Monday, 24 March 2008

Drug Withdrawal: The Little Boy in My Arms...



You know how people always tell you that your actions can have an impact on other people? And how we are responsible for all our actions as they come with consequences?

But as teenagers, we always tend to believe we’re invincible. We tend to believe ‘bad things’ won’t happen to us (in Psychology, that is known as the ‘personal fable’)…




I had heard a lot about HIV/AIDS and drugs as a teen, and although I was never (seriously) tempted to try and I understood all the basic facts of both the above, it never really hit me, hit me…


Not until I worked in the hospital…



The first time it really hit me was when I started working with Chee Keong (although this has nothing to do with HIV/AIDS or drugs)…

It hit me then because I realized how a decision we choose to make can have such an impact on another person…By choosing to give him up, Chee Keong’s parents assured that he had the medical treatment he needed, but they also assured that his future would be one shuttling from one home to another…(And I don't blame them...Circumstances were such)




The second time it really hit me was when I held a baby who was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, all 1.9 kg’s of him…

This little baby was tiny, had skin that was slightly blackish-blue in hue (like he didn’t have enough oxygen), and was trembling like he was in terrible cold…He was also making rasping sounds, that came in bouts…


That was what I thought at first. He was cold


And then I realized that below his cot was a box of latex gloves, and I knew instantly there was more to his story (as very seldom babies have a box of latex gloves under their cot)…



So I asked…


The nurses told me his mother, was an IVDU (Intravenous Drug User) nearly throughout her pregnancy. She was also HIV +, and had syphilis. Her son, having been exposed to drugs continuously in the womb, was now experiencing withdrawal symptoms…


I’m sure you have all seen people experiencing withdrawal on TV…They shake, they shiver, they are pale, they are delirious, they are in pain (sometimes)…

Now imagine all that in a baby that was 1.9 kg’s…





Now I knew why there were gloves…


When dealing with babies that are possibly immuno-compromised (like possible HIV/AIDS etc), we all wear gloves…Babies have immune systems that are not as matured, and add a possible HIV/AIDS infection, and it just about screams ‘very low immune system’…


So we wear gloves, to prevent us from transmitting God-knows what infection to them


We also wear gloves when dealing with babies whose mothers had a VDRL (Venereal Disease Research Laboratory) problem (another term for Sexually Transmitted Diseases), as direct contact might result in us contracting the problem…


In this little baby, he was born to a mother with syphilis and he was exposed to drugs (his immune system is very low), so gloves was a definite…



I washed up, put on my gloves and went to pick him up to feed him, making sure to completely wrap his body in a blanket first…The little thing drank milk like someone who was drunk…He made moves that were sudden, and most of the milk spilt…


And all the time, his eyes remained close, and I never got to see them…



And all the while I was thinking, God, more teenagers should see this…It might just stop them from ever starting drugs if they see how much that little baby was suffering…


In the USA, some states require people caught for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) to spend some time in the morgue to see autopsies being performed on people who die from being hit by drunk-drivers…The coroner will (sometimes) tell the life-story of the person being cut open, in hopes that it will drive home the message that these people who died have lives too, and that life was cut short because of the irresponsible acts of another…




I wonder if this kind of ‘scare rehabilitation’ can work here too?

But then again, we have hue-and-cry when the topic of sex education comes up…What more spending time in the morgue or seeing babies who are suffering from withdrawal?




18 comments:

straycat's strut said...

Daph, I dont think sex education and witnessing dead bodies in the morgue are the same thing. Some people (esp parents) do have reservation about sex ed. They are just afraid that their sons / daughters might just get too eager to "practice" what they had learned.

However, I dont think any parent would have to worry about their children copying dead and mutilated bodies...

Anonymous said...

that is disgusting. how can a mom do drugs while carring a baby? it is the kids that suffer. we shhould have this scare tactic you're talking about that they use in the US of A. whether is dead bodies or babies or anything, we need to tell epople their action will effect other people also. but i do not think this country is ready also. like you say, sex ed also people already not comfortable.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

yo D,

i can only imagine they'd look cute for babies to get stoned. but its no laughing matter as they'll suffer in the long run. but his mother, being irresponsible that she is, couldnt be bothered as she was being rather selfish, living in her own world, gets stoned, screws around. another real sad sad case.

Pi Bani said...

The scare tactic might work on those who have not got themselves started on drugs etc, but if they're already addicted (like the mother of that child you were telling about), they won't be in the right frame of mind to think about anybody else! Sigh...

Nightwing said...

Hi Daph,

Thanks for sharing this.

Ya...In NZ they also have commercial on DUI...the impact and people that suffers.

Not sure if it works but at least they are doing something.

Ya..i think get students to visit the hospitals and morgue to wake them up.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Straycat's Strut,

Actually I was referring to the fact that if Malaysians can make a big noise on something like sex education, what more lar if something more 'severe' like visiting the morgue? Taboo lar...

Anyway, I don't think teens would want to 'practise' it (sex) if there was proper education...

But then again, who knows? We've never tried! Hehe...=)

Take care...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Anon 00.16,

I guess kicking the drug habit is not easy lor...I feel like condemning the mum too, but I think society is at fault too...But bottom line is, the child suffers...=(

I hate having to scare people, but I guess it works...The message must have an impact...And telling people drugs is bad won't do any good, really...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi D,

Oh, trust me, it is no laughing matter, although cartoons and all will always portray 'drunk' and 'stoned' kids as comical...

I know, I laughed too, watching little characters like Jerry (of Tom & Jerry) getting stoned...

But in reality, it is a sorry sight...

As for the mum, I think when it comes to drugs, you lose your perspective...Everything else is just secondary...

I guess...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Pi,

You're right...Very right, in fact...

Hard to use the scare tactic if they're already deep in it...

But then again, I was watching Oprah last night, and they had this program to get people to lose weight, and on the show were 6 contestants, all taken for a weight-reduction program for 14 weeks, and one of them was smoking a pack a day...

The health-instructor told her unless she quits smoking, he refuses to work with her, cos it would be pointless (the new health regime)...

And although she had been smoking for over 20 years, she quit, there and then...And all because the health-instructor told her she can eat and exercise as healthily as she wants, but it would be pointless if she continues smoking, as it alone would kill her...

So the scare tactic worked...

Guess it isn't impossible...

The right words, the right time, the right people, the right determination and encouragement...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi NightWing,

Thanks for sharing the fact about commercials in NZ...

Over here, we have too, but I guess it's not enough...

It needs to be more subtle?

As for visiting the morgue, not only students! Everybody can benefit from the program (to prevent DUI)...Cos not only students drink-and-drive...

Caveman said...

Daphne; Popped by from MM's blog. Interesting blog you'v have. A big eye opening one for me too. Been reading you other past articles. I wanted to say you'v been an amazing angle in caring for chee keong. I really don't know anybody else who would do what you do. Bless you.

Jo-D said...

Daphe I feel all geli reading this post about visiting morgue. I will sure faint because in school time also I feel faint just seeing little bit of blood. The baby I feel sorry for. Does his mum still use drugs now?

Jo-D said...

thDaphe I feel all geli reading this post about visiting morgue. I will sure faint because in school time also I feel faint just seeing little bit of blood. The baby I feel sorry for. Does his mum still use drugs now?

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Caveman,

Thanks for popping by, and for leaving me a note...

I also appreciate you reading about Chee Keong...I guess he lives on every time someone reads the piece I wrote nearly a year ago, and that feels great!

So, thanks!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Jo-D,

Sorry I got you all geli-ish...As for feeling faint when seeing blood, quite normal also lar, right? I remember when we had to do experiments in school with blood cells!

Oh, alot of drama, all right!

Take care...Don't faint-faint ok? =)

M.KATE said...

Hi Daphne, hopped over from kerp to here. i dont think there are many people who shares your passion in helping others, its good to know among adversity and nonsensity (as in our current gomen), there's people who cares. god bless you always.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi M.Kate,

Thanks for popping by, and thanks for leaving me a note...Actually got lar, there are many people who do share this 'passion', they just don't blog about it...

After all, I never work alone...There are always others...

I just choose to blab about it =)

Hehe...

mott said...

aiyo..this post made me cry so much. holding my lil bub in my arms..i'm so grateful he's healthy.... even tho' he LOVES exercising his lungs alot...

sometimes..humans.... sigh...