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The Pediatric Special Care Unit: A World to Behold

Submitted by on January 9, 2017 – 5:09 AM

special-care-and-premature-babiesWorking in a Pediatric Special Care Unit, I came to know through an array of experiences that special care is, in fact, not so special. Coming across different situations everyday in such an environment made me realize that the patients’ suffering there not only includes physical pain or immobility, but also emotional distress.

Nine-month-old babies and five-year-old toddlers alike are afraid of the creatures in white uniforms called ‘nurses’. Babies as a matter of course assume that nurses near them are surely there for injecting them with something, or for cannulating them—for giving them some form of pain. It was quite difficult for me to use even a blood pressure cuff or a simple thermometer; children would scream as if I were a horrible monster in their mind’s eye.

 

Apart from these obstacles in dealing with the children, I nonetheless hold warm feelings for the mothers constantly at the sides of their babies. A young lady and her firstborn child, born through cesarean with a heart defect, were there. The mother herself was in such pain at her surgical site, and moreover her baby was continuously crying—she couldn’t even carry her baby due to the surgery.

 

One night during my duty, I heard someone crying and discovered that it was the same lady. In an attempt to comfort her I asked, ‘What happened? Are you in pain?’ She said she wasn’t. I asked her if she was okay and she replied with an affirmative, stating that it was only ‘the flu and nothing else’. In other words, those crying spells due to her genuine suffering were simply relegated to the flu, just to put up a veneer of strength for me. It was all incredibly heart-wrenching; I was dying inside, empathizing with her pain. I asked myself why a woman should have to suffer so much. She gives birth to a baby, gets operated on, takes care of her baby in the hospital in spite of her worsening health—isn’t this enough suffering? Why did her baby have to get sick right after birth? Why this endless suffering? Why?

 

I found myself latching onto these things again and again, to the point where they would follow me in my dreams. After a few days of clinicals in the SCU I began dreaming of my duty all night; I would be on duty in my dreams, talking about patients’ medication, scuttling around the area and all. In addition, the more days my duty stretched across, the more I was exposed to such events.

 

Once, I came across a child less than a year old who was not allowed to eat anything for fifteen days due to his illness, and his mother was unable to express her worries, forced to hide her tension. Often she would try to fake her laughter in front of the staff—while at night it would become so overwhelming that she would wake up and start crying continuously. I struggled; how was I to control my emotions of sadness to give her courage? I went to her and said, ‘I have seen you being strong for so many days now, please show courage to be strong for some more days. I know you can do it.’

 

This was one of the hardest moments for me, but I felt I had to try from my side whether it worked or not. If nothing else, the opportunity to witness this convinced me of one thing: every mother is a born struggler and a born legend, and so she is able to face all this with so much courage. I felt weak compared to them.

 

This quote, I believe, is even more important in the context of another incident. The mother of a two-years-old girl having seizures and on a ketogenic diet was present in the special care unit. With this diet, we have to carefully comply with its timings of feed, blood sugar testing, urine ketone testing, as well as track every step of progress of the child on this diet. In response to this challenge, though, the mother would sleep with an alarm clock very close to her head in order to wake up at every set time to feed her child. The way she cared for her daughter impressed on me her immense strength and courage.

 

To emphasize her dedication; she used to maintain a very detailed diary in which each and every part of her routine was noted down beautifully—what time her daughter was to be given feed, whether she took it all or not, etc. I expressed my admiration to her once, telling her how impossible it would be for me to do what she was doing. She explained to me how it was all part of her routine now. ‘I don’t find it difficult,’ she said, ‘I have two more kids but I’m still able to manage all this.’

 

This goes to show that, despite the grief and all the difficult experiences, the Pediatric Special Care Unit has also given me some amazing, unforgettable moments—a patient’s wide, lovely smile at me when he improved under my care, a baby holding my hand when I went to greet him, the chance to see a chubby baby boy with beautiful grey eyes. That month-long rotation in the pediatric ward was a true learning experience. It gave me the opportunity to encounter some of the most beautiful things in life—and they shared with me inner peace, inner strength, and raw emotion.

 

 

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Join JPMS Medical Blogs Team as Editor or Contributor, email your cover letter and resume to blogs@jpmsonline.com


We welcome Guest posts. Submit online via: http://blogs.jpmsonline.com/submit/


We also publish Sponsored Articles. For details email us at blogs@jpmsonline.com or follow the link for details: http://blogs.jpmsonline.com/sponsor/


Disclaimer: 
JPMS Medical Blogs are published by the publisher of Journal of Pioneering Medical Sciences (JPMS). This article does not reflect the policies of JPMS or its Staff or Editorial nor does it intend to provide legal, financial or medical advice. Refer to Disclaimer and Policies section for more details.

 

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