A Tale of the Unexpected

Yesterday ran out of control and it was not the family weekend that I had planned. Joshua woke up early at 5.30 and was on good form, enjoying a large bowl of porridge for breakfast. I decided around 10 to give Joshua a bath and wash his hair ready for his Dad coming home. He enjoyed his bath, apart from the dreaded hair wash, and as usual, I nipped to his bedroom to lay out his clothes. But I heard a strange gurgling noise and rang back. Joshua was having a seizure and half of his face was under water. I pulled him up out of the water , trying to sit him up, but he was still fitting and he’d gone an awful colour. He was slippery and fitting so he was difficult to get hold of but I knew I had to get him out somehow and onto his side. Somehow I found the strength to lift my 57 kg son up and out of the bath and onto the bathroom tiled floor. I rolled him onto his side and he began to cough and splutter , but there was no gush of water but I’ve no idea how much he swallowed.

Once he was still and had stopped coughing, I wanted to get him off the cold tiles. So it took me a few attempts lift/ drag him across the landing and up a step to my bedroom, where he lay in my bed and I could wrap him up in the duvet. His breathing was very noisy and his chest sounded gurgly. I spoke to my husband and we agreed not to take any chances, but to seek expert advice so I called 999. The paramedics came quickly and listened to his chest and decided that he needed to go to hospital robe checked over. So they helped me to get him dressed and helped a very wobbly, pale Joshua downstairs and into the ambulance. I locked up the dogs and off we went to hospital. Joshua looked a terrible colour and he would not tolerate the oxygen mask that they supplied. Chatting to the paramedic helped the long journey to A&E pass.

Being 17 there was a debate about whether he needed children’s and adult A&E but we were taken to the friendlier children’s, though we were warned that if he was admitted,he would be on an adult ward. Joshua would not stop trembling in his cubicle and his finger nails were purple, so we covered him in blankets and attempted to give him oxygen as his sats were low. A doctor arrived to put a cannula into his hand and he began to have seizures, one after the other . His epilepsy became the biggest problem and he was moved to resusc where he was given two doses of different rescue medication and managed to find a vein for the cannula and eventually the seizures began to slow downs He drifted off asleep so they were able to take a chest X-ray with him being still and immediately the doctor recognised a ‘consolidation’ on his lung and so he was given iv antibiotics immediately.

Joshua slept for an hour while preparations were made to admit him onto a ward and paediatrics were willing to accept him as we had not yet been handed over to Adults. Just as we arrived on the observation unit, my husband arrived back from his overseas travels – this was not the homecoming that I’d planned. Joshua was pleased to see him then nodded off again, so my husband fetched us food and a nightie as I’d been warned that we would be staying overnight given the drugs and seizures that he had had. We shared a cup of tea that the nurse brought and then two doctors came to assess him and ask more questions about his history and his normal abilities, as only the student nurse knew him.

I sent my husband home to look after our three dogs and to sleep as he’d been travelling forever so he looked as grey as Joshua. Joshua then slept soundly, looking hot but more comfortable. We had a surprise flying visitor which was lovely and around 9 pm we were moved to a cubicle where Joshua had a proper bed rather than a small trolley and I was given a camp bed too, in place of a hard plastic chair. We were both shattered after a full on day so I think I nodded off as soon as my head hit the pillow, only waking once when the nurse came with his bedtime drugs.

What a day, but I cannot praise the NHS staff highly enough – from the dispatcher who kept me talking when I was panicking when I first called 999, to the young nurse in A&E who specialised in epilepsy , to the jokey A&E consultant who broke the tension in resusc with his banter and the friendly, helpful nurses in the children’s ward. I am not sure that we would be treated quite as well in Adults A&E or the men’s ward! So I am making the most of what will hopefully be our last paediatrics experience in hospital.

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