Hospital Adventure

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on June 19, 2013.

Last week the six-year-old came down with another stomach virus – his third this year.  When my poor child suffers as much as he does with these wicked viruses, I wish it would be me instead of him. For some reason, he’s the only one in the family who gets it in the stomach. My youngest and I suffered only from the common cold.

Our doctor is the best. He lets us call him, and he’ll talk us through it, or call in a prescription, which we did on the first day, but this time the medicine for nausea didn’t help, so the next morning before any of us were prepared to start the day, we went down to his office, and my husband carried in the six-year-old.

We were spared our usual long wait. When you have a child who can’t walk and can barely talk, it’s an urgent case, and from the doctor’s office, we were sent to the hospital’s outpatient services.

Our three-year-old was with us all day too, and he was the best child in the world. I’m not quite sure what he was thinking, but he knew his brother was very sick. Later, when I told him his brother was getting better, he bounced up and down, and exclaimed, “Yay!”

At the hospital, I felt surprisingly calm. I knew we were in the right place, and I knew the nurses and staff would do everything they needed to do to help my son. The IV would keep him hydrated, which was so difficult and stressful to do at home since he couldn’t keep anything down.

Our doctor requested an X-rayed of his stomach and did some blood work to rule out anything more serious since my son keeps catching these nasty bugs. I felt extremely grateful that they found nothing, and once again I’m humbled to think that there are so many parents who aren’t so lucky.

We didn’t expect to have to spend the night, but our son wasn’t well enough when our doctor came to visit him after his office hours.  So my son and I camped out at the hospital together. Luckily he was feeling a little better by the early evening, and from then on, we called it our “hospital adventure.” The bonus was getting to watch “The Lion King” alone with mommy.

My praise and gratitude go to all the health professionals that we encountered during our brief stay.  It’s not the first time I’ve slept at a hospital, and every experience has yielded the same thoughts: hospital staff, especially the nurses, are the most incredible people. They are truly the caretakers of the world.

One of our daytime nurses, Matt, was kind, funny and talkative, and though my six-year-old could barely respond to him when Matt put the IV in his arm, I know his humor helped put my son at ease. It put me at ease!

Our night nurse was the best. Elizabeth was warm and just like a mother. She didn’t even seem tired at the end of her shift.  When she wheeled the cot into the room for me to sleep in, I tried to help her make it up, but she shooed me away. “That’s my job! You rest, Mama.” She politely scolded me.

Even in the hallways, my son was greeted with smiles and sympathy, and I know perhaps the staff is coached to be friendly, but that doesn’t mean they all will be. People who go into the health profession do so because they are suited for the work. (I know I couldn’t do it.)

In the morning when Elizabeth came to tell me they were doing a shift change, and she would be going home, I told her she had been a wonderful nurse. She wagged her finger at me.

“No, no…I’m paid to do that,” she said.  Of course, I know that. But while I believe you can pay someone to do a good job, you can’t pay them to exude warmth and a genuine concern for other people. Some people are just more talented and kind.

Luckily for me, every time I’ve left a hospital, I’ve left with my health and the health of those around me. I know life may not always yield this blessing, but for now I will breath in a sigh of relief and say, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Wishing you all good health.

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