What about sick kids?
Nell,10, unexpectedly spent the Easter weekend in hospital. She came back with a chocolate easter egg, two craft projects (a piggy bank and a glitter-decorated egg) plus pictures and gifts other children on the ward gave her. Even little Jennie, 4, in the next bed turned one of her unused vomit collectors (these things are ridiculously adaptable) into a hat with a face on it as a goodbye gift to Nell. This post is by Nicola Baird (Nell’s mum!) using ideas adapted from her book Homemade Kids. There are Barnes & Nobles coupons available for her books.
Nell went in gasping for air – triggered perhaps by the pollen blasting from oil seed rape (that yellow plant that’s grown massively in East Anglia to fatten cattle and, increasingly, as a biofuel, grrr). Although the day her breathing took a turn for the worse was Thursday, 21 April, coincidentally the first of London’s super smogs, see “Bad Air Day for 2011 as UK breaches PM10 daily limit value in London and Government issues ‘High pollution episode warning: First “summer-smog” of 2011″, at clean air in london’s page here.
Nell came out of Addenbrookes (a big hospital in Cambridge) fired up to take on Prime Minister Cameron who seems determined to attack an NHS that doesn’t need attacking – not because I’d briefed her, but because she saw for herself the sort of care she was getting. In our two day, one night stay we met three life-saving paramedics, used one ambulance and Nell was assessed by five doctors. We also used NHS Direct (tel: 0845 4647), and Nell had a lung x-ray (and as suspected was found to have an infection). She was given a heap of medicine that I need to use (it’s every 4 hours for the next 48 hours) and another lot to help this sort of air-scare happening again
Great nurses too
The nurses were stupendous: sympathetic, fun to be around, efficient, knowledgeable and constantly going the extra mile – essential for all those families with children needing long-stay treatment. At the kids’ ward in Cambridge there is a play worker; mums like me who don’t expect to be staying overnight are found a towel for a shower, shown where the toaster and tea making facilities are and made to feel they are part of their children’s treatment/cure. This is kind because with asthma it’s often the families who manage to lose control of the management (ie, like me for Nell) and don’t have a crisis plan to follow.
Hospitals in the news
What a contrast the NHS hospitals are to the ones panned across by cameras most nights on the TV news. A hospital in chaos has become an essential part of war reporting – so often we see overcrowding, dirt, blood, awful scenes, and then worse, here that medicines have run out. Or one side has taken over the hospital to use as a sniper base. Even a hospital that’s working well in most countries of the world does not supply patients with food (your family need to bring it in). Or free medicines for children.
Money and the NHS
Lots of mums worry about vaccinations, pay an arm and a leg for alternative treatments and may even have private health insurance. My experience of the NHS is it’s big and a bit clumsy but when you need urgent help it is stunning, and I’m constantly surprised by the lack of feedback it requests (eg, you stayed in hospital what did you make of it?) and the curious absence of a place to donate if you wanted to after a successful trip.
Money and the NHS
I know when my first daughter was born I was euphoric about her successful arrival and would have been happy to give a donation to this amazing organisation. And yes, I know my taxes go towards it. This is an instinct for the purest of life insurance. Of course I’m happy to give more knowing that when things go wrong doctors and nurses can step in…
Sublime to ridiculous
The NHS feels like a free service – yet if you went health private you could be paying thousands for treatment.
At least there’s a campaign to stop the NHS being torn apart – you can help by signing this e-petition, see 38degrees, here which more than 260,000 have already signed. Not so long ago Britain’s forests secured a U-turn, here’ s something most people think is even more important.
An econote about sick kids
I routinely recycle, reuse and save water. In hospital I utterly failed to do this – although I did leave Addenbrookes by taxi for the train home. It is very hard to find the places – or the time to navigate the 10 floors to the concourse and the recycling bins (for plastic water bottles I think) – when you are on a surprise hospital stay-over and worried out of your mind about your child. I’m sure it’s possible to make hospital recycling easier, but the worries about infection (and super bugs) clearly make it harder to resolve this.
The NHS has saved Nell’s life twice now. I really owe them my support.