They really didn’t know what was wrong with Harry so it was decided that it would be better if we were transferred back to St Georges.
This time, the Paramedics were lovely and unlike the last, were not the least bit bothered about the chance to appear on ’24 Hours in A&E’. Harry was taken into the Children’s A&E, and from the bed number they gave him, I could tell that they thought it was serious. It is amazing, how quickly you become an expert sleuth. Desperately analysing unsaid gestures and clues as to ascertain how sick they really think your baby is.
Once he got to the ward it was decided that he would need another very high dose of antibiotics. This was ‘fast-pumped’ through his tiny, fragile body. This is probably one of the most horrible things I have seen- it is literally pumped into him, though a cannula inserted into his wrist, which is then fastened to a board, angrily digging into his podgy arm. It is undoubtedly painful, but it is the look in his eyes that always gets to me. Harry has ridiculously big blue eyes which seem to burn right into your soul. When he is frightened or in pain they look so confused as if to say “Mummy why can’t you make it stop?”.
We were put in a side room. After all, they didn’t really know what was wrong with Harry so couldn’t risk him infecting others. Harry sat in his cot and Matt and I shared the couch by his side. It sounds silly but I felt cocooned in this little room and despite the fact it is depressingly stark, that at least Harry was in the best place. At 1am that changed when a nurse came in and told us ‘only one parent’. What! We are in a room on our own, how can having us both here possibly hurt? ‘No’ was her response as she stared sadly at my forehead, rather than into my eyes. “One of you has to go”.
We decided that I should leave. So at 1:30am, despite protesting, crying and pretty much begging to stay, I found myself trying to get out of the hospital. As stupid as it sounds the hospital was ‘closed’ for the night, meaning you can’t just walk out of the front entrance. I had obviously missed the sign which told me where to go. So somewhere, most likely caught on camera, there is a deranged, makeup-smeared women literally walking round in circles, swearing her head-off, trying to find the exit. To be fair, when I did escape and walked into the eerily quiet car park I bumped into an old lady, walking in circles, muttering to herself, whilst dragging a shopping trolley. They say, we are all only three steps from disaster. That night it felt like only one!
I got up at 6am, the next morning so that I could drive back in time for visiting hours. There is something very unnatural about having to be invited to see your own child, but then the ward is dilapidated, overcrowded and oppressively hot. I guess inflexibility is the only way of way controlling stressed parents and overworked and underpaid nursing staff.
Harry continued to vomit and his temperature was spiking again. They fast pumped more antibiotics through his precious body. He screamed a shrill, piercing scream as the pressure in his little veins seemed to explode. Mum was there by now and in the end she suggested leaving the room and letting the nurses and Matt comfort him. The reality I think, is that even for my Mum, who is an absolute rock, seeing Harry terrified and screaming was just too much to bear. I will always feel guilty that I walked out – guilty to Matt but more guilty to Harry that I just wasn’t able to be the strong Mummy I always hoped to be.
People came in and out of our bland little room. They had established by this time that it ‘probably’ wasn’t a shunt infection and ‘wasn’t meningitis’ but what was it? In the end Harry did what Harry does and bounced back. His temperature gradually lowered and his flirt returned. To me, his fear lifted and so three days after the worst day of my life we were able to take our little man home.