If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you’ll now that last week Teddy, my son, got very poorly, very quickly and ended up in hospital for a few days. He wasn’t so unwell that we were panicking, but his breathing was laboured and his oxygen saturation levels were alarmingly low – especially when he went to sleep – so he ended up being admitted to the children’s ward for a couple of nights.
I’m writing the post firstly because I haven’t written anything for well over the week, which I think is the longest it’s ever been, secondly because the whole experience was a tad traumatic and I find therapy in writing, and thirdly because again I need to shout from the rooftops about just how amazing the Whittington Hospital in Archway is – every time I go there (and honestly, it’s got the point where I actually look forward to going there, quite a ridiculous sentiment from someone who spent most of her childhood in hospitals and hated every minute) I’m amazed by the standard of treatment I receive, and this particular time was no different.
Strangely enough, I heard nothing but bad things about the Whittington Hospital and so I avoided it, even though it was so local to me. When I found out I was pregnant I was informed that I could go to either the Whittington or the Royal Free; I jumped at the Royal Free as I already went there for most of my hospital needs, but my doctor quietly mentioned that the Whittington had an amazing reputation for their maternity services, so I decided to give it a go, figuring I could always move to the Royal Free if needs be. From day one I was impressed and the amazing staff there carried me through my pregnancy – a memory that is so fond that I like to try and drive past the hospital on my way home from Central London to evoke the positive feelings I have for the building – gave me the most amazing birth experience (and kept me in, in a private room, until I was ready to go home) and now have taken exceptional care of my son too. I really do owe everything to the Whittington.
Teddy fell ill last Sunday night with a typical cold that mostly consisted of a bad cough and a runny nose, something he gets a lot, in typical Toddler fashion. The next day, however, he seemed really off. His breathing was all over the place and he was just generally struggling. I managed to get him a GP appointment who had a quick listen to his chest and gave him a prescription for antibiotics. By the time we got home it was getting late so I thought I’d treat him to his very first Happy Meal (don’t judge…) as I hoped it would cheer him up; not only are they fun for kids, but his favourite food is chips. Teddy is such a happy child, even when feeling unwell, so he really enjoyed the concept of the Happy Meal but barely ate a thing. That night was another tricky one with lots of coughing that got so bad that he kept vomiting and couldn’t even keep water down. I thought I should give the antibiotics a chance to do their thing, especially as he didn’t have a temperature (it dipped in and out) but the next day he seemed so unwell, so I thought it was time to take him to hospital.
The weird thing about Teddy’s illness was that it was very up and down; he’d go from running around laughing and playing to suddenly lying on the floor feeling hot and looking grim. Once we arrived at the hospital, he was quickly taken through to the ward and given an amazingly thorough assessment by a doctor, then taken for an x-ray and then given another assessment by a specialist before it was confirmed that he had Tonsilitis and an upper chest infection. Because his oxygen saturation levels weren’t very high, it was decided that Teddy would need to stay in for the night, so we were taken up to the ward and settled in. We were taken to the Ifor word which is just amazing; firstly the security is really good as you can’t get in or out without a staff member seeing you on camera and confirming you’re okay to enter, but the set-up for children is quite incredible.
We were given our bed which had a pull-down TV and about 60 channels including children’s TV and films. I was given a cot bed to sleep next to him and there’s also a parent’s area to make tea and coffee. The playroom is out of this world as it’s big, stacked full of amazing toys, and then it opens up on to an outdoor area where there are bikes, trikes, Wendy Houses and play areas, all of which sit upon a soft ground just in case there are falls. It was a weirdly lovely experience waking up the first day and walking Teddy out to the play area (which is about a 30 second walk from our bed) as even though he was unwell, he was really enjoying himself and it was so wonderful knowing that he was finding pleasure in such a rubbish situation.
The first night was a struggle, as not only had I not slept the previous night as Teddy couldn’t sleep at all due to a mix of throwing-up and coughing – he literally didn’t go longer than 10 minutes without a cough – and I’m not good at sleeping away from home, so I didn’t get much sleep at all for the second night in the row, and I think I drank more coffee in those three than I have done all month. Teddy kept waking up coughing and his oxygen levels kept dropping and setting off the alarm, so he was put on an oxygen mask which we had to keep close to his face; so of course, every time he moved, the mask wouldn’t follow (you couldn’t strap it on as he’d pull it off) and then his levels would drop and the alarm would sound. It was a stressful and worrying experience. I was going to say it was alarming, but that sounds too much like a pun…
After a slightly better night of sleep, Teddy was better and enjoyed trotting back and forth to the play area. We had visits from doctors throughout the day and after his afternoon nap where his levels were still sitting rather low, it was confirmed he’d stay in again. It’s weird how easily you accept what you can’t control as I was almost relieved when they said he was staying in as I felt very safe there in the knowledge that they were keeping such a close eye on him. We both managed to sleep really well that night and I also popped home for a shower which made me feel a lot more human again.
The following morning it was agreed that Teddy could go home, even though his levels hadn’t stabilised, because he was healthy in every other sense – his temp was stable, he was eating, sleeping and very active. Apparently such levels can be temperamental during respiratory infections so everyone was happy since his cough was easing up and he seemed pretty happy. Much like the day that I first took him home, there was a weird mix of relief and fear; I was happy to be taking him home but I was scared that I couldn’t take care of him myself. Teddy is doing much better now, although is cough is still there and there’s nothing quite as cute as a croaky-voiced Toddler asking for some cheese biscuits. I’m still treading carefully with him and easing him back into normality, but he’s doing really well and I’m so lucky to have such a happy, easy son who I could not be more proud of. As I said, the staff at the Whittington were phenomenal and made us feel so welcome and cared for, so I’m eternally grateful and extremely happy that both Teddy and I have the Whittington as our local hospital.