Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Royal Wedding Mercy Dash

I was really looking forward to the Royal Wedding. Not as an event or even as the multimedia spectacular that it was. No, my interest in it was as a theme for kids activities - a way to keep eldest son's fertile imagination fed. Unfortunately for me, I was beaten to the punch by his nursery, which had royal puppet shows, crown making and the like, and my wife, who got on with the bunting making first.

Maybe I overestimated the ability of the events of yesterday to hold his attention anyway. Come the day, he was as wriggly and bored by the whole affair as I suspect any other three year was. I can't blame him really. You've seen one Philip Treacy fascinator, you've seen them all. Which was a bit annoying for my wife in particular as she wanted to see the wedding through without a whiny, running commentary - HackneyBoy, not me. "Where is the carriage with the window? Will the Queen be on the balcony? Why is this so long? Turn it off. Play with me. No one is looking after me!"

When he started complaining about sore legs, it seemed at first just another attempt to steal Wills' and Kate's day by the Attention Fynder General. However after a while, my wife became concerned so I took him to the local walk in centre at Colchester Hospital. I have to admit, I thought he was laying it on a bit thick and that I'd be send home with the usual Calpol and fluids advice.

The doctor will see you

As it was the congregation of symptoms he had made them refer us straight to the Paediatric Assessment Unit. This proved to be quite a long drawn out affair and it quickly become apparent to me that we would possibly be there for the night or the wee, small hours at least. He had to had an X-ray and blood tests, and although all of the people we saw stressed that there was only a small chance that he might have the worst case scenario, they wanted to be absolutely sure he was okay. 

It was quite sobering - and I hadn't even been drinking. With health matters, my default assumption is that there's nothing to worry about. Which is fine when it's me - I usually get better from most things with minimum intervention, which is my favoured, doctor-phobic male way of dealing with health stuff. Hey, it hasn't failed me yet - I'm still here.

With kids it is different, and my wife is much better than I am at spotting when there's something to worry about. She's more likely to call the doctor and make the appointment, or reach for the meds than I am. Last night taught me that I have to be a bit more alert about these things, and more prepared to get them checked out.

As it happens, J is fine, although he was kept in overnight for observation. I'm glad I was there with him. In a strange way, it was a bonding experience. We're close anyway, but I'm glad it was me who had to distract him while he was getting stuck with a needle for blood samples, and having his knee X-rayed, and just being there with him in a strange place. Those are the kinds of things that dads are for after all. My wife gave me some good advice before we went. "Make it an adventure for him," which was genius. As uncomfortable as some of it was for him, it's amazing how quickly fear and pain get overridden by the desire to go on and explore a strange building in the middle of the night. Boys love it. Hell, I loved it!

As usual, when dealing with the NHS, the experience left me grateful that we have access to such a great institution. It's not perfect - what is - but imagine what it must be like in countries like the States where every health decision is conflicted by the ability, or non-ability to pay. Would I have had a check up for something that I was sure was nothing? What if I was on minimum wage?

Here, we were seen by paediatricians, bone doctors (what are they called?), haematologists and X-ray professionals, as well as being looked after by caring staff who are really good with kids - they brought us books and toys and had a great manner with children. They even found a bed for me.

The next time I moan about hospital parking fees... well, I won't!

(Although £10 was a bit steep.)

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