A Patient’s Perspective: ‘How I Made The Hospital Fun!’

Acute myeloid leukemia patient Christopher AstudilloChristopher Astudillo is an active 8-year-old boy whose favorite things are “to play and have fun!” In May 2011, Chris was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and began treatment at Texas Children’s Hospital. During his 5 months of 28-day (sometimes longer) admissions, and with the help of Child Life, Chris learned the ins and outs of Texas Children’s and has become an expert on how to make the hospital fun!

Here’s Chris’ advice on how to make a hospital stay fun:

CCLS (Certified Child Life Specialist): What was your treatment like, and how long did you stay in the hospital?
Chris: It was long and hard. I stayed for 5 months.
CCLS: What was the best part of staying in the hospital?
Chris: Playing
CCLS: What was the worst part of staying in the hospital?
Chris: The hospital food :)
CCLS: Can you tell us a little bit about what you did to make the hospital fun?
Chris: Unit Carnival — With Child Life’s help, I created multiple stations (football toss, basketball shoot, painting/face tattoos, photo shoot, arts and crafts, and a massage station for the parents) and invited all the patients on the floor to join in the FUN!
Unit Carnival, Child Life at Texas Chidren'sPlaying with clowns at Unit Carnival in Cancer CenterPet Therapy — Asked Child Life to bring dogs to my hospital room for me to pet.
Pet therapy at Texas Children's HospitalVolcano Explosion! — Asked Child Life for supplies. I made a volcano out of Play-Doh, put baking soda in the volcano, added vinegar and waited for the explosion…
Volcano explosions with Child LifeChris Chemo Wars — Here I took a big piece of paper and drew cells on it. Then I filled syringes with paint and shot “chemo” at the cancer cells! This is fun and messy and you will need paper towels!
Medical Play — My sisters and I played with a doll that has a real PICC line and we got to play doctor on the doll with real medical stuff.
Play in the hallways — I played football, basketball, and Frisbee in the hallway with my family and child life; sometimes my nurses and doctors even played.
Playing in hallways at Cancer CenterA LOT of video games — I brought my own video games from home and I played them on the Xbox and Wii in the playroom! I loved inviting other patients to play them with me in my room or in the playroom.
CCLS: What is advice you would give to other kids on how to have fun in the hospital?
Chris: PLAY and PLAY
CCLS: Any other words of wisdom?
Chris: Be BRAVE and be AWESOME!!Having fun with Child Life at Texas Children's Hospital

About Kelli Ferguson, Child Life Specialist

I have been a member of the Child Life Department at Texas Children's since 2010, and have served the patients in both the Emergency Center and most recently in the Cancer and Hematology Centers.

I hold a degree in Human Development and Families Studies with a Child Life concentration. My education and experience ignite a true passion for patients to understand their medical experiences, encourage patient's creativity and self expression, and foster fun in the hospital environment.

Posted in Cancer and Hematology, Child Life, Patient Voices

3 Responses to A Patient’s Perspective: ‘How I Made The Hospital Fun!’

  1. Sandra S. says:

    What an awesome child and program, I wish him well on the road to recovery :)

  2. Christian B. says:

    What a wonderful story! So incredibly thankful for Child Life programs that help children through difficult times.

  3. marta moreira says:

    we say thank you for everything the Doctors and the Staff the Hospital for Amazing work we’re family of Christopher Astudillo we saw him here in New York we so Happy for so Amazing recuperate we not have words for thank you God Bless to averyone “You;re the Hope for many Children’s and family”

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