Unforgettable PFOO FOO
Unforgettable PFOO FOO
Some people have such a lasting impact on our life that not even time passing can erase it. Once, a precious child left a strong impression on us. This winter season, we want to share his beautiful story.
Vítek is a new patient in the oncology clinic of the hospital in Brno, Czech Republic. He is a small boy whose head is leaning slightly towards his right shoulder. This fragile child is all alone, as his parents take care of six more children in a distant town.
Vítek looks innocent and tender, but when we come closer to the door of his room, we see that he gets scared and starts crying. He is sad and homesick. For some time during our visits, we hide behind his half-open door so that Vítek can only see our clown noses and hear us play the ukulele. Then, a stream of bubbles is flowing into his room and shy Vítek is watching them, catching them in his small hands and laughing. We take our time. We know that we need to be careful and gentle to break the fear barrier around this little boy who is always alone without his mother. We believ that we will have enough time to earn his trust.
Slowly but surely, Vítek begins to accept us into his everyday life in the hospital. The nurses tell us that he started asking about us, “Couns?” or making bubbles, “Pfoo-foo?"
These are among his first words. A “phoo-foo”, aka bubble maker, becomes his favorite toy. He has his bubble maker near his bed and even the game therapist Roman always brings one with him. Pfoo-foo becomes a well-known term in the whole unit. We rarely say “bubble maker” now, we rather call it a “pfoo foo”. The name of our new friend has therefore become “Pfoo-foo Vítek”.
Our friendship with little Vítek intensifies. Fear and anxiety start to disappear and we play together with our pfoo-foo. Our tiny friend allows us to get near his bed now. Vítek likes listening to the ukulele and even enjoys playing it as well.
The “couns”, Vítek and later our regular shows in the oncology ward turn out to be a vey good match. Time passes and one year later, my colleague Dr. X-Ray and myself give a clown show in the hospital to celebrate Vítek's birthday, who turned three years old. He gets a big bubble maker and we are going to have a big pfoo-foo party. A birthday cake, little cars, and other gifts, together with the presence of other patients and nurses from the oncology unit and of course the game therapist Roman all bring big smiles on Vítek’s little face.
This tiny boy’s world is reduced to the oncology unit, doctors, nurses and clowndoctors. On one hand, his universe has shrunk, on the other hand it has also become extraordinary, sometimes even magical. It’s wonderful to see that Vítek's health starts improving thanks to his treatment. Smooth hair starts growing on his small head, which is still leaning towards his right shoulder. Vítek’s appetite increases and he even starts talking more now.
This was Vítek’s disposition as we started coming to the oncological clinic with our Circus Pacientus project. Every day, for a whole week, we went to the hospital to teach children basic circus skills. We offered classes of magic, juggling, taming the beasts or riding a horse and more. Vítek was there with us all week and together we practiced magic with a special bubble maker that produces beautiful sounds when a certain kind of magic is used. Little Vítek did very well and it was so much fun for him! In the end, we, the clowns together with the kids offered a circus show for the medical unit. Vítek and his “pfoo-foo magic” was a great success. He enjoyed his time on stage and accompanied by a live music band, laughing and happy, he started dancing spontaneously. It was a very touching moment for us all and the nurses had tears in their eyes. They were tears of joy and gladness.
After a bit more than a year and a half, the treatment of our dear Vítek has been successfully completed. His mother comes to the hospital and we can meet her in person for the first time.
“Oh, now I finally know what he means when he says ‘couns‘. I couldn’t figure it out,” his mother explained.
Vítek has disappeared for some time from our lives. We meet him every now and then when he comes with his mum to get checked up by a doctor. He still calls us "pfoo-foo" and we are always happy to say hello to our old pal. Vítek is much bigger now, he has fine blond hair and looks cool.
Several months pass. We have one of our regular clown shows at the oncology clinic. I enter room No. 7, where little Vítek was living and waiting for us for more than a year and a half. The room is empty now. Later, I ask a nurse: "Is Vítek home?"
It feels like forever to me before the nurse looks at me with her eyes full of tears, shaking her head. I got it and I didn't ask further. Sometimes, the disease comes back unexpectedly and the second time is much faster than before the treatment.
I’m pondering on both the fragility and the depth of our clown friendship with Pfoo-foo Vítek. I believe that for every clown each second spent with their patients is just as valuable as if they had been many years together. It's hard to say whether we knew Vítek for a short or a long time. What matters to me is that our shared experience was intense and definitely unforgettable. Though his life was not long, Vítek had a huge impact on all the people around him. At the oncology clinic, through the bubble miracle, this child gave fifteen Czech clowns a whole new perspective. He gave it a meaning that is still there.
Furthermore, his pfoo-foo has connected us clowns better to the staff and other patients. In fact, Vítek has never left us, and all the clowns still call a bubble maker a pfoo-foo.