On day 22 of doing our part as a family of flattening the curve and making sure that the coronavirus doesn’t spread further in South Africa and the last thing I could’ve wanted during the time of corona happens in my household- we need to go to the hospital emergency room. Even BF (before corona) the emergency room is the last place you want to find yourself on a Saturday night so AC ( after corona) the thought of the place becomes not only stressful, it’s also potentially a dangerous dance with Covid-19.
But on the night of my daughters accident I don’t have time to contemplate my feelings or entertain my fear of going to the emergency room because all alarm bells go off in my head the moment she walks in and says she’s been electrocuted by a broken light switch. Suddenly the moment feels like its moving in slow motion as I watch her walk in, at an eerily normal pace for someone who’s just been shocked by the light switch- I will later realise that she was stunned into calm by the trauma of what she experienced.
I am also floored by the calm tone with which she’s uttered those explosive words in and I immediately ask if she’s okay. She starts crying as if she, through vocalizing what just happened, also now realises that she’s hurt. With that realization she tells me that her arm is twitching and sore. I immediately go into a panic, put my three month old that I’m holding in my hands on the bed, wake up my mom to look after him while we dash out. At the same time I’m dressing faster than I’ve ever done before and soon me and my daughter are in the car speeding to the emergency room.
We arrive at Netcare Krugersdorp hospital and it’s far from business as usual. Sadly, we had time to understand just how far their hospital operations are from being normal because my daughter (and by extension myself) are admitted for two days. And mentally and emotionally draining doesn’t even begin to describe what those 48 hours in hospital were like!
The first three hours in their trauma unit that my daughter is being checked and stabilised by the doctor I am freaking out and have no one to calm me down because as per Covid-19 regulations only one parent can enter the hospital with a child. I end up in the corner with my hand clinging tightly to my cellphone as I try to describe, through my sobbing, what her condition is, what the doctor is saying to her equally scared dad who is forced to stand in the street outside the hospital. This you see, is the cold and heartless effect of this virus.
Eventually my daughter is stabilized and admitted for observation. We are placed into an eerily empty ward as we’re told ,the hospital is only admitting emergency cases as it waits to be hit by the coronavirus flood of cases that has overwhelmed health systems all over the world.
We are surrounded by sanitizer everywhere and find ourselves literally sanitizing every after three hours. The nurses looking after my daughter are masked, so is the doctor. For me, who stays over in the hospital it means even having to sleep with a mask on. Our entire two days is spent updating my daughters dad of her condition on facetime. She can’t help but want to cry each time she has to tell him shes’ okay – virtually.
The sheer trauma and and disbelief of our socially distant hospital admission experience hits it precipice after we watch as a twelve year old boy who is wheeled into our ward- only the second person to be allowed in our vicinity with a broken hand after falling from a swing calls his dad with the help of his mom just before being wheeled off to theatre for his op. We watch as both mom and son stand at the window to talk to the child’s dad because he’s of course standing in the street talking to them on the phone as per coronavirus regulations. At least they can see each other while talking on the phone I think as I try to shake off the sadness of the scene playing out before our eyes.
But still my heart breaks for him, his mom, myself, my daughter, my daughter ‘s dad- in fact, my heart breaks for all of us as human beings because we have never found ourselves here before. Where we miss the intangible comfort of another human being. May we always remember that this is where the true magic of being human actually is. Stay Blessed. Stay Home.