Hell hath no fury like a mother in hospital with her child … especially for the fourth time in as many weeks!
It’s never a good sign when the staff welcome you back, by name, with the aside ‘Can’t stay away?’ when you’ve bounced back again, and again.
At this point I must clarify that I am not a neurotic mother (though with Archie’s special needs and propensity for medical attention and repeated crises – I’m thinking I’d be forgiven for being just that)?
I’m actually being quite calm. I think it’s because I’ve been here before, many, many times over the years and I like to think I’m a seasoned pro now. I’ve got my fat pants on, purely for comfort, although after a couple of weeks of hospital snack foods the elasticity is a blessing. These days, however, I’m trying to ingest and expend any calories accordingly, rather than just sit at my sons bedside eating calorific crap. It’s a difficult situation, not a particularly nice one to be in and night times are most definitely the worst.
I pity the poor mother who is walking the corridors with her babe in arms. The one wearing the week old Snoopy pyjamas, 4 days worth of mascara and sleep clinging to her lashes. I’m not judging. Far from it. I worry that your infant is so deafeningly unsettled that the whole world should know about it. You are young and unpractised and the nursing staffs efforts to settle him are futile. I worry that this isn’t the best initiation into parenthood for you. I pity you such a challenging start.
Equally worrying, if not moreso, is the silence of the teenage boy in the metal cagework. The one who makes no noise, who doesn’t move a muscle, yet the machines surrounding his bedside beat a tune of alarming alacrity. There’s nothing that doesn’t scream attention in this scene. His poor mother sits helpless, clutching his open hand, her shoulders heaving in step with the alarms. the neck of her too tight pink blouse is awash with the tracks of crimson tears. If I knew I could smuggle a hot drink onto the ward I would make you one strong and sweet, but my weak, knowing smile, must be the only comfort I can offer you.
Contrary to popular belief not all parents want to be in hospital with their children, but our responsibilities leave us no choice. Our body clocks become disrupted beyond recognition and however healthy our lifestyle, however driven our career in the outside world and however focused our intentions, not one of us can survive for any length of time on just 2 hours of broken sleep a night without experiencing some sort of mental hiccup. We become restless and fractious, I have frequently called my son by the names of both his siblings and even forgotten mine on occasion. Everything becomes a conscious effort.
As much as I love a blogging opportunity and the chance to share, to educate or simply entertain, I wish I were sleeping rather than taking notes in the wee small hours. A time when only screaming babies, beeping machines and caffeine fuelled nurses can offer company. It’s really not my ideal.
As I hinted on previously, there’s no time for vanity on the hospital ward. Frazzled parents are more likely to compare lack of sleep or the merits of a ready meal to worrying about making an impression. Hair, clothes and faces blur into insignificance and only smiles and small gestures of knowing and kindness are our language. It’s reassuring to note that I’m not the only one sporting bags beneath my eyes that would rival the Birkin. There’s every excuse for them, so I don’t feel the need.
Openness and honesty are free flowing. Sharing is acceptable here.
Escapism is the key to survival with regards sanity and sustenance. My daily objective is to take myself from the confines of the ward for just 20/30 minutes to gain a little clarity and perhaps draw a fresh breath. Finding an understanding nurse, or visiting friend to sit with Archie so he doesn’t get himself into mischief or cause himself harm isn’t easy, but if possible this means the difference between keeping myself alert and losing the plot completely. A training session of speed-walking from one hospital building to the next – running up and down the stairwell to raise my pulse and stretch my calves (& increase the steppage on my FitBit) makes all the difference. Just spending 2 minutes in the fresh air loosens a cobweb or two. Nipping into the local Boots Pharmacy for some healthy nourishment (a meal deal) which doesn’t break the bank, and a friendly word punctuates my day with the only thing that verges on ‘normality.’ Indulging myself with a piece of carrot cake is my new guilty pleasure. The lovely girls in Boots no longer ask me if I’m ‘Staff’ (to check re discount) but instead inquire after my son’s health and let me know that they’re there if I need to off load or if they can help in anyway. Like I said, just lovely … and it’s people like this that make all the difference.
As a rule all the nursing staff are rather lovely too; busy, overworked and underpaid and occasionally forgetful and sidetracked in their missions, but lovely nonetheless. Most of them have been mauled by Archie at least one time or another (he’s none too gentle with his women – however caring they’re trying to be towards him) and I believe he’s getting a reputation as a heavy handed flirt! Me, I’m probably getting a name for myself too, but so be it. I’m a hands-on Mum, ever proactive where Archie’s care is concerned, because when push comes to shove I know my son best. so if I’m labelled ‘over-bearing’ so be it. When this latest medical fiasco is over it’ll be me, as his primary carer, who needs to establish a workable medical routine at home, ensure everyone is aware of it, clued up and trained in any new procedures, including Dad and Archie’s Angels (who help with care during the working week). It’ll also be me who needs to retain and catalogue every episode of his care, both inside hospital and out, in order to recall from memory every exacting detail as and when required.
So, Pete’s taken over this evening. I’ve got the night off. I say ‘off,’ but apart from my express purpose of sleep, I’ve turned my washing around, visited my Dad to do some chores for him, fed and entertained him and the imps, sorted some things out for next week, checked and responded to urgent emails and had a much needed, but not necessarily relaxing, bubble bath.
As luck would have it that leaves me now, just after midnight, rattling off this blog post to fill you in before retiring to the Land of Nod (for what I hope is in excess of 5 hours uninterrupted sleep)…. as I’ll be back tomorrow to resume my nursing duties …. and breathe …..