This week has been a week of hospitals.
Three days, three different hospital visits. Monday was for me. In recent times these personal trips for various ailments and conditions have snuck in with disturbing regularity. Despite my head in the sand, under the carpet attitude to my own health, I think I may need to reconsider my status as invincible.
The other two visits have been for Ollie.
Hospitals play a big part in Ollie's life. He managed a whole two weeks of life before the hospital as a second home thing kicked in. His early years saw him spend more time in hospital than out. The years since have been much better, our time as inmates have decreased, but the dreaded out patient appointment features heavily in our calander.
Yesterday's orthopedic clinic was a typical example. A longish wait filled with constant running at high speed to the exit, mum in hot pursuit. Some throwing of self onto the floor in anger at the sheer cruelty of being made to wait, with accompanying wailing to entertain the waiting troops.
The actual consultation was typical, a lot of wriggling, a bit of poking and the opinion that we would wait before any surgery. To justify the trip, a few x-rays, the fifth set of the year to include my own hands pinning Ollie to the table. Then home.
Today it was surgery. I was trying to remember all the operations Ollie has had. I think today was number 14. Often people say to me that it must get easier. While I understand what they are trying to say, it really doesn't. What it does get is more familiar and routine.
Because we have been there many times before, I know how Ollie will react, what upsets him most and how to make it as easy as it can be for him.
What doesn't get any easier Is the surgery itself. There is little in this world more utterly heart and gut wrenching than holding your child, distressed and crying, until they are anaesthetised. Then leaving them, small and vulnerable, on an operating table in the hands of someone else. It never gets any easier.
This is horribly hard for any parent. With a special needs child it is even harder. Ollie has no understanding. Life is just one long series of surprises for him. I can't explain, I can't tell him what's going to happen. He has a sixth sense for a hospital. He hates them. There is nothing positive there for him and nothing good has ever come out of a visit to one.
Surgery is difficult on several levels. Ruled by his stomach and with no idea why he has not had a scheduled meal or snack, the starving is a stressful time. There is only so much distracting with the iPad and DVD player than can compensate for an empty stomach. Then there is the poking and prodding. Ollie hates being held down. He objects as strongly to being weighed and measured as he does to having needles poked in him, and is vocal in his dislike.
Once asleep, there is the short but stressful wait. Once in recovery, Ollie can be heard for miles, confused, cross, hungry and with attachments that weren't there before, he screams, really screams at the top of his lungs. I have learned that rather than a comforting cuddle, what he needs is his media switched back on and food. Oh, and anything put in or on while he is asleep must be immediately removed, dressings, canulars etc. Otherwise he will remove them himself. Yes doctor, I did warn you.
After an operation most hospitals offer either a piece of toast or a couple of biscuits (today's hospital gets full marks for the provision of party rings). However Ollie needs food, needs lots of food and needs it now.
Previously this has meant 9 slices of toast eaten straight down at the speed of light. Today, within 10 minutes of getting him in recovery, he had consumed, four party rings, a packet of sandwiches, two bananas, a packet of wafers, a packet of crisps and a packet of rowdtrees randoms. Not the prescribed recovery from anesthetic, but the only thing that placates him.
After that recovery is quick, lacking the ability to look back and feel sorry for himself, Ollie has soon moved on, the trauma is forgotten and life returns to normal.
So, now we are home. Ollie is tucked up in bed, very bruised but none the worse for wear.
I'm shattered, look like I have been dragged through a hedge and run over by a steamroller.
I would never complain about the NHS, sure, sometimes I have to wait a bit, sometimes things are awfully beurocratic, but hey, these amazing people in these amazing places have done some amazing things for me and my boy. I am forever grateful.