Though Cam and I recently set out into the world to become travel bloggers, it occurred to me yesterday that I haven’t written anything about our number one travel destination: Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa (I added the last part, but I think it’s catchy). In fact, since COVID has caused us to cancel all our vacations in the last year, Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa is the only place besides home, work and Fuzzy’s Tacos that either Cam or I have spent any time at all. I estimate that, since Cam’s original brain tumor diagnosis five years ago, counting all the surgeries, planned procedures (like sleep studies or video EEG’s), and emergencies, Cam and I have spent approximately 60 nights at the Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa, specifically the Anschutz Campus in Aurora. That’s about twelve nights a year! That’s more than the average time share!
Although I know quite a few of Cam’s fellow childhood disease warriors who have spent many more days and nights at the hospital than we have, I thought that I could at least write a few words of appreciation for the place. I only speak for myself, and for Cam a little bit because, well, he doesn’t speak, but I’m here to tell you, Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa has everything you need for a relaxing getaway.
Here are my (and Cam’s) Top 6 Reasons to Stay at Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa:
ONE: You NEVER have to be lonely!
Even if all the residents, from all four departments involved in Cam’s case, have come by to go over Cam’s
medications once more, and it’s the middle of the night, I can always look forward to a visit from a nurse’s aide in the next ten minutes or so. Also, since the monitors are set to the parameters for normal human beings, Cam sets off alarms constantly. Each time, a new friend comes to visit! The nurses are plentiful and perky at Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa and I rather enjoy talking to them about frivolous things like the best place to buy Converse sneakers or why dogs sniff butts. My favorite magic trick; each time I need to take a morning shower or poop, a hard-to-reach, decision-making Attending Physician will come to discuss Cam’s diagnostic results and discharge plans. Every. Single. Time. Same thing happens if I forget to put on a bra.
TWO: The dining options are INFINITE!
Did you know that Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa is somewhat all-inclusive? That’s right! Scattered throughout the hospital floors and PICU (and I assume the NICU, though we haven’t had to visit that wing), there are little slices of Heaven called the “Nourishment” rooms. The drawers are full of saltine crackers, graham crackers and peanut butter. Some locations offer additional treats in the fridge, such as Jello and juice (Which is technically for the patients, but if the PARENT is passing out from hypoglycemia, who’s watching the patient? Take that how you want). There are fancy little coffee and tea machines that rarely work. But have no fear. Soon, another parent in sweatpants and greasy, unkempt hair will come in and show you how to use it. There’s a water machine, too! With ice! It’s like an all-you-can eat and drink buffet in those Nourishment rooms. Fill your pockets, folks. There’s room service, too. (I told you, it’s a resort.) And downstairs, the cafeteria offers additional options for the discerning diner. In non-COVID times, the cafeteria offers a dizzying array of options, but these days they want you in and out of there fast. If you have the time and disposable income to pick up a White Russian Mocha at Daz Bog and a vegetarian breakfast burrito with green chili at the Grab and Go Station, do it! And tell them I sent you.
THREE: ENDLESS award-winning entertainment!
Every room, even in the emergency department, has it’s own television. There’s basic cable, with all the major channels, including Ryan Seacrest, PLUS all the major family movies, most of which we’ve only seen once or twice. For no charge? Yeah! Sign me up! Additionally, I figured out a few visits ago that the Wi-Fi at Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa was much faster than mine at home and if I could remember my laptop and charger, I could binge the crap out of Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime. Yeah, I’m a slow learner. Last time, we tore through the entire series of The Mandalorian. But the point is, there’s no shortage of stuff to watch on the screen. My favorite is to raid the Nutrition Room, put on Shrek and climb into bed with Cam. We prop up our feet and wait for the next nursey visitor. Pro tip: don’t let your kid anywhere near the remote control because the red nurse alarm button is on there, too, and they get mad when you page them too often for no reason. Not that “Cam was bored” isn’t a reason, but you know.
FOUR: What an AMAZING VIEW!
There are nine stories in the Children’s Hospital Resort and Spa and we have stayed on the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 9th, in all BOTH Colorado seasons, and let me tell you, there’s always something happening outside. Any time of day, any time of year, out the window, you can find your zen. After nightfall, when Cam is finally asleep, and between nurses aide visits, I always curl up on the bed and stare at the lights of the city for a few minutes. There’s nothing like seeing miles and miles of lighted businesses and homes, headlights and streetlights, either toward the skyscrapers of Downtown Denver, or the plains of Aurora, to help me get some perspective. Thousands of people, driving, working and going about their business, no idea I’m in a hospital with my baby, several stories up, watching them, wondering what they’re doing. In the mornings, I always catch the sunrise. Even if its not actually rising on my side of the building, it’s strangely comforting to watch the streets slowly fill with vehicles, the sidewalks with people. Sometimes, while I’m watching out the window, day or night, I’ll catch a Flight for Life helicopter coming in to land, or an ambulance tearing down Colfax. I’ve seen blizzards and thunderstorms from the top stories of Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa, the streets empty and reflective, and it gives me few moments of peace to carry in my heart.
FIVE: Help yourself to all the FREEBIES!
Okay, okay, I know it’s not free. Insurance, society at large, whatever, it paying for it. But it sure feels like free stuff!
It largely depends on what department you’re in, or what floor you’re on, and how long you’re there as to how much loot you get to take home. Never mind that most of it you don’t need and already have in overflowing boxes in the living room, it’s nice to feel like a winner. During COVID times, or when your kid has major respiratory issues, everything he touches or that enters his room will be thrown away, so don’t feel bad taking it home! Tape, syringes, oxygen masks, diapers, even inhalers have got to go. Once, we even accidentally took home a pile of blankets, mostly because Cam’s temperature was dangerously low and the doctor wouldn’t let us walk him to the van without them. Pro-tip: WIPES! The hospital has little travel size containers of wipes. If you “can’t find them”, the nursey-types just get more. With a smile. Yaaaassss.
SIX: Spend QUALITY TIME with your little sick/injured person!
This is my favorite. At home, I get to spend plenty of time with Cameron, but life is always interrupting. I have work, he has school, there are other humans asking questions and dishes to wash and dogs to walk. But in the Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa, Cameron is the priority. I literally can’t get any work done, or clean anything, or pay any attention to anyone else in my family. Cam is there because he is sick, or he is recovering, and nothing else matters. It’s okay to sit with him for HOURS and cruise Facebook while he sleeps on my shoulder, because if I move, he might wake up (the nursey types don’t really wake him up any more). Each visit to our favorite resort is because Cam needs something, or something has gone wrong and I have to remember. Reality – that Cam is sick, that life is short, that no one, especially Cam, is guaranteed anything at all, including time on this Earth – hits home. So I hold him. As much as I can. Even if I’m annoying him. Even if I start to smell a little ripe and I haven’t sent Kris, the siblings, Instagram or the grandparents any updates in hours. It’s the only place that it’s 100% okay to just BE. WITH. HIM. And I’m thankful.
Okay. Confession. There’s no actual spa at Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa. At least, there’s no massage or mineral water, saunas or personal trainers. But the name is catchy, so it’s staying. Actually, I do have a little exfoliating travel face wash that I always bring. And I wear hard-bottomed slippers the whole time. So that’s spa-ish. Yeah, it counts!
I wanted to mention, for publicity purposes, that Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa has a lot more really great amenities that I do not usually take advantage of. There are playgrounds, a tween lounge, activities in the lobby (in non-COVID times), a library and even a family resource center with real beds and laundry, but I hardly ever make it to those things. Not because they aren’t awesome, but because I rarely leave Cam’s side. I have a seriously deep-seated fear of missing a visit from a doctor, so running down the hall like my ass is on fire to get free coffee and graham crackers is the closest I usually come to leaving the room. I encourage you to check these other things out. They really are a quality part of the Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa experience.
We’ll be there again this Friday, for yet another Cameron surgery, and frankly, I’m looking forward to it. I mean, yes, it’s really wonderful that after his surgery, Cam will be able to breathe through his nose again, and hopefully sleep like a functional human being, but I’ve really also come to appreciate the getaway from the real world.
Plus, coming home from Children’s Hospital Colorado Resort and Spa with my baby feeling just a little better than when we left? Well, that’s the most important reason of all.