I called David and asked him to pack a bag for Kelly and me for our hospital stay. Not staying with my child was not an option, even if I wanted to leave her, which I didn’t. The Free Zone hospital was hugely understaffed and there were no nurses available to look after her. Keeping an eye on her and attaching the mask to her tiny face every four hours so that the automated nebuliser could administer the adrenaline and steroids she required was my task. I have never felt as useless as I did during that first illness, when my tiny baby lay inside the huge, see-through oxygen tent, labouring to breathe, with an enormous bandage wrapped around the intravenous drip in her hand that fed antibiotics and fluids into her immobile body, and with pads attached to her chest to monitor her oxygen levels.
I was shocked and dismayed that my baby had stopped breathing and had been admitted into hospital, but I was grateful that such a good paediatrician was attending to her. Dr Dream worked at a private clinic in the Work Compound, but she also attended to children in the Free Zone hospital twice a week as part of her compulsory community service. She was a philanthropist and cared about all of her patients, whether their parents were part of the working elite or not.
I didn’t think to ask her questions about Kelly’s illness at the time and didn’t think for one moment that this stay in the hospital would become the normal pattern of my life. No-one in my family had suffered from respiratory problems and I didn’t know that infants that contract bronchiolitis often develop asthma later in their childhood.
Our time in the hospital was uncomfortable for me. One parent was required to stay with the sick child, but no food, drink or sleeping facilities were provided. For three days and nights, I attempted to sleep sitting upright in one of the plastic chairs, with the automated medication co-ordinator waking me every four hours with a long and intrusive beep. I couldn’t afford to use the InstaMax machine in the ward as I wasn’t working and wouldn’t be paid for the days I missed. David brought me protein pills and tap water from our apartment and I had to manage on these. I felt hungry all the time as supplements never satisfied me the way real food did, even if it was a basic meal.
The loneliness was overwhelming as I had no family living close enough to visit us. I had my ipad and iphone, but these did not provide me with much entertainment other than free books which I could download from the internet. I could not afford to purchase expensive data to send or receive messages.
There was a huge television in the ward general area but this ran the never ending selection of reality television programmes that were supplied free of charge to the inhabitants of the Free Zone. World government didn’t broadcast any movies or serials on the free television channels that stimulated or challenged the mind. The unemployable and people in jobs threatened by digitalization were not exposed to anything that could incite resentment or discontent at their lot in life. Every effort was made to provide for our basic needs while maintaining the status quo and avoiding anything that could result in anyone questioning our futures or our becoming jealous of the more fortunate people living in the Work Compounds.
While better than the television, the books that were available to me were also limited. All controversial books had been banned more than fifteen years ago, when paper books became a luxury of the past. Trees were too scarce and valuable a resource to be used for paper of any sort. I had heard that there were vast numbers of books on display in the book museums in the Work Compounds, but even the lucky residents of these areas where not allowed to touch or look at them for fear of damaging the last printed books in the world.
This post was written for Linda G. Hill’s SoCS posts. The prompt this week is a as follows: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “open book, point, write.” Pick up the closest book to you when you sit down to write your post. Close your eyes, open the book, and place your finger on the page. Whatever word or phrase your finger lands on, write about it. Enjoy! I picked books as I was a book fair today and books was on my mind.
You can join in here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/06/07/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-8-19/