I just MSN with someone and I remembered this incident. Thought of writing it down in case I forget the incident.
Circa April 2002
It was several weeks since my older kids last seen Vincent because he was warded in the ICU along with the adults patient. So, I told Doc C that my sons had been asking about Vincent. Previously, Vincent was in the High Dependency Unit and he was the only patient in the room. So, on most days, I would bring along a kid or two to the HDU. Their presence made the place merry and joyful.
So, the ICU matron wasn’t an easy person. The ICU has strict rules that children below 12 years old are not allowed in the unit. Well, there are several reasons :
- to avoid traumatising the children as the ICU is very sombre and sometimes filled with groaning and bloodied patients;
- to prevent infection;
- to reduce noise pollution.
One evening, Doc C told me to bring my children to the fourth floor where the ICU is located. Matron was off-duty. At that time, there weren’t many patients. He wanted to smuggle them through the back door. As a paediatrician, he understands well how important it is for his patient as well as his siblings to interact. It could probably be the last time they will see him alive. (which indeed is)
Unfortunately, Vincent had some difficulties breathing and appeared very stressed. So, Doc C prepared by putting him into deep sleep with drugs. 🙂 After that, he tried to cover all the tubes with blankets and soft toy. Then, he ordered the nurses to close all the curtains to the adult patients.
Vincent was in a glass room. After that, Doc C allowed the kids to go in one by one. He told them that Vincent is so happy in his current glass room and was sleeping so soundly. That’s why he is staying for a while in the place. The older kids bought Doc C’s half truth and was pleased after that.
Each year, in my Church, the priest will tell a similar story over and over again during Lent. The story is actually to illustrate about faith and miracle. It is about this woman whom had an older child name Michael. (My #2 son is Michael too) This is a real story that happened in the USA. She pregnant. When baby was in her womb, Michael would sing ‘You are my sunshine’ to the baby. When the baby was born, they found that she had some heart problem and cannot live long and was warded in the ICU. So, the mother fought with the hospital systems to get Michael to see his baby sister before she dies. He went in and sing ‘You are my sunshine’ and slowly, the baby sister recovers from her difficulties as she recognised Michael’s voice.
Each time I heard the priest related the story, I felt like leaving the church momentarily because it happened to me. The first time I heard it in April 2003, Doc C happened to attend church and that moment, we looked at each other and knew the deeper meaning of what the priest said.
I had also insisted to some parents of critically ill children to get the hospitals to bend the rules to accomodate their older children because these are factors that can encourage the recovery of the patients. In University Malaya Medical Centre, the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) allows the siblings to visit the children. I am glad that my three older children had some pleasant memories of the PICU in UMMC.
Therefore, all you folks who are going to visit SCB, please make sure that her daughter has access to visit SCB. Get her family to twist the arms of the doctors if they need to. Sometimes, we may want to protect the children from being traumatised. But in the process, we are leaving a big void in them. I know because I never get to visit my father in the hospital when he was sick. Until today, it is like a thick story book with several chapters in blank pages. If you need arm-twisting tactics, ask me. 🙂