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.