The last few days have been full of ups and downs – but primarily this is a post full of grateful thanks.
It’s a post to thank the wonderful NHS workers who took care of Albie on Sunday and Monday when we took him to A&E because he was having trouble breathing.
Albie wasn’t the most poorly person in Worthing Hospital, that’s for certain. So much so we had taken him to A&E with doubt in our minds as to whether it was the right place to go.
But ultimately our parental intuition was spot on, and the little man needed some treatment and monitoring to get him on the road to recovery from a wheeze, which made him sound like he’d been smoking 60 a day since birth.
Waiting for a phone call
Albie had suffered with a cold for a few days but his wheezing worsened on Saturday night. He was struggling to catch his breath on occasion but seemed to sort himself out, so we dosed him up with Calpol and played the waiting game.
Sunday saw him grow steadily worse and carrying a child who sounded like he’d climbed Everest around Tesco prompted me to seek advice from the pharmacist.
We’re very much drilled into the thought process of trying to avoid A&E where possible and the pharmacist was our logical first step. She agreed, though, that we needed to seek out-of-hours help, rather than wait until Monday to see the GP.
Step two of the action plan went smoothly, with 111 picking up swiftly and going through the raft of questions you get asked, although doing this with an increasingly angry baby added a layer of challenge.
Unfortunately, while we were due to get a call back within an hour to discuss the next steps, more than two hours went by with no response. With Albie steadily struggling more, we took the tricky decision to head to A&E instead of waiting for the call back.
Off to A&E
The 111 service is clearly under intense pressure. There’s no criticism of the staff from us, who were very friendly and professional.
But it strikes me as a section of the NHS (probably like most others) which could do with a boost in resources.
As we pulled up to the hospital, 111 predictably called us back. It wasn’t to discuss Albie’s case, though, just to say they were sorry it was taking so long. In the end, I think we made the right call.
Viral-induced wheeze, and a fear of doctors
Albie’s had a rough time with medical professionals recently. We’ve had to take him to some tough appointments, including his jabs and allergy testing, both of which involved poking him with a pointy stick.
It’s no surprise, then, that he struggles to get along with people with stethoscopes and things which look like phone charger cables to plug to your feet, regardless of how much peekaboo you engage in.
After some calm, clear advice from staff including nurse Laura and doctors Sally and Emma, they decided to treat Albie for something called a viral-induced wheeze.
Although everyone was clear this was not asthma, or didn’t mean Albie would develop asthma – despite Hanna suffering mildly from the condition – the treatment was similar.
On the plus side, it didn’t involve anything pointy. On the downside, tired and agitated Albie didn’t really care for anything apart from bed – so pinning him in our arms as a little mask and spacer were placed over his nose and mouth so he could inhale the medicine from an inhaler wasn’t on his to-do list.
Several bouts of this over time, combined with a steroid called prednisolone, helped to bring his breathing under control a little but not quite enough.
Combined with the numerous puffs of the inhaler – a treatment known as burst therapy – it meant Albie had to stay in, so he was admitted to Bluefin children’s ward.
Compassion and care
Albie escaped from the doctors and nurses late on Monday afternoon, after another dose of meds and gradually decreasing puffs, which we’re continuing for a while at home.
As ever in a busy ward, a lot of people play their part in looking after a lot of sickly patients, so there are too many to name.
But Albie’s main nurses throughout his short stay, Michelle and Beatrice (I know the spelling of this was different, but journalist senses were not engaged at gone 11pm when we were introduced!) again explained the game plan and answered all our questions expertly.
These situations are clearly intensely stressful, so it’s to their credit that we fully understood everything happening and were put so much at ease that we were able to learn some tricks of the trade in A&E for administering medicine to unwilling patients.
As lovely (and patient) as they were, we hope he doesn’t develop a knack for developing these horrendous wheezes and our visit isn’t repeated. The current average of a hospital stay every 7.5 months is more than his fair share.
And while we’re on the subject of thanks, gratitude is also due to the church group who come into the children’s ward each week. Usually dealing in cakes, they had heard Albie was an allergy-fest, so he had his own special fruit bar!
Road to recovery
He’s not fighting fit just yet, but the difference in Albie in 24 hours was remarkable.
From a grizzly grumpus not interested in food yesterday to plastering himself in blackcurrant jam tonight, he’s made a lot of progress.
We’ve even shared a few laughs and seen a return of his cheeky, toothy smile – just like the Albie we had seen at a birthday party just a day earlier.
We just wish those who cared for him could see more of his best side, rather than the panicky, screaming and scared bubba who greeted them as soon as someone other than Mummy of Daddy walked through the door. Sadly, the hostilities also applied to the person who brought in the food menu!
When it rains, it pours
Sunday’s experience capped off a largely forgettable week, as I put our family car into its own version of a hospital admission following a nasty scrape on the way to work on Wednesday.
It wasn’t the only thing to go crash, either, as Hanna smashed her phone screen to smithereens when she dropped it down the hospital stairs on the way to get essential supplies for Albie’s overnight stay.
It had been a stressful week before the weekend, so we must also give thanks to Nanny Di and Grandad Kevin who looked after Albie overnight on Friday so Hanna and I could enjoy a rare night out.
It’s Hanna’s birthday next week and I felt some level of guilt that our mortgage-laden finances couldn’t stretch to Hanna’s ideal present of a trip to Champney’s spa retreat.
But when you’re a journalist, you’ve got to find more inventive ways to deliver, thus ‘Trampney’s’ was born.
Head to Instagram – www.instagram.com/headlinespews for the story of how Trampney’s was born.