And then our world fell apart

It is already the second anniversary of this horrible day. Two years of trying to live a new life without Abi with us, yet she still feels so close. I wanted to reshare this as it sums up the day our world fell apart.

Chasing dragonflies

It is exactly a year ago today that Abi came downstairs looking pale and complained she felt really ill. Exactly a year since our world was turned upside down and inside out.

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I never really imagined what this day would be like, despite people telling me ‘all the anniversaries will be hard’.

Anniversaries? Anniversaries are a time to celebrate or commemorate something. A time to think of only that person or event, which you can forget about the rest of the year.

It’s not an anniversary of a year without Abi, it’s an anniversary of the day our entire world was shattered by something so totally unpredictable and traumatic.

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The final prognosis

On the morning of Saturday, 9th February, we were allowed into PICU while the doctors did their formal assessment of Abi’s condition. We knew these were ‘last chance’ tests.

Abi had been in a coma for over 48 hours. She’d shown very little response since her collapse other than coughing a couple of times and some slight reactions in her pupils to light. Whenever the nurses had to do anything to Abi – such as put her on manual ventilation to change her feeding tube or move her in the bed so she didn’t get sore – we usually left, as it was very hard to watch. But this morning we stayed a bit longer. Continue reading

A knot of hair

Abi was transferred into Bristol Children’s Hospital the afternoon of Friday, 8th February. We were introduced to another consultant, who told us that they were going to ‘start from scratch’ the next day, give her the night to settle in and then assess her entire situation in the morning. We felt bolstered by this. It felt a bit like a fresh start for us too, and, mentally, we were open to things being ‘better in the morning’.

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Clinging to hope

On the morning of Friday, 8th February, Abi had another CT scan – her first scan after the two operations. Taking her for this scan wasn’t a quick process for the care team; just to move her to the scanning room was a major task as all the equipment had to go with her. We left them to it and waited another couple of hours for this to be done and for her to be brought back to ICU.

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Intensive care … is intense

Seeing your child in intensive care is a scary prospect, it’s not called ‘intensive’ for nothing! The machines are the first thing that you notice, but you know that every wire and machine is there for a very good reason so they become less daunting after a while. I almost got used to them, even the alarming beeping noises, which sound dramatic but are actually just notifying the nurses of something like needing a fluid top-up.

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For instructions on grief, please read this leaflet…

Dear Doctor,

You’ve stood with me on this journey

You saw my daughter being rushed into your ICU

You stabilised her

You kept her young body going

Gave us hope after hope that she might wake up

You showed empathy when that hope was gone

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Hospital waiting rooms (Frenchay)

I wrote this post on 15 March 2013, just a month after Abi died. I needed to document the trauma and stress that I’d had to live, to get it out of my head in some way. I still remember every moment. I will be resharing my story of our terrible time, more for those readers who are struggling to come to terms with a similar sudden loss. I pray it brings them some comfort, just to know they’re not alone.

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Having been transferred to Frenchay Hospital, we were first shown to a private ground-floor waiting room which was homely, with modern furnishings and a kitchenette. The policeman who had driven us over from Gloucester made us a cup of tea before he left. It was now around 1.30am, but the night was just starting for us.

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Fight or flight… going to A&E

Picking up from my post on CPR (CPR – do you know how?), where I described the distress of Abi’s collapse, I thought I’d try to describe the panic I experienced during Abi’s transition to A&E, and how that changed to a numb acceptance that helped me deal with the hours of waiting that followed. While this is incredibly hard to recount, it is also interesting for me to examine how I felt at various stages.

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The reality of performing CPR on my own child

When Abi died, it was very peaceful and controlled. But when she collapsed at home, in our bedroom, we went from calm to extreme panic in a matter of minutes. I was reading to my other daughter, my son was lying in his bed drifting off. My husband was looking after Abi in our bedroom, as she’d been sick.

All of a sudden he appeared at my daughter’s bedroom door with a look of fear in his eyes, and told me she needed me, really needed me. I felt concerned but still at that point believed it was just a bug and a mummy cuddle would make it all better… but suddenly the peace of our home turned into screams and panic. My screams. My panic.

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Did puberty trigger my daughter’s death?

My middle daughter came home from school yesterday with a pretty box stuffed full of sanitary towels and tampons. They’d had the end-of-year talk about sex and periods.

My daughter wasn’t fussed. She’s quite happy to wait to grow up and, while she knows periods will happen at some point, she’s in no hurry and would rather be dreaming of ponies. However, as I took the box out of her book bag, my grief hit me again. I was taken back to July 2012 when Abi had had the same class talk. Continue reading