Monday, August 10, 2009
#8 - She guarded the door
He was in the process of dying when we asked the charge nurse to please check with his mom to see if we could visit. Ann, the Child Life Specialist, thought that the parents really could use a "Sadie visit." She knew that this family loved dogs and knew the work that Sadie has done through the years to help families at this time.
I always have to call PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) before we enter the floor. No one ever knows what each will bring to that unit. Many times we can come in, but there have been days that we couldn’t because of procedures that were being done, the status of the kid’s cases, etc.
Even once we enter the unit, we still need to check with the nurses because of the volatile nature of the their health status. The charge nurse wasn’t sure if we should go in.
She knew that I wasn’t going to leave until she asked the family but she was trying to prepare me for a "no visit, thank you from them." She came back from the room with a "wow, they said yes" look on her face.
It would be the first time that we went into a room when a child was "actively dying," and I didn’t know how Sadie would react.
I gently knocked and slowly opened the door and peeked in. The mom and her sister were the only ones in the room. The mom was sitting and slowly rocking herself with her hand on her little son’s back. Her sister was standing and watching.
I introduced us and told them that we provide comfort to the families and the children and wanted to know if it was all right for us to come to visit with them. The sadness in the room was palatable and I wasn’t sure how Sadie was going to react.
She went over and sniffed the crib and the baby and understood, so she turned to back to the crib and faced the door as if she was guarding it. That seemed to make the mom and aunt relax just a bit, as if Sadie was holding death at bay.
Since I had shut the door behind me, I knew that I could drop her leach and go and give both the mom and the aunt a hug, so I did. I asked if I could say a little prayer over her baby and she said yes. I then went and got Sadie and she went over to the aunt for a moment but I could tell that she wanted to go to the mom.
She got between the crib and the chair and put herself in a position where the mom could hug her. I watched in amazement as she made herself available for a hug. I never taught her that. She didn’t learn that for being a Guide Dog, but that’s Sadie, the Wonder Dog.
I wasn’t sure what the mom was going to do. But at that point she reached over and hugged Sadie. She cried right into her shoulder like Jose did. I had a flashback to that moment. While the mom was crying, her sister came over to comfort her. Sadie sensed that the two sisters needed some along time, so I walked me to the door. We said our goodbyes and they thanked Sadie for the hugs and for watching the door.
The baby died later that afternoon.