Wow, what a whirlwind the first few days of this month have been. Sunday marked the 1st day of December and to celebrate the countdown, the children were given a fantastic treat each by their lovely Uncle and Aunt - Lego advent calendars for the older ones and a gorgeous musical snow globe for baby which he is absolutely fascinated by and lights up every time 'We wish you a Merry Christmas' starts to play!
As soon as we arrived, I scooped him up in my arms and carried him into A&E where he was seen almost immediately as by the time we got there he was very pale and the hypoxia he was struggling with was making him sick. He was rushed through into the resuss department and put straight on the oxygen and given hourly nebulisers along with steroids to help his lungs. We eventually made it up to the children's ward and our own room a few hours later. I tried not to be alarmed by the monitor that showed his heart rate reaching up to 170 bpm at times, which kept setting off the alarm. I half expected a team of doctors to come rushing in but nobody did and I was simply reassured by the nurse that he would be fine and it was partly his body working harder to pump oxygen around his body and partly the treatment itself that was increasing his heart rate.
I couldn't help but think how vulnerable he looked laying there, obediently receiving his treatment as he was woken throughout the night, despite his obvious exhaustion. I gulped my emotion back down and focussed on getting him better. It was a completely sleepless night for me but by the morning things were looking much brighter and thanks to the steroids starting to take hold, Joshua looked much more comfortable and was finally off the oxygen. Phew!
According to the doctor it is too early to say whether this is asthma but is more likely a viral wheeze connected to the onset of a cold - common amongst younger children - some of whom (like Joshua) are more susceptible to this kind of reaction. We've been told he needs to carry an inhaler around with him now and use at the first sign of a cough.
Experiences like this are always upsetting and worrying for any parent as nobody wants to see their child distressed or in pain. As I sat by his bedside that night in hospital, watching him sleep, my mind flashed back to seeing the excitement on the children's faces as they ripped the wrapping off their advent calendars. It reminded me that much of the wonder of Christmas (particularly for children) is in the giving, receiving and opening of presents and not always how luxurious or expensive the present might be inside. Most importantly though it made me appreciate that the most precious gift any of us can hope for our children, is their health, because without that, everything just stops.
So this Christmas, I will be taking time to appreciate the simple things that we all take for granted sometimes - our family and hopefully our health. I'll also be sparing a thought for those less fortunate families who will be spending their Christmas's wearing brave smiles at their loved ones bedsides....