When Christmas Was Late

Lucy’s story (Lucy works in the Involvement, Experience and Volunteering Team)


I have worked in the NHS all my working life (which will be 15 years this summer!). I have also, like everyone, used its services, along with my family members, for all sorts of different reasons. However, only in recent years have I been able to truly appreciate what the NHS does for patients, their carers and loved ones.

On Christmas Day 2014, my 21 month old daughter became very lethargic, sick and unresponsive and it was clear that she was very unwell.  We were taken by ambulance through the snow from our relative’s house to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where she (and I) remained until the February. She had meningitis.

I have never felt so afraid, but at the same time so numb and completely helpless.  The primary role of parents is to protect our children, but we had no option but to place our trust in the medical staff and hope that they could make her better. After a week on the High Dependency Unit she was moved onto a ward.  All the staff were so compassionate and showed genuine concern, not only for my daughter, the patient, but also for us as parents because we were fragile and vulnerable too.

The whole experience was the most horrendous but also the most touching of my life. The days merged into each other and the weeks passed in a tearful blur, but it’s the little things that made a big difference that I remember. Like the nurse who approached me with a friendly smile and cup of tea as we entered the High Dependency Unit on that snowy day, and the plastic cup of Shloer she offered me on New Year’s Eve. These people were not out drinking and partying to see in the New Year.  Instead, they were caring for very poorly children and supporting their families, because the NHS can’t have a night off, or even Christmas day. It’s there for us all 24/7/365 whenever we need it, and thank goodness it is.

Of course, I’d rather not spend another night on a fold-out camp bed with a thin blue NHS blanket, but at the time I was so thankful for it so that I could stay by my daughter’s side.

She did get better, her recovery journey was up and down, but eventually we were able to come home and celebrate Christmas!

My daughter is now fit and healthy, and thankfully, was too young to remember what we went through and how ill she was, but I will make sure she knows just how wonderful our NHS is and how lucky we are to have it. I have always loved the NHS, but I love it even more now.

#NHS70 #70BlogsTo70

The NHS turns 70 on the 5th July 2018 –  Follow our countdown to the NHS’s 70th birthday as we post a blog a day.  #NHS70 #70BlogsTo70 @InvolveT1

Take a look at NHS England’s website to find out what else is being planned for the big day and for more information on how to get involved. https://www.england.nhs.uk/nhs70/

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