June 30, 2008
12 days at RCH....
So finally the story I have been working up to tell. To be honest I am still digesting all that has happened in the last fortnight. My daughter is now recovering well and will have a full recovery too with no long term effects. We are supremely grateful and very lucky to be born in an age where there are so many dedicated people who work at the Royal Children's Hospital.
On Sunday 15th June my daughter was lethargic, not eating well and grunting with each breathe. I knew it wasn't 'right', this was no ordinary cold/flu virus. So being a Sunday and GP's who understand paediatrics are rare as hen's teeth in my area, RCH was only a half an hour drive. I was still expecting to come home that day.
She was were recommended to see the GP clinic at RCH after I discussed her symptoms with the Triage nurse, as we were seen as not requiring to go through to emergency. The GP checked Cleo and told me she seemed fine her heart rate was normal and her breathing was normal. I insisted, I said "I'm not happy with the grunting" so he said we could do a chest x-ray and I reiterated that I didn't mind being seen as the over reacting mum, I just needed peace of mind. Thank god I insisted. We had the x-ray done and I knew as soon as I saw the image that it didn't look good. Back at the GP's he said my daughter has Pneumonia, she'll have to be admitted to hospital and given intravenous antibiotics and you should be able to go home in a day or two 'Huh?" He apologised for not detecting it and Thanked me for using my intuition and insisting on the chest x-ray.
So we were taken into Emergency and the Doctor's marveled as Cleo wanted some of my apple that her x-ray showed she indeed was a very sick little girl and there she was still quite active at that point. So the phone calls made to my partner and as he arranged overnight bags and a lift as she went through all the procedures of having a IV line into her arm. We were later admitted to the Short Stay area and as she was monitored it was deemed necessary for her to also be placed on oxygen. It was a lot to take in. By the course of the next morning we had been told by a doctor she had fluid on her lung and it was possible she may need to have an operation to drain the fluid.
We were later told by another Doctor that it was a bit premature to be informed this. However the first Doctor had been spot on. It took a team of Doctors to access Cleo over the next ensuing days, the Respiratory team checked in on her twice daily. They changed her antibiotics after they realised they had been treating the wrong infection, as I have since learnt there are many types of Pneumonia and that it can be caught by either virus or bacteria. After a second chest x-ray and an Ultrasound it was determined the operation would go ahead.
The type of pneumonia Cleo had contracted was called Empyema.
This was the best link without too much medical jargon.
These photo's were taken by my Partner MD as she was well on the way to recovery.
After the surgery we observed how quickly our daughter recovered. She didn't require oxygen although she was on painkillers and an antibiotic drip for several days afterwards.
We experienced the unfailing bravery of our daughter, the gentleness of the Doctor's and Nurses who treated her. The amazing support we received from friend's and family. Friend's who dropped off food and cooked amazing meals and came an visited as we kept a bed side vigil (and now trying to catch up on sleep!). We have been over whelmed by the support, generosity of strangers, family's who are still at RCH showing kindness whilst their child is sick as well, offering tea/coffee, an ear or a hug.
I was also equally amazed by the support of local volunteers, who kept the children company if a parent couldn't be by their child's side, they cuddle them, comfort them, even when a parent required a break. There were also the Starlight Children's Foundation which provided entertainment and came and visited children who were too sick to leave their bed and they also provided a room for children to play in. There was the young woman (whose name I didn't catch) who walked around and sang beautifully to the children one on one. There were the ladies from the Church of Christ who gave out to each child a hand knitted toy or handmade toy. So much love and support from so many selfless people. I am still overawed by the experience.
We were in hospital for 12 days in total and in that time we learnt so much. Our daughter will have a full recovery with no long term effects. But my heart goes out to those who lives revolve around the Hospital system and it more then reminded me of the need for the Royal Children's Hospital, I will certainly be digging deep next appeal.