Yesterday Joshua had an appointment with his occupational Therapist at the Infirmary to review his day-splint. she was very thorough and with extreme patience, took it off and put it on stretching it, re-mouding it and re-padding it to make it more effective and more comfortable for Joshua. He was a star and sat patiently too throughout the 90 minute appointment, allowing his right arm to be subjected to lots of pulling and pushing. He was happy to leave the therapy room and responded well to the promise of ‘dinner’ to which he kept repeating ‘tea’ , so he knew that food was involved , even if time had distorted while we had been cooped up in a window-less room.
So we headed out of the huge hospital, taking the lift down to B floor. Joshua was trying to catch the eye of an Asian lady and her poorly baby, with a feeding tube coming of her nose, in the lift. I made my usual joke about his staring and when we both got out of the lift on B floor she asked me for help with directions. As Joshua and I have had several long stays in this particular hospital, we are increasingly familiar with its bland corridors and dubious signage, so I told her to come with me as we needed to go in the same direction. we had been walking for about 5 minutes when she stopped me and said that she had already been in this particular corridor earlier as she had been looking for Ultrasound for about 2 hours! she explained that her 14 month old daughter had liver cancer and was undergoing Chemotherapy. As a result she needed to have a hearing test and an ultrasound of her heart too, to ensure neither were being damaged by the chemo!
Sobered by her tale, I told her that I knew where Ultrasound was and so took them back the way we had come. We must have looked a motley crew when we arrived at Ultrasound, an Asian lady carrying a baby with a feeding tube alongside myself pushing a sleepy Joshua in his wheelchair. At reception she allowed me to speak for her and I asked if we were in the right place , only to be told that we were not. My heart sank as we were told that we needed cardiac ultrasound back at the other end of the hospital again, so off we set re-tracing our steps. On reaching the cardiac ward , we were told that they only scan over 16 year olds and she should actually be in pediatric oncology, back near where we first met! I then took control and explained the ordeal that she had suffered and I asked that the receptionist called ahead to confirm that we were being sent to the right department and that she should order a porter to accompany her , as I was now closer to my parked car than I had been for the last half hour! she kindly made the call and confirmed that they were expecting her in oncology.
She told me that she could organise a porter but that there could be a long wait for them to arrive. I asked if she could spare a member of staff from her department to accompany my new friend and her poorly baby, who was now asleep on her mother’s shoulder. I was told that they could not spare anyone and that anyway, she only really knew the cardiac area and was not familiar with pediatric oncology. So we set off together back through the hospital corridors to where we began our journey and I went into their reception before heading home.
She gave me a big hug and thanked me saying that nobody else would help her, other than pointing her towards lifts or signs. She really appreciated the personal touch that I was able to offer her, a fellow worried mum with a poorly child. She called me an angel and I left them to their heart scan and the rest of their lives, while I headed back to my car, 40 minutes after I left OT!
At Great Ormond Street Hospital, they are fortunate enough to have lots of volunteers in reception offering their assistance and certainly on one of our visits for an MRI scan, we were taken to the right department. Now I appreciate as I did then, the value of that service. None of the receptionists or nurses that we spoke to thought that it was their job to help this family in distress, and although it was not my job either, as a human being with some empathy for her stressful situation, I was not going to leave her to struggle for another couple of hours.