I had every intention of writing an adventure blog last week – even with Steve away for two weeks – but on Sunday morning, my five year old Jax, woke up with an excruciating pain in his side. My boys are tough, so when they tell me something hurts, I know it’s the truth. It got worse throughout the morning and close to lunchtime I thought, if this is his appendix, I can’t risk waiting until the docs open on Monday.
Thankfully, our amazing helper Vick took Lex with her on her Sunday adventures – ‘cos having both of them in a hospital would have been a nightmare. But the drive to the hospital was awful. I had no idea what was going on and was terrified by the possibilities, Steve was up in California anxiously waiting for news about what was going on, and Jax was crying in pain. It wasn’t a happy drive. I must say, one aspect of living abroad during moments like this, is dealing with the added stress of having one parent away (who can only imagine what’s going on), as well as no family around to support you through it, well it ain’t nice.
So we arrive at Mt. E, where both of the boys were born, and head straight to a rather calm accident & emergency room by any major cities’ standards. Every hospital encounter for us has been at Mt E, so it’s natural for us to go there. It’s was a very surreal experience and I’d love to share a couple of observations about hospitals in Singapore – perhaps you can share yours?
1. the check in was rather professional but there was no emotion what so ever. A parent of a small child in pain got as much empathy as everyone else – i.e. none. I’m sure if there was blood, or his leg was hanging off, it might have been different, but it was very business-like.
2. they had a hideous, bloody-thirsty movie on, with people being gunned down and a couple of head on car crashes. I wasn’t the only parent there with a kid and do you think I could get Jax to turn his head away? Hello! Family hospital, family movies please.
3. we then saw the nurse, where Jax had his temperature taken and weighed. Standard stuff. I asked the nurse if she thought it was something sinister and got a completely blank look. Now, perhaps my expectations are too high, but growing up in Australia with a mother who was a feisty nurse that usually did have a better sense of a patients’ health than the doctors, I am constantly amazed by how junior and inexperienced the nurses are. Don’t even get me talking about the time I had to breastfeed Lex in hospital, three weeks after he was born, when my appendix conveniently decided to rupture. The nurses were giggling – I mean, really?
4. we were then ushered in to see the house doctor. He checked Jax out and said I don’t know what’s wrong. So is it his appendix I asked? I don’t know he said. So how can we find out? I don’t know he said. A cat scan perhaps? It’s expensive. I don’t care. How about a pediatric doctor or a specialist? It’s expensive. I DON’T CARE. I want to know what’s wrong. Oh OK then…. I am always ALWAYS baffled by medical professionals factoring in cost as an issue when there is an obvious problem that needs to be identified. I do not care how much it costs as long as I am able to walk out of there knowing my little guy is alright! It is definitely one of the weird cultural differences I have never been able to get used to. I mean seriously, Steve’s ex-colleague was diagnosed with cancer. She got a major pay-out from her insurance, and every decision she made was to save money. She died within the year, but afforded a Jimmy Choo handbag before passing on. I couldn’t believe it!
5. I decided a blood test might be a good idea. They ushered Jax off to a bed and he was surrounded by three strangers pinning him down. My first observation was the male talking to Jax about Manchester United – he was the distractor! Now perhaps other five year olds love to talk soccer, but not my little love. Soccer is hardly ever mentioned or watched in our home. I took action and quickly ushered him out of the way and explained to Jax exactly what was going to happen, that there’d be a little ouchie, but it was no big deal and he’d be alright. He was as cool as a cucumber and not a tear in sight. The nurses couldn’t believe it. My other observation was one of the girls – who was putting the needle in – kept referring to Jax as Little Boy in a high pitched voice. Now anyone who knows kids knows that a five year old thinks of himself as a big boy, and READ THE BLOODY CHART woman, his name is JAX!
6. we were finally ushered in to see an adorable older man – the pediatric specialist. He laid Jax down, pressed in all the right spots and said unequivocally that it wasn’t his appendix. Phew. He couldn’t tell me what it was, but the fact we weren’t facing surgery was a massive relief. Steve, still lying awake in California, was rather pleased to get that news as well.
We walked out none-the-wiser as to what was actually going on, but at least knew it probably wasn’t something that would kill him. It wasn’t a lot of fun, I must say, and the emotions a parent goes through when our kids are in any sort of trouble is really draining. I often wonder how parents with kids going through really serious things cope. My heart always goes out to parents when I hear of kids going through major health challenges. We’ve been lucky in that regard.
I like Mt. E, I’ll always go back there and this is not a criticism of the hospital. It is efficient and well run, but hospital visits have always been one of the things that stand out to me as a stark cultural difference to what I grew up with. Doctors lost their king status many many years ago in Australia. In Singapore, the Kings remain firmly on their thrones. It’s perplexing.
Which reminds me of both of the boys’ births at Mt E – wow that was something special watching my doctor in action and the reverence he was treated with. Bizarre for this gal from Downunder.
I will be back to my adventure blogging this week, and have a great adventure planned with all three boys – Steve got back last night – which will culminate in a fantastic new restaurant I’ve found. Stay tuned.
Oh and if you’re wondering, we took Jax to our doctor on Tuesday, as the pain hadn’t subsided. It looks like he had some sort of bacterial infection in his intestines. He seems fully recovered now.