A Sting in the Tale

It’s almost ten years ago since my daughter had a big operation in the Children’s Hospital. There were a few unexpected set-backs along the way but otherwise she sailed through the experience with the benefit of youth on her side. If only everyone could be lucky enough to enjoy this kind of outcome.

My 8-year old daughter was admitted to the hospital the day before surgery to undergo routine pre-operative tests. She was accustomed to being in hospital having required frequent treatment throughout her childhood for chronic kidney disease. On this occasion she was delighted to be allocated a bed beside the window where she and her all-time favourite teddy bear, called LoveBear, could watch the world go by. I was given the key to a very small, sparsely furnished cell-like room in an adjacent building and this was to become my home for the following ten days. Early the next morning, my daughter was wheeled off to the operating theatre bravely clutching LoveBear, her loyal companion. Several hours later she was returned safely to the ward sleeping soundly despite all the paraphernalia associated with complicated surgery. When she came to, the only thing she wanted was her adored LoveBear but to everyone’s horror, he was nowhere to be found. His trip to theatre had not gone according to plan and there was now great concern for his welfare. After a frantic search, he was eventually located in the hospital laundry looking a lot worse for wear. He had accidentally been put through an extremely hot wash with some sheets and now needed urgent resuscitation. He survived the ordeal and was soon tucked up in bed back with his loyal owner.

The following days went relatively smoothly and I, like all the many other parents there, spent long hours keeping watch at the bedside. Whenever my daughter slept, I would return to my own sleeping quarters for a few hours rest but I found it very difficult to sleep there. I had to keep the window shut because of noise in the street below and this left the room far too hot and stuffy. As the days went on, I developed an intense headache that wouldn’t go away. I put it down to the heat in the hospital and continued to take medication every four to six hours to dull the pain. I finally woke one morning to find that one eye was hugely swollen and had completely closed over but at long last, I had relief from the intense pain in my head. The hospital staff soon sent me packing to see my own doctor and later that day I was admitted to another hospital for an emergency surgical procedure to drain an abscess in the frontal sinus of my skull.

I awoke the following morning feeling somewhat sorry myself having been told that I had to stay in the hospital to undergo a course of intravenous antibiotic therapy. I was worried about how my daughter would cope in the children’s hospital without the help she needed. Of course, she was absolutely fine as her Dad took over the role bringing welcome new energy to the equation and they got on famously together. My own surgeon appeared before breakfast at my bedside and informed me that I’d had a lucky escape. The constant headache of the previous week had been caused by a large abscess in my skull which had been pressing on a very thin wall of bone between it and my brain. Luckily for me, the abscess had pushed forward as it expanded causing the swelling in the eye. Had it gone in any other direction, he said, it’s likely I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. As I looked at my surgeon in disbelief, I noticed that he looked totally exhausted and close to tears. Surely the news wasn’t all that bad? He then told me that he’d spent the whole night in the operating theatre trying to save the life of a close relative of his own who’d been knocked down by a hit and run driver. The young lad, very sadly, did not survive the night. This news cast a whole new light on our family situation. In time, I made a full recovery and so did my daughter. LoveBear, while looking a bit worn these days, still has pride of place. We were the lucky ones.

13 Responses to A Sting in the Tale

  1. Grannymar says:

    Steph you and your family have come through so much.

    I believe everyone has their time for suffering. For some it is medical problems, while for others the problemsare of the mind.

    I have great admiration for those who come smiling through all that life throws at them.

    If we look hard enough, there will be someone with a more difficult journey than ours.

  2. Steph says:

    Spot on! as always, Grannymar

    You don’t realise how lucky you are until you’re faced with someone’s else’s misfortune. As you say, there’s always someone worse off than ourselves but sometimes you have to see it before you really believe it.

    If there’s one thing I despise in life, it’s people who talk incessantly about themselves without any regard for the plight of others. I met one such person while waiting to be wheeled into theatre for my big operation last year. She was having day surgery and yapped on and on about her symptoms and the fact that she needed a minor op to sort them out. I waited until she drew breath and then I let her have my story. She shut up after that!

  3. Bendygirl says:

    My goodness Steph what a difficult time for you and your family that must have been. I’m in awe of how much you’ve been through. I’m so glad both you and your daughter came through the surgery well, but how sad about the surgeon’s relative. Hugs BG x

  4. Steph says:

    Thanks BG

    No need to be in awe – you have your own hill to climb on a daily basis whereas my troubles come and go and I enjoy much freedom in between the dramas.

    Yes, it was sad to see such a great surgeon look so defeated that day. He’s the same Doc who gave me a lovely welcome when I popped in to see him unannounced before Christmas. I gave him a good run for his money when I was his patient but thankfully we got through those times and still maintain a healthy respect for one another.

  5. nonny says:

    In the name of God how an earth do you stay so positive? It is remarkable and a rarity. I couldn’t get my quilt in the washing machine tonight and I cried my eyes out. You have amazing strength in the face of adversity. It is most admirable indeed.

  6. Steph says:

    Nonny – you’re making me blush!

    In answer, to your question – it’s easy to stay positive. Everyone faces some sort of adversity in their life (admittedly some worse than others), be it with their job, their family, their home life or their health but it’s all about what you’re used to. I bet there are some tough areas of your life where you positively shine whereas I’d be positively useless in the same situation. My life has been constantly disrupted by medical issues but because I’m so used to that way of life, it doesn’t phase me any more. My trademark response to adversity is ‘here we go again’ and you just get on with it and make the best of your life. As the saying goes “when the going gets tough, the tough get going!”

    I didn’t call myself an ‘expert by experience’ patient for nothing you know 😉

  7. Baino says:

    Have to reiterate what’s said here Steph, I knew you had a rough trot but your daughter as well! You are a survivor in every way.

  8. Steph says:

    Cheers! Baino

    That daughter of mine will be 18 next month and she can beat any of her classmates at a 100m sprint. Her kidneys finally settled down once she got into her teens and she’s never looked back!

  9. nonny says:

    I tagged you, Baino made me do it, she bullied me. I think she is trying to create adversity in my life. Sniff snif.

  10. Baino says:

    Don’t you think I didn’t see that Nonny! You did a great job and it had the desired effect of making you POST! It’s been a long time between drinks girly swat!

  11. Steph says:

    Girls! Girls! I know I called this post a Sting in the Tale but I didn’t anticipate getting stung back 😉

  12. Caoimhin says:

    Congrats Steph on your nomination! 😉

  13. Steph says:

    Thanks! Caoimhin

    I’m presuming you’re talking about the Irish Blog Awards. I’m okay with this nomination as the judging system is a fair one so I’m happy to be a part of it. If I get through Round 1 then I’ll be more than happy with that achievement. Whatever happens, it’s a great opportunity to get to read other more sophisticated blogs.

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