Feb 12

Human Reactions to Crisis

One of my close friends is currently in crisis right this moment.  Her eldest son is now confined in a hospital with dengue hemorrhagic fever.  It is a mosquito-borne disease which has become one of the leading cause of death among children here in Southeast Asia.  Despite all precautions taken by parents, it claims hundreds of lives each year.  Since cases have been increasing for a couple of years now, we have already become familiar to the symptoms.  Maybe that is the reason I find my friend’s reaction to it so infuriating yesterday.

As soon as I got to the office yesterday, my other friends told me about it.  They told me that my friend even sent her son to school despite all the obvious symptoms.  I didn’t talk to her.  I was too mad.  I was afraid of saying something inappropriate.  Her excuse was that her son had a quiz that day and that he was ok anyway.  Her son had high fever for over a week already.  She claims it was tonsilitis except when the rashes came out last weekend.  She was so scared that she kept going to the toilet to barf every now and then and couldn’t sleep.  Still she wanted to believe he was fine and decided to even send him to school.  That afternoon before she picked up her son from school and brought him to the hospital, she confided to someone that her son’s nose bled last Friday already.  It was a good thing she was already gone when I found out.

You might find it strange that I react this way for someone else’s son.  You see, another friend of mine lost her 2-year old daughter last year to diarrhea dehydration.  I didn’t want that to happen again.  Somehow, I partly blame myself for that death.  I was one of the expert parents around having had my first kid at 24.  Before her daughter died, I always told the mom that it was nothing to worry about and just to make sure she got enough fluids.  Apparently, it was something to worry about.  My youngest son also acquired dengue more than a year ago.  At the onset of his fever, I also disregarded it as something manageable.  Lucky for me, I was able to bring him to the hospital before it got any worse.  I swore I would never second-guess another disease again — especially if it involved children.

Last night, after I talked to my friend who was at the hospital, I realized that it was not because she was stupid or she didn’t care for her son.  She was dead scared because her husband was 6 hours away and was not at her side.  I was still angry.  I told her that a mother does not have the right to be scared especially when her son is depending on her.  Fear is no excuse. But I couldn’t give her enough courage.  Now, she is at the office working while her husband watches her son at the hospital.

At hindsight, I realized that I can’t expect others to react the same way I do to crisis.  I have been a single parent for over 10 years.  And even when I was a child, I was taught to be independent but dependable.  It was second nature to me.  Even at the most fearful moment when I can feel all the blood draining from my face down to my feet, I knew how to smile and say everything will be alright.  If someone faints near me, I always knew what had to be done.  That was me.  I have no right to expect it from everyone else. We all react to crisis and tragedy differently.  Some freeze, some faint, some scream, some don’t care.

I only hope that when I’m the one in need of emergency, there would be someone around who knows how to stay calm and do what had to be done.

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