Friday, July 03, 2009

It's all about Perspective

Last week my daughter suddenly became so sick that she needed to be admitted. Two days before that she had seemed mostly okay when she was over for her weekly weekend visit along with her little sister. I had noticed a light cough and that was it; but the following Monday night her mom texted the bad news that our daughter could not eat or drink without throwing it back up. Our last communication that night was hope for improvement. By Tuesday morning however, my 8 year old daughter was in a hospital bed with an IV in her slender little arm.

The worst times for any parent are when their children get hurt or sick. For me, at that moment, I would do anything to take their place, to go through the pain and sickness for them. If you’ve never had children it’s hard to explain, the super protective feelings that come along with becoming a mom or a dad.

My darling girl was so weak that she could not even manage words. Asking how she felt and about some of her symptoms, all she did was look at me with no expression. I wanted to cry, but a parent's job is also NEVER to show fear or too much emotion. Love, strength and confidence, always show those things and in that order.

The doctor came in and I helped him by getting her to open her mouth for a throat inspection. It wasn’t red or swollen. “Must be a stomach flu or gastritis,” he opined. From my ex's texts I learned that his single visit was the last time anyone checked on her at all until the next day. I was livid. No nurse to check her IV, no one to check her pulse, or blood pressure, or IV bag, nothing.

On that note, medical care can be a mixed bag over here. If you or a loved one ends up in a medical facility, do not take it for granted that someone wearing whites is doing their job with due diligence. Stay on top of everything yourself. In other words, do not be afraid to be a pain in someone’s ass. If the situation seems to call for it, be a nurse, and doctor too for that matter, especially if no one else seems interested in acting so.

By late the next day though, all that angst and anger was forgotten and my heart filled with joy when my little girl showed definite signs of recovery. Still not willing to eat or drink much, she was able to manage a little juice and water. What a relief! I’m convinced that the contents of that IV may well have saved her tender young life. Antibiotics, fluids and sustenance, that simple combination administered from a plastic bag into a tiny vein eventually did the trick.

Antibiotics seem like such an ordinary thing these days, we certainly take them for granted; but kids used to die of simple viruses like what my girl had right up until the advent of these wonder drugs in the 1940s. It’s true that one of the reasons folks had so many children back in the day was the ugly fact that half of them were likely not to survive long enough to pull their own weight out in the fields. These days, no more fields, no more pulling your own weight, and everyone gets to live. Are we spoiled or what?

My daughter’s plight, and by extension, MY plight, got me to thinking about the availability of modern health care. Even in a country like this, where virtually no one is “covered,” at least not to the level that Mr. Obama would like us all to be, even here, most families are able to come up with the resources to save a young life from simple infections if the need arises. The reality that IS the burgeoning population of the Philippines is a testament to that. Even here, in this desperately poor third world country, almost everyone gets to live to adulthood.

On the other hand, most folks in this country cannot afford a heart by-pass, or brain surgery, or even the regimen needed to save a mangled limb (you see an inordinate number of people missing legs over here); but many families, if lucky enough, DO have “go to” family members that they can “hit up” if necessary. In other words, they have their own "mini Obama health plan" so to speak; and believe me, over the decades, I have found myself on occasion in the position of being one of those “go to” individuals. Sigh. All of us with even a little means who have married into a Fil-family have found ourselves on that proverbial hook.

A huge relief, by Saturday morning my little girl was back to normal. The afternoon before I had stopped by after my volunteer work and was gratified to be able to get her to eat a few Fruit Loops and sip some mango juice. Kids tend to bounce back from sickness quickly; by Saturday morning she was wolfing down her lunch at home as if she had never fallen ill.

Yet, chances are, 75 years ago, she might not have survived. As bad as things might seem to many of us these days, after last week, I am reminded that by and large we live in wonderful, even miraculous, times. Perspective people, it’s all about perspective.


Anonymous said...

I am so so so glad to hear everything went alright. much love to you and yours, Hope.

Anonymous said...

Even when your a grouchy curmudgeon.btw I'm going to work for DAV. Forgot to say amidst all my self righteousness. Be good

Ed said...

Feelings only a parent can understand... I have understood for only the last three years.

Being a "go too" guy, slightly longer. I've been that for five years. I've also been married five years. Not a coincidence.

Glad the little one is better.