Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wisdom on the Ward

My little boy has been sick.  Really sick.  Okay, not terminally, devastatingly, life altering-ly sick.  But sick enough that for a while there we thought he might have been all of those things.

I've become intimately familiar with the facilities of the Royal Children's Hospital.  From the fish tank to the meerkats and even the (secret) In the Night Garden display.  If you know this one, kudos.

We've had four admissions in as many weeks and been accommodated in Dolphin, Sugar Glider, Cockatoo and Koala wards.  Whatever other wards there are, I have no desire to know them.

And while it is impossible not to be grateful for this amazing facility it's fair to say if I never have to walk it's corridors again it will be too soon.

My son is still not 100% well.  He's making good progress, but until I have my super-healthy, resilient, happy, carefree little boy back I cannot relax.  I wake every morning wondering if the day will entail a trip to the emergency department.  

As a defiant statement of positivity I do not have a bag packed and ready to go, like I did in the thick of it.  But mentally the list of what to take is still crouching ninja-like and ready to spring into action at a moments notice.  

And this anxiety, this worry, this uncertainty is exhausting.  All of it is exhausting.  Even now that he is essentially better, it's exhausting.

The actual illness was terrible, but by far the worst of it was the emotional journey.  The places you take yourself when things are uncertain can be frightening.  But also illuminating.

When my son was in the hospital with his dad it was so hard not to be there with them.  But I was acutely aware of how much my daughter needed me too.  

And as I looked into her big, beautiful, trusting, frightened eyes I felt such a weight of responsibility.  

It wasn't just my son that was sick, it wasn't just my little boy, it was her brother.  If anything were to happen to him, it wouldn't just be my loss, it would be hers.  I needed to look after him - for her.  

She was putting her faith in me to keep him safe.


During one of our admissions we were on the same floor as the Cancer Care ward.  There I met the gaze of a gorgeous girl, with wide eyes, a broad smile, a feeding tube and no hair.  And I thought (selfishly, I admit) "I wonder if this is our future".  I think I was trying to scare myself.  Or to brace myself maybe, for the possibility of what might come.  

There was no way I could deal with that.  I was already at the end of my grip, struggling to hang on.  The notion of starting another, infinitely more difficult journey I just could not fathom.  

But in that moment, looking at that little girl I knew that just like her parents and all the parents on that ward I would cope, I would hang on because I would have to.  It wouldn't be noble or courageous or graceful.  It would just be.  


Even the darkest journeys can shine a light on some wisdom within.

What have you learnt about yourself in a difficult situation?

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  1. Oh Kate. This is heart wrenching. I hope your little boy has come through without significant repercussions. Is he fully recovered? Do you have your resilient happy care-free little fella back? I hadn't seen this post before today, I am so glad you shared it. I especially liked this:
    "it wouldn't be noble or courageous or graceful"....yes. When you are in it, none of those things feel like they apply. Survival, hanging over a precipice with nothing holding you up except for hope. Survival might look noble, courageous or graceful from the outside, but inside it is just hell. Yet people are doing it, all over the world. I feel grateful every day that it isn't my children who are sick, but me. I'd rather it be me over any other scenario. I don't believe it could be possible to hold it together if I was watching one of my babies suffer. Thank you for sharing this, Kate. Good words to read and remind self of how lucky we are to have healthy children.

    1. Thank you Rachel for your beautiful comment, it means a lot. I'm so pleased that you picked up on my most important take out from the whole experience - that these awful things, they are not a choice, they are not something we want to do to test a limit, or prove a point, to be a martyr or to show how resilient we are. These are things you just get through, messily, barely, while not even knowing how we are getting through them.

      I am happy and relieved and very grateful to be able to report that my little boy my a full and thorough recovery with no ongoing health issues. He's is as beautiful and resilient and happy as ever. He remembers it though, all those people that told me not to fret about the awful procedures he had to go through were just wrong. He remembers, and still talks about it.

      But yes, I would always choose if I had a choice, to be in that situation rather than to watch my kids go through it. (Though it would be awful to watch them watching me too. When you are a parent there is just no escape I guess!) It was gut wrenching. But we were very lucky. Our worst case scenario never eventuated.

      A very happy ending. x