Monthly Archives: August 2016

Kindness

One thing that I have found incredibly reassuring since T had his accident, is the kindness of people.

T has had visits from some of his friends and they haven’t just popped in for a few minutes and then gone off to do something more interesting; they’ve stayed and chatted with him or just sat in his room with him and watched YouTube videos and laughed. It’s been touching to see that they want to make sure he is OK. Very Good Lads.

He’s had messages from people that can’t get in to visit; well wishes from people I know but that don’t know him; cards from relatives; magazines; sweets.

He had a visit from our old friends who have had their fair share of breaks over the years and were able to offer some advice and tips and mainly sympathy and “it’s a bit ***t isn’t it?” He’s had sympathetic glances from people at the fracture clinic who are there with their own issues but still feel his pain.

We were able to go out on Sunday so that we could sort out A’s phone ready for secondary school (T was particularly keen to go as he knew it meant an upgrade for him too) and the staff in the phone shop (no plugs here, but I’m talking about you, EE in St Albans) were so helpful allowing him to take up an entire seating area while they dealt with other customers and then offered sympathy when it was our turn, wanting to know what he’d done (we realised that we should have come up with a much better, more heroic story at the outset but it’s too late to backtrack now) and wincing appropriately.

We’ve had offers of help; of lifts (difficult one as he has to stretch out across backseat of our car -an S Max – and only then just about manages to fit in); of T-sitting so that I can go out and do stuff; and one kind friend (I know her from school but only to say Hi to – an acquaintance I guess you’d say, if it was 1950) has given us a supply of disposable pee bottles which T can use in the night, thus avoiding having to call K or I and hope that we hear him (ever wish you’d kept that baby monitor?).

Today, I spoke with the Red Cross. One of the nurses in A&E on “that day” mentioned that they are sometimes able to loan out wheelchairs and other equipment. At the time I was still in “he’ll be back on his feet in no time, cloud cuckoo land” and didn’t really register it. However, as it becomes increasingly obvious that he ain’t going anywhere anytime soon (not sure why I went all EastEnders there, it just seemed right) I’ve contacted them to see what sort of gear they’ve got. Well, who knew? OK maybe you all knew and it’s just me who’s a bit naive. Anyway, we’ve been and picked up a push along wheelchair (can’t think of the right name but basically one where he has to be pushed by someone) and a toilet frame, with the promise of a self-propelling wheelchair in a few days time when one comes back into stock. Eight week loan, no charges – just a donation at the end of the loan. The ladies were lovely and funny and sympathetic – one looked like she could have cried for him – practical and very, very helpful. I wanted to stay and have a cup of tea with them.

The toilet frame is fantastic, even A is loving it -“somewhere to rest your arms!” – and he seems more confident with each few passing days, as another good friend with extensive breakages experience told me he would.

We’re waiting to hear from school as to whether he can go back in the condition he is in, with crutches or preferably a wheelchair simply due to the weight of the bloody thing. I can’t at the moment see how he will be able to walk around the campus, changing rooms every 50 minutes and cope with the busy corridors – an early pass from lessons will give him a head start but it’s still going to be hard going with the “small, overweight child” clinging to his leg (our favourite way of explaining the weight of it). Hopefully, the kindness of friends (and the reward of an early lunch pass on offer) will get him through it.

Kindness is not something you see all the time, it only comes out when it’s needed, but we’ve seen it in bucket loads in the last 10 days. Thank you.

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The Waiting Game

Another day of waiting in a hospital. Today we went to the fracture clinic to see what the next step was. My faith in the NHS was sky high after last weeks experience. Today it took a bit of a knock. I hate moaning about the NHS; I think we’re incredibly lucky to have so many amazing people working for shockingly small salaries but I think the system can sometimes be pretty awful. It’s probably just my tiny patience but even the most patient of people would have been a bit fed up today.

T’s appointment was at 11.20am. We arrived around 11.15am expecting around a half hour to an hour wait (based on previous experience at the Orthodontics clinic with A). I wasn’t banking on four hours. One of the doctors (of three) was not at the clinic and the person covering for him was running 1.5 hours late. Guess who T was assigned to? Not one of the other two, who had a half hour delay. We waited an hour and a half before being seen by the doctor who sent him off for an x-ray. Quite why we couldn’t have gone to x-ray as soon as we arrived I’m not sure. Then a further hour and a half while we waited for another consultant to arrive to look at the x-rays as the doctor wanted a second opinion. Due to an accident on the motorway (fingers crossed it wasn’t a serious one) the consultant was delayed. We were finally seen by the doctor again to be told that the bone is still in the same position that it was post-casting at A&E and so they would like to leave things as they were and see him again next week. They don’t want to risk moving it to change the plaster as that would mean surgery would be a probability and not a possibility.

I could have cried. In fact when the doctor left the room briefly my eyes did leak a little bit. We had (probably foolishly, naively, ridiculously uncharacteristically optimistically) been expecting him to have the heavy, cumbersome, painful back cast removed and a new, featherlight, fibreglass one put on, leaving him free to come and go as he pleased (within reason). To be told that he would have to continue to be basically bed-bound for the next week and beyond was not what we had wanted to hear. Not at all. Another week of him being stuck in bed, not able to take himself to the loo, not able to move without assistance? Oh dear god.

I think the doctor could see we were distressed by the news. T was amazing. I felt like I was back in A&E being told he had snapped his tibia all over again. We explained how much pain he was in any time he tried to move. How it is impossible for him to get on the toilet alone. He asked one of the Plaster Room Technicians to come in and see him. They explained they couldn’t make the plaster any smaller but may be able to make it more comfortable for him. I was not convinced.

Some of my faith in the NHS was restored by Al the Plaster Room Man. He explained that T’s cast wasn’t long enough; it needed to go further up his thigh so that when he moved it would support the entire leg and not place any pressure on the break. He would then be able to sit on the loo with the leg up on a chair and do his thing. Alone. With no help other than getting into the loo and lowered down. OMG really? How amazing would that be? He also said that he didn’t see any reason why he couldn’t complete the cast as it was a week since the break occurred and swelling should have gone down by now. He checked with the Doc and so he now has a full cast. It’s crazily heavy -weighs as much as an overweight small child – but it is more supportive and he no longer feels any pain when he moves it. Lovely Al also fashioned him a handle halfway down his cast so that he can MOVE HIS LEG HIMSELF! He showed him how to get from sitting/laying to standing ALONE and has adjusted his crutches so that they are at optimum height. We have the number for the Plaster Room who we can speak to directly if we need any advice or help.

So, although we have to repeat the whole sorry process again next week (and probably me and mum accompanying rather than me and K) and he still has this horrible thing on his poor leg, at least he is not in pain when he moves and I am hopeful that he will be more mobile as the days go on. If the bone remains in this position for the next few weeks then surgery will be a shadowy, distant possibility that we won’t have to think about. And a few more weeks after that he may be able to move to a lighter-weight cast. All we can do is wait and see.

 

 

 

Man/child

T was fourteen a few weeks ago. He’s a young adult – i.e. not a child. I suspect that if he had broken his leg when he was ten the situation would have been a whole lot different. For a start, I would have been able to carry him. It wouldn’t have been easy, but I’m 5ft 9 so it would have been achievable. Secondly, I would have had no qualms about helping him on with his underpants. Or washing him. Or helping him to the toilet. 

But he’s not 10, he’s 14. He’s a young man. This makes the whole situation a bit more delicate. I didn’t expect to have to help my teenage son to change his pants. I thought that we had moved onto the stage of showering with the door locked and changing with the bedroom door closed and we wouldn’t go back. We’re not a “walk round the house naked” type of family; we’re not prudes (well OK, I am, we all know it) but we don’t flaunt it either.

The first few days of him being stuck, completely immobile, in bed were a steep learning curve: getting him comfortable, making sure his leg was supported properly and not causing undue pain, making sure he had his meds on time before the effect wore off, keeping his mind off of the horrendous ordeal he was going through, etc.

I have also learned a lot about my ick-tolerance threshold. (That’s not a typo, I meant ick not sick. Icky things. Things that make you go “eww”.) It seems that it is not very high. I have (I believe) a pretty good pain threshold, but on the ick scale I am not faring so well. I love him beyond belief; I changed him and cleaned his peachy little bottom when he was a baby and that was OK. But, this is a whole different level. While we are in the limbo land of waiting for the verdict from the fracture clinic and he is unable to lower himself onto the loo and support his own, broken, leg, his dad and I are having to help him. Luckily, I got the lowering job and not the leg-holding one. I get to wait outside until he needs to get back up; once the deed has been done. We have managed to work out how to change his boxer shorts without me having to cop an eyeful. He’s not bothered. I thought it was the pain he was in for the first few days that had made him not give a damn about nakedness but it seems he’s still not bothered. It’s me. So, with a towel strategically placed it’s all good. It’s pretty funny actually and we’ve had some proper ‘laugh out loud, in danger of falling over onto the bed, “mind the leg” moments’.

It’s actually been nice to be able to care for him. Properly care for him. Not just the cooking of meals, washing of clothes, checking in with him, chatting about his day to day life sort of caring. Proper caring. Washing him, getting him to clean his teeth, washing his hair (thank you Google) and changing his underwear. It’s been almost a joy. To be needed so much by him, like he hasn’t needed me since he started school really. And sitting with him to keep him company. He normally spends a fair bit of time doing his own thing in his room, or out with his friends. If he’s here in the evening he’s upstairs doing homework or wathching YouTube or whatever else he does up there. But it feels wrong to leave him alone when he has no choice. So we sit together and chat, or just sit in the same room reading or looking at Instagram or whatever. And it’s not a chore, or a pain. We’ve laughed a lot. T being T and the techy lover that he is, we’ve got a new way of communicating, via an app that works as a walkie talkie. He can press a button on his app and his voice comes out of the speaker on my phone. And vice versa. So when I am working downstairs, he can summon me as needed and I can check he’s OK without going up the stairs. It’s been the source of much amusement (and annoyance). The system records each communication and you can play them back at a later date. I will be keeping them forever.

Another difference between this happening to him at age fourteen and not age ten, is his maturity to be able to deal with this. When he was ten he would not have taken kindly to being forced to lay in bed all day. But at fourteen? Teenagers dream. Joking aside, apart from a few tears of massive frustration and (totally justified) self-pity in the first 48 hours he has been incredibly stoical about the whole confined-to-bed-for-an-entire-week situation. We’re all banking on a good outcome on Thursday at the fracture clinic and keep repeating almost mantra-like that it will all be so much better when he has a proper cast on. He’s had visits from friends and he’s been allowed the PS3 in his room (something I vowed would NEVER happen and which will come to a definite end when this is all over) and he’s got all his tech around him. He’s making the best of  a bad situation. He wouldn’t have done that at ten.

Yesterday, we all had a bit of an irritable day. K and I were both working (him from home for a short while in the morning, and me from home all day as normal – another instance where that is such a bonus) and were both aware that unlike the last 3 days T was not able to be out entire focus. It felt like Team TB (sorry Gill, I still haven’t got a better name) had started to disintegrate. But we’ve all woken up a bit brighter today (48 hours till fracture clinic!) and A has been invited to a friends house so she has something nice to do rather than helping out and occupying herself.

My man/child is making me proud and I hope that we are making this a bit easier for him to bear. Even if I am a bit rubbish with the ick stuff.

 

 

 

Stepping up/Team TB 

I’ve never really considered our family as a “team”. We’re great and we love each other; we like spending time together: bike rides, walks, mealtimes, movie nights, etc. But a team? Hmm, I think we bicker too much to be able to call ourselves a team. At least I did until the “big break”. 

It’s a well known fact in our family that K doesn’t do illness. He doesn’t know how to handle someone when they’re ill. If I’m under par with a bad migraine or when my tummy troubles have been at their worst he’s never big on the tea and sympathy. But we’ve been together 20 years and so my expectations are low and realistic. He’s not so bad with the kids but as he’s normally out at work all day he doesn’t really ever have to get hugely involved. 

To say that he’s stepped up to the plate (crappy Americanism but struggling to think of a good old fashioned British alternative, I blame the lack of sleep) in the last 3 days would be an understatement. He’s stepped up to the plate and smashed that bugger out of the park. When I called him from the ambulance he left work immediately (unfortunately, he was in Basingstoke so not the quickest journey to make when your son’s on his way to A&E) and wanted to know what I needed him to do. 

Since that moment he’s been amazing: he’s been on pee duty, he’s held “the leg” (as its affectionately known for now until we can come up with a suitable stupid name for it) when T needs to move himself into a different laying position in bed, he’s held “the leg” while I help T change his underwear, and far more besides (stuff that I don’t really want to expand on in this setting). But more than that; he’s keeping him company, he’s making him smile, he’s being incredibly supportive – in short he’s being a bloody good dad. He’s always been a good dad, don’t get me wrong, but right now he’s stellar. 

And my little Florence Nightingale can’t do enough to help. She’s taking trays of food up to T, checking that he has water and asking if he needs anything. She’s trying to make him laugh and she keeps checking in on him. She’s helping me immensely with getting dinners, chores and moral support. She’s very good at moral support. 

The Beddoe Four really are working as a team. We’ve proved to ourselves that, when we need us, we’re here for us. And more. I’m proud of my family. I hope we will be able to keep it up for the duration. I think we will. At the end of the day, we all want T to make a speedy recovery and be back up and part of the team. Forget Team GB. Team TB are the ones to route for. 

p.s. I have been overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of people around us: our parents, our neighbours, friends and even complete strangers. It’s so lovely to feel so cared for by people outside our little world and I’m genuinely touched. 

Breaking (up) is not so hard to do

I never want to go through today again. Having just watched a bit of Professor Brian Cox explain about the space/time continuum I know that today will be “out there somewhere” but it had better keep away from me if it knows what’s good for it. 

T left home about 11.20am on his longboard (skateboard but longer) to go off to meet his mate and then off on a ride to the next village. At about 11.26am I got a call from him telling me very calmly that he’d fallen off his board and couldn’t feel his leg. He was so calm that my initial reaction was oh dear can you get home? No he didn’t think he could walk on it could I come and get him. He was 5 minutes away down a quiet road round the back of our house. I said I would go and help him and left A baking cakes saying I’d be back in a few minutes. I rang him again to say I was on my way for him to tell me that it was ok there were people with him and they’d called an ambulance. What?! An ambulance?! Okay. Now I was worried. I sped up a bit and as I was walking and talking to him a man came on the phone and told me he was pretty sure he’d broken his leg and the ambulance was on its way, just as I rounded the corner to see him curled in a ball on his knees in the middle of the road with 3 people watching over him. Bloody hell. He began crying as soon as he saw me and I knew then it was bad. Somehow I managed to not lose the plot; rang a neighbour to ask her to go over to our house, stop A baking and take her back to hers (wonderful woman got it all sorted straight away and I am forever thankful to her); got the gist of what happened from T and the bystanders (fab people who I am forever thankful to for looking after him and calling the ambulance); comforting T and telling him we’d get him sorted – not necessarily in that order but all at once it seemed. 

The ambulance arrived very quickly and the two medics were amazing:  calm, humorous, caring, methodical, reassuring. They got him onto a stretcher, got a leg brace on, got him some entonox and into the ambulance. He yelled so hard at one point I nearly cracked. It seemed to take seconds but was about half an hour as they were busy assessing the damage and working out how to proceed. We were then whisked off to L&D Hospital with T sucking on the entonox like a woman in the throes of labour. (He’d finished the entire canister by the time we got to A&E). 

I cannot praise the paramedics or the staff in A&E enough. They were incredible. He was welcomed with big smiles and concern and more humour. More pain relief, more assessments then off to x-ray. The radiographer was lovely and accommodating around the leg brace that he couldn’t stand to be moved. Then back to A&E to be told he’d definitely broken it and that he’d almost certainly be staying in overnight. Oh god. Did we want to see a picture? Er, yes? I think the sister wanted us to know how bad it was but couldn’t bring herself to say it. She kept apologising and she was so lovely. Then we saw this: 

…and we realised. Oh s**t. 

We’d have to wait to see the orthopaedic surgeon to know more it it wasn’t looking good. 

Again, this all seemed to take a few moments but by now an hour at least had passed. The ortho men came a while later (more pain meds on board by now) and said, no he should be able to go home. They didn’t want to start talking about surgery and pins. They wanted to try a back cast and then reassess after another x-ray. 

Some serious gas and air for the plaster cast. Four nursing staff to do it as they weren’t “used to such long legs” in their department. Another set of x-rays and then the ortho men were back. And the man from Del Monte he say yes! He can go home. Hurrah. Back to fracture clinic next week to reassess and, hopefully no surgery, a full leg cast. 

The logistics of getting a 5ft9 young adult into a car with a full leg cast on was almost beyond me by this point (5 hours after arriving at A&E) but between K and I we managed it and he is now home and in bed.

I feel like I’ve been run overly a bus. Well, maybe a small Fiat. He’s been amazing. He’s been brave, stoic, patient, well-humoured. And all with a broken leg bone that must have hurt like bloody hell. He’s still in pain and he’s completely fed up that his summer holidays are basically down the Swanee but he’s home and he’s still managing to smile at my very weak attempts to cheer him up. He’s asked if he can have the PS4 in his room which means he’s feeling ok enough to wind me up (he knows it would take more than a broken leg for me to agree to that!). 

It’s going to be a challenge for the next God knows how many weeks but he’s home with us. He’s broken a leg and not his neck. He’s going to mend and be fine. 

I wonder if he will stand by his words in the back of the ambulance en route to A&E when I mentioned his board. “Burn it” was his reply. Probably just the entonox talking but I don’t know how I’ll feel when/if he goes out on it next time. I might have to invest in a heavily padded suit for him – to wear for the rest of his life. 

Here we go again

We got back from our holiday on Sunday morning around 2am. I’d managed to get most of the (minimal) amount of dirty washing that we had (the joys of living in two pairs of shorts and a couple of swimming costumes) cleaned and dried on Friday in the space of an hour so I only had towels and a few other bits to wash on our return. G&G had dropped round on Saturday with a few vital supplies so I didn’t have to worry about shopping. All good. So we spent the day unpacking, putting away, sitting in the sun for an hour or so and had a cuppa at G&G’s in the afternoon with Uncle P and his family (they are off on their hols on Tuesday and needed their flight bag back that we had borrowed).

Then – BAM –  it was back to earth with a very unwelcome bump. We had banking to do, bills to pay, car insurance to renew and a shopping delivery to arrange. Talk about a cold, hard slap around the face. *Slap* “You’re home now, no more laying around on the beach with just where the next cold beer is coming from to worry about”. *Slap*

Why is always so brutal? I think we should be able to ease back into these things in a much more gentle way. Maybe going back to work for a half day for the first week. And the bank could say “don’t worry about your finances for the next few weeks, just while you get back into the swing of things”. Not sure how we would get the shopping done, ordering online seems lazy enough, but would be nice if the stuff all just magically appeared in the cupboards and fridge.

I am sad to be back in the routine of life. I am sad that it only seems like a few hours since I was last sitting out here, listening to the radio and wondering how our holiday was going to turn out.

But, in a bid to be positive, I am grateful for the fab two weeks that we had and will look back on with very happy memories; and  I am only working from home; I haven’t had to arrange childcare (in fact they are both still in bed); I am sitting in the office room with the patio doors open and the birds are singing. Much to be cheerful about.