Thursday, 12 December 2013

How are you?

Practically the first words out the mouths of every doctor who has walked through Nic's door today (and there have been many).

How are you?

The question that's been repeated by every caller, visitor, and friend who has emailed or messaged me to check in on Nic.

I can't tell you how many times today I've answered that question with, "Well we're in a hospital," because, frankly, I'm not entirely sure how I am.

In the past thirty-six hours I've gone from thinking Nic was well on his way to a full recovery from a little cold, to watching him hooked up to countless monitors and machines that are tracking his overworked heart and discussing plans for a transfusion with his hematologist. His body is not working right now. It isn't producing blood, it isn't generating life, and as I see him slowly drifting and fading I know that it is only a matter of time until he endures more pain and more pokes and more discomfort so that his fluids and cells and levels and rates can all be restored. But I feel comforted that his life can be restored because, well, we're in a hospital.

And we aren't in just any hospital, we are in a very nice hospital. Our hemotalogist works for a top research institution, we have an excellent hospitalist, an infectious disease doctor, and an ICU physician following Nic. They have all visited, they have poked and prodded, they have ordered many tests and they have collaborated and come to a conclusion and drawn up a plan.

While this all may be run of the mill for sickle cell disease, and standard procedure for treating parvovirus and so on and so forth, that is only true because we are in a hospital, in the developed world, and in a country with fantastic health care.

This is all Nic's reality now, praise God, but it wasn't the reality he was born into. Nic was born in one of the poorest countries on earth. His early access to medical care was so limited that no one even knew he had sickle cell disease. Even if his disease had been discovered, and it likely would not have, he would need money for treatment and someone with the ability to get him there. If he made it to a hospital or clinic, the care he would receive falls so drastically short of our standards (due to lack of equipment and medicine and electricity) that it's difficult for me to even think about the vast disparity, because I know there are other Nics, and I know that this is the reason that so many children living in developing countries die of sickle cell disease before their fifth birthday. And Nic might have been one of that number. He so easily could have been one of that number.

So, how am I?

I'm in a hospital.

On the one hand, I'd rather not be here. I'd rather be lighting our advent candle, and eating all those Christmas cookies I just made, and snuggling my kids in front of a fire, and packing for a trip to see my family.

On the other hand, I'd rather be here than anywhere else.


Nicole said...

You are in my prayers. Thankful that Nic has access to this medical care and I hope they can get him stabilised quickly!

Kathy said...

You should be writing books, friend. XOXO

Michelle Wilson said...

Very well put. It is a strange cocktail, gratitude mixed with sorrow.