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Week of 9.24.09

O'Reilly Family Blog: "Our 15 Minutes"
By Natalie O'Reilly

Natalie O'Reilly is author of the blog A Girl and Her Lung, which talks about her daughter Sophie's health issues and, her opinions on health care reform. This post from September 3rd describes the family's "amazing journey" with NOW on PBS.

Maria Hinojosa interviews Natalie O'Reilly.
Maria Hinojosa interviews Natalie O'Reilly.
My mind is still blown, and I'm still reeling a bit from nerves and excitement, so you'll have to forgive me if this is scattered all over the place. Buckle down and get ready for the roller coaster that has been our lives for the past week.

On Sunday, August 16th, I wrote a Facebook note called "Reform for Sophie".

On Tuesday, August 25th, I received a phone call from a delightful and sassy PBS producer in New York. She was calling to say that the PBS program, NOW, is working on a documentary about healthcare reform, and they would like to come and film Sophie's story.

Five days later, on Sunday, August 30th, we had two producers sitting in our living room. By 7:30 the next morning, we had two producers, a camera man, and a sound guy. I guess that their program is called NOW for a reason. These folks get stuff done.

So over the past four days a PBS crew has followed our family as we eat, wrangle kids, play at the park, go to the doctor, go potty (not really, but wanted to make sure that you're paying attention), go to Sophie's school, etc. They have met with my parents and our close friends. And they have been absolutely lovely, gracious, and encouraging every step along the way. So if PBS ever calls you up and is all, "Hi there. We want to come to your house, like, tomorrow, to film your life", just say yes. They're awesome.

Maria Hinojosa and Sophie O'Reilly
Maria Hinojosa and Sophie O'Reilly
It's been a really amazing journey for our family. While media attention is pretty much the last thing that we would ever be interested in, we immediately felt that this is something important to do, partly because we wanted Sophie to be able to look back years from now and see how much we adore her, and how much we wanted for her. But also because we had an opportunity to stand up and give a voice to all of the messages, emails, and comments that we have received from people struggling in similar situations, and from people in situations so dire and heartbreaking that we'll remember their stories for the rest of our lives.

While those first few days after talking to Brenda were filled with chaos and stress (like, "OMG, how am I going to lose 30 pounds in three days, and we don't have any art on our walls, and please please please Bonnie, please come and help us clean our house"), looking back now, we see what an incredible gift we were given. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and if you take out all of my neurotic behavior and all of Stephen's uptight Virgo-ness, it was a complete freaking blast.

The producers, camera and sound guys, and interviewer were among the most kind, patient, wonderful people that we've ever met. They dealt with my eye rolling and Felix's five year old behavior with total grace. Maria Hinojosa, the interviewer, stole Sophie's heart within minutes of meeting, and soon after they declared themselves Best Friends Forever.

Today Felix is feeling a bit heartbroken from the loss of "his mans" (camera and sound folks), and Sophie is desperately missing her best friend, but hopefully one day our paths will cross again.

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