21 March 2005

Ward 323.

There is, all things considered, not one negative thing to be said about the staff at the heart ward in Drottning Silvia’s Children’s Hospital. I have never before met with such professionalism, empathy and warmth. I suppose this is what they’ve been trained to do and get paid for, but I can’t help feeling that they really do care. They’re all well aware of the fact that a few hours prior to us stepping through the doors of room three, we were just happy new parents of a beautiful baby boy. Without a single suspicion of what would be lurking around the corner. They’ve let it all take time. Allowed us to let things sink in at a pace we can handle.

Everything around here goes along at a steady pace, all part of an ingenious plan. You find yourself lulled into a strange world of breast pumps, tube feeding and a meticulous weighing of nappies to check incoming and outgoing. Terms like saturation, VSD, CVC, EKG and pulmonalisatresi are becoming part of our daily life.

In a neat and orderly manner, meetings are booked – with surgeons, anaesthetists, therapists and physiotherapists. We’re given a guided tour of the ward and of the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and a thorough run through of the routines. All the time accompanied by ”Can you manage this now? Or ” We can leave it for later if you like, just let us know”. As soon as they’ve seen any signs of us not coping, being close to tears, someone has been there to take us to a quiet corner where we’ve been left to ourselves. To cope. To deal with the unthinkable.

All along the corridor walls are posters with photos, taken by parents, of babies and children more or less recently out of surgery. The posters, and a few photo albums, are used in an educational purpose to prepare us for what’s to come. ”Squint when you take your first look and then come back in a while for a second look” is the advice we’re given. An infant with a huge scar on his or her chest, the entire body covered in tubes and wires is not a pretty sight. Especially not when that infant is your own.

I’ve walked miles in these corridors by now, each time pausing a little longer by the posters, hoping thus to be prepared for seeing Abbe after his surgery.

Is that even possible?

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