At only 6 months old, Shalom was admitted to Middlemore Hospital's Kidz First unit with a diagnosis of Bacterial Meningitis and having brain surgery to drain the fluid from her skull. Shalom spent 6 weeks recovering in the hospital and it was an incredibly scary time for her family. Her mother, Moe (Moefilifilia) Aoelua, is a Nurse Lead Pacific for Mental Health and Addiction Services in Counties. Her role is caring for others but she never thought she would be on the other end receiving long hospital care for her daughter Shalom. Shalom was always a happy healthy baby before facing this illness and the experience brought a new challenge to her family.
Shalom's Mum and Dad alternated shifts staying by her side and balancing caring for their other two children at home. Her older siblings found the experience traumatic as they didn't know if their baby sister would come home.
Moe says toys gifted helped break up the monotony of spending every day isolating within the four walls of Shalom's hospital room. Moe spoke to the experience of endless isolation in Shalom's hospital room as Shalom was on every 4 hours IV antibiotics and therefore not safe to leave or remaining in isolation to prevent her catching other viral infections from others . Toys provided a distraction and gave Shalom opportunity to have different sensory options to help with play and also with development. She spoke of how helpful it was that Shalom was given toys that were appropriate for play but to also assist in settling and calming her as well as supporting her with developmental stages.
Shalom was readmitted to Kidz First in October for another 4 days with RSV. These hospitalisations have encouraged Moe and Jerry to be intentional and celebrate her 1st birthday than initially planned as they are so grateful Shalom is reaching this milestone.
Moe spoke to the beauty of the Healing Garden, saying “We spent weeks here in Kidz First at the hospital and could see the Healing Garden from the window. With COVID-19, there were visiting restrictions and the garden was the only place we could all get together and share a meal. It became the space to go to escape the four walls of our room, to try reflect and gather ourselves, to get fresh air, to try meet as a family with our other children and away from the hospital setting scenario. This was therapeutic for us and really important for the other siblings to be able to see her and share some time together“.