That is a Small Appliance!

May 30 2010

It was clear to us by the end of the weekend that Camille was still not right after leaving Addenbrooke's on the Thursday evening before. Camille was still being sick and we were struggling to keep up with her required fluid intake without her vomiting. It wasn't until Sunday night that we realised that another hospital visit was on the cards.

Camille went to bed at her normal time and was asleep relatively quickly after a busy day. Hayley and I sat in the living room when all of a sudden at approximately 10.00pm, we could hear Camille gagging in her bedroom. I ran through just in time for her being sick. Her bed was clearly to wet now for her to sleep on so I moved her into our bed. For the rest of the night Camille was being sick and having nose shredding diarrhoea. Camille hates being sick into a bowl now so we normally have to let her vomit into a towel. By the end of Sunday night we had gone through every towel in the house and our sheets had turned from white into a patchwork of many shades of brown. Camille was extremely poorly and her weight loss over the past two weeks was dramatic.


Hayley was concerned that the lethargy and sickness was caused by the shunt so on Monday morning we took Camille to Ipswich where we were due to have bloods taken anyway. The blood taking process continues to be particularly hard on Camille; it's not the prick or scratch that upsets her, it is the persistent squeezing of area to extract every available droplet of blood. While we were waiting in the day unit for a doctor to have a look at Camille she provided the nurses with a dirty nappy that they could test. Without wanting to go into too much detail, the consistency of Camille's poo was something unnatural, something that you would probably only ever see in a horror movie.


There is one sure fire way of getting a transfer to Addenbrooke's and that is by uttering the word that makes the doctors at Ipswich quiver, “shunt”. Doctor Yale, our consultant at Ipswich came to see Camille and we were under no doubt that Cambridge would insist on us being over there straight away. It wasn't long before the confirmation of our transfer was in place and we were sent over to Addenbrooke's. On arrival, Camille was sent directly into a room of her own, on barrier nursing due to the loose nappies. Being on barrier means that nurses and doctors have to wear disposable gowns and gloves every time they enter the room, Camille is not to leave the room at all and we all have to be extremely careful of hand hygiene.


It wasn't long before Ipswich had come back with the results from the soiled nappy. It was C-Difficile, a rather infectious nasty tummy bug, in Camille's case probably caused by the antibiotics that she had been given over the previous few weeks. Over the course of the week Camille got better and the poo turned back into the normal sloppy mess that we have grown to know and love. In addition, Amos had requested that Camille be given extra fluid into her veins to try and top her up hydration and keep the kidneys ticking over. Within a couple of days her creatinine levels had dropped to approximately 65, which Amos later told me was a lot better than he thought it would be at this stage. We still don't know what the lasting damage is from her illness on the kidneys, but Amos has said that if she can get below 50 on her creatinine, we would be in a pretty good place. The levels did plateau out at the 65 figure for the remainder of the week but we will keep our fingers crossed that by Tuesday when they are next taken we can be edging nearer to that 50 marker. Amos was extremely relaxed about the C-Diff, even when the infectious illness doctors came in.


After days of being held up in solitary confinement, Friday came and we were given the nod that it would be alright to go home. The medicines were requested at about 10.30am and as long as the blood results were OK, we were off. At about 15.00pm the blood results came back from the labs and were perfect so we then just need the medicines that had been on order for nearly five hours. We waited and waited; I actually got Camille in the car and drive around a bit as she was getting more and more agitated. At 18.00pm I brought Camille back on to the ward and waited with Hayley for another thirty minutes. We had been chasing the nurses throughout the afternoon but when a nurse actually called the pharmacy in front of us, we found out that the medicines had been ordered as ward stock; Camille's drugs chart was not anywhere near the pharmacy. I do find it amazing that an organisation the size of the NHS that relies so much on good communication and accuracy, still uses hard copy, hand written information. At some point the NHS is going to have to computerise, perhaps then we can ensure that drugs get ordered accurately on time, people can read clearly the information and sheets of paper don't go missing in transit between departments. IT projects in the NHS have recently been cancelled, probably down to efficiency savings; but surely the efficiencies would come from having the systems in place. Camille's medical files are extremely thick lever arch files full of hand written sheets; if you want to find out a piece of information relating to something specific you would have to trawl through the hundreds of pages; surely a quick search would be one hundred times quicker. Perhaps we could get home earlier and free up a bed on a ward that is always busy.


We finally arrived home at 9.00pm, shattered and ready for bed. Camille has been pretty good ever since and although she is sick a little, she is managing to keep the majority of her feed in. We had friends, Guy and Kath stop over on Saturday night. It was really good to see them after nearly two years. They have both been great fund-raisers for Camille's Appeal as well; Guy cycled from Bristol to London at the back end of last year and Kath is to shave all of her hair off in July, both for considerable amounts of sponsorship.


After a lively evening my brother in law came over to give me a hand clearing out our rather messy garage. We ended up going to the dump with five car loads of junk, each time I felt like I was breaking the law. Now when you go to a site of refuse extraction you are watched by a team of high-vis clad jobsworths. I had just dropped a bag of various types of crap into the general refuse container when I carried an old carpet up the same steps a few seconds later. The refuse filtering officer was leaning well into the container with a pair of telescopic pincers trying to retrieve my freshly dumped bag. “Hang on a second” the man said as he rocked back into view, “That bag shouldn't have gone in there, I think you'll find it's a small appliance, and that goes in textiles”. Imagine how much of an expert in recycling you have to be these days to take all your rubbish to the dump. There are containers for everything: wood, cardboard, newspapers, soft plastics, hard plastics, batteries, metal amongst many others. On the last load we took some wooden garden chairs that had seen better days after years of over exposure to the elements. The chairs were 92% wood, 6% canvas and 2% metal, so imagine our surprise when the wood detection specialist told us to put it in the metal container, with all of the metal. The highlight of the day was when an attendant came sprinting from behind a container whooping and hollering after picking up a thirty year old commode.


Camille and Lucia are now fast asleep, Hayley is nursing a dicky tummy and I feel a little achy, but for all the right reasons. Yes, that's right, on Saturday I laced up my rather seasoned trainers and stepped out onto the country roads to go on my first run since I stepped over the finish line of the 2009 London Marathon. I am of course two stone heavier now than I was then, and as I pounded the tarmac, every step felt like I was saddled with an overweight sow. I did knock-off three miles, which was quite pleasing as a start, but the more pleasing thing was that I was doing 8.20 minute miles. Hardly Roger Bannister, more Roger the Cabin Boy. I may even go out again tomorrow. Imagine a world where I can fit in a t-shirt without it riding up my back on account of the additional volume being consumed at the front.