This is Part 3 of a trilogy - if you dared to miss part 1 and 2, click on the links below...
Part 1 - A Blog Trilogy: The Last Weekend
Part 2 - A Blog Trilogy: The Baby
I was recovering really well. (Too well?)
Things were running smoothly. (Too smoothly?)
Well it was only matter of time...
It was the day before Christmas Eve and in our little household we were ready to go. "Two more sleeps" yelled Little O, punching the air as he jumped out of bed. There was one or two presents to wrap, the odd chocolate orange to buy and... well... that was it! We were actually organised.
Which was quite good really, as I was feeling a bit ropey. My c-section wound ached suggesting I'd overdone it the day before. "Feet up today" I decided But having made myself a nest on the couch I also became aware of that tingly, shaky, jittery feeling that creeps over you when you are coming down with something. The FH, who had his first night night in months planned (he was combining head wetting, Christmas and Birthday celebrations in one) was also feeling a bit off colour. And when he suddenly cancelled it, mid afternoon, I concluded: "That's it we've both got flu"
I festered on the couch, them moved myself to the bed at 6pm. I only emerged to request a hot water bottle and a second duvet cover. The FH sulkily polished of a couple of cans with some painkillers. At 11 pm I got out of bed to go to the loo, only to realise I was in so much pain I couldn't actually walk. We rang NHS, but in between phone calls I got dramatically worse, was in agony and extremely hot. Nonna arrived to take me to the walk in centre, as The FH, who was slightly inebriated and couldn't drive, could stay with the boys. However, when she arrived I was paralysed with the pain so between them they decided to phone an ambulance.
"An Ambulance?" I though aloud, aghast, in bed sobbing and writhing. Tiny Leo next to me, sleeping, as good as gold. I was mortified. The only way I saw myself to be inside an ambulance was unconscious or with a limb falling off.
The blue lights arrived and the paramedics appeared at my bedroom door; one tall with a moustache and a jolly nature, the other small and bald with glasses and a hidden agenda.
As the Jolly one checked me over, the small one quizzed The FH on how much he had drank and reminded him they were the last ambulance this side of Teesside. Clearly a mum of three paralysed with pain isn't as important as a bloke who's drunk himself daft and got in a fight.
Anyway, I was deemed unwell enough to be taken to A&E and carried to the ambulance. I felt the curtains twitch in the street and was sure the old man across the road would be saying "I told her she was overdoing when I saw her pushing the buggy yesterday." as he peered from his bedroom window, shaking his head to rid himself of that unnecessary wisdom.
Nonna and Leo were also coming too... The small paramedic was in the front, the jolly one in the back. Nonna holding Leo somewhere behind me - apparently baby car seats are not a legal requirement in ambulances, even though Nonna may disagree as she told me later she was an breath away from a panic attack as every time they went round a corner she feared him b eing flung from her arms into the gas and air unit.
The jolly paramedic did my obs, and wrote the time on the board, "12.05 - It's Christmas Eve! Who hoo!"he exclaimed. His celebrations fell flat around the ambulance.
"Yes. Woo" I replied. Whilst Nonna didn't bother to answer and the small paramedic grunted something about real emergencies from under his steering wheel.
They were about to offer me some pain relief, but realised they couldn't because I'd had codeine "Remember when we did that before?" The jolly one chuckled, the woman went unconscious and stopped breathing!" He said to me, grinning.
"Oh Lord!" I thought "If I am at death's door - my life is in the hand of the chuckle brothers"
There's something unnerving about an ambulance ride. Inside they look like a toy replica of the ones on casualty. The cold, sterile metal dominates the atmosphere. And the ghostly absence of windows sets your nerves into overdrive as your other senses fight to pinpoint your bearings. But they fail. You just lie there feeling overwhelmed. Helpless.
At the hospital they wheeled me into an A&E cubicle and left me in the hands of a cocky A&E nurse who was like the smiling assassin; a wide grin on his face and a concoction of needles hidden behind his back. On his way out the jolly paramedic wished me a Happy Christmas and apologised for his colleague's behaviour.
"No problem" I told him "Next year I'll make sure my leg's falling off."
So there we sat in A&E, early hours of Christmas Eve, Mum holding Leo (still sleeping, still good as gold), me lying uncomfortably in some strange outfit The FH had wriggled me into before we left (maternity leggins and a shrunken nightie). We didn't have a mobile between us, but we did have a Sainsbury's carrier bag with some nappies, a pack of wipes and a reindeer sleep suit for Leo. Nonna made a list to pass the time; a list of things to do on Christmas Eve. But as time ticked on, and we moved further into The Eve, we saw that list become more and more unrealistic.
In-between me feeding Leo, we opened the curtains and people watched. This is who was on A&E on Black Friday 2011: Tracy who had two teeth knocked out and her nose broken; Norman the drunk, wandering round wearing nothing but a hospital gown back to front; Albert who had collapsed for no reason at all so though he better get checked out; and Sandra who just wanted everyone to leave her the fuck alone.
I was seen by a charming Junior Doctor at around half two. At which point he decided I needed to be seen by a surgeon on the Maternity Ward. Mum, under my orders, reluctantly went in search of a phone, a taxi and her bed. I was whisked off to post-natal and an hour later got the hard hitting news they were "keeping me in".
Ever the optimist, I presumed it would only be till they could discharge me in the morning, but no, they needed me there to pump me with antibiotics. My temperature was hovering just below 40 Degrees, my pulse rate 160 and the scar looked like it had been pumped up with red paint! They gave me and Leo our own room and left me there to sweat it out.
In the morning, the midwife on duty told me it would be very unlikely I would be let out today. The poor woman then had to watch me have a break down, as I lay in my bed hiccoughing and snorting between sobs she handed me a tissue and said "I'll leave you to cry it out". I think I made her feel a bit uncomfortable. So I wouldn't be able to put the kids to bed on Christmas Eve, I couldn't make Reindeer Dust, put out Snacks for Father C, or wrap up the final presents watching Olly Murs and his Gran play Christmas Songs on 4 music. My plans had been scuppered.
So Christmas Eve came and went, The FH visited, but I banned anyone else from coming. I was too miserable. But I did ring them to sob, hiccup and snort down the phone. The hospital's very expensive TV and Phone suppliers had given free calls to in-patients over Christmas, it was a small comfort.
At 9pm on Christmas Eve I was reviewed by a doctor. This said doctor decided to perform a mini op during the review and lance my infected scar! MY GOD. Put it this way - gas and air was needed. Imagine a very painful spot that you've tried to squeeze, one that made you grit your teeth and your nerve ends tingle. Imagine that pain. Pinpoint it. Then times it by ten thousand and you're close. It was grim; puss sodden padding flew around the room, I huffed and puffed on the gas and air, the midwife "eughed", the spectating junior doctor cringed and Leo, who hadn't made a whimper until now, bawled his eyes out. Happy Sodding Christmas Eve.
In the morning, I discovered the lovely midwife, who I'd had a breakdown upon, was campaigning to get me out. Despite her best efforts, my blood tests showed the infection had increased, not dropped, so I was staying. Christmas carols played on a rolling CD, the ward staff adorned cheap party hats and the daily menu had a swirly font and a holly border on. But, otherwise. it was another day in hospital.
My Christmas dinner arrived with a warm glass of white wine and a small, lonely cracker. I ate it in silence, sat on my hospital bed, Leo, oblivious, snoozing in his cot.
...Two little boys, running down a hospital corridor, one wearing a Santa's hat the other in red skinny jeans, my fiance catching sight of me, up on my feet, Leo in my arms. Two little boys running to their Mum, carrying a stocking each; one for me, one for their baby brother. And my fiance smiling from ear to ear "There she is!"