Archive for March, 2012

To Christopher

Today is a day for tears, for we have lost you Christopher – our dearest angel in the ward.

Twenty days ago, nobody, not even our best doctors, believed you were going to outlast 24 hours of existence. Who wouldn’t? At the sight of you, even non-medical practitioners could bluntly say you wouldn’t have the strength to make it. But a day had passed and a week had gone by, and you were still fighting.

Gastroschisis. That’s the medical term they used to describe your diagnosis. In my five years of studying the human anatomy, I have never encountered this kind of condition, let alone see one. But the mere appearance of your body could already tell what lies behind your affliction. You were born with a defect in your abdominal wall through which your intestines, both small and large, freely protrude. In lay man’s term Christopher, everyone could see your abdominal contents right outside your body. I took a picture of it and still have it on phone. But I decided not to post it with respect to the departed.

The doctors have already primed your parents on the bleak future you are going to have. But what future? The surgeons said you were too young and ineligible to undergo any extensive procedure. But I figured, if you weren’t here in my country and had been confined in a high-end private hospital, maybe there was hope for you. I see it all the time on TV, babies undergoing medical procedures like conjoined twins being separated, congenital heart defect that are surgically repaired. So why not you, Christopher?

Deep down I know the answer. There’s a reason why you are here in my hospital and not elsewhere. Your parents, they visit you all the time. I remember seeing your father for the first time and he asked me why has the surgeon done nothing for the situation. I told him what every nurse would say. That we are doing everything that we can to keep you still. Your father replied that even if we are just awaiting your demise, the surgeons should still examine you for your daily needs and status. I told him I get what he means and will inform the doctors about it. But the truth is, nobody would ever understand a father’s pain who’s wondering when his son be taken away from him.

First year in nursing class, we are already taught the basic principle of every person’s right to live. But there’s a counterpart for that. That every person be given a right to die in dignity. And though we had already seen death coming, we still did what we had to do. Everyday we would change the sheet of your crib soaked with fluid coming from your body, we refill your dextrose to replace the lost liquid, we change your diapers to at least make you feel a little comfortable, and we even transfused blood twice even though I don’t see the point of it all. We treated you as if you had a remaining hope.

I feel shame for the doctors who didn’t have the means to cure you; who didn’t take the time to check up on you. But then I realized there are also other dying patients in the hospital. They must have been busy saving the lives of those whom they know have greater chances of living. And so we might not have given you the gift of life, I hope you should know that we had given you a decent death. An extension of your life is beyond our command, but you had 20 days of being with us Christopher. And that is a miracle itself.

Sincerely yours,

Your NICU nurse.


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