Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Boy Interrupted

Today I started my first clinical day in paediatrics. Babies are so cute - is what I've learnt. To be fair, Norwegian babies aren't particularly cuter than any other babies, for example Australian babies or Malaysian babies or Jordanian babies. All babies are cute (unless they're not...) and I totally understand why parents say they'll do anything for their child. Heck, these aren't even my children and I'd do things for them.

So recently we've had lectures about childhood diseases like epilepsy, and it really does break my heart to see some of these kids suffering from uncontrollable seizures or perhaps more dramatically, atonic lapses where their bodies lose all tone, as if someone had flicked off a switch, and causing these kids to face-plant onto the ground where more often than not they injure themselves. Many of these children, previously healthy and thriving, become in a sense, interrupted. Henceforth they may grow with mental retardation and other disabilities and if you plotted them on the percentile charts, you'll probably see a sharp drop.

Acquiring a disease can be a heartbreaking process, but for me this holds true particularly in children because they never even stood a chance. Without dissolving into a clich├ęd, day-time soap, these infants truly are helpless, dependent on us, learning, reaching, grasping. They are, let's face it, learning adaptive techniques they will require in future to combat the world as they slip awkwardly into adolescence and later, adulthood. I love life, but life can also have its harsh moments which are testing to even the most robust kind. The rest of us have trouble enough juggling it with two good hands - when these children have debilitating diseases, I really wonder how I would be able to cope if put in their shoes. Of course, I can't do that because if I were in their shoes, I wouldn't be thinking the way I do now. And whilst society makes a big hoo-hah about not letting a disease define a person, in some respects it does influence your psyche, let alone your physicality.

Unless you're some sort of child abuser, something about children brings out the best in us. We become kinder, and shed the inhibitions that normally dictate social etiquette. We laugh more, smile more, feel warm and fuzzy in the chest, we feel a sense of responsibility to protect this child from harm, at least to the best of our abilities. And you know, they might not feel it or believe it, but some of these children living with handicaps are the strongest and bravest people around. And so are their parents, who support, nurture and love them like any other child, even if this child mightn't reach its full potential. Okay, what is this, some Hannah Montana rally-talk??? But seriously, I think we could all benefit from taking a moment to ponder upon the things in our lives that currently bother us, such as the absence of milk in the fridge or the shitty weather in Oslo, and compare that to what these children put up with every day. And then, as if I were in a tampon-ad and rain is pouring down, light shines through the parting clouds and some chick-rock song about a Beautiful Day is playing in the background, I realise I have a lot more to be thankful for.

Why do you have to be so cynical, Kevin?

Actually, why are you referring to yourself in third person?

Okay, that was officially a conversation now. This is getting a bit creepy.

Stop typing.

Okay...

Haha... that was a joke by the way.

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