Six months ago tonight I gave my wee boy a bath. He’d had a sickness bug all week and was off his food but he seemed to be getting better and we had our fingers crossed he’d be fine for Christmas Day. When he came out of the bath I noticed that his little fingers and toes were blue.
David read him his book and put him to bed while I googled his symptoms and called NHS 24 (for the second time in two days) They told me to go straight to the local out of hours surgery.
I picked him out of bed and popped his dressing gown and slippers on and I took him the short journey while David stayed at home with Isla. I wasn’t worried.
The doctor listened to his heart and blew on the ox sat monitor as she couldn’t trust the reading. An ambulance was called and we cuddled in all the way to the hospital. I still wasn’t worried.
Things were bad at the hospital and I soon realised everything was about to change. We met the cardiologist and a friend of mine who is a consultant there came in to see us. She told us we were in the right place and I knew we were but I still knew it was bad. They kept asking if he had been born early, did he ever have trouble breathing? Did he run around and play with his friends? It was as though they didn’t believe that he had been a perfectly healthy (overdue) baby and a boisterous and happy child for five years, right up until 5 days before when he caught a tummy bug.
David and Isla came up to the hospital.
They had Christmas decorations in the hall and Jude couldn’t see the star from his bed in A&E. I took a photo and showed it to him.
David and Isla left and we went upstairs to the high dependency unit (not ITU) I was given a room in the parents’ apartment but I couldn’t leave him. Eventually at 2.00am he went to sleep and the nurse convinced me to go upstairs to sleep. I went because I knew that I needed to be strong the next day. I made them promise to call me if he woke up. I fell asleep in my clothes crying my heart out. At 4.00am they called to say he wanted me.
I sat by his bed until David came up with Isla at 9.30. I took her for a walk and promised her we would have a second Christmas once Jude was home. Jude had an echocardiogram at 10.30 and we were due to see the consultant at 12.30. David called his parents to come over and look after Isla. He took her home to them then came back up.
That meeting changed everything. Once Jude was better he would go to Great Ormond Street. It was very serious but there was no hint that he would go so quickly.
David went home to take Isla to see Santa at Dobbies because it had been planned for so long and there was nothing they could do there. I sat and cuddled my boy. He wasn’t improving so plans were made for a transfer to Glasgow. He would be put on ECMO, the blood would be taken out of his body and oxygenated then put back in. I texted David to tell him to come back. About 10 minutes later they tried to give him another dose of antibiotics and he started to get very upset and started to cry and ask to go home. His oxygen level dropped to 30%, his eyes rolled back and I was pushed out into the quiet room. I called David and told him to hurry up. I heard an alarm go off and I fell to floor sobbing and screaming. I was by myself and I knew it was over.
Soon David and Isla were there, then everyone was there.
That’s how it happened, it’s not pretty and it’s not eloquently put but it needs to be recorded.
That was six months ago. Six months since I looked into his huge blue eyes and saw his smile.