At the start of a busy night shift I took a moment to visit a patient in Intensive Care who we had transferred there the night before. He’s what we call a “frequent flyer” – no explanation needed. He is known to have “brittle” asthma and becomes very sick, very quickly, often ending up in Intensive Care requiring every medication available. I was worried about him from the night before when he crashed on the ward so I popped my head in to check on him. I joked recalling the last time I saw him in ICU… The time he innocently asked the Paediatrician who was running our ward round to come and look at his little pig toy – now of course the Paediatrician didn’t know it doubled up as a squirter and this cheeky six year old went on to spray the Paediatrician in the face! It was just about the funniest thing I had seen and the whole team on ward round couldn’t contain their laughter..
Together with the ICU staff we had a snicker about that moment and again this time he had more stories to tell. He rattled on about how he’s been in ICU so many times, even over Christmas and Easter. We played along and wondered how Santa and the Easter Bunny knew he was there. Now imagine a gorgeous little boy with a Justin Bieber style stark blonde mane sitting in bed with oxygen blasting through his nose, medication running through a drip, connected up to all sorts of monitors and wires, rambling on without taking a breath..
“I think the Easter Bunny has a special way of getting in to the kids rooms because last time I was here in Easter he snuck an easter egg under my bed”
“But how did the easter bunny get in? Did the doctors and nurses see?”
“No! Because if the doctors and nurses are there the Easter Bunny disappears and then comes inside the room to sneak the eggs under the bed. One time when I was in hop-pital when it was Christmas Santa did the same thing”
“Wow really! How did Santa manage to come inside with the sleigh and the presents?”
“Because Santa is magic too. DAH!!! He leaves the reindeer and sleigh on the roof of the hop-pital and he magically comes in and leaves the presents. Santa always knows where to find the kids. He’s really smart. He knows all the corridors and doors in every single hop-pital and he knows what presents to bring down. He’s the best”
Long blonde hair. Cutest voice ever. “Hop-pital” Need I say more?? Too cute for words! But there was more to this little boy and this interaction than fantasy and fun. It made me sad in a way to know that this child was in ICU so much that he can associate big celebrations and events with his time in there. But there was also a reason why I couldn’t stop smiling and why I remembered the pig squirter episode from years ago. It reminded me just how happy even the most unwell children can be. To have such a sense of humour and still be able to see the magic in the world even when so unwell is really a gift. It’s something really special that children posses and when I see it I never forget it. If at your worst you can play a prank on a group of people at least 5 times your age and twice your height and still fantasise over how you’re not forgotten by fictional characters that to me is something worth remembering forever.
Sometimes I wonder if we’d all be better off if we had a child’s approach to life? Imagine if we could see the world through a child’s eyes – not the way it is but the way it’s meant to be. See the magic in every moment and hold on to that fantasy that keeps us going. Yes the realists will think I’m crazy and maybe I am (sometimes I think I do Paediatrics because I’m really just a big kid myself) But I’m not naive, I know first hand just how cruel and challenging the world can be and I’m not taking away from that. But this six year old, and a lot of my little patients actually, show me on a daily basis that a little bit of hope and magic even when at your worst is sometimes all it takes to make a horrible situation feel just that little bit more bearable. And if nothing else, hey at least you’re alive to debate that.
That’s my soppy story for the week, but one I needed to get off my chest.
Be healthy. Be happy. Be Kind
Dr. Nelu x
(Photo credit: http://www.pediatriceyemd.com)