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VAS

Christmas in a hospital bed

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Josaya Wasonga | January 5th 2020

Pudd’ng’s favourite cousin, Nate* broke his elbow the last Friday before Christmas. His parents thought it was a small matter. That Nate would be in and out of hospital in a matter of hours.

However, the first hospital that they went to referred them to another, because they did not have an X-ray machine. This other hospital referred them to an even bigger hospital. And that’s how four-year-old Nate ended up spending Christmas and Utamaduni Day in hospital. Their plans to travel upcountry for the Christmas holidays were replaced by this medical emergency which, like many others, hits families, in their hearts and wallets, without prior warning.

A whole ‘nother kettle of fish

Nate is the second-born son of Tenderoni’s elder sister, Bee*. Bee’s other child is also a boy.

“Boys are another thing,” Bee exclaimed when I visited her in hospital. “My elder son got sprains and knocks more times than we can count.”

“We never took him to a hospital, but relied on a traditional bone doctor who always got the job done chap-chap. That’s why I thought that Nate’s accident would not lead to hospitalisation.”

My sister-in-law is right. Dead right. I have a daughter, but I know that boys are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. When I was a little boy, a week never passed without me returning home with an injured knee, a split toenail or even a head injury.

While boys play and live on the edge of danger, girls are, by and large, cautious by nature. If my daughter even senses that she has a pimple, she will spend oodles of hours in front of the mirror, trying to make sure the doggone zit does not ruin her looks. On the other hand, to a boy, a cast or bandage is a mark of honour. Well, at least it was way back in our days.

The burden of care giving

At the paediatric ward where Nate was admitted, all the little patients spent the nights - and most of the day - with their mothers. Bee had to squeeze on the little bed, and be careful not to cause further harm to Nate’s right hand that was hung in a sling. 

I think that, when our kids are admitted in hospital, the burden of being a primary caregiver and providing care and support naturally falls on mothers. It’s wired in them.

Thank God for mothers. I’m not saying that fathers skive this duty. Because I know that, though we may not see many fathers sleeping with their kids in hospital wards, most fathers do not get sleep if and when their loved ones are in hospital.

Nate’s father told me that, on the evening of his son’s surgery, he turned and tossed the entire night. In the morning, he drove to work, with the aim of doing a quick urgent assignment and then driving to the hospital.

“But I entered our company’s car park, and drove right through to the exit and went to the hospital. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.”

On Utamaduni Day, a little girl was admitted in the bed next to Nate’s. Her father was her caregiver. Moments after her admission, her dad held her as she suffered convulsions and he spent the night at his daughter’s bedside.

For parents who, this Christmas season, sacrificed your creature comforts - and Lord knows what else - to take care of your kids who were admitted in hospital, I pray that, in this new year, God will totally heal your loved ones, finances and relationships.  

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