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On Tuesday 23rd October (our 7th Wedding Anniversary) our world shattered around us when our beautiful 10 month old baby boy Albert became desperately ill ending up in PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) in Southampton. And the cause of his condition... Croup! A relatively common childhood virus that usually doesn’t cause too much harm, or so we thought! Sadly we soon realised that this is not the case and it can in fact be very serious and in Alberts case - life threatening.
Albert had been under the weather with a bit of a cough and sore throat the weekend before so on the Monday I took him to the doctors who after checking him over told me it was nothing more than a cold type virus. That evening he went down hill, he was vomiting a lot and then began making a harsh sound (we now know is called the Stridor) and struggling to breath. We called an ambulance who were there in minutes and he was taken to CAU (Children’s Assessment Unit) at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. There we were told it was Croup and he was given a dose of Dexamethasone, which helps to widen the airways, and asked to wait there for 4 hours to make sure the drug worked. It did and we were discharged with a leaflet about Croup. However the following day Albert went down hill again and later that evening his breathing worsened once again, this time it was very laboured and it was clear to us that he was really struggling. I drove him back to CAU where I was told his oxygen levels had dropped down to 90 and that he needed support. We were rushed into Resus where they tried giving him oxygen via a mask which I had to wave across his face. When this didn’t work they tried administering oxygen via little tubes placed up his nostrils. Then came the adrenaline but even with all this assistance his levels had dropped further, now only 89, and it was clear that he needed help.
What happened next is a bit of a blur and it felt like I was having an out of body experience as doctor after doctor came in and out of the room. They started talking about anaesthetic and intensive care and a whole load of other medical jargon. Chest X-rays where taken which showed that his lung had collapsed and he had pneumonia caused by Croup. So within an hour of getting to the hospital our baby boy was under general anaesthetic being intubated (A breathing tube was put down his throat) to give his little lungs the best chance of recovery. We were then blue lighted to the specialist PICU where Albert spent the next three days under sedation on a ventilator being cared for 24-7 by the most amazing team of nurses and doctors. He was extubated on he Friday and on the Saturday he was transferred back to Portsmouth children’s ward before being discharged home.
Throughout this time the team on PICU were incredible in the loving care they gave Albert and support that they gave to us too. They explained everything they were doing to the finest details which helped to put our anxious and terrified minds at ease (slightly) and they helped our baby boy get better.
We honestly can’t thank them enough which is why we want to help raise some much needed funds for the Friends or PICU Charity (as well as Ronald McDonald House - which we will be doing later in the year - whose onsite hotel enabled Byron and I (& Iris on one night) to stay near close to Albert whilst he recovered. This was a huge comfort to us in what was a very distressing time).
Sadly it didn’t end there for Albert and 5 days after being discharged we were back in hospital, thankfully not PICU this time, as he developed an angry rash and swelling all over his body. He endured more bloods tests etc to help determine the cause. Turns out it was all due to his poor little body being riddled with various viruses which took well over a month to completely leave his body. It was a terrible time but our little super hero was so strong and brave and even managed to to crack a smile most days. We’re so proud of him!
So as a way to give back to the hospital for saving our baby boy and as a tribute to his bravery, Byron and I are taking part in the Southampton Half Marathon in May this year to help raise money for the charity. That’s 13 miles!!!!!! 13 miles - ekkkkks - speaking personally, this is a HUGE challenge for me as I hate running, the thought of it breaks me out in a sweat, however, if my baby boy was strong enough to fight for his life then I sure as hell can get my chubby backside into gear enough to achieve this! And your support in donations to help us reach our target will be massively appreciated.
Thank you in advance, Emma and Byron xxx