Thursday, September 22, 2011

When a Child is Sick

Have you ever wondered where mothers get their energy? I have. I am a mother myself and I have, on most occasions, found myself physically tired and drained after a long day of doing my motherly and wifely duties at home for my family. I usually look forward to a good night's sleep to recharge my body for the next day's demand.

All is well when everyone is well... but what if a member of my family, say my child, gets sick and I had to stay awake all night to guard and monitor his or her condition? what if, assuming that no guarding/monitoring needs to be done, I couldn't force myself to close my eyes for a few minutes of sleep because I worry about my child? How do I recharge my energy? On these occasions I discovered that even without sleeping, I have a lot of energy. Now, where did I get it? Allow me to think out loud.

I believe it's motherly love. I call it motherly because I don't see it in my spouse who always seemed to be as sleepy as usual even on those occasions when a child of ours is sick. Indeed, a mother's love is a fountain of strength more potent than any energy-giving potion or concoction you could ever find. I found that it can cure a mother's headache or a cold that was there a few minutes before her child became sick. It can diminish a mother's need for sleep and give her the energy to share with her child through her consoling hugs and kisses. It can make a mother's brain work at a faster and more efficient rate (even if she appears to be panicking). It can even give a mother telepathic abilities for somehow a mother knows just exactly what her sick child needs (a talent not possessed by fathers --- at least not by my husband). Mother's love can also cure depression. A mother with depression suddenly finds that she no longer wallows in her chronic sadness and instead is able to rechannel positive energy from her to her sick child.

Mother's love. I witnessed it at work when I was a child with my own mother and I now find that it works for me too now that I am a mother myself. Amazing!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

When Nursing and Medical Care Seems so Uncaring

Have you ever been in a hospital where nurses, student nurses, in addition to doctors (residents, junior residents, and senior residents) constantly monitor your vital signs to the point where your vital signs deteriorate or run amuck because of lack of sleep on your part? I have. It was neither a pleasant experience nor one I'd care to repeat.

I won't bother mentioning the hospital's name because it is a hospital with an attached medical and nursing school with a high passing rate in the board exams.

Admitted for high blood pressure problems (my blood pressure was shooting to as high as 180/110), it was quite understandable why monitoring my vital sign was important. The doctors needed to control my blood pressure. This part I totally agree on.

When the first nurse came in to check my vital signs --- blood pressure, pulse rate, heart rate and temperature --- I voluntarily submitted myself. After all, it was all designed for my own good. I'm not sure but that same nurse was supposed to return every four (4) hours to check the same vital signs. I had no problem with that.

After about an hour, two nurse-looking persons came in (different from the first nurse who took my vital signs). They were pleasant and they were smiling. They introduced their names and told me that they were there to check my vital signs. Huh, okay (though in my mind, I began to wonder: I thought the next checking was after four (4) hours?). Oh well, I guess the doctors changed their minds and decided that my vital signs should be checked every hour (?). In addition to checking my vital signs, the two nurse-looking girls (they were, I later found out nursing students doing their practicum) also asked me about my medical history (why I was there,how long have I had blood pressure problems, what were my symptoms, what medications were I taking, who in the family had it, etc.) Again, I wondered, aren't all these in my medical charts already. I was asked the same questions when I was admitted. Oh well, I thought, maybe the hospital was just making sure they got everything correctly.

After the nursing students left, a young doctor came in and also took my vital signs and also asked me questions about my medical history (questions which I felt were already answered by me). After the young doctor, another older doctor came in and did the same. (Don't they have a centralized repository of medical information about me? Why was I answering the same questions?).

This wasn't funny anymore. I was already getting tired. Worse, my blood pressure, despite the medications introduced, wasn't improving. How could it improve? I could barely get enough sleep with medical personnel coming in and out of my room, waking me up with their questions and blood pressure monitoring gauges, among others.

It was starting to become ridiculous (and irritating), especially when the initial medical personnel in charge of my case were replaced by other medical personnel. The endorsement process was a repetition of the entire process. A new nurse, new nursing students, another junior resident, another senior resident. They all did the same ---- monitored my vital signs and asked me questions.

I feel that it doesn't take a doctor to know that a person with a high blood pressure has to rest. I did not get any from that hospital. On the third day (when my blood pressure was starting to go down to 150/100, from one that shuffled between 180/100 to 170/100), I decided to talk to my doctor and told him that I would just rest at home. I told him that it was the hospital itself that was the source of my lack of sleep and irritation which aggravated by blood pressure. Fortunately, my doctor told me that he would leave instructions at the nurses' station for medical personnel not to take my vital signs nor wake me up when I am asleep. On the night these instructions were given by my doctor, I was able to sleep well and lo and behold, the next day, my blood pressure returned to normal (130/100). Later that day, since my blood pressure was already under control, I was recommended for discharge.

Had I not voiced my concerns to my doctor, my blood pressure would have worsened with every attempt by medical personnel to wake me up and monitor my vital signs and ask me questions. It is quite unfortunate that there are some people in the medical profession who miss the point of their existence: they are there to care for the patient. They are not there simply to gather data or information about the patient. They are there to make sure that whatever it is they are doing are for the best interests of their patients. Sadly, they overlooked one important thing I needed to get well: more than monitored blood pressure and vital signs, I sorely needed sleep and rest. They did not care about it. They were like mercenaries minding their own business and mercilessly gathering what they had to. When nursing and medical personnel do this, they become uncaring and they don't have any business in a profession were care and compassion is of paramount importance.

Friday, September 16, 2011

To Work or Not to Work? One Cannot Ask that Question

In the context of the present economic situation of the country where even those in the middle class feel the pinch of uncertainty in finance and economic status, women cannot afford to ask themselves if they should work or not work. But then again, this fact may stem from a lack of consensus or universal appreciation of housework/homework performed by women. To work or not to work: there is no such option available for women.

Bai Pagodna (not her real name), a married woman, suffered from depression and was forced to give up a high paying job just so that she could have a stress-free life with peace of mind. After she recovered from her depression and became hormonally-balanced, she became pregnant with their second child. Having delivered by c-section, Bai and her husband had to pay an enormous hospital bill using money they had saved for several years. This payment left them asking a question: how do we recoup the savings spent? if another emergency happens in our family, how will we be able to meet it financially?

For Bai, the simple joy of having survived her hospital ordeal and the little bundle of joy in her arms were enough to disregard the questions above. The husband, however, was of a different disposition. He continued to ask: what if another emergency occurred? how would they meet it financially?

The decision for Bai to stop working was a decision that the couple made after due consideration of the effect of Bai's work on her mental health. The couple agreed that Bai was in no mental disposition to handle any form of stress brought about by working in an office and that for Bai to work meant that Bai would expose herself to a possibility of having depression again.

Bai didn't want to work in an office setting again. She was already happy doing what she was doing: being a housewife and a mother to her two children. She enjoyed taking care of the house and of everything that her children and husband needed.

it is quite unfortunate that Bai's husband was of a different position. Thus, despite previous agreements on the matter, the husband made Bai feel that she SHOULD work (and by "work" he meant working in an office setting for an employer who was willing to give her a monthly salary --- obviously, "work" did not carry with it the task of caring for the family members and the home). To boost his position, the husband, being a very good economist, started to argue about the uncertainty of the future. He started to enumerate future expenses that they would have to save up for, like the children's tuition fees for their chosen courses, the need to set up an emergency fund in case such an eventuality did occur, etc.

From all of the husband's arguments, Bai realized that, for practical and economic reasons, she has to work again (whether she wants to or not).

Bai is not the only woman with a similar concern. Unfortunately, housework/homework has no value in a poor country such as ours. Surely, if there was value placed on housework/homework, Bai and her husband would not have even bothered to consider the issue of whether Bai had to work or not (because she was already working in the first place, albeit in the home and in favor solely of her family). If value were placed on Bai's contribution in the home, one would already say that she was already working (and on a full time basis at that).