Sunday, April 29

Life on the Children's Ward

We have spent a fair amount of time hanging around in hospitals. They are tiring places. When we escape, people often expect us to be serene and well rested. Well, Wriggles might be but I am normally frazzled! Getting back into the swing of life can be a bit of a chore when you just want to curl up on the sofa. Luckily right now we are going through a good patch, after most of April being on the nasty and testing side.

Reasons why being in hospital is wearing:

1. They are normally either quite hot or freakishly cold. Assuming it is the former, then after a few days of smugly marching around in shorts and flipflops, you feel unnaturally sleepy due to oppressing heat and lack of fresh air. You feel permanently dozy and of course the minute you drop off, the doctors will finally start their rounds.

2. Well would YOU like being a zoo exhibit? Even if you are lucky enough to be in a cubicle, there are continually people charging in and out. Many for good reason but this doesn't make the utter lack of privacy any less infuriating. Like the above point, if you dare the lock the bathroom door to get dressed or go to the toilet, you will miss the one meeting of the day you have been waiting for. Just to enhance all zoo-like feelings, the nurses like to point all equipment with reading to face the corridor and nurses station. Although this is useful for them, it does mean that every bugger who so much as saunters past will goggle into your room.

3. Whoever got a good night's sleep a) on a camp bed b) without a proper duvet c) with people banging in and out every few hours to administer drugs and record observations? Who knew so many things could go beep?

4. If your child is connected to a series of beeping equipment, the likelihood is they are quite poorly. That is worrying for you. Even if you know they will be fine, it does not take away from the fact you are anxious, worried, scared and exhausted from all these. You might also be angry with you know, life. These intense feelings are energy sapping. And don't say relax. That is neither helpful nor possible.

5. Recounting medical histories approximately 6532971 times in one admission really addles your brain to the point you are convinced you are wittering gibberish and must have made some of it up. If there are bad memories attached to said histories, it is quite probable you will struggle with confronting these on a daily, often more frequent basis.

6. Lack of nourishing food. I am yet to come across a parent who ever consumed their five a day whilst in hospital, without outside catering and a bottomless wallet. The main food groups for your duration are caffeine (plural), sugar, carbohydrates and whatever looks least congealed from the canteen or food trolley. You also loose track of meal times for yourself and either end up having dinner at 10pm after finally settling a poorly child to sleep and meeting the night shift before being able to briefly sneak out the ward or get to 10pm and fall asleep.

7. While your child naps (if they are able to) or is knocked out by drugs, a popular past time is reading. If you can read the 300 page intellectual book in your bag, you may come from another planet. Often the only reading matter available is out of date gossip magazines or children's books. Neither of these are horrendously problematic but do have a tendency to turn your brain to mush. After the last stay I had, I had re-read two Jacqueline Wilson stories and knew all the names of The Only Way Is Essex cast, which I have never before or after watched. I have not been able to concentrate since on a grown up book as my reading age and attention span has plummeted.

8. It is exhausting trying to cheer up a (justifiably) whining poorly child. They will require your undivided attention and total love. In return for reading and re-reading their favourite book about 400 times in an hour, they may share their virus or vomit down your last clean t-shirt. On rare occasions, they fall asleep on you rather sweetly.

9. Cabin fever is unavoidable. Paediatric wards are not babysitting services. If you would not leave an 18 month in her cot whilst you popped down to the supermarket, you cannot leave them here to go for a walk. Obviously if they are (fast) asleep or you can collar a play nurse, friend, partner, relative or gain permission then you can escape temporarily. Key word: temporarily. However, the over priced coffee shop downstairs never felt so liberating. You do feel like you have mislaid a limb though. The only solution I have found is to hum the Muppet Treasure Island 'Cabin Fever' song to lift spirits:

10. Worried relatives and friends expect constant updates to save them from worry. If you are unlucky, this can spark off unkind words when someone criticises you for leaving it over 12 hours or longer between something happening and you knowing. Managing family politics ontop of everything is not for the faint hearted. Telephone trees are ideal for stressful situations. So is compassion to yourself: right now, focus on the moment. Everything else can wait. Except sometimes it doesn't. If you are struggling, do ask for help. Fighting friends can fall over themselves to keep the small stuff ticking over if it helps. It doesn't make you any less brave to accept kindness.

I am eternally grateful to all medical staff and this is not intended as any form of criticism of the NHS or hospital protocol. 


  1. I think I missed something - one minute Scribbles is looking dapper on the garden bench and the next you are writing about the hospital. What's going on? And whatever it is i wish her a speedy recovery. Lots of love xxx

    1. Sorry for confusion! I missed out a beginning line about in being written (poorly) in the past tense. We are having a nice week at home sat on picnic benches after spending a few weeks past whizzing between home, hospital and the doctors surgery. Long may looking lovely on benches continue! Thanks for the concern :) x

  2. Phew, glad this is a retrospective posting!

    Couldn't agree with this more and it brought back some very unpleasant memories (don't worry - won't hold it against you ;))

    The line about knowing the cast of TOWIE even though you've never watched it made me laugh. SO SO true!!! x