You Can’t Have Crystals and Maths

These were the immortal words of a friend when I mentioned caring for a baby who’s Mum had put some crystals in her daughters cot. I’d mentioned the crystals as we’d been told to be much stricter about the items parents were putting in the cots and incubators. Fluffy toys in particular are an infection risk as they can’t be wiped with disinfectant when we do our daily cleaning and they are rarely washed, if at all. I was fairly sure that crystals couldn’t be an infection control risk so I wiped them clean and put them back, hoping that they weren’t supposed to be in a specific position that I’d then messed up by moving them.

The confusion arose when I mentioned that both parents were medical and so I was surprised to find the crystals in their daughter’s cot. I have no idea where maths came into it, I think he was trying to say that medicine and alternative therapies aren’t compatible.

I don’t think that many alternative therapies have much effect, including crystals. I did give my husband a lump of rose quartz to use when he has a headache but that’s because it gets cold quickly and the cold soothes the headache, not because I think rose quartz has innate healing abilities.

The use of alternative therapies for serious medical conditions is something I come across as a Nurse. I have no issues with patients and families who believe that they do have an effect, it’s when their beliefs and lifestyle choices clash with the medical advice and interventions we provide.

The most memorable of these was the parents who had decided that no plastic was to come into contact with their child after they were born. Apart from the small problem of most hospital equipment containing a degree of plastic the main issue was the clips we use to cut off circulation from the umbilical cord so it can be cut after birth. The parents refused to use the clip and instead provided their own tie made from natural materials. Dad tied this round the cord, the cord was cut, a nappy was put on the baby and all three of them went to the postnatal ward. Several hours later when the baby’s nappy was changed it was discovered that the natural tie had been completely ineffective and that the baby had been bleeding into the nappy since being born.

As a result the baby ended up in NICU, covered in plastic from the various pieces of emergency equipment and requiring multiple blood transfusions. The baby survived but only after intensive intervention by the medical team.

Everyone is entitled to make their own life choices; organic, vegetarian, vegan, green and the like. As a Nurse I do my utmost to support people in their choices and tailor the care I give to be compatible.

But a child nearly died for the sake of a plastic clip and the health, safety and wellbeing of any child trumps everything else.

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