An Evening in A&E

In my last post, I promised to tell you about what we did on our Friday night. We had a rocking family trip out. To A&E! I told you it was fun!

So, Reuben fell off something at nursery. He says a plank, but no-one really knows. He split his lip. That was all fine. Later, he said that he was feeling dizzy and sick and he couldn’t lift his arms. That was all not OK. We phoned NHS Direct and on their advice went to A&E at St Thomas’.

And so began the waiting. The system wasn’t immediately obvious to start with, but once we found the ticket machine behind a wall, we took a ticket. And waited. It was like Argos in Hell. I’ve been to Argos in Peckham on Christmas Eve, so I know what the Hell branch would look like. A lot like a Central London A&E on a Friday night.

We had ticket 250. The 2 desks behind us were displaying numbers 248 and 249 but there was no-one behind either desk. Someone came back. Hooray! They saw someone else. Boo! What number ticket could these people have that could possibly be between 249 and 250? Were there fractions?

Eventually, we were seen. It had been half an hour and Reuben had been jumping about, failing to look ill in the slightest. As soon as we were sitting down though, he pulled it out of the bag “I feel so dizzy. I feel sick”. All the time I was trying to talk to the nice lady. But at least we were registering. What? You thought we saw a doctor after half an hour? Noooo…this was just to say we were here and to gain access to the paeds section.

Once we were through the doors, things got a little better. There were toys! And a playhouse! But there were also other children and Reuben was not in a sharing mood. Luckily for him, some of them were actually ill and didn’t bother fighting back when he snatched toys. Don’t worry, he still got into trouble for snatching, head injury or no head injury.

By now, it was 9ish and Roo and all the other children were up past their bedtimes. Ever tried running an evening creche? Don’t bother – they were all on a knife-edge, permanantly close to meltdown. It was surreal. There was a small girl being sick, another with a bloodied ear and of course a schoolboy who’d broken his arm on a trampoline. There’s always one.

Then, we were seen again! By a very lovely nurse this time, who took Roo’s temperature and tried to get some sense out of him as to what had happened. “Is he delirious?” “No, he’s always like this”. She had pictures in her cubicle, and a pot of bubbles which Nathan blew for Roo to catch while Eva shrieked in delight. Once again, Reuben was not acting as ill as he could have been. Then it was back to the waiting room to wait for the doctor.

9:45PM, or bedtime+2.5hrs. Roo munching chocolate after severely flagging, Eva feeding after a big wibble, still waiting…..

At 10ish, Reuben had a major meltdown. Nathan took Eva, and Roo curled up in my lap sobbing “I want to go home. I want my bed”. I think it’s fair to say we were all feeling the same by that point. We’d spent a long time in a small, full waiting room and Roo badly needed some time out. So I suggested we go into the playhouse together,  which we did. Roo made us some imaginary beans on toast, and we watching Finding Nemo on the imaginary TV.

And just like that, he had his second wind! Well, more like a fourth or fifth wind by this point. He started charging around the waiting room, gathering the toys up into the playhouse and putting out pretend fires with his fire engine. Eva hadn’t slept all evening, so I paced up and down past the cubicles with her in the sling, trying to get her to sleep. No luck. Roo joined us, and hopped on the leaves on the floor until….we were called!

The doctor looked Roo over, which he loved cause it was just like Dr Ranj on CBeebies. He wriggled and roared like a lion when asked to, hopped on and off the bed and generally behaved like a child that had no need of an A&E department. After three hours in aforementioned department. Unsurprisingly, the doctor said he was fine but that we’d been right to bring him, Phew! I’ve been brought up to respect doctors and so have a fear of Wasting Doctors’ Time, but she agreed that a 3-year-old with a head injury and dizziness needed checking. Then she prescribed a litre tub of ice-cream for me and Nathan, with sides of crisps and beer. Or maybe we prescribed those ourselves…..

So, a fun place to spend an evening. There are lots of things around the place to try and keep children entertained, but three hours with two small children in a small room is always gonna be a tough one. Thanks to the doctors and nurses who saw us – you were all lovely. We’ll see you next time he falls off something…

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3 Responses to An Evening in A&E

  1. You’re lucky the kids’ area is open – at Royal Surrey it shuts after about 7pm, just as the students and drunks start coming in 🙁

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