Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Having Faith

A new direction to one's life requires one to have a lot of faith - both in oneself and in the process of life itself.  I don't mean to be didactic but am writing this partly to air my thoughts and partly in case it is of help to anyone who finds themselves in unfamiliar situations, on the brink of uncertainty or nervousness.

Babies are meant to be bundles of joy.  But they are huge responsibilities as well.  Especially when all the literature tells you how vulnerable they are and how many infections they are likely to catch and so on.  What they don't tell you (and what you need someone else to - in this case I am fortunate to have an old friend, Nora, who I send frantic emails to in times of distress) is that babies are natural fighters and things are usually not as bad as they seem.  But people at hand often love to tell you how you can do things better or differently.  Well - listen if you like and think it over, but don't be overwhelmed - and don't lose heart!  Things have a funny way of straightening themselves out - it may not be the usual way or someone else's way, but that is of no importance.

My baby had a badly given vaccination that turned into an abscess.  The doctor I went to made various noises, "Has he been crying more than usual?" and so on.  More than usual?  Crying peaks when a baby is two months old.  How do I know what is more than usual??  I said he had no pain or fever and that she had told me there would be swelling on the leg.  "Yes, but only for 24 hours."  How does one know that?  The first vaccination (for tuberculosis) caused a boil that stayed for weeks, which is apparently normal.  "First time parent," she muttered and I felt terrible, as if I had missed something very important.  She squeezed the abscess and the baby started howling.  She suggested I go to some place two hours away from home, carry my feed, put him into surgery immediately and get the abscess out, however long it took.

I just went home, close to tears.  Fortunately there was a highly recommended paediatrician very close to my house.  I went to him.  "Just relax," he said and lightly touched the abscess.  The baby didn't stir.  He explained that this could only have arisen due to bad vaccination techniques and said I could go anywhere to get it removed.  Also that I was not a professional and hence couldn't judge abscesses - sometimes there was no fever or pain but they were infected, as this was.  Fortunately there was surgeon in the same clinic who was experienced and good.  I went to him and he bandaged the abscess saying it was too hard to open unless the baby was made unconscious, which he didn't want to do.  So the bandage stayed, the antibiotics began and we returned the next day, apprehensively.  The bandage was opened.  The abscess look a teeny bit better.  So it was re-dressed and this procedure was repeated for two weeks until the body took over and it began healing by itself.

Through all this, I had many moments of self doubt, of worry and concern, fear about the future and how I would handle the situation.  Many onlookers said this could never be a reaction to an injection, especially babysitters (babysitters are the hardest to deal with because they seem to have much more experience with babies than me!). Nora was the only one who said, "Don't worry.  This will all work out.  Babies are tough and it won't hurt him in the long run."

Everything has worked out.  I am still nervous each time I go to the clinic but it is close by and the baby seems to accept this routine, so we don't have a terrible time of it.  Now, the only thing I try and remember of this episode is to have faith in myself, in my ability to tackle new situations and be on unfamiliar terrain - because that's how life is.  And not look back to complain or criticize.

P.S.  Soon after I wrote this blog, I got a call from the original paediatrician, saying the next dose of the vaccination was due.  I told her I had not got the surgery done and it was healing.  She said, "In that case, it was not a real abscess.  I have recently had other children with such reactions but not as bad as your child's.  But this time we can give him the modified vaccine, which has just come in stock, because this is clearly a reaction to the vaccination (this is known to be a difficult vaccination for children, which is why two versions of varying efficacy are available)."

Well, life comes full circle.  I think the take home message really is that we can rarely say what is right or wrong, we can just do the best possible with the information and instinct we have and let life lead us on.

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