Jenn Thelen, an Orlando mom of three, awoke on Monday morning to the gut-wrenching screams of her youngest child. Why? Well, there was a major Elf on the Shelf snafu! She’d remembered to move Sam, her daughter’s elf, to a new spot — a low-hanging door wreath — but the family’s curious German Shepherd, Zoey, pulled him out and gnawed on him like a plate of Christmas cookies. Ouch!
Seven-year-old Aubrie sobbed, standing over her beloved magical elf. The doll carnage was far from merry.
“His right arm was ripped off, he had a big tear in both his left arm and right leg, and a chunk off his cheek,” Jenn describes.
However, she’s a nurse manager for the emergency department at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando and quickly reassured that Sam could be treated there.
“My kids know that our medical team does amazing things,” she said.
So she scooped the mangled toy up in a blanket (because you can’t touch an elf or he’ll lose his magic). Jenn’s husband also works at the hospital, so the playful parents co-orchestrated an action plan with the help of colleagues.
A Santa-approved medical team wheeled Sam on a gurney into a trauma bay. They operated with (expired) medical products and a special pair of surgical gloves.
“We glued red construction paper on the outside of the gloves and wrote ‘Magical Santa Gloves’ and ‘North Pole Medical Supply’ so Aubrie knew the elf was OK to be touched with them,” describes the crafty mama.
While Babble can’t confirm if they were sterile (he-he), simple sewing needles and thread were used to repair Sam’s amputated arm and other limb wounds. Steri-strips and bandages were also applied, as was a sprinkling of Christmas magic (in the form of glitter). Remarkably, Sam was discharged that same day.
But would Aubrie believe the emergency intervention saved her elf?
“We always talk about Christmas magic with our kids,” Jenn says. “Aubrie is a very analytical kid, so she wants to know details about everything. So, we explained that Christmas magic is a way that Santa and the elves are able to do things that maybe normally wouldn’t make sense.”
Thus, Sam’s miraculous and speedy recovery!
Aubrie was anxious at school all day, not knowing the fate of Sam. Jenn’s co-workers, however, loved making a Christmas miracle come to life for her daughter.
“We have a department called Child Life that helps to make the hospital experience as atraumatic as possible with fun distractions,” Jenn says.
Since Aubrie couldn’t watch from the surgical observation deck, Jenn documented Sam’s care with convincing photos and videos.
As far as recovery time, well — Jenn says the bandages will remain on Sam for a few days, and then maybe a healed Sam will come back — i.e., a Sam 2.0 replacement. Then, the elf will be back on the shelf … and far from Zoey the dog’s reach, thanks to one creative mother and her life-saving elves who restored Christmas cheer!