Sam passed away at just over a year and a half old, he was running around like mad, getting to grips with his first words and learning to dance to 'The Wiggles'. Sam's mother and I separated early on in Sam's life so Sam never had to suffer the pain of his parents breakup, he did however endure the unconditional love of two families. Sam never cried, he would eat anything that was put in front of him and rarely woke in the night. He began feeding himself quite competently with a knife and fork and was starting to use the potty at just over a year old. He was the perfect son! Sam will only take good memories away with him and has never had to endure the darker and more painful emotions. His life was pure through and through.
A big comfort to me is my confidence that there is not a place in the world which could have cared for Sam better in his final days, at first in their efforts to save him but sadly in their palliative care once the unthinkable became a reality.
Sam was rushed on blue lights from Bedford Hospital to Addenbrookes on Sunday 21st April 2013. Addenbrookes is a Specialist Neurological Hospital and Sam was suffering from a Catastrophic Brain Haemorrhage. Theatre was set up and waiting for him before he arrived. Surgeons managed to stop the bleeding to his brain but the brain is a very sensitive organ and began to swell, the surgeons then removed part of his skull to relieve the pressure.
Following the operation Sam was taken to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit with a scar any little boy would be proud of! Even with half of his head shaved and wires all over the place he still managed to look as dapper as ever. I could never have imagined the depth of the care Sam received. Each nurse works a 12 hour shift, a nurse is allocated to each and every child and stood at the foot of Sams bed for the entire shift watching, controlling the vital statistics and making notes, being reactive in their care by making continuous tiny adjustments. Sam's room was never left unattended. The nurses were always frank with me, they did not give me false hope but would tenderly deliver the facts.
I spent 70 or 80 hours at Sams bedside, I had a lot of time to think- "Why do they choose to work on a Children's Intensive Care Unit? What kind of person does it take to choose to watch children die on a daily basis? This surely is not a job you can just go home and switch off from?" There is only one answer to all of my questions- these people are selfless heroes, they work in what has to be the most distressing department of any hospital because they want to help save the lives of those too young to be taken. They do everything in their power to lengthen life or make the remaining days as comfortable as possible.
If you are a parent or aspire to be a parent then I pray that such a catastrophe never happens to you, but if it does you will want to be in the hands of these miracle makers.