My emotions have been all over the place in the last week. It all started with a bug, our eight year old son complained of a sore tummy. This turned into sickness and diarrhoea that felt endless! My wife at this time was nine months pregnant and our focus was on getting our son better before his new little brother came along.
The bug went on and he got worse, we did all the usual parenting stuff, i.e. Calpol, phoning NHS 24 and eventually when we felt it had gone on too long we took him to A&E at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. I've lived in Edinburgh all my life, and never had reason to go into the Sick kids until our son's sickness. I knew it had a good reputation and was well loved by families who made use of it, but I had no idea what to expect.
It was 4pm on Monday afternoon when we arrived at A&E, it was busy but we were seen within minutes. It was amazing how quickly the conversation changed from thinking he might need to stay in for one night, to being given a consent form to sign for emergency surgery.
An ultrasound and examination confirmed that his appendix had ruptured. We had to prepare ourselves (never mind our boy) for what this meant. In the space of three hours we were on our way to theatre. I remember holding the consent form, it felt heavy. The responsibility of signing such a thing and then handing our boy over was almost too much to contemplate. I remember wanting to ask the surgeons, consultants and doctors for their credentials, to ask if they had kids, did they get it?
Watching him go into theatre was one of the toughest things I've done. Then we waited, 90 long minutes. Surgery went well and he now needed time to recover, that meant just over a week in hospital. A week of tears, pain, frustration, boredom and a really itchy face from the morphine he was on. The most important thing was he recovered.
On the Friday evening of his week in hospital my wife went into labour whilst we were at the Sick Kids Hospital. We had to leave him and hot foot it to another hospital. Within one and an half hours of arriving at the labour ward our baby was born! My wife spent the entire time in the birth pool, and it was awe inspiring to be with her, our son was delivered into the pool and then came out displaying his awesome set of lungs. He was beautiful, and I was so proud of my wife for what she had gone through. I then felt a huge wave of relief. I think my tears had all been used up that week, and I was just so glad all my family were healthy and here.
Both our boys came home and whilst the big one continued to recover and thankfully eat us out of house and home we were launched straight into the cycle of feeding, cleaning, cuddling and loving our new boy. I remember before he was born wondering if I'd have enough love for two children, how did that work, how could you find more love that what you already have for your child, The truth is I don't know, but it does. Perhaps your heart grows and swells to encompass your family.
I love our health service, it's fair to say I've been a critic of it in the past and feel there's areas such as in mental health provision that need more funding. However this recent experience has left me with nothing but admiration for the staff involved, they work tirelessly to look after us all. The stability and focus of the staff got us through this tough week. Our NHS Rocks.
Thank you to the awesome staff of The Royal Hospital for Sick Children: Amanda Law, Douglas McGill, Shonagh Skinner, Tony Brooks, Jimmy Lam, Catriona, Cat, Rachael, Sandra and all the rest of the staff of ward 3 and the surgical team. At St John's Hospital - Emma Walker and everyone in the maternity unit.