Today his respiratory rate is up. He spikes fevers and his stools exceed his intake. He is fast asleep when I get to his room at 08:00. He doesn’t flinch when I start the examination. He must be used to this by now – palpation, percussion, stethoscope. All routine. No reason to wake up.
He needs a sepsis work-up. The rule in Paeds ward is that no invasive procedure may be done on the child’s bed. His bed is his only safe haven. Unplug his oxygen and carry him to the procedure room. He is tiny – five months old and only 5kg.
As I walk with him to the procedure room, I wonder when the last time was that someone carried him. He looks alarmed enough.
We take his bloods – big needle in a tiny-tiny hand. His forehead wrinkles and his arms tighten, but he doesn’t cry. My mother – a social worker – says it is a sign of utter emotional neglect. As if to say, “Crying is not going to help me much.”
Many of the children have their mothers with them. But he is in “the system”. His prospective adoptive parents withdrew with news of his status. It happens often, I hear.
I would not have left you, little one.
I am told I am too attached. What if he gets a resistant strain pneumonia? Or what when he gets better and soon his social worker fetches him and puts him in a place of safety and that is the last I see of him?
So what. Until either of those things happen, somebody should love him. Somebody should carry him once a day. Somebody should sit him up, tickle his feet, smile at him, say his name.
I can do that. I am not a doctor yet. And he is far braver than I have ever been.