very shy – often, the only way you can see them is in your dreams. That’s when the fairy uses her magic to help make you better and that’s why it is extra important to go to sleep! She named her fairy Isabelle and once she fell asleep, I would leave her notes from Isabelle. I made an ID badge fairy dust and told her Isabelle wanted to make sure I had a little bit of her magic to help take really good care of her!
Q: How many years have you been doing this?
A: I have been a peds nurse for about 3 years now. The first time I made a fairy dust for my ID was at my first job at the University of Florida. One of my favorite nurses, who had been there about 20 years, had one on her ID that she made a little differently. I learned from her and modified them to create my own.
The sweet patient from the story above has always stuck in my heart and mind and I shared my “bedtime story” with some fellow Acute Pediatric nurses around Christmas-time. After hearing the story, they were very excited and encouraged me to start making them again! This is one of the many things I love about my new work family!
Q: How do you make a vial of fairy dust?
A: They are made out of (empty!) medication vials. I remove the top, add the fairy dust, and glue the rubber stopper back in place.
Q: Have others team members started using fairy dust, as well?
A: I have shared the fairy story with most of my coworkers and I know that some of them have shared the story with their patients and their families. One fun “side-effect” of giving fairy dust to so many people is that the story can change a bit for each person who chooses to share it!
Q: How many vials of fairy dust have you made so far?
A: I have been keeping a list! I’ve made 87 vials so far for the nurses, techs, HUCs, and management on 7 Acute. I plan to give one to all of the 7 Acute staff and then selling them for a small amount to anyone else who is interested; I know this could be great for other departments, as well! My long-term goal is to turn this story into a book!
Q: How has this experience been rewarding for you?
A: The short answer is that seeing the amazement in that first patient’s eyes when I told her about the hospital fairies was the best feeling ever! As a pediatric nurse in the hospital setting, many of the things we have to do are scary or difficult for kids to understand and sometimes even harder for parents to navigate. It is amazing to have a physical tool/reminder of the innocence and need for fun that is inherent in our patient population! Bedtime stories, fairy tales, and therapeutic play are a special type of medicine that anyone can provide. For the older patients who might not get as excited about the “magic” of it, I’ve still found it to be a fun conversation piece when they ask why everyone seems to have vials on their ID badges.
On a more personal level, in my career as a pediatric nurse, I have developed a strong interest in the Cystic Fibrosis population. I love that the birth of the hospital fairy story came from a CF patient and hope to someday use it to benefit fundraising and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis.
To learn more or to order your own vials, please contact Val Wiseman at email@example.com.
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