Being at a loss about what to write for this month’s article, I was strangely delighted when the idea arose out of misfortune.
A Sunday morning rugby match accident on Marlborough Common led us to a visit to Swindon’s Great Western Hospital Accident and Emergency Department. The joy of having a child means that we managed to dodge the heaving adult waiting room full of footballing Dads and over zealous DIY’ers, instead, being led through to Paediatric A and E.
Triage over in a flash and pain medication administered, we then spent several noisy hours in the children’s waiting area. Too old to play with the little trains and building blocks, our filthy dirty hulking fifteen year old settled in with the toddlers thanking his lucky stars that he had his mobile phone and headphones with him to ease the “pain”.
It was then time for one of my favourite hobbies – a little bit of people watching. Of course, everyone in the room was concerned for their own little treasure, but we soon all settled into a pattern of knowing, sympathetic smiles and nods with each other.
We were joined, over the course of the wait, by several other sporting boys, their dirty kits displaying who they played for, whilst they clutched various limbs and looked a little worse for wear.
The toddlers, meanwhile, reminded me of the well known Calopl advert. However poorly they looked when they came in, all they wanted to do was to play with the toys. Mums and Dads were soon in hot pursuit of flushed little people wrapped in blankets wriggling around or toddling off to the exciting toys set out for them. Keeping them still and warm was a challenge. Even the child friendly screens that some quick thinking parents had brought with them had little charm over the toys.
As each child was triaged and returned to the waiting room, we soon settled in and realised that we were there for the long haul, whilst the more poorly children were treated in priority. Small food packages emerged. The odd “emergency” muesli bar from the car, or hastily grabbed packs of biscuits and crisps. Some even turned to the hospital machines for a sandwich or crisps, even the odd bar of chocolate. Either way, the healthy diet went down the pan for another day.
Texts to family and friends to update and the odd “can you look after the dogs please?” were dispatched. A quick picture of the teenager’s war wound to send to his mates and Sunday life on hold whilst we waited. The well intentioned Sunday roast waiting to be prepped in the fridge at home.
The registrar treating our son was brilliant. It wasn’t pleasant for our boy, but, seven stitches later, he was ready to go home. We were exhausted. We had only been there three and a half hours. Goodness only knows how long our nurse and our Doctor were on duty.
People came and went, the cycle repeating itself, life before us in that little room. I don’t know how many nurses were there that day, or how many doctors, but hats off to them for doing such a fantastic job. They managed to calmly juggle the numerous needs of little (and some slightly bigger) patients and families, always with a smile. I have no idea how they prioritised cuts, bruises, coughs and fevers, but they did with the utmost care and slowly and surely we were all seen. A huge thankyou to the hospital staff. You do a wonderful job and we are truly grateful.