There are few things more frightening than being in hospital with a very sick child. If you are a parent, there is every chance it will happen to you at some stage and when it does, you will be unspeakably anxious, sleep deprived and utterly, utterly overwhelmed.
Having recently experienced a health scare with my youngest son that required us spending more than a week at the Sydney Children’s Hospital (he’s recovering well and it turned out to be okay), I found myself constantly grappling with my emotions, the reactions of other people, logistics, mundane practicalities and the daunting mountain of fear and information to be climbed every day.
Every person has a different experience in hospital with their child and of course, I can’t possibly know what anyone else is going through or how they might feel. But here are a few things that may or may not be a little bit helpful… things I had no idea would happen.
YOU WILL BE INCREDIBLY BUSY
Between tests and meals and talking to doctors and replying to messages and making phone calls to loved ones and helping the nurses to care for your child and keeping them entertained and comforting them, there is astonishingly little downtime when you’re in hospital. Depending on how sick your child is, of course, there will be far less time to, say, read a book, than you expect.
There will be loads for your child to do, however, if they feel up to it. Being in a children’s hospital is a little like living for a brief time inside an episode of Playschool – except with needles. During our time at the Sydney Children’s hospital there were clown doctors, Wonderwoman and Superman came one time with early Christmas presents, play therapists, volunteers with hospital-approved dogs to pat, music therapists, a school, an in-house radio station and games room.
At one point when I was going to get a sandwich I passed four life-sized R2D2 robots rolling down the corridors with their Star Wars fan owners, come for a visit. So much thought goes into keeping kids’ spirits up and you can see their eyes light up, cutting through pain, discomfort and even fear.