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

Acute myeloid leukemia patient Christopher Astudillo

Christopher 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's

Playing with clowns at Unit Carnival in Cancer Center

Pet Therapy — Asked Child Life to bring dogs to my hospital room for me to pet.

Pet therapy at Texas Children's Hospital

Volcano 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 Life

Chris 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 Center

]A 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

Kelli Ferguson, Child Life Specialist