Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Catch-up #5


Hola, bewdas!
I know I have not posted anything for more than a month, and I'm quite shocked myself that there was nothing at all on the bar's notice board all of June. I didn't think I could go a month without blogging. I meant to write a post on 30th June, but guess what? We are back in the hospital again, and Xena's warded on oxygen. We came here on the morning of the 30th and have been here since. This is the fourth time in four months that we have had to bring her to the hospital for breathlessness. The cycle is exactly the same. It starts with fever, then a cough that doesn't go away, and then her blood oxygen level starts dipping (yes, we have an oximeter at home to track her blood oxygen levels; after two rounds of hospital visits, we decided we needed it) and we rush to the hospital. So here we are, back in the hospital where Xena was born and I was reborn. It's been two days and she seems to be okay when awake, but when asleep she's unable to breathe normally without oxygen support. Her doctors say she can go home as soon as she can do a full night without oxygen support. They can't say yet if these recurrences indicate the beginnings of asthma or it's just that her lungs are still too weak to handle any kind of trigger.

And what a trigger we had last week. You might have read about it -- forest fires in Indonesia caused a thick blanket of haze on Singapore and the psi was close to 500 at one point. 300 is already considered hazardous and anything above 400 can be life-threatening for the elderly and ill. Singapore is one of the cleanest and greenest places in the world and yet, we were so helpless when the haze hit. Even though we had her on full house arrest with all windows and doors shut tightly and the air purifier and air-conditioner running overtime, it didn't feel enough. We were especially worried as Xena has weak lungs and is more susceptible to such things. But the haze passed and I thought that was it. Well, I'm still not sure if it was the haze that caused her hospitalization or some other trigger, but she's here and we gotta get past this.

She's taking a nap now and as I move my eyes away from her face behind that oxygen mask and look around, my mind is filled with so many thoughts. One, to always be thankful for what I have, because many others have it much worse. There's a kid in the bed opposite Xena's, and he has cerebral palsy. He is also here for some respiratory issue, and nothing can compare to what he and his parents are going through. When the doctors do their rounds and discuss him, I hear words like 'morphine', 'palliative', and I feel so heartbroken for him and his parents. I'm not sure if he is aware of pain, but from the sounds he makes all day and all night, I really do hope he can't feel the pain associated with them. Every few hours, the nurses use a tube and suction to make him a little more comfortable. Compared to him, Xena, who when not coughing or trying to pull the oxygen mask off, is generally chirpy and happy, seems like she doesn't even belong here. I don't know why it always takes someone else's misery to trump ours before we come to our senses (actually sometimes we don't) and stop ranting about our lives.

The other thing I notice is how articulate and patient the doctors and nurses are. I don't know why I expect them to be rude and snappy. Maybe it's because this is a government hospital. Maybe it's because they have been dealing with sickness all day and night. But they totally surprise me. I am especially amazed at the nurses' dedication. Doing your job is one thing, doing it with passion and feeling, is another. Of course, I deeply admire the doctors for their knowledge and skill, and how patient and clear they are when explaining things to me or answering my questions, but I admire the nurses more because they don't even get the credit and recognition the doctors get. And they do the 'dirty work' day after day after day. How do they remain so polite and cheerful after having a full work day that involves putting tubes down throats and cleaning up perfect strangers' waste? Xena coughed so violently once, she threw up in her oxygen mask. I could not believe the speed with which the nurses managed to get the mask off, clean her up and get her new clothes and a new mask, reassuring her all the time that it was okay, and that it was actually good that she managed to get rid of the phlegm. The very next second, housekeeping had already changed her bedsheet too. It felt like I was watching things in fast-forward mode. 15 years of living in Singapore and I still stand amazed at the level of efficiency here.

Yet another thing I notice is how the doctors and nurses do manage to catch a moment of respite from their gruelling work. One of the Filipino nurses came over when all was quiet in the ward and asked Xena to teach her some Hindi in exchange for some stickers. "Baby, I don't understand what you are saying, but I find it very very cute," she said. She's now armed with some Hindi, courtesy Xena and her translator (me). When she comes over to bathe Xena, she says, "Baby, nahana nahana?" Then there were these two junior doctors who came over with a small box of toys and played with Xena for half an hour. I don't know if it was part of their medical training as pediatricians to get to know their patients more, or just them looking for some light moments to include in their tiring day. But I do know that all three of them had an absolute blast together. Xena kept asking me, "Doctor klangya? Doctor coming soon?" after they had left. For Xena, harder than staying in the mask is staying inside the cot, considering how jail-like it is and how jumpy and outdoorsy she is. So one of my main struggles is keeping her occupied and happy and so I get Viv to bring me a few of her toys and books each morning. (I really don't want to plonk the iPad in front of her just to relieve her boredom.) I'm eternally grateful to my friend N, who has brought me lunch every one of these days and helped to keep Xena entertained too.

I have stayed here with Xena for two nights now and am gearing up for a few more. Viv has offered to swap with me so I can go home and get some rest, but he's too tall for the parent bed they provide and I know he will have a horrible work day if he's not well-rested. Besides, last night one of the kind nurses who saw me sleeping like a horse aka sleeping standing up with one hand holding Xena's (she wakes up very often and asks to hold my hand so I just decided to stand next to her cot and sleep), she asked me to hop into Xena's cot so I could be next to her and still get some sleep. "Is that allowed? And more importantly, can this take my weight?" I pointed to the cot, looking for a 'maximum weight limit' sign. She made a "Tchah, it doesn't matter." face, so I lowered the side of the cot and curled up next to my baby, hoping that the cot wouldn't give way in the middle of the night! I must say both Xena and I managed to get some good sleep this way, and the cot didn't break either. But I'm pretty sure Viv won't fit if he replaces me tonight, even if he curls himself into a ball. So his job is still to fetch things for Xena and me in the mornings, and take back stuff in the evenings. This has also made me realise the importance of keeping a tidy house. On the first day, I sent him a list of some 40 items that we (mostly Xena) would need during our stay and though I had written down their exact locations, it still took him an hour to get everything together. So I have made a mental note to keep our home tidier than it is. I've noticed that when I am away on stuff that is out of the ordinary routine, such as holidays or hospitalization, it always makes me think of things that I generally don't think of, such as how to live a better life.

So there. While the doctors discuss whether this is just a viral infection of Xena's weak lungs or whether she is likely to develop asthma in the future, we're here, wishing and hoping that we can go home soon.

On a final note, I have some life-altering philosophical advice for you - tidy up your home. And oh, lose weight. So that if needed one day, you can sleep in a hospital toddler cot without breaking it.



35 comments:

vijayaraghavan said...

Bhai, This is the nth time I am adoring your attitude. Long Live Bhai!. I pray for Xena's recovery. May god bless both of you.

Lakshmi Thampi said...

Really admire your attitude and wish I could do something to help. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Get well sooo..ooon baby Xena!

Arun said...

What Vijayaraghavan and Lakshmi Thampi said, +1.

Archana said...

Get well soon Xena baby! Sending plenty of good wishes to you and your mama!

Totally concur with you about seeing other people's situation to put things in perspective. But - you are in a difficult situation too and I salute you for handling it the way you are. *hugs*.

TUNGATHAVAJAN said...

Get Well Soon Xena ... Please god

Ekta said...

Brave Xena...get well soon. Been a lurker for years. Love this space of yours Bhai.

Xena, Aunty ki saath khelegi?

Love n best wishes

Sree said...

Love you baby Xena, you are a rockstar and fight it off soon! take care Sayesha

How do we know said...

Am sending a big hug and some reiki your way Xena. i have started to believe in reiki again now.

get well soon baby. and if i ever come to Singapore, you are sooo on my to meet list, even if your mother doesnt allow u to meet strangers. :)

And while ur mother has named u after a warrior princess, let me share a lil secret. i have a different name for u. u see, when i think of u in my head, i dont call u Xena. i call u Xen(i)a... and that, as u know, is the name of a lovely, lovely flower. so there, thenga to mumma and u and i can use ur secret name.. bcs u r also like a flower :) and more a flower than anything else.

Deepti said...

Sayesha, i am a very frequent visitor to this blog, and i must say i have started idiolising you. Your attitude rocks. You are so so positive person. I need to take a LOT of inspiration from you. I have a 3 months old, and everytime i have a tough time, i think of you....My all good wishes your and xena's way..may the little one be up and running very soon...loads of love...cheers..

Gagan said...

Sayesha,
I'm a frequent reader of your blog even though I haven't commented on it much. I am amazed at the way you're handling your baby's illness. If I am able to handle any similar situation with even half the grace you're showing, I'll be a grateful man.
Hope Xena gets well soon. Funny thing for an atheist to say, but... keep the faith!

Gagan

Disha said...

Get well soon Xena baby. Sending loads of wishes and love..

Beena Venugopal said...

Dear Sayesha,

There is so much to learn from Xena and yourself - thank you for penning your thoughts and sharing them with us.

Lots of love and hugs to both of you and wishing for a speedy recovery... take care :)
Beena (from Bombay)

Prathima said...

Wishing Xena a speedy recovery and hoping that this is just a temporary thing.

Varsha said...

As always, wishing Xena to get up and go home soon! You said it Bhai! it takes some one else's misery to be thankful for all that we have. Xena will be running around the house and going to school and doing all the normal stuff soon.
Can totally relate to what you are feeling, as I have experienced some hospital stuff with Vihaan as well, though not serious.
Want a post soon about Xena's antics in school and home, and can see that coming!

Alice said...

Sorry to hear this Sayesha. Tc.

And that's typical bhai style, ending up a post of this nature with some smiles and humour (esp the fitting into the hosp. cot part) :)

~ Lopa said...

Wishing Xena darling speedy discharge from jail bed.
You are one strong bhai..Sayesha, so proud of you. Take care.

And i am going to take your advise seriously and will try to lose some weight. :-D

Revathy Radhakrishnan said...

I wish you both get home soon!

Sumana said...

Lots of best wishes your family's way.... I'm really inspired by your attitude.. and admire you always :)

Kanan said...

Best of the best wishes and prayers for baby Xena to get well. Those doctors and nurses must be really nice. I can tell that from Xena asking questions about them and looking for them. I am going to go workout now. Thanks for the reminder. God bless you all.

Meenakshy said...

Best wishes from us.. Do well :)

Reflections said...

I so admire your spirit Sayesha! There is so much to learn from you. Wishing a speeding recovery for Xena.
Love & Hugs
Sneha

Sandhya said...

Wishing Baby Xena a speedy recovery. I admire your positive attitude, Sayesha. There is lot to learn from you.

I have always had ample respect for nurses, who render selfless service day after day. And as a daughter of a doctor, I have witnessed several times the patience with which they have to deal with scenarios, even the most difficult ones.

I live in Singapore and like you, I admire the efficiency with which things are handled here. Hope to meet you sometime in future.

Get well soon, our warrior princess and hop all your way home ,Baby. Praying for you.

-Sandhya

Raam Pyari said...

love and prayers your way...

and a big hug too :)

Sri said...

Admire your resilience, Sayesha!

With prayers and good wishes pouring in from around the world, am sure Xena will be perfectly fine soon!:)

chengiz said...

Admire your strength and also your writing! Hope Xena gets home soon.

Pen my thoughts said...

You are so strong ,Sayesha !and Xena is a fighter!Get well soon..wishing you a speedy recovery..I know these symptoms too...the fever followed by cough...my 3 year old has it and he had to take steroids and nebuliser to get better..it breaks your heart to see them go through this but you are handling it extremely well!kudos to you!

Yogita said...

Sending lots of hugs and prayers to you and Xena. I admire your spirit and your ability to look at the lighter side of things.

humblog said...

Nazar lag gayi...please do not discuss the happy news with too much detail as you did in our of your previous posts.

It is probably the cynic in me but I feel logon ki nazar bahut buri hai.

Please delete this post.

Nobody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nobody said...

It's so true what you said, looking at others and their misery sometimes makes us realize that we are not in as much pain as they are..

Lots of love to Xena.
Hope she recovers all quick, and gets home soon.

:)

Reshma said...

Xena's struggles always makes me cry, but she has the best mother to care for her.

What u said about wanting to lead a better life, especially while on vacation or hospitalization, resonates with me too. Had felt that on a vacation earlier, now, am in the hospital with my mother in law, n that's exactly what I had been thinking. How not to be trivial n how to live a life with consciousness.

Hope Xena is alright soon.

Regards,
Reshma

Deepa said...

Sayesha,

Been a lurker for long, but I have de-lurk today to commend your attitude. Your love for Xena shines through in every post about her even though you try to keep the post light.

You are THE perfect mother for Xena. No one could do the job better. And you've blessed in a way that would probably be hard to see when Xena is in the hospital. Sayesha, your dear baby, Xena, is heart-meltingly sweet.

Sending lots and lots of positive thoughts for you both from the other side of the world. Hope you can go home soon.

Yamini M said...

everytime, everytime i learn how to live it...from your posts! :)

Hope Xena gets better real soon! :) :)

Horizon said...

Get well soon Xena.. Your attitude rocks:) couldn't help smiling on your life altering advise :)

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