There was no post last week was there? I’m sure you noticed (or not. Probably not actually – I can’t imagine anyone at any point woke up today and thought ‘you know what? that guy didn’t post ANYTHING last week. How odd) – there was one, but it didn’t go up. It was about Mother’s day. To cut a long story short, we went for dinner, Ned backhanded a plate full of peas, and everyone was embarrassed.
Now as to why I didn’t post – here’s the excuse.
This blog is coming up to its first anniversary in a few weeks, meaning I’ve spent almost 365 days documenting my son online. It is almost always light hearted (but always true) observations about my sons development, and I’ve always managed to avoid the things that aren’t much fun (because no one wants to hear about the time Ned didn’t go to sleep until 11pm, for example) but something happened last week that I feel I should document, because at the end of the day, this blog is a sort of diary of my sons life, and things should be talked about, even if they’re not something you’d like to remember. So.
Last week Ned had a cold. It started like any other cold – a runny nose, some coughing, nothing too out of the ordinary. We dosed him with Calpol and thought nothing of it.
By Thursday, nothing had changed. Ned was coughing more, so Claire took him to the doctors, who said to ride it out, but gave us antibiotics in case it didn’t improve by Friday. I picked them up after work, walked with Ned to the car and went home. Still, nothing out of the ordinary.
Thursday evening, however, things started changing.
We were woken up to a coughing fit followed by the sounds of rapid breathing coming from our son. Your average child sound be breathing around 40 breaths a minute. Ned was hitting 78 – 79.
We phoned NHS direct (for those overseas, it’s kind of like a 24 hour helpline for people who are concerned, but unsure if they should go to the hospital or not). The man on the phone said we needed to get to Accident and Emergency, and there were some things he was concerned about. He told us not to panic, and that the Doctors and Nurses at the hospital would be able to help.
In a blind panic, we rushed to the hospital, and waited our turn in A&E – surrounded by drunks, bandaged people and other coughing children. After getting assessed by the Nurse, she said it was probably nothing, just a virus, and she’d refer us to the treatment unit for further evaluation.
The treatment unit nurse said the same – that Ned probably had some sort of virus, that NHS Direct shouldn’t have sent us to hospital, and to go home and wait it out. She also supplied a phone number for an out of hours Doctor at the hospital if his condition worsened.
We went home. It was about 11pm. Ned went to sleep. Breathing rapidly.
At 2am, we were woken by our son in a worse state than earlier. Phoning the out of hours doctor, we were told to come in quickly. Upon arriving, the Doctor assessed him for five minutes and told us the news we didn’t want to hear – that Ned would have to be admitted to the Children’s ward, and may be there for some time.
After being assessed even more (which involved pinning our red faced, screaming son down while a face mask was applied to him to deliver more drugs and oxygen) he was sent to the Children’s unit, where he was given steroids and yet another facemask. this continued for all of Friday, our poor little boy, being terrified at the sight of anyone in a Nurses uniform, being given drugs at horrifyingly regular intervals. Claire spoke to a Nurse, and it was then we realised that we had no idea how potentially bad this could be. He’d stopped feeding, and the worry was he would have to be fed through a tube. This, in addition to the additional oxygen through a tube he was being given was the last straw, and I finally broke down, feeling literally helpless. As a dad, you have a fairly practical role in your sons life – you throw him about, you chase each other, and you tickle him until he smiles. If he’s hurt, you pick him up, make him laugh, and he is fixed. At worse, you apply a plaster. To see my son in his mothers arms, eyes half open, breathing rapidly while staring blankly, and knowing that I couldn’t just tickle him better was the lowest point of my parenthood. I couldn’t help him, and I just had to watch and hope.
Then, Friday evening, things began to pick up. Ned started breastfeeding again. His breaths per minute dropped to a better (still high, but much better) level, and he started napping better. As I couldn’t stay overnight with them, I left them in bed together, Ned was already asleep by then, and his little body rose and fell with each quick little breath – but they were slowing.
Saturday morning at 6am, I was (rudely) awakened by my wife, who told me Ned was awake. And SHOUTING. Upon arriving at the ward, I realised Ned and Claire weren’t in their bed. Inquiring with a Nurse, I was told he was in the playroom – they’d had to open it two hours earlier than usual because he was running around the ward. In the playroom, surrounded by toys, was my son – a little pale, still breathing fast, still coughing, but my laughing, smiling, curious son.
After a few more tests, they were happy to let him go home, as long as we applied an inhaler to him every four hours, his condition should improve.
It’s now Monday. My son is happy, playing and back to his usual self. His breathing rate is around a normal level again, and with any luck, a week of the home treatments should bring him back to 100%. It was terrifying, but it’s over, and I have to thank the hospital staff for that. It’s moments like this you realise how truly lucky you are I guess, and I never thought that the sight of my son, standing on a pile of books (which he’s not allowed to do) while opening all my Xbox games (which he’s not allowed to do) would be the greatest thing I’d ever see to date in my career as a parent, but you know what? It really was.