By: Elizabeth Hymas, Naomi's Mother
My ten-year-old daughter was in a tragic accident that left her entire face fractured from the bottom of her eye sockets down to her chin. One minute she was an active basketball-playing, sing/song-strumming, hot dog-eating, regular ol’ happy girl, and the next minute we were using Life Flight and relying on strangers to save her life.
We spent the next month in Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. Naomi’s face and eyes were completely swollen. She suffered through multiple surgeries including a full face reconstruction. Her jaws were wired shut, and a tracheostomy was placed as well as a g-tube.
Will Music Therapy Help My Child?After a couple of emotionally and physically draining days in the Intensive Care Unit, our nurse asked my husband and I if we would like to have Music Therapy visit Naomi. I was very hesitant. In my mind, I pictured a loud and disturbing band that would only worsen Naomi’s condition. Given all that had happened, I wanted to protect her from any unwelcome visitors. I was assured that we would be pleased by our experience. Very cautiously, I accepted.
A lovely girl entered Naomi’s room along with an acoustic guitar strapped to her back. We gently woke Naomi and whispered that she had company. Her eyes were straining as she tried to peek. Amanda, the music therapist, quickly grabbed a chair and rolled it close by Naomi’s bed.
Hope ReturnsAs I watched Amanda play and sing tenderly to Naomi, I noticed and felt something that we hadn’t experienced since the accident - Naomi smiled. She felt happy. Our lives had been turned upside down. As her mother, I felt weak, sick and had lost any optimism. But in that very moment there was light. We felt hope.
Naomi’s health improved as well as her musical abilities. Amanda listened to Naomi’s interests. She studied her learning style and was concerned for the overall well being of my daughter. Amanda even took her own personal time memorizing songs that Naomi requested. At one point Naomi said, “Mom, she is better than Taylor Swift!”
Naomi was released from Primary Children's, but our friendship has continued. We visit Amanda every few weeks when we come back for doctor visits. We give her updates on life, and we always remember to sing a little.
Life After TragedyNaomi will continue to need surgeries this year. She is nervous, but we know Amanda, her Music Therapist, will be in the chair by the side of her bed singing her favorite songs.
Amanda inspired Naomi to purchase her own guitar, and Naomi even named her new puppy Maestro after Amanda’s last name.
Naomi was offered the chance to visit four different Idaho radio stations, and share her experience at Primary Children’s Hospital. She was asked the question, “What was your favorite part of the hospital?”
She replied, “Amanda, my Music Therapist.”
The stations then played the song that Naomi and Amanda wrote together- “Up High in a Tree.”
We are so grateful that Primary Children’s Hospital has Music Therapy in the hospital. The music was inspiring and gave the gift of hope to Naomi.