Thursday, 26 May 2011

Why Cameron is No Ordinary Kid - Part 19

I felt very exposed climbing in to bed that night. I wasn't used to wearing my pyjamas in public.

Everywhere I looked there were eyes looking back. To be honest, I don't think anybody really cared what I was doing. There is so little to occupy you while you sit next to your sick child that you watch every little thing that happens around you. There was no TV, radio or phone and unless you had a book or magazine there was nothing to do but observe the world around you.

Cameron was asleep and doing all he could. Michael was in bed so there was nothing left for me to do, it was time for bed. I thought I would get a good nights sleep. I was only a metre away from Cameron so I could sleep soundly knowing he was right there next to me.

I climbed into bed and immediately noted the crunchiness of the bed and the flatness of the pillow. I found something to build up the pillow but there was no way to stop the mattress protector from crunching. Then I noticed how hot I was feeling. The bed couldn't breathe with the plastic mattress protector. It was so hot. I wanted to kick the sheets off but I was on full display to the ward what if my nightie rode up. I eventually worked out a way to twist the sheet around my body so my legs were out and cool but my modesty was maintained.

Finally I could settle down for my first good nights sleep in almost two weeks. Well ......................

Our room was next to the nurses station so Cameron was in constant view of the nursing staff. His condition was still serious. The nurses station has lights on all the time and it's where the nurses discuss their patients, write their notes, call doctors, take phone calls, eat and discuss their personal lives. The things I heard. I always knew what was going on in the ward. Who was organizing a day off, who had a bad day before coming to work and when patients were coming to and leaving the ward. I couldn't help but hear everything.

Then there are the observations which go 24 hours a day. Visits by a nurse for observations require lights, noise, disturbance and usually a conversation. Observations include - temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation. At this stage Cameron's eyes were also checked for reactions. When we initially arrived on the ward Cameron had observations completed every hour. There were tests to be run, medications to administer and fluids to maintain as well as discussions with every new nurse because she wanted to introduce herself and hear our story.

There are machines which make noises to run and annoying alarms when they are finished or stopped. Kangaroo pumps are notorious for stopping and alarming to let you know they need to be reset. Sometimes the pumps just won't co-operate and just keep alarming.

You would think that when an alarm goes off a nurse comes immediately to turn it off and solve the problem. This isn't the reality. The nurses know which alarms require them to move quickly and which alarms need their attention as soon as they are free. Kangaroo pumps are one of the alarms which need attention as soon as a nurse is free so you can sit there with the alarm beeping for quite a while until a nurse is free and can sort out the problem. Everyone else's alarms are also loud and annoying.

My first good nights sleep in almost two weeks was lost in lights, noise, interruptions, heat and discomfort. I thought I had experienced sleep deprivation when Cameron was born but this was about to become much worse. I had no idea what was ahead of me.


  1. I was reading this page thinking it was something I would have written as it sounded so familiar.

  2. It was quite an experience and made a lasting impression on me. I'm big on privacy these days, more than I was 15 years ago.