When I wasn’t there, I hope you didn’t think I was not doing anything for your sick teenager, or something that didn’t indirectly contribute to his care.
When I wasn’t there, I was organising my other patients’ care around your son’s, because I knew he needed me the most. I was asking a colleague to cover another task that clashed, so I could continue to prioritise your son.
When I wasn’t there, I was sat at the desk with my calculator totaling up his complex fluids, to see where we were. Then I’m spending 20 minutes with the Registrar, discussing his disconcertingly negative fluid balance – it’s been like that for about 36 hours, and I knew it couldn’t continue. I ask to get a second Registrar’s opinion, and I involved the nurse in charge, before we decided anything. I could’ve just gone with the first doctor’s solution – it would be their prescription/decision, after all – so I could carry on with my long list of jobs. But I didn’t. Although it took time, I advocated for him until we got the right IV fluids prescribed and management plan in place.
When I wasn’t there, I was hand writing two sides of A4 to document all that has been done. This is not just because it’s a legal requirement, but it’s so my colleagues have a detailed record of what’s happened.
When I wasn’t there, I was making midnight phone calls round all the other wards to find out if they have a medication that he needs which we didn’t stock, and then I ran off to get it myself.
When I wasn’t there, I was looking up the dose and preparation of two IV medications your son needed. I’d never given those drugs intravenously before, and I wanted to make certain there were no mistakes.
I wasn’t there all the time, or always straight away, I know. For that I’m genuinely sorry. I saw the pain in your eyes as your son grimaced and trembled in pain. I looked on as you struggled to answer your son when he questioned “Why me?” and “When will it stop?”. I watched every core of your being relentlessly aching as all you could do was put your arm round him. I saw how you couldn’t come to terms with the fact that all you can do is reassure him. Your nature is to care – you’re his mother. But this time the majority of care was in our hands and I know that was so hard for you. I saw your sleepless frustration at the IV pump that continuously alarmed disturbing your rest – I always responded as soon as I could.
I hope you know that when I wasn’t there I was still thinking about both of you. And the next job for him, was already on my mind 30 minutes before it needed doing. I hurt with you both on those nights. I really cared, and I honestly did my level best. I hope it was enough.