“If left, the bacteria Molly has, can kill in a matter of hours.”
I remembered, through a haze, that when we first arrived at Sydney Children’s Hospital at 1am that night which was to change us forever, they’d bumped a head trauma in order to operate on the pneumococcal infection in our tiny six month old baby’s hip. Although we didn’t know exactly what evil it was at that point in time. In the depths of that night, the medico’s voices had a practised ‘let’s not panic, but…’ pace to it. Yet still, these words did not shock me into a state of clarity, or panic, or any other emotion. It was just another thing to swallow, then keep going, breath by breath, sleep by baby’s sleep, missed meal by missed meal, day by day by week by month. It was the only way I knew to get through.
“Miss Molly is one lucky little girl that you got her in there so quickly,” said our lovely doctor. The saviour of our lives so far. “There is not much time for error with this type of bacteria. But I think we’ve done well, and hopefully there will be minimal damage.” Then he came over all Doctor’s Rules, and I knew I would get no more on the situation. Not that they knew much more on the situation: We were currently, after a month in hospital and two operations, still holding onto the cliff with just a few weak fingers, too find out if that bacteria would yet still take her, or if she would never walk.
We moved to bed number ten of our stay. The moving around was getting to me. Pushed on by bossy mothers who wanted our window bed, or by the Noro virus sweeping through the ward and closing it down, sending us off to Isolation.
It was in Isolation I hit what I know was the lowest point I’ve been at in my life thus far. I was so emptied, tested, tired and worried that I had the completely ridiculous thought I wanted to leave the hospital, which meant leaving my baby. I asked my husband to come in, but he couldn’t breastfeed, so it was all just me. Me and this enormous confusing thing. Me and a whole little person whose life might just depend on me. I cried for 24 hours. I never knew I had that much crying in me.
When I wiped my last tear from that particular flood, my phone beeped. It was my oldest friend, texting to say she’d just heard about Molly. I’d resisted all conversation outside of nurses, doctors, and my husband. I couldn’t talk about this. I didn’t really know what was going on myself. I didn’t know how I’d react if I talked about it. I didn’t know if I could comfort someone else who was upset for me.
Perhaps I didn’t want to really face up to that fact that all this was happening. As it turns out, it took years for me to achieve such a thing. Maybe I even haven’t yet.
We texted back and forth for hours. Her sympathy and friendship flooded into me. Her ability to see the possible positives started working on me.
Then another friend started texting. She asked how I was going. I mused, how was I going? It suddenly struck me that my back was pretty sore from sleeping on a lopsided plastic chair for a month. As I stood back and looked at what I’d just written, I actually found it pretty funny – so absurd that it was humorous. I started to talk about whether it was better to have slept on one of the hospital’s fold-out beds which sported only half a mattress leaving my bum hanging off the end, or the lopsided plastic chair. It reminded me of our toilet rating system when I travelled Africa; where in some parts they didn’t really know what to do with Western sit-down toilets in terms of cleaning or plumbing, so we’d decided the long drop toilets won highest ratings. I deemed the lopsided plastic chair a winner. A game of relativity.
This reminded me of my other friend who’d sent in nibblies and books to pass the time for my stay. Others had sent in toys and little books for Molly, and even one very ugly snugly blanket, like a back to front dressing gown, to go with my plastic chair bed. It made me laugh like a madwoman. Who laughs in a children’s hospital? Not many – only me that day. It made me think of the outside world, of a life other than the one I was so completely ensconced in at the moment. God bless my girlfriends.
And I began to fill back up with the wholesomeness of friendship.