Guest Blog- Hadassah Medical Clown -Nehama

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Chapter One: Hadassah Medical Clown “opening her heart” surgery

My name is Nehama Perel and I work at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem as a medical clown.

When it was first suggested that I take a medical clown course I immediately said “no way”. I couldn’t imagine myself standing beside a crying, scared kid in a hospital bed and all I can do is cry with him and soak his sheet with my tears.

And still, after that “Absolute” no I added “but please tell me more”. I wanted to cope with my fears of opening my heart, of getting emotional and being exposed, the fear of encountering pain, sickness and death. Those fears I felt and agreed not to be paralyzed by, were in fact a gateway for development and an opportunity to achieve emotional strength and empowerment.

The Medical Clown Project in Israel is called ‘Dream Doctors’ and began at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem in 2002 with 3 clowns. Today, 15 years later, more than a hundred clowns work in 29 hospitals in Israel.

In Hadassah we are 7 clowns who work as a part of the medical staff on regular shifts on the wards and during medical procedures. Our work is mostly with the patients but also supporting the families and, of course, helping the dedicated medical staff.

As a clown, I try to connect to the healthy side of the child and bring him back to a sense of being in a protected and safe place. Through play and imagination the child can re-experience feelings of capability and strength that had been stifled in the hospital, where he is sick and often in pain, where everyone tells him what to do and he has no control over his own body. Into this harsh reality enters the medical clown and the child suddenly has an opportunity to reconnect to his own strengths.

Take Michal for example, a 4 years old girl hospitalised in Hadassah who had to get an IV treatment. Michal was scared and lay crying in her father’s arms. I pull out the secret weapon – soap bubbles and pretend I can’t blow bubbles. Her father suggests that Michal try herself. “Really? Michal can blow bubbles? No way… really? Can you?” I ask as Boola-Boola the clown and Michal’s eyes shine in excitement. She blows a treasure of colorful bubbles. The timing is perfect. The doctor starts the process while Michal lies in bed and we take turns – I get confused, miss and fail while Michal blows proudly in her turn, not even noticing that on the other side the needle is already in her arm.

I am lucky to work in Hadassah. I am lucky to be a medical clown and to see the magic that connects people, turns difficult situations upside down, makes us laugh and cry, empowers and enables us to grow. This work is a gift to me too, as I continuously learn and develop professionally and personally.

In the following blogs I’ll share stories with you from the other medical clowns at Hadassah – David, Maya, Fulla, Shiri, Juan and Amichay. Each of them is doing wonderful, important and amazing work.

Wishing love and health to everybody from all the red noses of  Hadassah, Israel.

May the nose be with you.

Written by Nechama {Boola-Boola} Perel.


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