As I write this post, I am sitting here in hospital next to my daughter’s bed, relieved to hear her breathing gently.
A nurse enters the room to check her temperature, blood pressure and IV fluids. She chats to us while she does this, making us feel at ease before recording the results and leaving the room satisfied.
We are at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) where we are experiencing what we hope is the climax to Olivia’s story of sporadic abdominal pain.
How it began.
It all started one day in late May. I was working from home when my children’s school called to tell me that Olivia was complaining of stomach pain and nausea.
She was quickly collected from school, but it wasn’t until she was at home when I saw how much pain she was in. I instinctively knew something wasn’t right and I whisked her off to our GP. From there, we were referred to A&E to rule out appendicitis, which it was. Olivia was allowed home later that evening once the pain had subsided.
A few weeks later we found ourselves back in A&E with the same problem. She saw the surgical consultant who decided to keep her in overnight and remove her appendix the next day if the pain was still present.
By morning it had gone and Olivia was back to her normal self. She was discharged and we were advised to return if the pain came back.
A couple of weeks later the pain did come back. This time she was admitted to hospital and seen by the paediatric consultant who quickly identified a mysterious lump in her abdomen. Two x-rays, an ultrasound and an MRI scan later, we had an answer – Olivia had a solid tumour.
They were quick to reassure us that all signs suggested the tumour was benign (suggestions which thankfully turned out to be accurate), but that she would need to be referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital for surgery.
And so, while the world was slowly waking on Wednesday 7 September 2016, I was walking my first-born child, my 7-year-old daughter, from her hospital bed at GOSH to the operating theatre. I had to hold her and fight back my tears when she had a last minute panic before she was anaesthetised. I had to leave her in that theatre and walk back to her room clinging tightly to her teddy bear and feeling so worried, anxious and stressed.
My husband and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We waited patiently, but nervously, for news. Thankfully, after only a couple of hours it came. Olivia was out of surgery and it had been a success. The tumour had been removed in its entirety.
It wasn’t long before we were able to escort Olivia from the post-surgery recovery room back to her hospital ward. She spent the best part of the day feeling a little sore despite the painkillers, and subdued. She didn’t want to speak to anyone, preferring instead to lie quietly in bed and doze.
Good old Barney the Bear kept her company.
She perked up a little the following day and even more so the day after. Seeing her smile for the first time since her surgery made my heart sing and I am so proud of how strong and brave she is.
Olivia was allowed home today, but will remain under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital as an outpatient for the next few years. This is to monitor her recovery and ensure the tumour doesn’t return.
It’s been a scary time, but I know that her health has been – and will be for a while yet – in the best possible medical hands.
It’s at times like this when I feel we’re so lucky to have the NHS. It isn’t always perfect, but at least we have it. The NHS helps millions of people on a daily basis and can make a big difference to their lives.
Just ask my daughter.