Just overheard this outside Joel's room: Intensivist: "Hey Wendy, have you met the parents of this little one? Normally I've had a chance to talk with mom or dad by Wednesday." Nurse: "I met the dad yesterday, but not the mother. I think the dad is working and the mom has a sick kid or something."
There are some things you only learn from experience. This would be gut-wrenching to witness this as a nurse. I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to this particular child's parents and hope that something serious is keeping them from being at their infant's bedside. I get stories from nurses and RTs...very vague of course, they keep their confidentiality codes, but they sadden me. Just in the 7 weeks that I have been here, I have silently seen it. Kids with no parents. Nurses holding babies. Nurses consoling toddlers who are alone in their rooms. Here's the tear jerker for me....a nurse told me that it's the worst when the kids are left alone and DON'T cry. When they don't get upset, and they don't ask for anything. She said, "It becomes easy to spot a neglected child. They are satisfied being alone."
An RT told me one day that about half of the kids in here don't have parents that stay with them. About half. Most of the kids I've seen are here for less than a week...trust me, I keep track of the people who are in and out of this place, I'm patiently waiting for our discharge. He said that after 48 hours of no contact or check-ins, they call the parents to give them updates. Can you imagine how scary it would be through a child's eyes: cords, monitors, bells & buzzers, different people coming in and out of your room, the toddler screaming bloody-murder in the neighboring room, and no one to comfort your fears?
It takes a special kind of person to work in a pediatrics unit. Adult patients are self-centered. Children are innocent. Not that anyone deserves to be hurting, but it seems more heartbreaking when they're too little to ask, "why me?" A healthcare worker that sees this on a day-to-day basis, kids in pain...I think they have bigger hearts than the rest of the world. I tip my hat to them. If you see a nurse today, please give them a hug from me.