The challenge of understanding what a cry means

With Christmas over and New Year’s long weekend on its way, there are scarcely enough days to rally the troops to full strength and emotional contentment. This is particularly the case with Mr G who was the first child mentioned to me as soon as I walked up the ramp. His previous injury of the collarbone fracture has the ward mums nervous. He had been having his screaming fit again and that causes his erratic movements to increase. But it’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. Without the ability to speak about what the issue is, he has a rather nondescript way of getting attention. The guessing game starts…was it that the muscles in his legs are tight, which makes him stressed and causes the excessive movements, or was it the movements being more erratic (maybe because of the colder weather) causing the the postural challenges, resulting in tightened muscles? Then there is the possibility that there is an injury somewhere on his person. Checking the previous wound site is step one, but that seemed fine, then checking his hips and other joint movements. We try doing his stretches to loosen up those muscles that are tight from lack of stretching and still the stress and crying keeps going.

We surmise that it is possible that he has cramps or trapped gas, but he does not seem to be able to get any relief. All the drama has made his lips lose some colour, so it’s off to the nurse. Meds are given to relieve gas and relieve pain. Other checks are done to ensure he is being regular, but still the crying goes on. The nurse suggests a one hour observation time for the meds to kick in and for him to calm down if pain has subsided. If not, then a trip to the hospital would be called for, as she said there could be appendix issues which he can’t tell us about and he was sensitive on his stomach.

He sat in the reclined stroller and within the hour had calmed down. He came back to the ward and played with the sensory lights in our pop-up dark den. Phew! He was fine all afternoon. Please pray that if there is something wrong, we will work it out and if it is gas or the tightness in his muscles, we would be able to pursue options to ease these.

This is why knowing his personality, movements and even expressions are essential, because he does not have the ability to communicate verbally. Mr G has a hearing loss in one ear, as well as his physical disability from the cerebral palsy.

Another sign that I’ve been off for more than the weekend is that Mr B is sleepy, but wakes every so often to check I’m still here. Being met at the railings every morning is sweet, but hearing that he has waited there every day when I didn’t come to work is so heart-wrenching. Also knowing that there will be another long weekend coming next week too is hard. I’m told he didn’t sleep much while I was not there, so this is why he keeps nodding off while playing.

On the flip side…. the ward mum asked him to tidy up toys and he did, getting them and putting them in the bag she held open for him. It’s quite sweet to see him complying more and more to verbal requests.

Nicola Anderson

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