And Breathe

24 Sep

I know you didn’t know I’d been away, but I have and now I’m home so I thought it was finally time to blog (a little) about what I’ve been up to. Without breaking any medical confidences, I’ve just spent 11 nights in the parents’ accommodation of a large children’s hospital in a city other than the one in which I live.

I’ll not go into details, but suffice to say the whole experience was worthwhile but horrible to live through – and I was only the one sitting by the hospital bed, and not in it.

Anyway, this isn’t a medical blog, it’s a writing one, so here goes:

As I sat, sometimes with my husband, sometimes without, in a variety of wards, kitchens and lounge areas with other parents, I was amazed how much people needed to talk, to tell their stories, to tell the stories of their children. As a women, I’ve been in situations before when I’ve listened to, and told, traumatic stories (normally about childbirth), but my husband hasn’t really and I think he was quite taken aback by people’s openness. It did strike me though how fundamental a need we have to tell these stories, even, or especially, when we are in the middle of trauma/stress/grief.

It also struck me that there is inevitably a form of sympathy competition, where each parent wants to be the one getting rather than giving the sympathy, but none of us want to have the worst story, as that would mean our child might be the one who doesn’t make it.

On a lighter note, as my child did, and is now making good use of her bell to keep me running after her – every day I tried to get a bit of fresh air, and luckily the hospital was situated right next to a large park in the heart of the university area. When I came back my walk I had to regale H with the sights I’d seen. A man on a skateboard isn’t very exciting, but when he’s being pulled by huskies it is. A couple trying and failing to tightrope walk is quite amusing, and a busker who verbally abused posh kids for clapping was just quite disturbing. Anyway, by telling stories about my little walks, it passed a little time.

What didn’t pass the time was me reading, writing or doing anything other than helping H get back on her feet. I had envisaged a Heidi- type scenario with me reading Jane Austen to her, while she lay meekly on the bed. Didn’t realise that once she was off the morphine, I’d be taking over much of her care to prepare us for home. I was absolutely wrecked by the time we left, both physically and mentally, but am finally beginning to re-connect with the outside world, even though H’s recuperation is far from over, and am thinking again about my novel – did I tell you it is set in a hospital…

Final word – the staff at the hospital were absolutely amazing. Comforting, caring and cajoling. Love our NHS.

 

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