“Mummy, I don’t want a mouse that dies. When I get a pet mouse, can I take her into the HBOT?”
Mei’s 6th birthday is coming up soon, she has been begging hubby and I for a pet mouse. And lately, death and mortality had become an increasingly recurring theme for her. I hope it doesn’t spill over into the negative thought process that had plagued her for months. Then, her thoughts fixated on a melancholic theme, always grim.
A few weeks back, when I was driving her to the HBOT centre, Mei said “Mummy, I don’t want to die and live with the angels. I want to stay here forever.” I tried to find a way to console my worried little girl. “Well sweetie, that’s why we do HBOT. It makes us healthy so we live a long, long time.” Mei thought hard about it, silent in the backseat. That’s when she told me she wanted to bring the mouse into HBOT.
As she was recovering from Autism, Mei slowly learned to talk. Eventually, she turned out to be an eloquent story teller, entrancing us with wondrous tales.
Later on, all her tales turned into spooky stories. Even her art work was black and dark. Her negative thought process and mounting anxiety alarmed us. It took months of biomedical treatments to finally get her back to her cheerful rainbows and unicorns self.
We had just started Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy this past week. Before our first session, I was initially apprehensive, I wasn’t quite sure how Mei would react.
It was a Friday afternoon, Mei had just returned from school. As she changed out of her school uniform, I told her that we’re going to the HBOT place later. I then explained what the experience was going to be like. Mei anxiously replied “I don’t think I want to go in there alone Mum.” I reassured her that we would be going in together.
We drove to the HBOT centre in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Friday afternoons are the worst times to drive around in any major city in Malaysia. Throngs of Muslims would be driving back from the mosques for Friday afternoon prayers. The traffic jams are legendary for hours before and after prayers are over. However, our guardian angels smiled down on us for we breezed through traffic and arrived within 15 minutes. Even the drive back home took us 15 minutes too. Truly a Friday miracle.
At the HBOT centre, Mei was calm and chatty, however her lack of eye contact was quite obvious. Her eye contact had deteriorated recently, yet another list of things to work on. We climbed into the chamber together. Mei was full of awesomeness, she giggled when her ears ‘tickled and bubbled’, she swallowed, equalising her ears. Overall, it was a positive experience and I signed up for the entire 40 sessions.
On the drive home, I asked Mei what she thought of the HBOT. She replied “It was great!” Mei was safely strapped in her booster seat in the back seat as usual. She was a little bit tired after a long day at school and the excitement of the HBOT experience. Before we reached home, I gently said “Sweetheart, whenever we talk to someone, we must always look them in the eyes. Do you remember that rule?” She sat silently in the backseat. It was unusual that she didn’t respond to me, so I asked her again “Mei, didn’t you hear what I said? Do you remember that you should look into people’s eyes when you talk to them?”
She was silent for a while, and then she replied “But Mum, I can’t look into your eyes when I speak.” A myriad of thoughts went through my mind in those few seconds before I replied. Was she going to give me an insight of her complex little mind, why staring into someone’s eyes is so hard for her? So I replied “Why not sweetie?” And Mei replied with all the seriousness and maturity an almost 6 year old could muster “Because I’m sitting in the backseat Mum!”