My son Eddie had been relatively healthy, despite nearly dying the first few months of his life. We were quite involved with the medical community, though, due to his very severe cerebral palsy, and the complications that can often accompany such a disability.
In early 2009, Eddie began monthly admissions into hospital. They would last between a few days and several weeks. With each admission Eddie's symptoms became more complicated to treat.
In September 2009, Eddie commenced Grade 9 at Mother Teresa secondary school in London. On Sept. 28, an ambulance was called to the school to transport Eddie to Children's Hospital. He was again admitted to the same floor to be with the same staff who had come to know him so well.
It became apparent, after a week or so into this admission, that Eddie might not be released from hospital. We as a family had to prepare ourselves for what might happen. A father and mother were soon to lose a son, and a sister was about to lose her only sibling, her twin brother. The doctors and nurses did their utmost to keep Eddie comfortable.
We met with the palliative care specialists who work at the hospital. This team is made up of very experienced staff, including doctors, nurses and social workers who work daily with families and their dying loved ones.
It is a sad fact, but children die every day, and this group of dedicated professionals do their very best to prepare all involved.
After all efforts were exhausted to treat Eddie, we again met with the palliative care team.
Also in attendance was a pediatrician from Children's Hospital who had treated Eddie for a number of years. She had come in on her day off to help us come to terms with what was happening. I repeat, she was not working, but came in on her own time.
We were assured all efforts would be made to keep Eddie comfortable and free of pain. His body was indeed shutting down, and no further treatment was available. It was time for God to take him.
We were set up in a room on Eddie's usual floor. Beds were brought in for us to allow for some sleep, if that were at all possible. We simply did not want to leave Eddie's side.
Over the next few days, Eddie was assigned some exceptional nurses to give him care. They knew, coming into the hospital for their shift, that they would be dealing with a family in pain, and a child who was dying. They showed remarkable compassion and ability. This was difficult not only for us, but also for the caregivers. Every effort was made by the doctors and nurses to prepare us for what would undoubtedly be the worst thing that we had ever experienced.
On Oct. 13, 2009, Eddie died. Doctors and nurses who had cared for Eddie came into the room throughout the next few hours to offer their condolences. Some sat and talked with us for some time, knowing the emptiness we felt was excruciating. We will always be grateful for their support and kindness.
A few days later at the funeral home visitation, several doctors, nurses and therapists from the hospital came to offer their condolences.
We have also received phone calls from some of the nurses we had come to know, inquiring about our family's well-being, since his death.
This indeed shows the concern that Children's Hospital staff have for families dealing with end-of-life circumstances.
Their compassion exhibited a level of morality that is beyond reproach. At times they are not given credit that they so definitely deserve.
Rob Herlick is a London resident.