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The Power of Care

~ Three hours ago, this post would have been titled “The Pity Party.”  However, two hours and fifty minutes ago I got a phone call… ~

Today was my first official day as a clinical clerk.  I had orientation for my first rotation at 9:00, yet I was dressed up all professional and ready to leave the house at 7:00.  DH dropped A. and I off at the ER doors before trekking across the city to drop off E. at the dayhome.  A’s leg pain was worse this morning than it was when he went to bed last night and he refused to even take a step.  I placed my (big) little boy into a wheelchair and waited for the triage nurse.  A. and I watched the ambulances come in and out of the bay – he eagerly tried to get out of the chair and go see one up close and personal.  But his poor leg robbed him of his excitement.

Before DH arrived to meet us in the pediatric ER, we had already been assessed by the resident and orders were in place for an x-ray and lab work.  All the testing was set to go as I had to run off to my orientation.  For two hours I was scheduled for orientation and the rest of the day I was supposed to be on outpatient psychiatry.  I was nervous about approaching my first ever attending physician to tell him the situation.  I introduced myself and sheepishly told him the situation and that I might have to use my phone during the session to communicate with my husband.  He was more than understanding and said I could do whatever was needed.

It was also my lucky day (or so I thought)…  There is currently a “norwalk-like” outbreak on the psychiatric units at my institution and my attending physician quickly told me that he was sick over the weekend and was required to be on quarantine for the next 48 hours.  He was going to arrange for me to be with someone else for today.  However, given my situation, he said I could have the rest of the day off after the orientation. Phew.

After two long, agonizing hours of orientation and worried about poor A., I arrived back to the ER just in time to meet the resident and attending pediatrician as they were talking to DH about the test results.  Normal.  X-rays: normal.  Blood-work: normal.  No explanation for my little boy’s inability to walk.  My reaction was mixed: no septic arthritis, or osteomyelities, or avascular necrosis but no answer, and no solution. Frustration.  Frustration. FRUSTRATION.

The attending physician had yet to watch A. walk, so we placed him on the floor and the poor boy attempted to hobble over into my outstretched arms like a 70 year old man with a broken hip.  It broke my heart to watch him in so much pain.  The doctor couldn’t believe that a child would be so symptomatic with no indications.  She examined him a little more and decided to put in an urgent referral to pediatric orthopedic surgery.  In my head, I am thinking two things: (1) This is bad… and (2) another day, very soon, I am going to have to accomodate another personal appointment into my crazy clinical schedule.

We had a few small things that needed to be done for the referral before we could leave the ER, A. got some NSAIDS, and then we were gone.  DH drove A. to the dayhome for his nap and I decided to be proactive and do some reading for my clinic and academic sessions tomorrow.  As I sat in my office, I couldn’t concentrate and I could feel myself spiralling into a pit of anxiety, worry, and pity.  I was suddenly exhausted, physically and emotionally, from the day’s events.  I just wanted to lay on the floor and cry.  I wanted to talk to someone, but I didn’t have anyone.

Earlier in the morning, I had gotten a text from KM wishing me good luck on my first day.  I was elated, but my excitement was clouded by the ensuing events.  I replied by telling her that it was off to a fantastic start.  She was concerned and told me to keep her posted… and I did.  So, as I sat in my office, resisting all urges to curl into a ball and cry, I sent KM a short message with an update.  What I really wanted to send was a call for help:

I need to talk.  I’m overwhelmed and it’s my first day.  I feel like giving up now instead of giving it a fair go.

I kept it together and tried to be productive.  Finally, DH texted to say he was on his way to pick me up.  When I got in the car, he said I looked rough… and it’s no surprise why!  We got to the dayhome and as I walked in the door, I found both of my boys whining and crying.  Apparently A. was in so much pain and he wouldn’t eat his snack or drink his milk, and she was sure he was starting to run a fever.  Fantastic – now I’m spending all night in the ER. E. is concurrently cutting 3 teeth and he is not a happy camper.  So DH and I walk back to the car, each carrying a sobbing, cranky little boy.

Then, the drive home.

With all this business about his leg, I’ve failed to mention that A’s been recovering from some kind of stomach bug.  He’s had varying levels of diarrhea since Wednesday and as a result, his poor little bum is as red and as raw as you can possibly imagine.  Just as we drove away from the dayhome, A. started wailing in pain and announces that he’d pooped.  We decide to pull over at a nearby service station to change his diaper – except the poop is everywhere… no exaggeration.  So, on the side of the road, at a service station with NO change table, I am changing an overflowing shitty diaper on the front seat of my car.  DH covered the poopy carseat with a blanket he found in the back and we head for home.  We’re no less than 5 min from our house when A. starts to scream out in pain again.  He’d pooped again, he informed us.  This time, his brother decided to show his empathy by screaming along side with him and we drive home to the chorus of screams and sobs from the back seat of our car.

Poop is everywhere again… Up A’s back, up his shirt, on his winter coat, dripping down his leg… DH took him inside, straight into the shower.  All the while, E. was screaming at the top of his lungs.  I gathered my thoughts, wondered what ever possessed me to have two kids while in medical school, and then gathered my screaming child from the car.  My car stunk like poop.  My garage stunk like poop.  My house stunk like poop.  My bedroom ensuite, it smelled like poop died, and then exploded… Quite literally.  I dropped the screaming baby in the crib to assist DH with the haz-mat situation to ensure that poop particles were contained as much as possible to the shower area.  Finally, DH and poor little A. (who could hardly stand up and was now repeating over and over that he’s  bad boy) were taking a shower.  I quickly exposed my highly powerful baby soothing weapons (aka boobs) and rescued my overly dramatic, dying baby.  He latched on and I laid on the bed as his sobs subsided and he suckled his way into boobyland bliss.

I thought I was exhausted before. There were no words to describe my emotions at that moment.  I was just done.  More done than I had ever been.  E. and I dozed in and out of sleep for a bit, until DH came barging into the bedroom with my ringing cell phone.  WTF.  Leave me alone.  Who is calling me RIGHT NOW?

DH plunges the phone in front of my face.  And I suddenly see it.

KM.  KM is calling me…

“G. How are you?  Is this a good time?  Is everything OK?”

Is this a good time?  You have no idea.

DH took the baby.  He knew I needed this phone call. That’s why he raced the phone to me.  That’s why he woke me up. That’s why he let me talk on the phone for ten minutes while he single handedly fed the boys dinner.

I talked to KM about the day, a little about how I was feeling.  She said she’s been thinking of me all day and just wanted to check in and see how I was doing.  She told me to call or text her if I need anything or if I just need to talk.  She said she’s there if I need her.  She’s never called me before.  But today, she cared when I needed someone to care the most.  I don’t know what meant more to me: that someone cared enough to call and see how I was doing, or that she called to see how I was doing…

Suddenly my pity party was over.

8 thoughts on “The Power of Care

  1. I hope your children are feeling better soon. I think once they are clearly on the mend and you don’t have to worry about their health, you will get a better idea of your new work place. Don’t rush to judgment.


  2. Hey, I just came back to the blogging world from what seems like ages to find out this heart-breaking news. When it’s our kids who are unexplainably, it’s heart-breaking. Please keep us posted. Take care


    1. Thank-you! He seems a little better today, but he’s still limping around like a gimp. At least he got to go to the dayhome and play with his friends!


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