Our GOSH admission had three key stages, the first of which was to dis-impact M’s bowel and prepare him for a repeat pellet study. We knew that when the original transit study was done at our local hospital 18 months ago, he was chronically impacted and there was some debate over whether the results, that suggested his transit was relatively normal, were accurate or not. My honest opinion was that he was not struggling with a slow transit colon, but the gastro team at GOSH wanted to be certain and were more than happy to admit him for this test due to the issues we’ve experienced with our unsympathetic local hospital over the last 12 months. My instinct was that nearly 9 years of unrelenting diarrhoea meant that there had to be another root cause for his problems that was still waiting to be discovered and it would just take some persistent looking to find it.
Unfortunately, the first hurdle – after the resolution of the whole missing bed saga – proved to be far tougher than any of us had anticipated. After his amazing courage in facing all the health and medical challenges of the past year, and despite knowing that he needed to have a NG-tube, M showed just how stubborn he can be and steadfastly refused to co-operate with the nurses who were trying to pass the tube. Wednesday evening saw 5 different nurses, 4 attempts, a flurry of unsuccessful negotiations and 1 small boy, who pulled the last 2 attempts out himself because, according to him, the nurses weren’t listening when he asked them to stop and then told them to go. Having kept the other occupants of the 4-bed bay awake until past midnight with his cries and screams, we all finally admitted defeat and decided to leave it to the next day’s nursing team to remedy the situation.
Thursday morning arrived far too quickly, with a disturbed night’s sleep for M and an uncomfortable one for me. We talked about the tube and the need to have it in place as soon as possible so that we could start on the first round of treatment, the dreaded Klean prep – a highly effective laxative that would start the process of clearing his system. M knew and accepted all the reasons for the tube, but at the heart of the matter was the fact I had a small, scared 8 year old, who had endured a great deal since his scopes last October and was evidently close to saturation point.
Even the lure of tickets to go to see “Alice in Wonderland” performed by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden that very afternoon looked unlikely to be sufficient draw, but my boy’s love for all things theatrical combined with my own enthusiasm for going to see anything at the Royal Opera House eventually overcame his worst fears and won the day. He agreed to let one of the doctors pass the tube and with 4 of us holding his head, arms and legs, another distracting him whilst it happened and the doctor doing the deed itself, we finally got the tube in place. With that hurdle tackled, M and I rushed to get ourselves ready and a bag packed for our trip to the theatre. We went by taxi with another little girl from the ward and a nurse and arrived just in time to take our complimentary seats in a box before the ballet began. The performance was an amazing visual feast and proved to be a more than adequate distraction from all the tears and trauma of the morning. M loved the outlandish costumes of the Mad Hatter and we had a lot of fun trying to work out which of Alice’s family and friends were depicted by each of the fantastic characters we met throughout the rest of the ballet.
Naturally, as I’ve come to expect when dealing with anything to do with M, nothing was as straight-forward as we might have hoped as we headed into that all important first full day of admission. The stress of the tube placement led to him being violently sick within 10 minutes and he spent the rest of the day retching and bringing up bile, meaning the Klean prep couldn’t be started until much later in the day. He reacted to the Duoderm, a dressing usually used to protect the fragile skin of the face by forming a barrier between the cheek and the tube and tape, which meant there was no alternative but to tape the NG-tube directly to his face. The final straw came in the middle of the night, when after I’d finally got my tired chap to sleep, the quantity of the Klean prep being pumped in at the speed it was upset his system and he woke to be sick for the second time in less than 24 hours.
By the time Friday morning came around, we were both feeling emotionally fragile and physically exhausted and M refused point-blank to move from his bed. We sat quietly on ward, with M plugged into the television via his headphones and I immersed myself in the escapism of a good book. It had been a bumpy start, but finally we were on our way.