Posts Tagged ‘NHS’

Post-op

February 11, 2014

I wrote about two months ago about Baby’s impending operation. He has an undescended testicle and needed it investigating. This involved keyhole surgery under general anaesthetic. You might have wondered what happened. The original operation date was postponed, a day before it was due, because of ‘winter pressures’. But fortunately he wasn’t left waiting too long and had the operation about a fortnight ago.

I had been dreading it. But it actually went remarkably smoothly. Baby couldn’t eat or drink for six hours before the op. But he napped through a fair bit of that time and the rest was spent with him being easily distracted by the excitement of being in a new place. Baby’s daddy took him to theatre and held him whilst they put him under. I think this shook him up but Baby took it all in his stride. An hour or so later and Baby was awake. At first he was rather unhappy and couldn’t hold down any milk. He projectile vomited all over himself and me which wasn’t great given I’d brought tons of clothes for him and none for me. But after a few cuddles, a bit more milk and some pain relief he got much better. I had thought pain relief would be a big issue but actually he was fine after that. I had Calpol and ibuprofen ready but we barely needed it. He slept a bit more than usual the next few days but otherwise has been grand. We came home that same afternoon.

I have to say I was mightily relieved. Everything went so well and it was in large part due to the amazing nursing care we had – they and all the staff were so lovely.

The Doctors say that we need to do this in two stages so we’ll be back at the hospital for a repeat procedure in about five months time. I can only hope it goes so well.

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Toddler paracetamol (Calpol) overdose

December 9, 2012

Scary few hours last night. I’m posting this up as a warning to others and in case the info is useful.

Last night Bub (who is 34 months) just wouldn’t settle to sleep. He’s been really good for months but last night just wouldn’t drop off and was instead pottering about his room for ages. His room is like a monastery, barely anything in there. But he does have a chest of drawers (handles removed) and the top drawer has a few things in it like nappy cream and Calpol.

Last night Bub managed to open that top drawer and get out the Calpol. I found him sat on his bed, holding an empty, lidless bottle. He’d spilt a bit on his sleeping bag and a bit on his mattress but most had been drunk. I reckon about three quarters of a 100ml bottle.

We weren’t really sure what to do but a quick google search showed that this could be very serious. We jumped into the car and headed to the Accident & Emergency department. Luckily it’s only a few minutes away.

It was a Saturday night around 11pm when we arrived. It’s fair to say we had to wait around a long time. Fortunately they had a pretty good children’s waiting room with lots of toys.

After an hour we saw the triage team who took all the info, weighed Bub and checked his pulse. Then it was back to the waiting room for another long wait.

The NHS care was fab, but the communication not so great. I guess in a busy A&E on a Saturday night this is to be expected. It turns out they needed to do a blood test to check the paracetamol level. But this can’t be done until at least four hours after ingestion. If someone had told me this I’d probably have popped Bub in the car seat, whizzed him twice round the block, and let the poor lad have some sleep. But as it was we thought we were to be seen ‘shortly’ and that he’d probably be better off staying awake. Poor lad, it was about 2.15am before we finally saw the doctor. Bub was still lively though, very wired. He did amazingly well given how late it was.

The doctors put some cream on his arm to numb it and about fifteen minutes later we went through for a blood test. They took the blood from his hand which he didn’t like and neither did I. I’m not squeamish but seeing your two year old have blood taken is horrible.

After the test we asked if we had to wait or could go home. The doctors said to go home and promised to ring in the next 90 minutes. If his blood paracetamol levels were above a certain level we’d need to go back in and he’d be given a drip and admitted to a ward for monitoring.

Bub finally got to sleep at 3am in the car home… I slept in his room with him whilst his daddy waited up anxiously for the call. Fortunately his levels were below those where further medical attention would be required. Well above any recommended dose but below what might require treatment.

Have read quite a bit about paracetamol overdoses since this happened. What is scary is that you can be fine for a day or so and then get really sick. They can be fatal. So whilst Bub is hopefully going to be ok we still can’t be 100% sure yet.

So what is my advice on the back of this experience?
– Move the Calpol out of your child’s bedroom. It might be super convenient to keep it there but if there is even the slightest chance they’ll reach it then move the stuff.
– Child proof lids are not child proof. Bub probably only opened it by chance but if he can do it any other two year old can too.
– Don’t hesitate to go to A&E if you think you need to. The NHS A&E department was in some ways great (excellent children’s waiting room, kind staff) and in some ways crap (long waits, not enough communication) but I’m incredibly glad it was there.

There isn’t much in the way of reliable information on the web about paracetamol overdose in toddlers. I’m surprised NHS Direct or the Calpol website doesn’t have more. These two websites were the most helpful despite being a bit technical and they seemed to accord with what the doctors said at the hospital.
Paracetamol toxicity (Wikipedia)
Paracetamol poisoning (patient.co.uk)

Not quite a BFP… yet!

June 11, 2012

A ‘secret’ post, which I shall make public if and when we decide to reveal the exciting news. Yes, I’m pregnant! Under four weeks pregnant actually. My period isn’t due for two more days. But I did a HPT a couple of days ago and got a faint second line. Have done a few more since too which have confirmed it.

This is only our second month of TTC. This is all a big contrast to last time around. Then we took 24 cycles to conceive Bub. That’s two dozen emotional roller coaster TTC cycles – almost two years. I finally got pregnant, naturally, after a bit of help from the NHS. I had some exploratory procedures which, whilst not finding any problems, did succeed (I think) in helping spring clean my insides. We conceived two cycles after this took place.

It’s clearly ridiculously early days. I don’t think last time around I was aware this soon after ovulation. However it does feel pretty similar. I’ve had an odd sensation in my abdomen for a couple of days. This happened with Bub too, I think it’s implantation. It’s not uncomfortable, just weird. Strangely reassuring in a funny way as it shows something is happening down there!

Have also just found out a couple of colleagues are pregnant too. My poor boss…

From holiday to hospital

October 14, 2011

We’ve finally broken our duck with an A&E visit. Most friends with young kids seem to be there regularly and until now we’d never had to go.

Luckily nothing too serious. In fact by the time we got there he had pretty much recovered.

We were walking round our camp site and Bub was getting a bit cross we weren’t walking in his preferred direction. He was holding hands with me and his Daddy and he hung back putting his full body weight on his left arm. I was holding this hand and felt his arm ‘pop’. That sensation will probably stay with me forever… At first I didn’t think it too serious and thought he was upset about not getting his way. But he didn’t get over it and continued to be upset once we got back. Even his favourite toddler iPod game couldn’t console him. His left arm was limp and whilst he could move it was far from normal. By now it was getting onto 6.30pm. I threw some food into a bag and we got in the car.

Fortunately there was an A&E department within ten minutes. However by the time we got there he was much, much better. He was using his arm again and no longer crying. We took him in to get checked out but it was soon clear he was fine. The nurse was lovely and not at all annoyed at what must have looked like a complete waste of time.

Apparently it is pretty common for kids to slightly dislocate their arms, especially at the elbows (called nursemaids elbow, allegedly.) It can be popped back by gently rotating the arm around. The nurse thought we’d probably inadvertently done this when we put him into his car seat.

So pleased he’s ok. Felt very guilty that he hurt himself by pulling away and me not letting go. He’s so boisterous and fearless sometimes I forget how tiny and fragile he is. Thank goodness he’s ok. And thank goodness for the NHS for being there and offering a caring, speedy and frankly amazing service.

From holiday to hospital

October 14, 2011

We’ve finally broken our duck with an A&E visit. Most friends with young kids seem to be there regularly and until now we’d never had to go.

Luckily nothing too serious. In fact by the time we got there he had pretty much recovered.

We were walking round our camp site and Bub was getting a bit cross we weren’t walking in his preferred direction. He was holding hands with me and his Daddy and he hung back putting his full body weight on his left arm. I was holding this hand and felt his arm ‘pop’. That sensation will probably stay with me forever… At first I didn’t think it too serious and thought he was upset about not getting his way. But he didn’t get over it and continued to be upset once we got back. Even his favourite toddler iPod game couldn’t console him. His left arm was limp and whilst he could move it was far from normal. By now it was getting onto 6.30pm. I threw some food into a bag and we got in the car.

Fortunately there was an A&E department within ten minutes. However by the time we got there he was much, much better. He was using his arm again and no longer crying. We took him in to get checked out but it was soon clear he was fine. The nurse was lovely and not at all annoyed at what must have looked like a complete waste of time.

Apparently it is pretty common for kids to slightly dislocate their arms, especially at the elbows (called nursemaids elbow, allegedly.) It can be popped back by gently rotating the arm around. The nurse thought we’d probably inadvertently done this when we put him into his car seat.

So pleased he’s ok. Felt very guilty that he hurt himself by pulling away and me not letting go. He’s so boisterous and fearless sometimes I forget how tiny and fragile he is. Thank goodness he’s ok. And thank goodness for the NHS for being there and offering a caring, speedy and frankly amazing service.

In praise of… the NHS

December 13, 2010

Now I have a lot to thank the NHS for, both for myself and my family. But it’s little example from this week that I want to highlight. I’m very grateful that we live in the UK sometimes.

Little Bub has got a really painful nappy rash. It came about four days ago as a side effect from a tummy upset. We’ve been trying to treat it at home but it wasn’t getting any better and looked very nasty. This morning I decided to take him to the doctor. I was a bit nervous as it seemed a bit of an overreaction – silly first time mum takes baby to doctors for nothing. But actually we rarely go and I wanted to help stop his discomfort if I could. Fortunately the doctor agreed that his rash was serious and prescribed some creams which will hopefully do the trick.

All this happened today over the course of about two hours. I phoned up and got an appointment, took Bub along, got a prescription and picked it up from the on-site chemist. And all for free. I have to say that whilst I was worried about Bub and wanted to get him help if I’d had the prospect of a significant payment for the appointment or the creams I probably wouldn’t have gone. My concern about it being a trivial appointment almost made me stay away as it was.

It’s just a little example and kind of trivial but it made me reflect on how fortunate I am to live in a country where I don’t have to worry about basic health services. If I am worried about any aspect of my baby’s health I can get advice and treatment free at the point of use. And for that I’m very grateful.

In defence of home birth

August 23, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write for a while about the recent media stories about the safety of home birth for babies and mothers.  There was much media coverage and discussion at the time (1, 2) much of it not as measured as the original Lancet story

My gut instinct is that it makes little sense to compare data on home birth from a range of different countries, especially not the US and UK. The healthcare system in the US is so different to here I imagine it’s almost impossible to meaningfully collate statistics across the two countries.

In the UK women can opt for home or hospital birth without thought of the financial cost. We are fortunate enough not to have to worry about hospital bills running into the thousands when we make our decision.  When I chose to have a home birth it was following full NHS antenatal support and advice. I was safe in the knowledge that my (two!) midwives would be NHS trained and that the system would be seamless should I choose or need to go into hospital at any point. I can imagine that many women choosing home birth in America are not so fortunate, perhaps having had no access to any medical care during their pregnancy and without such a straightforward option to ‘go medical’ if required during labour. In fact I’ve just seen that in some of the US you are restricted from having your home birth attended at all – this must massively increase the risk to mother and baby should they go ahead with birth at home. More evidence of how meaningless it is to compare the UK and US position on home births.

However, fortunately I don’t have to delve into the murky world of statistics and counter-statistics as someone else has written a great article in defence of home birth instead. Sali Hughes in the Guardian writes that:

In fact, the safety statistics for planned home births are very good. Official government guidelines state that planned home birth is “at least as safe as hospital delivery”. The key word here is “planned”, because all too often home births are lumped together. This is one of the Royal College of Midwives‘ chief complaints about recent reports by doctors in the US (where midwives as we know them don’t exist) in The Lancet, claiming that “home birth” is more likely to result in infant mortality. This is simply not true of “planned home birth”. For example, a woman who goes into spontaneous labour at 34 weeks while standing in her kitchen is better off in hospital. Ditto teenage girls, who either don’t realise or ignore that they’re pregnant and end up giving birth in their bedrooms, women who have very fast labours, where transfer is out of the question, or those who choose to birth without any medical assistance (an entirely different practice known as freebirthing). These cases are often placed under the same umbrella as my methodically planned home births, to misleading and damaging effect. For clarity’s sake, planned home birth is organised in conjunction with your GP and local midwife team, and ultimately signed off by a consultant obstetrician if there are any irregularities.

I really like this article. I like that she isn’t judgemental about the choice between home or hospital – it’s  just what was right for her. And I like that she emphasises how integrated British home birth is with the established medical system. And I really like her defense of NHS funding and support for home birth as an option for all women.

If you’re interested in home birth I’d recommend reading Sali’s article (and the comments too if you want to be both elated and depressed in quick succession!) You might also enjoy reading our home birth story.

Abortion and IVF

June 7, 2010

Lois Rogers writes in the Times about the apparent ‘Scandal of aborted IVF babies.’ I hadn’t intended for my first post to be about abortion, but this article has annoyed me a great deal.

Firstly though, to nail my colours to the mast – I am strongly pro-choice on abortion. I have long believed that women should have the right to choose whether to continue with a pregnancy and believe that only the individual woman is in a position to make that decision. In my twenties I did voluntary work for pro-choice organisations in the UK and whilst I wondered if being pregnant myself might change my views it actually strengthened them. Before being pregnant I had no idea of the sheer physical impact a pregnancy can have, even in the very early stages. I can’t imagine the pressure of an unwanted pregnancy both physically and emotionally and believe it incredibly cruel to make a women continue with this any longer than she wishes. As soon as possible, as late as necessary etc etc. So that’s me, pretty firmly in the pro-choice camp then.

Now the IVF issue. It took us over 18 heartbreaking months to conceive our little boy and during this time we sought fertility help from the NHS. The service we received was excellent, but it wasn’t quick. We waited four months from initial GP approach to our first consultation at the fertility clinic, and then another four months for our first treatment. We didn’t need to go down the IVF route but I read enough testimony to be aware of how physically, emotionally and financially gruelling it is. I’m sure IVF isn’t something that any couple enters into lightly or if they have any other choice to conceive their child.

So my main issue with this article is its assumption that IVF and abortion are taken lightly by women. That women can just swan into a clinic and get IVF at the drop of a hat, and then – oops, I’ve changed my mind – go grab a lunchtime abortion. The wheels of the NHS and people’s lives just don’t work like that!

Whilst we can’t possibly know what has prompted women to seek an abortion following IVF, we can pretty safely say that neither choice has been taken lightly. Whatever has changed in their circumstances they didn’t foresee an abortion at the end of their IVF journey. At some point this was a wanted child and the circumstances that might lead to a women choosing an abortion at this time are likely to be complex and agonising. Describing them as having ‘changed their minds’ and making a ‘social decision’ is a disgraceful dismissal of what is no doubt one of the most serious decisions any woman may take.


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