There are many strange things about being a parent in hospital with a sick child, but the strangest is this: you get more kids.
So many people – medical professionals I’ve never met before – call me “Mum” now that I live at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead. I feel like some sort of super-fertile Duggar with a scrubs-clad insta-family. Wouldn’t their mums be offended if they heard these people calling me “Mum”? Is it that hard to stick out your hand, say your name, wait for me to tell you mine, and then use it?
You find La in not-best humour. I told a registrar this morning that “We will not be continuing this conversation.” (I know! Can you believe it? I said that to a DOCTOR!!!) I marched up to the driver-side window of a man who honked his horn in the enclosed car park — scaring me so thoroughy I almost needed some of the sick female Junior Cost Centre (JCC’s) nerve drugs and an adult nappy — and shouted, “Pull your head in…it’s a HOSPITAL!”
For light relief I abscond to linen closets to watch Amy Schumer. A trip to Westfield Parramatta yesterday bore fruit: a muscle-melting Chinese massage and DVDs of seasons one and two of Masters of Sex. That Michael Sheen is srs thinking woman’s crumpet; so very much unresolved sexual tension in one medical body.
None of that going on here, though:we’re all business. The little girl is very unwell and faces a long road to recovery. Goals include managing to walk more than 10 metres unassisted, sitting upright for longer than half an hour, dressing herself, and remembering my and Seriousimo’s phone numbers, which she used to be able to reel off at lightning speed.
Her Amplifed Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS — diagnosed last Thursday by Dr Jeffrey “Great”ow) requires an intense regime of nerve medication, physio and hydrotherapy. So you’ll find us here, she and me, in our six-bed room for at least the next couple of weeks.
Yep, what we gain in medical expertise and treatment we most certainly sacrifice in privacy. JCC had to hear the troubled young teen a few beds over regaling her social worker with tales of how her father calls her “fat and a c***”. The responsible allied health professional in the picture should have taken that conversation to a room with a door.
The tiny Spidermen, fairies and Batmen I pass in the vast atrium make me feel like a lumbering Gulliver. They bounce along in beanies with their IV poles and naso-gastric tubes, singing Pixar songs. So many tiny superheroes waging war against unspeakable f*cking illnesses, flanked by worried parents in abayas, rats tails, neck tatts, stilettos, hijabs, suits and ties. That’s the thing about illness — it doesn’t discriminate, it’s blind to all the distinctions we’re often unable to see past.
And me? We’ll I’m no-one’s muse right now. My grooming extends to a daily wash, my nutrition needs are met by Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos (the “S” word, I know…but needs must, people, needs must) and my only nod to fashion is making sure I’ve sponged the food stains off my favourite red fleece each morning. I know — who are you and what have you done with La Triv?!?