A kiwi fruit allergy, and lessons from the ER ward

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So Ninja is allergic to kiwi fruit. Who knew? In fact, until yesterday I had no idea a person could be allergic to them.Kiwi fruit

Last night we each had a few slices of kiwi to finish off our supper, and within minutes Ninja was complaining of a tingling mouth and a sore stomach. Then he said his body was itching, his throat was closing up and he was struggling to breathe. Yikes!

So off to the hospital we raced, only to… wait around for two hours or so. Thankfully it seemed to be a fairly mild reaction, and we were eventually sent away with some antihistamines. I’m happy to report that my man is much better now 🙂

When I did some online reading up on allergic reactions to kiwi fruit, I discovered that the problem is fairly widespread. It can also be exacerbated by the oddest things, including birch tree pollen and banana. And it just made me think, sheesh! There are just so many things to be on the lookout for these days. Danger lurks everywhere, even in your fruit basket 😛

But spending the latter part of our Sunday evening in the ER waiting room was also a humbling and eye-opening experience. Watching all those hardworking, patient, friendly and efficient doctors and nurses give up their Sunday evening to help others, I was struck by how the majority of us are blissfully unaware of what other people’s lives entail.

I noticed wedding bands on many of the staff members’ hands, and thought about what it must be like to be part of a marriage that involves such regular personal sacrifice for the sake of serving others. I asked the nurse who attended to Ninja what time her shift would end, to which she replied, ‘Tomorrow morning.’ It was 10 p.m. by that time, and I was already falling asleep after a long, hard day of doing nothing. How I admire those people!

In my cocooned little world that has rarely been touched by severe illness or trauma (praise God for His grace in that), I must admit I’ve never really spared a thought for the night-shift workers and emergency room staff and others like them who daily serve total strangers with a smile. They deserve our respect – and that was another thing that struck me last night. There were about a dozen copies of the same sign all over the ER reception, advising patients that under no circumstances would physical or sexual abuse towards the medical staff be tolerated.

Say what?

Do people really need to be told not to be aggressive towards the doctors and nurses trying to help them? Sure, I can understand that in an emergency situation people panic and can start frantically making demands of the staff, but it surprised me that physical violence and sexual harassment would need so many warning notices. As if the staff don’t have enough to deal with.

I also learnt a few things by quietly observing some of the other patients in the waiting room. For one, I quickly came to appreciate the value of parents disciplining their brats kids. One little boy was allowed to run amok, screaming, laughing, rushing around and bashing things, while the rest of the sick patients and their nervous, tired family members had to just grit their teeth and shoot silent death stares at the selfish parents. I mean, for goodness’ sake! It was the casualty ward, not the paediatrics playground. Anyway, we all heaved a collective sigh of relief when that family moved along.

There was also a lady there whose husband loudly announced in conversation that she was a chemo patient. She looked like she wanted to crawl under a chair and hide, and at first he seemed far too cheerful… but it didn’t take long to see that it was a mask for his nerves. Then there was the father with his small, sick, pink-clad daughter curled up on his lap, and the young man who was shaking and clearly in pain, sitting next to his indifferent wife? girlfriend? who was absorbed in playing games on a handheld console. And the elderly man following his frail little wife who was wheeled out of ER on a hospital bed. Or the man on crutches, one leg amputated above the knee. So many people, with so many different stories to tell.

I was humbled watching these people and innocently overhearing some of their struggles. It reminded me that even though I’m usually upbeat and focused on the lighter side of life, I can’t ignore the fact that there is a hurting world right outside my door. There are people out there who need a cure, who need comfort, who need Christ. People who need hope and help and someone to hear them out.

Although there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the good things, I never want to forget that there are other ways to make a difference in this world. It’s not always just about ‘all things bright, beautiful, sweet and fluffy’.

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