A darkness washes over you when your children are ill. Until four years ago, it was a feeling I was yet to experience, and thankfully, it is a feeling that I have not felt very often. My children, thank God, are healthy, but they do get ill – just like any child.
23rd of October and half term was finally upon us. In a half term that saw me take both children into my school in order to avoid sitting in a traffic jam and being late, speak to the whole of Year 8 in assembly and refer to them as Year 7 throughout and, while at a Heads of English meeting, being caught with my phone out as a deputy head from another school asked me a question and Siri answered for me by saying “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re asking me’, I was ready for a little break.
I picked the munchkins up from nursery early and took them home to partake in some late afternoon
crafts Peppa. I had already told the Other Half to bring home fish, chips and lager and my 64 Year 8 assessments were to remain in the boot of my car for the evening.
The girl and I were on the sofa and The Dude was happily pulling himself up on various pieces of furniture when suddenly there was an almighty bang. I was too slow. My little Dude was screaming because he had hit his head hard on the TV stand. Picking him up, I cuddled him for a couple of minutes to stop the crying (the girl was complaining about not being able to hear the Bing Bong Song) and when I looked at his head, my stomach hit the floor as a purple egg had formed instantly on his head. Now, I am no stranger to bumps and, in the past, I tried to treat an egg on my girl’s head. I slapped butter on it and a pom pom hat on it in the hope that it might disappear in a ‘if you can’t see it then it’s not really there’ kind of way. This failed as when the Other Half questioned why she was wearing a woolly hat in August, I confessed all and was made to feel very guilty. Accidents NEVER happen on his watch…Anyway, the Other Half’s arrival was imminent and once he arrived home, we called 101 and asked for advice on bumps.
Unsurprisingly, we were told to go to hospital for a check up; with the local hospital only five minutes away, we happily obliged in order to put our minds at ease.
‘I’ll take him, we won’t be long.’ I said. ‘Keep the fish and chips hot and the lager cold.’
Famous last words.
Upon arrival at the hospital, we were seen within half an hour, given the all clear and was told by a young doctor that we could leave. The Dude was in good spirits and was crawling under curtains and spying on a pre-teen being measured up for a pot. Nurses cooed over my boy’s blue eyes and nodded with empathy when I explained that the bump had brought our little family evening to a halt.
Then another doctor approached.
‘Oh, so this is the crawling baby everyone is talking about,’
Yes, my baby is crawling. This means he’s ok, surely?
‘We’re just looking into getting him a bed.’
‘A bed?’ I questioned.
‘He needs to be monitored and we need to speak to you about safe guarding.’
‘I know all about safe guarding,’ I said. ‘I’m a teacher. Are you monitoring him or checking me?’
‘Oh brilliant, a teacher,’ he said. Was he being sarcastic?
After being allowed a phone call home, we settled in for the night. My boy and I ate bread and jam and custard and played. By this time, it was well after 6 and the bedtime hour was approaching. That’s when I was handed a letter.
‘A bed is ready for you at Pinderfields,’ a nurse said.
‘Pinderfields?’ I questioned.
Yes, I was being sent to another hospital. At this point, I could feel myself holding back the tears.
‘Can go home to let my partner know?’
‘Can I phone my mum then?’
Everyone wants their mum when they’re upset.
I was allowed the phone call and in front of the doctors and nurses, I cried when I asked her to come and meet me at the other hospital.
As we were leaving, the doctor said:
‘At least you’re not leaving in handcuffs…yet.’ He smiled, he was trying to lighten the mood. He failed. Miserably.
Half an hour later and I was looking for a white Qashqai in a busy hospital car park. Every bugger has a Qashqai these days, but I eventually spotted my Mum’s number plate and we parked up next to each other.
We were directed to the Children’s Assessment Unit where we we had to wait for the doctor. Around me, I noticed other sick children and we all had one thing in common: we wanted to go home. One boy, I noticed, was alone; I overheard him tell someone that he had an appendicitis and that he was waiting for his mum.
After an hour a doctor came and questioned me, checked my boy’s head and shone a torch on his body to look for a ‘rash’, when I say ‘rash’, it was obvious that he was looking for bruising. Patiently, I answered all of his questions and it was a little distressing especially when you know that you would never hurt your child, however, the doctor was doing his job and I would much rather him be meticulous than not care at all. Clearly, it became obvious that it was all just a clumsy accident and he told me that I could leave at 10pm. It was 8.45pm.
My stomach was rumbling, my boy was tired, my fish and chips were so far beyond my reach that I had forgotten what a battered fish looked like. What were we going to do for an hour? I decided that we would play. And when I say ‘play’ I mean we unintentionally annoyed the other patients around us. The Dude started pushing a loud beeping helicopter around the floor and I probably scared and scarred the poor appendicitis patient by telling him that ‘all the best people have their appendix out’ before showing him the very old jagged scar on my stomach. A passing nurse raised an eyebrow at me and assured the boy that he would be on the receiving end of less evasive key hole surgery. Oops.
Funnily enough, five minutes later we were allowed to leave (perhaps the scar should have had an earlier outing). By this time it was way after 10pm and the boy was wide awake in his car seat. We made our way out to the dark car park and I subsequently then spent five minutes pulling on a black car door that wasn’t mine. Damn Qashqais – I told you every bugger has one.