Thursday, August 14, 2014


It was about one o'clock in the morning, and the Paediatric ICU was nearly dark, save for some task lighting at nurses stations, and the countless LED monitors and LCD display screens giving the whole place an eerie, dim glow. It was my second night with Rudi at CHEO, and I did not need sleep, even though I had probably only had about twelve hours of it over the previous four days.  I could hear him breathing gently, muffled though, under his breathing mask. A hose and a couple of tubes led away from the breathing mask, an IV tube trailed away from his arm to a wheeled support rack, and a tube from his chest dropped off the bed to his 'zombie briefcase' which was still collecting the puke coloured liquid being drained from his collapsed lung.

I sat, and thought, as there was absolutely nothing else to do.  How did we get here? For what wrongdoing was I being punished? I mean, Rudi was not old enough to have done anything in his life to be punished for, so I was able to eliminate that as a possible cause. Was there a box I forgot to tick, the one that requested my preference for a cancer free child? Perhaps there was a God, and he just has a sick fucking sense of humour? Or perhaps the diagnosis could have been a lot worse, and this will be an easy path? I had no answers, I just knew I was completely, unequivocally afraid.

At least two hours passed, until I noticed a strong smell of shit. In his sleep Rudi had had diarrhea, and had completely messed his hospital gown and all of the bed sheets. I gently stripped off the bed sheets and his gown, and found a half dozen face towels, which I wet, to clean him and the bed up. After getting him out of bed, still not fully awake, to completely clean this legs and body, and he and the bed were cleaned and dry, and all the clothing tossed in a hamper, I made the bed, found him a gown and dressed him, and helped him lie down again, to continue sleeping.