I’m tired, hungry, and irritable. But mostly tired. No, mostly hungry – No tired. See, I can’t even make up my mind which one is worse; the hunger or the exhaustion!
I’m at the waiting room of a hospital’s pediatric casualty unit. As I wait for the doctor to see my daughter Hailey, I have decided to torture myself with thoughts of food, a hot shower and a warm bed; three things that I need now more than anything, but can’t have.
Instead, I’m seated waiting impatiently to hear them call out Hailey’s name to signal our turn to see the doctor. All I have are; this phone, which am using to type this post, a hard bench to seat on and the sound of crying sick babies. One of those ‘sick babies’ is my own. Great! Just GREAT!
Hailey is all – “Muuuum, (she tends to pull her words when she is unwell), I want water, I’m thirsty, I want to sleep, I want you to carry me” My poooor baaaby, I let her rest her head on my laps as I type away to take my mind off the other cravings. I find myself stroking her hair with the other hand. I know that she will pull through this (whatever this is) like the champ she is, if only that doctor could speed things up!
I already know what the doctor’s diagnosis will be; throat and ear infection – We seem to frequent the hospital consistently courtesy of these two culprits. First, Mr. Doc will examine Hailey. He will ask her to say “aaaah” – open her mouth wide, and with that wooden thingy that looks like an ice-cream-scooping spoon, he will hold down her tongue as he inspects her mouth (throat) with a ‘torch?’ then remove it at the nick of time; just when Hailey is about to puke on his well-polished shoes. I always anticipate this but it never happens. How I would love to witness it! I still harbor hope that one day I will be granted that privilege.
After examining her throat, he will wear a concerned look on his face. Very concerned; wrinkled eyebrows and all. Next he will take the thingamajig that is used to look inside the ears. Face still wrinkled with concern, he might mutter something to the effect that what he sees is not good. “mmmh…not good at all”. He will listen to her chest using a stethoscope (psheee! He might as well use it seeing as doctors carry it everywhere), her chest will be declared fine. Her breathing too. Then the verdict will be made; ear and/or throat infection!
Then I will ask the same question I always ask, why can’t we deal with this once and for all instead of us frequenting the hospital as if we are subscribed to a bi-monthly visit? To which I will get the same answers – It can’t be helped, it’s the environmental hazards; the dust, the highly contagious school environment, working against her tender age while her immune system is still ‘work in progress’ etc etc…
HAILEY I. CHERUTO! Finally! Hailey’s eyes almost pop out as she hears her name booming over the microphone, and she looks up at me. I take her hand and lead her to the nurse’s centre, where a male doctor is waiting. Strike one; I got the sex of the doctor right! I ‘save as draft’ the post so far, keep my phone away and we follow the doctor to his office.
Doctor closed the door behind us, showed us to two seats while engaging Hailey in playful conversation in the usual playful way that doctors interact with children (or are trained to, I don’t know). A whole minute later, he ‘remembered’ that I was also in the room and switching his attention from Hailey asked me what the problem was. Fever, coughs, fever – high fever, persistent fever. We were here barely three weeks ago. She was ok until yesterday. Why isn’t her cough going away? She keeps falling sick. Blablabla, I lamented on and on while he patiently listened. He then took the ‘ice-cream spoon’ and asked Hailey to say “aaah”. I smiled to myself. Strike two; the ‘ice-cream’ spoon! When Hailey was just about to throw up, he quickly withdrew the ‘spoon’ from her throat, and once again, I was denied a show! He had no concerned look on his face though. He then reached for the ear thingy, peeped inside her ears but still no wrinkled look of concern. The Stethoscope was next; he listened to her breathing. Still, no worried looks, no ‘mmmhs’ nor ‘aaahs’, and therefore no touchdown. I gave up!
Then he closely examined Hailey’s face (his hands on both her cheeks) and he turned to me. “Well…?” I asked. He then strayed miles away from the script in my head. He said Hailey’s chest was fine, her throat too. He then asked me if I had noticed anything peculiar about her cheeks. Now, us ‘Murreys’ have one very outstanding feature passed down to us by our ancestors from my father’s side; chubby cheeks – I definitely wouldn’t call that ‘peculiar’! I indulged him anyway and took a good look at Hailey. A-ha! Her right cheek was slightly swollen; just below the ear, along the jaw line. It was slight, almost negligible to the blind eye, and definitely invisible to the eyes of a tired hungry mother who had been working for the last 9 hours!
But it was there, the doctor wasn’t seeing things, her right cheek was indeed swollen. Still straying further away from the script, the doctor suggested that Hailey could be suffering from the MUMPS! I looked at him puzzled…wasn’t that disease ancient or something? Sorta like polio? Hehe, he smiled. And from that point on, he kept smiling. Who knew that ignorance could be such an ice-breaker! He prescribed meds for the persistent fever and pain, and nothing else since mumps is viral.
When I asked for something for her cough, he engaged me in a long conversation on how kids like Hailey who are prone to allergies resulting in coughs and flu need just a good stock of Honey and lemon in the home, some anti-allergenic once in a while, something for the fever and pain, and nothing else. He intimated that this hospital NEVER (yeah, I could hear the CAPS in his tone) prescribed cough syrups. “Other countries dump these medicines here, yet they are banned in their own country!” he said with some annoyance. He went ahead to say that people who gave their children the cough syrups are naïve to think that they work. “The body’s immune system fights viruses on its own. It makes no sense when people go like ‘I gave her the syrup and she got better after a few days’ (he mimicked a lady’s voice at this point), yet the child was going to get better anyway, with or without YOUR cough syrup” I swear that doctor was hilarious, I couldn’t help laughing. Very nice doctor too. All the time I was pretending not to be one of ‘those mothers’, hehe. Yeah, I am the ‘honey and lemon’ kind of mum. Word!
We thanked the good doctor before leaving. He told Hailey to say hi to her teacher when she felt well enough to go to school (‘No school for Hailey until she gets well– Mumps is contagious!’ he had said) Then I remembered how Hailey had told me a few days ago about her classmate, Roy, whose face was swollen “…na teacher akamwambia atapona”. I wished that Roy’s mother would have followed doc’s advice and let Roy stay at home instead of coming to school and infecting others. I wondered who else in their class, besides Hailey, had been ‘adorned’ the chubby face.
It was past 11pm in the night when we got home. Hailey was asleep and so I woke her up briefly to give her the pain medicine then I put her to bed. Only then, when both my girls were in slumber land, was I able to eat (boy was I hungry!), then I took a quick shower and heaved my tired aching body on the bed. Whoa! I too needed something for the pain…
PS: I’m happy to report that Hailey has since recovered fully