“Hello, ambulance please, Park Road Surgery, I have a 2 year old female in respiratory distress…”
I don’t think I’ve ever been more terrified than I was in that moment, when the Doctor phoned for an ambulance for my little girl, as I looked at her ashen face and limp body, laying in the double pushchair next to her baby sister on the verge of consciousness.
Before that December day, fear for me meant pitch black darkness, huge spiders, speaking in front of large crowds, horror films, the Thorpe Park ‘Saw’ ride or waking up with a head full of grey hairs and no teeth (*shudder*). All of those things pale into insignificance after experiencing my little Posey battling pneumonia. She won, by the way, so please don’t be fearful of how this story ends.
Three days earlier, I sat in that same doctor’s surgery and was told “she just has a cold, and a touch of conjunctivitis, I’ll prescribe her some eye drops…”. Over the next couple of days, I worried endlessly that they were wrong as I tried to control her temperature, encouraged her to eat and drink with little success and slept on the sofa with her so I could comfort her when her nasty cough made her cry. On day three, I decided she had to see a doctor again. I called them in the morning only to be told there were no appointments and I must phone back in the afternoon. When we sat in the waiting room at 3 o’clock, I messaged my friend to tell her we were there, and that I was really concerned as Rose’s breathing had become shallow and she seemed really lethargic.
The doctor shared my concerns and sprang into action, dialling 999 within moments of seeing Rose and the incredible paramedics arrived just 6 or 7 minutes later. They told me they had been nearby, on their coffee break, but that they had to respond when they heard it was a child who was ill.
I carried Rose out to the ambulance where I was asked to take her clothes off to try and lower her temperature, as the paramedics attached wires to her tiny body. They explained to me that they would have to put the siren on and it hit me how serious Rose’s situation was. As the ambulance raced to the hospital, I held her oxygen mask in place and prayed to anyone who might be listening that she would be ok. It felt like I was having a nightmare, that it couldn’t be real, that it wasn’t really me, strapped to a trolley with my near-naked daughter laying in my arms, fighting for breath in the back of an ambulance.
Our hospital stay was a blur of blood tests, chest x-rays, forcefully-administered medication and being told “she isn’t responding to the antibiotics”. Eventually, when they gave her intravenous drugs instead, she started to make a recovery. Her temperature lowered and stayed low, her breathing calmed down and she agreed to try a little bit of food. I have never been so delighted in all my life to see someone eat a strawberry yoghurt! When she asked for another one, I knew we had turned a corner.
It hasn’t been a walk in the park getting Rose back to her happy self – eight weeks later, bedtimes are still tricky and I worry that it’s the memory of the disgusting-tasting medicine, being pinned down in bed to have stingy eye drops put in or maybe thoughts of seeing Mummy and Daddy so upset that haunt her at night time.
I wasn’t sure I would write about Rose’s fight with pneumonia, but I realised that as much as I want to forget how frightened I was, I hope to always remember how thankful I felt when I heard she was on the mend.
I’m so grateful to her amazing Dad, for being the best Father and partner we could ever wish for, for making it to the doctors surgery as fast as he did without injuring himself or anyone else, and also for looking after our baby by himself while I stayed with Rose.
I often wonder what might have happened if it hadn’t been for those two heroic paramedics sacrificing their well-earned coffee break to save my daughter and although they may have made a misdiagnosis earlier that week, I’m thankful that the doctor we saw was so fast to react. I will also always remember the nurse who looked after us at night. She called Rose ‘sweetheart’, told her she knew how horrible the medicine was, reminded her she was brave and held me as I sobbed, watching Rose’s chest rise and fall so rapidly while she slept.
Finally, I’m thankful that I trusted my gut instinct. I knew my little lady was struggling with more than a cold and I know I would have been in A&E faster than you can say ‘Calpol’ if we hadn’t managed to get a doctor’s appointment that afternoon. Trust your instincts, Mums and Dads – when a child is born we are bestowed with so many gifts, one being the gift of knowing what is best for our children. Don’t ever doubt yourself, and don’t ever be afraid to take action – it’s much better to have to roll your eyes at a wasted trip to the doctors than to hear those dreadful sirens up close. Always, always go with your gut – especially when it tells you to eat a strawberry yoghurt.