Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

I forgot to mention a terrifying event that occurred this summer while we were in France for our annual, or bi-annual trip "home". Zoé got seriously ill with laryngitis, sort of croup like. She sounded like a barking seal, with the deepest and harshest sound I ever heard coming from her tiny airways. The powerful sound really scared Zoé, and before we knew it she was suffocating, choking on mucus and vomiting.

I didn't think twice. Mom, dad and I rushed her to the emergency room. Again, I was sent on a flashback terror of the first night she spent in the NICU after her birth. I felt so vulnerable, but I knew Zoé would feel my vibes, so I kept my fears in check and decided that soothing her was the only thing I could do.

After waiting for things to fall into place, I sent Mom and dad back, knowing that at this point I was the mom in charge. It was a weird feeling, once you step on the other side, feeling for your own child and then seeing your own parents worrying. I wanted them to go home and rest and show them that I could take care of things. That I was in control.

I never thanked the nurses in the emergency room enough: their kindness, their devotion, dedication, care were truly amazing.

The head nurse asked me about Zoé's "routine" to see what they could do to help alleviate her pain and fear of this strange neon-light room. I said that the one and only thing she loved was music, or singing. I had noticed a cassette player in a corner of the room, but needless to say we din't need one as the Head Nurse started singing sweet melodies to Zoé as her assistant put the adrenaline-cortizone filled mask on Zoé's mouth and nose. Zoé instantly managed to settle down, lulled by the French songs I've been singing to her since her birth.
I chimed in and so did the two other nurses and before we knew it there was a magical choir in this neon-light cathedral of tubes and machines, heart monitors and oxygen masks.
It was quite surreal.

After two more rounds of oxygen masks on Zoé, she feel asleep on my chest and they transfered me onto a wheelchair so that we wouldn't wake her up.
We were then administered to a room within the hospital where Zoé shared a bedroom with a little boy named Yuri. I "slept" on a cot next to her bed. Machines kept beeping the minute Zoé would turn, the cords monitoring her oxygen level wrapped around her body.

In the morning an appointment had been scheduled with the social worker to see how we would go about paying for the cost of this night in the hospital. Needless to say, we all know that children are priceless :-)

The social worker was also an amazing lady, full of compassion and respect.
I left her office with the bill, and a handful of cuddly animals for Zoé who had been rushed to the hospital with nothing to sooth her restless night and naps in the hospital.

Again, the kindness of strangers.

I didn't feel like Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams's Streetcar Named Desire, but I knew I could depend on the gracious devotion of all the wonderful people I met that night and day in the hospital.

I must admit, having sent Mom and Dad home the night before as I put my armor on, I was glad to find them back home the next day, for there is nothing like home and parents who love you unconditionally. Their kindness and love is the best medicine.

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