Sunday, April 21, 2013

When your little one becomes ill

When your child, especially a young one, becomes sick to the point where they have to be admitted to a hospital, it is a very personal experience. I do not mean it is personal in that it is a private matter to be kept among your closest circle. By personal, I mean that it is a deep and personally moving experience.

The first thing that hits you is worry and a lingering fear. As a parent in general, you worry about a sick child. No parent want their child to go through illness. But, that gets multiplied when a hospital stay is involved. Something so serious surely means that there is a chance things could get worse. And, it's that remote chance of things getting worse that causes fear.

If you have any understanding of health care sciences, you know that certain things are routine and can easily be treated successfully. You also know that there is always the remote possibility that the same symptoms are of something worse. You start to imagine things such as multiple drug resistance, acute and rapid infection, or even misdiagnosis. Suffice it to say, when you don't know, you have to trust in your health care providers. When you know a little more, you REALLY have to trust in your health care providers.

In those hours when your child is first admitted, it is all about testing. You have a series of tests conducted to figure out what is wrong with you little one. These are the toughest hours. It is not so much the unknown; it is the time wasted waiting for test results. Your child is clearly suffering and you have to stay there and comfort them until the test results come back. Doing nothing and waiting are the toughest.

It is in that time while you wait when the worst thoughts come to you, and the self-recriminations. Why didn't I catch it sooner? What could I have done to prevent this? Is this going to leave my child disabled? What if the worst happens? How can I go on after losing him/her? The craziest things pop into your mind during that time of waiting. You are there trying to comfort your little one while being plagued by your own torments.

One can't really blame the health care providers for what you go through during the testing. In their case, they've treated hundreds or thousands of people. It is routine. But, even if it weren't routine, it doesn't help them to freak out the parents. And, they can't simply go into full treatment mode as soon as you arrive without first knowing what the real problem is. Their calm aloofness is meant to be comforting; but, it can also come across as uncaring.

Try as you might, you cannot help having an emotional roller coaster when your child is sick. Even with the support of friends and family, it can be a very personal experience although you are not the patient. As a parent, you want to take the worry, the pain, and the unhappiness away from your child. We cannot unburden them; but, we somehow manage to take on a bigger emotional burden.

While one can feel alone with all your worries, it is vital to take comfort in the smiles your little can offer and the support of your family and friends. If you can recognize that your little one is loved by others and they worry too, you can give each other strength. And, it is also setting a good example to your little one that in times of trouble, you can count on the people who love you to give you a hand.

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