Wisdom on the Ward

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My little boy has been sick. Really sick. Okay, not terminally, devastatingly, life altering-ly sick. But sick enough that for a while there we thought he might have been all of those things.

I’ve become intimately familiar with the facilities of the Royal Children’s Hospital. From the fish tank to the meerkats and even the (secret) In the Night Garden display. If you know this one, kudos.

We’ve had four admissions in as many weeks and been accommodated in Dolphin, Sugar Glider, Cockatoo and Koala wards. Whatever other wards there are, I have no desire to know them.

And while it is impossible not to be grateful for this amazing facility it’s fair to say if I never have to walk it’s corridors again it will be too soon.

My son is still not 100% well. He’s making good progress, but until I have my super-healthy, resilient, happy, carefree little boy back I cannot relax. I wake every morning wondering if the day will entail a trip to the emergency department.

As a defiant statement of positivity I do not have a bag packed and ready to go, like I did in the thick of it. But mentally the list of what to take is still crouching ninja-like and ready to spring into action at a moments notice.

And this anxiety, this worry, this uncertainty is exhausting. All of it is exhausting. Even now that he is essentially better, it’s exhausting.

The actual illness was terrible, but by far the worst of it was the emotional journey. The places you take yourself when things are uncertain can be frightening. But also illuminating.

When my son was in the hospital with his dad it was so hard not to be there with them. But I was acutely aware of how much my daughter needed me too.

And as I looked into her big, beautiful, trusting, frightened eyes I felt such a weight of responsibility.

It wasn’t just my son that was sick, it wasn’t just my little boy, it was her brother. If anything were to happen to him, it wouldn’t just be my loss, it would be hers. I needed to look after him – for her.

She was putting her faith in me to keep him safe.


During one of our admissions we were on the same floor as the Cancer Care ward. There I met the gaze of a gorgeous girl, with wide eyes, a broad smile, a feeding tube and no hair. And I thought (selfishly, I admit) “I wonder if this is our future”. I think I was trying to scare myself. Or to brace myself maybe, for the possibility of what might come.

There was no way I could deal with that. I was already at the end of my grip, struggling to hang on. The notion of starting another, infinitely more difficult journey I just could not fathom.

But in that moment, looking at that little girl I knew that just like her parents and all the parents on that ward I would cope, I would hang on because I would have to. It wouldn’t be noble or courageous or graceful. It would just be.


Even the darkest journeys can shine a light on some wisdom within.

One Small Life. Reflections from my imperfect existence. My mistakes. My lessons. And my journey towards giving myself permission to do the things I love. Updated Sunday mornings. Enjoy.

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