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View Full Version : Some thoughts about three weeks in a Children's Hospital



Bruce Taylor
03-12-2011, 10:49 AM
Today ends our third week, here. Tomorrow, we'll be going to another hospital for a couple of days. Ben's stable, and we're in a strange calm that reminds me very much of the quiet water at the top of a big set of rapids, just before you ferry out into the hydraulics of the deep channel. (Ron Williamson & some others will know exactly what I mean ;))

In the three weeks we've been here, I haven't heard anyone speak a sour, impatient, petty or cynical word. The staff -- everyone, from the cleaning crew to the attending neurosurgeons -- seem utterly devoted to the job of making things as easy as possible for the kids who have to be here. The parents -- devastated, many of them, and drawing on reserves of strength they did not realize they possessed -- find it in themselves to share encouragements, even when their own kids are not doing well.

"Not doing well," in this place can mean that your fourteen-year-old has to opened up from sternum to groin, for the third time in a week, to clean out a persistent infection. Or it can mean that your active thirteen-year-old cadet has had to have his legs amputated, in the wake of a rampant meningococcemia. Or, as in our case, it can mean that the quirky and unique brain of your brave eleven-year-old suddenly has started to bleed again, just when you thought he was getting better. When that happens, you load your sorry belongings onto a rolling tray -- your books, your toothbrushes, your half-eaten bag of cranberries -- and you follow the wheeled bed into an elevator, down a very long hall to the pediatric ICU.

This is humanity at its best. The hospital exists because the community pooled their resources to buy it for themselves. Most of it runs on public money, but much of what is good about this place exists because of the passionate involvement of private citizens and companies. The private "sleep rooms" on this floor (they're like nice little hotel rooms w/ showers) were sponsored by a local company. Ladies from the community volunteer to be "Cuddlers on Call," to give comfort to the babies who need it, when a parent isn't available. On Ben's first day here, a woman wheeled in with a cart full of colourful blankets, knit by kindly volunteers. Like our own hospital in Wakefield, this one holds fundraising events (including an annual lottery, where the prize -- a new house -- is donated by a major developer). All this collaboration between the public and the private sectors happens as smoothly as the collaboration between staff-members inside the hospital; and it happens, I imagine, because everyone feels that, for the sake of the kids, we need to behave like adults, and make things work.

George Jung
03-12-2011, 10:58 AM
Relegating your own problems/stresses/irritants to the 'do later' file is what adults are supposed to do, and what's required in a pressure cooker that an ICU can be. Such a situation mandates stability (can you imagine it functioning otherwise?).

Sorry to hear your son is experiencing ongoing challenges. Sounds like you're in a good place, and a good community.

elf
03-12-2011, 11:05 AM
Glad you've got some adults over the border, there. Ours seem to have decamped to never-never land and been replaced with unimaginative, self-absorbed 2 year olds.

ishmael
03-12-2011, 11:12 AM
Bruce,

I missed the earlier threads about your son. Good wishes and prayers from here in Bangor.

Tell the little punk he can't be sick because it's time to fly kites, and Jack said so.

Jack

Driver Mark
03-12-2011, 11:18 AM
Best wishes for you and your's through this trying time.
I can't even imagine what you're going through.

Bruce Taylor
03-12-2011, 11:34 AM
Bruce, despite the incredible worries your family must have, and the hardships you are going through, your description of what medical care is like in Canada is truly inspiring. In all of the health care discussions we've had in the bilge in recent years, I honestly don't recall a single Canadian participant speak of their system in anything but glowing terms.... and if any comparable emergency happened in my family, I would hope that we would be treated with the same compassion and consideration as your son and your family are receiving.
.

Norman, I don't mean this to be about the Canadian system(s). I'm describing my experience with this one hospital, and admiring the way everyone pulls together when the cause seems worthy. I'm guessing there are many similar stories in your country. :)

George Jung
03-12-2011, 11:37 AM
my .02 - I expect that same 'culture' in any icu/ccu you encounter (that's been my experience).

Bruce Taylor
03-12-2011, 11:43 AM
my .02 - I expect that same 'culture' in any icu/ccu you encounter (that's been my experience).

Definitely. But there's an exceptional lightness of spirit in this place that seems to permeate all departments...wards, clinics, radiology, even the coffee shop and cafeteria. It's because they're doing it for kids, of course; and the whole community pitches in to make this place work.

George Jung
03-12-2011, 11:49 AM
I hear you. A certain level of competence, mandatory.

Raising it to a very high level - wonderful!

The Heart Hospital of SD is one such facility, rated among the 50 best in the US, and imo, the best healthcare facility in this state (I'd say on a par with Mayo).

Good place to be, all things considered.

C. Ross
03-12-2011, 11:52 AM
Best wishes Bruce. This has to be very very tough, and I'm glad to know you have such good place to be for such hard thing.

Let us know how things progress, OK?

L.W. Baxter
03-12-2011, 12:00 PM
Here in Portland we have the Doernbecher Children's Hospital, which is very much like what you describe, Bruce. I have a niece who was born very premature and who was in and out of there for the first few years of her life. She's now a healthy, happy grade-schooler. Top rate care and top rate people. My son had elbow surgery there last winter after a skiing accident, and I was grateful for the careful attention they gave him.

I have provided labor on several "miracle houses" built for our our annual "Street of Dreams" show with proceeds benefitting Doernbecher's.

S/V Laura Ellen
03-12-2011, 12:13 PM
There is more to effective treatment than drug and tests and procedures. There is the human side that also needs attentions. Sounds like you're getting everything you need.

Bruce Hooke
03-12-2011, 12:49 PM
Bruce,

My best wishes to you and your family and especially your son! I hope he gets better soon. I would likely not be alive right now if it were not for modern medicine...

Bruce

Ian McColgin
03-12-2011, 12:50 PM
You and yours have both courage and support. From here, hope.

htom
03-12-2011, 05:07 PM
Bruce, I'm so glad you have such a warm and welcoming environment to sooth your woes. More prayers and healing wishes sent.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
03-12-2011, 05:09 PM
Bruce, Nancy and I keep your son in our prayers. I'm glad to hear you have some solace in this difficult time.

John Meachen
03-12-2011, 05:44 PM
Best of luck to the patient and to the family.Certainly seems that you have an excellent facility applying their skills for the greater good.

David G
03-12-2011, 05:57 PM
Lee is right about Dornbecher. Marvelous people. Sounds like like you've got one equally good. I'm glad.

Sending nothing but the best of thoughts your way.

Concordia...41
03-12-2011, 06:12 PM
Wolfson's Children's Hospital here sounds similar. Claudia & David can attest to the boundless limits of compassion and humanity within those walls.

-M

bobbys
03-12-2011, 06:20 PM
We are praying for you, Once we had a doctor tell us our child might not make it and we know the grief one goes through when your child is sick.

Meli
03-12-2011, 07:36 PM
Norman, I don't mean this to be about the Canadian system(s). I'm describing my experience with this one hospital, and admiring the way everyone pulls together when the cause seems worthy. I'm guessing there are many similar stories in your country. :)

I couldn't agree more, spent a fair bit of time myself watching over babies in the neo natal ICU (mine and other parents) or hanging round the parents waiting room near the theatre.

The way frightened parents can pull together, put aside thier own worry and grief to give others support is one of the truly beautiful things about humanity when the heat is on.
And the staff all deserve the highest award give to humans.

pcford
03-12-2011, 08:46 PM
I never had to face something like this...Best wishes to you and your family, Bruce.

Barry
03-12-2011, 09:26 PM
Bruce, despite the incredible worries your family must have, and the hardships you are going through, your description of what medical care is like in Canada is truly inspiring. In all of the health care discussions we've had in the bilge in recent years, I honestly don't recall a single Canadian participant speak of their system in anything but glowing terms.... and if any comparable emergency happened in my family, I would hope that we would be treated with the same compassion and consideration as your son and your family are receiving.

We're all thinking of you and Ben.


What a totatlly insipid comment. You had to politicize it. It's like a left handed compliment, you can't be sincere. It just reveals your ignorance. "Just challenging your beliefs", and all, ya know.

Bruce it will work out. I think your son will be changed(as well as you), but it will be fine. And good medical care is every where; thats why people do it.

ishmael
03-12-2011, 09:43 PM
Two of the women I've dated were health care workers. One a highly trained nurse, and one just watching after old folks. Kudos to both of them.

They'd come home from work in their white uniforms, smelling of that horrible smelling disinfectant they used at the time. I hope they've run out of that! It smelled like some beauracrat's idea of a good smell, circa WWII. Whoever invented it, they were wrong.

Anyway, kudos to all in the helping professions.

Bruce Taylor
03-12-2011, 10:27 PM
I have provided labor on several "miracle houses" built for our our annual "Street of Dreams" show with proceeds benefitting Doernbecher's.

A branch of that Children's Miracle Network raises funds for CHEO, too.