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When Our Family Found the Holiday Spirit During a Hospital Visit

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My son, Jacob, had a pre-op appointment in late November in preparation for his December lumbar puncture (LP) procedure to receive SPINRAZA (i.e., a medication that slows down the degenerative progression of his primary condition, spinal muscular atrophy) and back tattoo to notate the injection site for future lumbar punctures.

Before seeing the physician, he had to get images of his spine.

When Jacob saw the Christmas tree in the back of the X-Ray room, he proclaimed, “We are taking my Christmas pictures today!” and couldn’t be persuaded otherwise.

Photo of Jacob laying on exam table with his Mom next to him and Christmas tree in background

Once Jacob was settled on the table, and it was time to take the shots of his back, he smiled and said, “Cheese!” while looking up at the arm of the machine moving back and forth above him.

Afterward, Jacob asked, “Do I get stickers now, Mommy?”

I told him that I didn’t know if the radiology department (in the ortho clinic) gave out stickers.

So Jacob bellowed to the x-ray tech standing behind the viewing window reviewing the images that she’d just taken of him, “Excuse me, lady, am I going to earn stickers today or not?”

Side note: Jacob has autism spectrum disorder and doesn’t mince words when he speaks.

The x-ray tech laughingly responded, “Of course!” and then listed off the sticker options.

When she asked Jacob, Which one do you want?” He answered truthfully, “All of them!”

Upon receiving all the stickers, Jacob exclaimed, “I did good, didn’t I, Mommy? Let’s put these in my sticker book and go home now.”

[Cue impromptu photoshoot in front of the Christmas tree before leaving the room.]

Jacoby laying on exam table with x-ray machine above him and Christmas tree behind him

Unfortunately, Jacob forgot that we came to the hospital to see his orthopedic surgeon not to take Christmas pictures, so he wasn’t happy when I explained that we had to hang out in the waiting room for a bit.

However, when the surgeon called us back to the exam room and asked Jacob how he was feeling, Jacob said, “Good. I love sitting like a big boy!”

I felt my eyes sting with happy tears as I listened to them talk.

Jacob sitting up in front of Christmas tree

All the pain, stress, fear, and worry before and after the spinal surgery that took place that August, had been worth hearing the joy in Jacob’s voice as he talked about how good he was sitting and how he liked seeing everything.

Parenting a medically complex child isn’t for the faint of heart, but days like this are so rewarding. They remind me what I am fighting for and make me feel like I might be doing something right after all, which was so encouraging and the closest I have ever come to personally experiencing a Christmas miracle.

Anyway, I hope that Jacob likes his hospital Christmas pictures.


Two photos of Jacob in front of green background with an image of the Grinch and the words "Grinchmas"

Originally published: December 8, 2022
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