8 Things That Happened When My Child Was In Hospital
Because the worst situation you could ever imagine doesn't have to mean the end of the world.
1. You’ll feel like you’re going mad.
2. You will thank your lucky stars.
Your situation might be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to bear, but you’ll soon realise just how comparatively lucky you are.
My daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition after spending a week in hospital at 2 months old. She’s one of only about 180 people in the world with this disease and it will affect her for the rest of her life. It’s a condition that affects her adrenal gland, blood sugars, and hormones and I liken her day-to-day care to someone with diabetes.
In the first few weeks of her diagnosis there were many things to come to terms with, many things that were devastating to me as a mother. As a baby, her condition was so fragile she was cared for on the oncology ward, thought to be the most safe children’s ward in the hospital for her as there were no infectious illnesses there.
Being around so much sadness and strength in these early days saved me: Yes, my daughter would continue to face health hurdles for her entire life, but if these young people and their parents could face cancer head-on, I could handle a genetic disease no problem.
From that day on I thanked my lucky stars that, though my daughter would have to live life differently to other children, she had the opportunity to be alive.
3. You will cope, much to your surprise.
4. You will learn more than you ever thought possible.
Speaking of which, you’ll impress yourself with your new-found medical knowledge. You’ll go from feeling out of your depth in every conversation you have with a doctor to frantically googling syndromes and genes, learning more than you ever thought possible. Medical jargon will no longer puzzle and scare you, as you’ll understand the numbers all those machines and test results are constantly spewing out.
They say forewarned is forearmed, and that’s never truer than when you’re dealing with a poorly child.
5. You’ll discover who your real friends are.
6. You will need to take care of yourself.
If your child has a long-term stay in hospital, you might get a fold-out bed by the side of your child’s cot or bed. But chances are, you’ll be spending your nights tucked up on a wipe-clean chair.
Either way, sleeping on a noisy hospital ward isn’t easy, especially if your child is being observed throughout the night. You’ll probably want to be around at these times to check current levels, hold hands for blood tests, or simply just to be there.
But looking after your child when they’re sick takes stamina and strength, and you won’t have this on two hours' sleep a night. Accept help from a spouse, good friend, or family member when it’s offered: Go home, have a shower, take a nap. You’ll be a much better parent for it.
You’ll also need to give yourself the time to come to terms with what’s been happening to your child. It’s a sad, strange, and scary time, and this will hit you at one point or another. For me it was about two years after my daughter was diagnosed: I like to think I put all my feelings in a box when she was so poorly in hospital, opening it only when I was ready and able to deal with them.
When this happened I took time to sit, think, and sometimes just cry. Writing my feelings down helped, as did spending quality one-on-one time with my daughter to remind myself just how lucky I am that she’s here and I’m able to, along with her wonderful doctors, keep her healthy.
7. Your heart will break.
I mean, how could it not? Seeing your child so ill, poked with needles, tubes going in and coming out of them…this situation will always be awful. Take each day as it comes, drink water (and coffee!), and make sure you’re eating enough. It won’t make it better but it will keep you going.