I Sent My Stuffed Animal to the Hospital

And it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
Publish date:
July 27, 2012
stuffed animals, lamby

My best friend is a stuffed lamb named Lamby. There, I said it. It might sound weird for a girl (woman even!) of my age to admit that, but I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

Sure, he can’t go out for cocktails, high five me after a touchdown, or invite me to Thanksgiving when I have nowhere to go, but he’s loyal, cuddly, and the best listener I’ve ever met. Plus, he’s SO ADORABLE.

Cutest. Lamb. Ever. (And yes, I'm the weirdo who takes pictures of her stuffed animal. And no, we're not working on this in therapy. BIGGER FISH TO FRY, PEOPLE.)

I’ve written before that if I could take one thing from my burning apartment, it would be Lamby. I was shocked (pleasantly so) to learn that a lot of other people would also rescue their stuffed animals from a fire before anything else -- that I’m not the only one who has a that much of an attachment to an inanimate object. Though, of course for anyone who has read "The Velveteen Rabbit," it’s quite clear that a treasured stuffed animal is anything but an inanimate object. You know, SINCE IT’S REAL.

I get that in many ways Lamby is akin to a security blanket. Especially when one factors in my somewhat troubled childhood and the fact that I’ve had Lamby since I was a baby. And while I didn’t drag him around with me everywhere a la Suri Cruise, he did accompany me to overnight summer camp ever year from 5 to 15.

He also moved with me to London when I was 10, traveled with me to Switzerland, Egypt, France and beyond, sat on my bed in every dorm room (boarding school, reform school, college and grad school), and still occasionally makes the weekend trips to Tahoe. You know, just when I *really* need him.

Which is why, I suppose, I shouldn’t have been completely shocked a few weeks ago when I went to give him a hug and I saw that his face was split open with a clear view to the back of his eyeball. After all, he’s over 30 years old and being loved that hard and that much comes with a price. (Jaded: not a good look, but one I wear nonetheless.)

Still: it was upsetting. And by upsetting, I mean: THE WORST THING EVER.

Lamby's boo boo.

Lamby’s had one minor injury before: a hole behind his hindquarters that I sewed up with pink thread when I was a kid. But other than that, he’s survived all of the travel, all of the accidental plummets to the floor in the middle of the night and most of all: the many “baths” he’s received in the washing machine (followed by “blow outs” in the dryer). But now suddenly, he was in need of major surgery. I mean, I could see the back of his eyeball and his stuffing was falling out. SOMEONE CALL A DOCTOR!

Because while I’m perfectly capable of administering a Band-Aid, it was quite clear that Lamby needed stitches and that those stitches needed to come from a qualified medical professional. Listen, if my mother called a plastic surgeon when I split my lip open at the age of four, it was the least I could do for Lamby. After all, that’s what good parents do: protect their children’s modeling potential at all costs.

Enter: Realms of Gold Stuffed Animal Hospital

After a bit of Internet research, I found the stuffed animal hospital I thought had the most skill and the biggest heart. I sent the hospital an email explaining Lamby’s wounds. I added that if he were going to go in for surgery, he could maybe also use a little more stuffing. (If you’re going to go under, you might as well get a little work done while you’re there, right, ladies?)

Beth, the owner and “doctor,” responded immediately with her estimate ($40 for repair and stuffing) and a kind note about how Lamby sounded well loved. Clearly, her hospital was the place for Lamby. And, if anything happened -- like Lamby went missing -- she lived 45 miles away so I could just show up on her doorstep. With a SWAT team.

OK, listen. What’s going to happen next is weird. If you don’t love your stuffed animal, you’re not going to get it and, well, you’re probably going to judge me. When I told my brother I had to get off of IM because I was “writing a post about sending Lamby to the stuffed animal hospital,” his response was, “Oh my god.”

“No, I sound like a nutcase, but it’s fine.”

“No, you ARE a nutcase.”

“But they already think I am one…”

“Yeah… Wow… OK… Bye.”

(He meant it in the most supportive way; that’s just how big brothers are. Also, he likely still carries some guilt about the time he locked me in my room when I was four and put Lamby in the oven. I KNOW I WOULD IF I WERE HIM.)

I don’t have children so I’ve never had to drop a five-year-old off for her first day of kindergarten or beg my kid to write after I help him make up his bunk at summer camp. But as childless as I may be, I now know *exactly* what that’s like…


Daisy takes Lamby into the UPS store.

Daisy: I need to mail my lamb.

UPS Girl: OK.

Daisy: But, um, he’s MY MOST TREASURED POSSESSION. And this is the first time I’ve ever had to put him the mail and I’m kind of freaking out.

UPS Girl: No problem. Is a padded envelope okay?


UPS Girl: So a box.

Daisy: Yes, please.

UPS Girl: [holds up a box] Is this okay? He’ll be a little squished, but.

Daisy: Let’s see how he fits inside.

UPS Girl puts Lamby inside the box. Lamby is slightly squished, but perhaps “fetal position” comfortably so?

Daisy: OK, that’s fine. I think. Probably. Yeah. OK. That’s good.

UPS Girl closes the box and starts taping it up.

Daisy: Can we poke some air holes in it?

UPS Girl laughs.

Daisy: Um. I’m not kidding.

So yeah. You get it. I love my lamb.

$12 and a promise from the UPS Girl that “UPS loses packages less often than the airlines lose luggage” (WHAT THE HELL KIND OF PROMISE IS THAT?), I left the store to head straight to the tattoo parlor to get the tracking number tattooed on my labia. Just kidding, my forearm. WHO HAS A LABIA THAT BIG?

OK fine, I tucked the receipt in my wallet, went straight home, and typed it into UPS.com. Same difference.

I then sent Beth at the Stuffed Animal Hospital an email letting her know Lamby was en route. She responded letting me know she’d write as soon as he arrived.

This is the email I received from her the next day:

Hi Daisy,

Lamby made it to the hospital safely this afternoon. 

I've given him a little exam, and it looks like he has two small tears on his face along the seams (same seam, opposite sides of the face) and a little tear along the seam at the back left inner thigh (it looks like the right thigh was once repaired at the same spot with pink thread).

You also asked for a little more stuffing. As we discussed in our previous emails, repairing him and adding stuffing is $40. How stuffed would you like Lamby? Usually, lambs are not densely stuffed, but do you want his torso full enough so his head will stay up? Or do you want him to stay very squishy and just make it so there are no "empty" sections? Please let me know.

If you approve, I will send you a PayPal invoice for Lamby's treatment and trip home.

Thank you again for entrusting Lamby to my care.

DO YOU DIE? Because I mean, I love this woman.

The following day, Beth sent me pictures of Lamby once he came out of surgery and a note that I should “keep him out of direct sunlight and at room temperature to help him last as long as possible.” Apparently the fabric on his face is now very fragile, which I guess means fewer hugs for Lamby. I know. This is the saddest xoJane post ever.

I don’t know how to explain to you what it was like when Lamby was out of my care, traveling through the world on his own. Sadly, his hospital stay coincided with the first nervous breakdown of my life (no, I don’t think they’re related -- or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

Also, my mother has urged me not to refer to it as a nervous breakdown lest I be judged, but I’m pretty sure it’s WAY TOO LATE for that. Also, she doesn’t read this website. Also, when I told her the massive anxiety meant I had no appetite, she said: “Well THAT’S a good thing,” so we try not to listen to her too much. Just, you know, as a general rule.

All I can say is that when FedEx rang my doorbell two days after I put Lamby in the box, I’ve never run to my front door so quickly or with such exuberance. NOT EVEN WITH THE iPHONE 4S ARRIVED. (I mean, that’s how you quantify love, right?)

I ripped the box open and there, wrapped carefully in tissue, was my beloved Lamby. Not a scar in sight and looking like he’d just feasted on a delicious meal of grass and hay. I was so happy to see him that, despite being warned not to do so, I pulled him out of that box and gave him the biggest, longest hug of his lamb life.

And then I put him on the couch. Because the one thing I’ve learned this year is that if you keep your stuffed animal on the bed and then have mind-blowing sex with a hot guy, he’ll totally think it’s weird when you pick the stuffed animal up off the floor afterward and apologize to it. Out loud.

Thanks to everyone who asked after Lamby on Twitter while he was in the hospital. If you want more updates about his life, you can follow me @daisy. And if you have a stuffed animal who needs a little TLC, I highly recommend you send him/her to Beth at Realms of Gold. You won’t regret it.