Feel Better Mommy book cover

Local author Risa Kirschner’s hospital stay sparks helpful children’s book.

By Barbara Lewis

Fifteen years ago, Risa Kirschner, then 29, discovered she had a life-threatening tumor on her heart. Several surgeries and complications led to many weeks in the hospital. Kirschner worried about her own health and about how her daughter, Alli, then 2, would cope with the trauma of having her mother away from home and in the hospital.

The hospital staff were “amazing,” she said. Realizing how important it was for her to see her young daughter, they did everything they could to make that possible.

“I don’t have a lot of memories about the hospital, but I remember her visits,” said Kirschner, 44, of Farmington Hills.

For Alli, trips to the hospital were an adventure, said Kirschner, an attorney and commercial real estate broker.

“She got to ride on my lap in the wheelchair. She made the bed go up and down,” she said.

Soon after she came home, Kirschner wrote the first draft of a children’s book based on the experiences of her daughter, now a senior at North Farmington High School.

Feel Better, Mommy will have a launch party from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, in the Korman Atrium at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield.

Abby is the book’s heroine. Her mom has a boo-boo, so her nana takes her to the hospital, where she discovers that spending time with her mom can make the hospital feel like home.

The book teaches children that hospitals are safe places and that parents always love their children, even if they must spend time away from home.

“It’s the kind of book I wish I had had when Alli came to visit,” said Kirschner, who has been published in two books for adults. In Inspired to Change: Improving Patient Care

One Story at a Time, edited by Linda Laren, she describes how a hospital can become a sacred space for healing. She talks about her personal health experience in Heart 2 Heart: Stories from Patients with Left Ventribular Assist Devices, edited by Ruth Halben.

An advocate for patient- and family-centered care, Kirschner has served on the executive committee of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Kirschner’s sister, Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny of Temple Israel, said preparing Alli for visits to the hospital was difficult.

“We didn’t have a children’s book that could tell the story in a clear and sweet way. There just wasn’t anything available,” she said. “When Risa recovered and we told her about Alli’s first visits, she was determined to fill this gap.

“I think she more than succeeded. The book reflects not only the experience a child would have visiting the hospital, but also the unbreakable bond between every parent and child that goes beyond the boundaries of their home.”

She said Kirschner’s family — including her husband, Brian, and her father, David Tisdale, CEO of Temple Israel — is “proud beyond words.”

The 24-page book is illustrated by Anna Kubaszewska and published by Warren Publishing. A coloring book version, with the pictures in outline form, also is available. Visit feelbettermommy.com or Amazon.