My nephew Balong is at Intensive Care unit . He is really sick.
"Sorry, Ma, we can't come."
And then we hung up. I called up a little later and learned that mother-in-law was not speaking to anyone. (Moping I guess.)
She wanted to see us. She needed to hear our opinion of Balong's condition in person. She was probably thinking, we were the doctors in the family and they deserved to see us. We were reminded what being family means.
The decision not to come home was not easy but it was final. We will send money to help them a bit.
I guess she was wondering where in parenting she went wrong. She brought up her three boys in a loving home, and though there was little income as a teacher, she was able to send her boys to good private christian education. Vlad my husband finished med school and eventually became a surgeon. She was certain that she had thought all her children compassion, kindness, empathy, and good family values. She had always stressed that family is more important than money. Now it seems that they have all been forgotten.
Her son with his wife should be close by during this crucial moments watching over Balong. They shouldn't have sent money to replace their presence. They ought to be here. It was their duty.
A day earlier,
Long after office hours, I admitted a ten year old boy in shock. The heavy downpour of rain caused rivers to rise and lands to erode preventing them from coming to Baler earlier. As soon as they arrive at the doorstep of the emergency room, their faces showed relief of seeing a doctor. But after I announced to the family that the child is in critical condition, the spark of hope ebbed, and was replaced with grief.
As I was expressing procedures and treatment to them, they seem to further fall off to misery. The boy's blood type is AB positive and he needed to be transfused tonight. Because it's dengue season, there is no available blood as of that time; nurses and other hospital personnel donated their blood to an intensive care patient a few days ago. And now, they would have to find a donor. Meantime, we monitor and resuscitate using intravenous fluids and medicines.
At the break of dawn, there was no blood donor yet. The boy started to bleed everywhere and is becoming frighteningly restless.
"Transfer to Intensive care now"
As the parents heard my instructions to the nurses, the mother started crying, the father came up to me with a business like attitude and started negotiating desperately.
"Doctora, we can afford to pay you. Make our boy well." (Damn, do they think I can transfuse their bag of money to their son?)
Meanwhile, there was a blunt abdominal injury victim because of a vehicular accident at the emergency room. I had a glimpse of Vlad talking to hysterical relatives.
(Sigh, what a week, I can hear screaming children from my clinic to the corridors of the emergency room, or is it only in my mind. Hell, I think I have been staying here for so long. Come to think of it, by the total number of hours I have spent, the clinic is my second home... my first home is the hospital wards and my third home is the house where I sleep with my kids.)
"Sorry Ma, we can't come."
I couldn't offer any explanation. I can't argue, not right now. And I don't think there is any acceptable explanation for not coming home. We ought to come and visit him, to hold his hand and cheer him up.
After we hung up, a call from intensive care came. I told them, I'm coming over.
This boy survived and was discharged after a few pints of his mother's tears and 9 units of blood. Vlad's patient did not need surgery and he too was eventually discharged well.
To this day, while the entire family thinks we're jerks for not coming during a family crisis, these parents deemed us worthy to receive their fiercest fighting cock on follow up.