Sunday, 3 November 2013

Hospital Helloween

There is a teenager on my couch who bellows "Mom, I'm still hungry!" "Mom, milk!" "Mom, I dropped the remote!"

I would usually bellow back, "Get up and get it yourself"...while thinking of my Uncle John's quip in similar circumstances: "You got a couch tied to your ass?"

But today, and yesterday, and mostly likely tomorrow, I jump at her commands. We are home from a four day stay in University College Hospital, Galway, commonly called The Regional.

Lily went to bed Monday night with a hot forehead and the shivers. I gave her Ibuprofen and assumed she would be fine after a good sleep. But she woke Tuesday morning boiling. I drove her to Dr. Piggot's office in Gort without stopping to change her sweaty pajamas. She was limp. Couldn't talk very well. Her eyes rolled back into her head, her long eyelashes fluttered heavily. A young doctor checked her for meningitis, gave her a different fever reducer, observed her for twenty minutes and, in her sisterly voice said, "Will I ring an ambulance or will you drive her to the Regional?"

I drove fast, used every bus lane possible. We waited twenty minutes in the emergency room and were sent to the Acute Care Unit, an extension of the A and E, where twelve trolleys lay in tiny cubicles separated by curtains, a refreshing distance from the busy emergency room where a poor old drunk man sounded like he was trying to vomit Godzilla. Lily's high temp was a mystery. I left her for a few hours that night and drove home where I googled High White Blood Cell Count Teenage Girl Down Syndrome, which gave me a gazillion hits for Leukemia. I paced and roared and bargained and went back to the hospital.

I hadn't thought of leukemia since Lily was a baby. Nor any of the horrible things people with Trisomy 21 are allegedly prone to that were in the depressing so called 'literature' about Down syndrome. My first advice to parents of newborns with Down syndrome is to avoid reading that crap. And now I was faced with thinking about it.

Lily was poked and needled and 62 hours later, diagnosed with Strep. I am relieved and sleep deprived. I am thinking of people who have leukemia, thinking of them with extraordinary love and compassion; sending their parents the strength of oceans.

After two days and one night on the trolley, Lily was transferred to a four bed room in St. Enda's ward. There was a young lady from Romania who sat next to her beautiful mother who could not speak English. The mother had breast cancer three years ago. It had spread to her liver. But the beautiful daughter did not translate that information to her mother, a charming lady who wore a neck brace and danced around in front of Lily, pretending to be Robo Cop. Another lady was told she most likely had had a mini stroke, and now would be as good a time to quit smoking as any. Yes, that's fine, I'll quit, no problem, said the lady. Then, when it was just us in the peach colored and curtained room, she would bolt out of her bed and nip outside for a cigarette. The mayor of Peach Village was a granny who had fluid in her lungs. She proudly talked for Ireland. She had had everything from A to Z in the medical dictionary and delighted in telling me everything. When we were finally sprung from the village within a city within a city, the Mayor told me she thought it was great that the woman whose cancer had spread did not know.

I would be livid.



  1. Yikes, Mary, that was some scare. Sending sleepy, restful vibes to you both. (Beautifully written, as always.)

  2. Thanks Nuala. Will send something to the Peers tomorrow. I'm an over-tired baby. I heart restful vibes.