On 12 November 2015 around 11pm my 4- week old daughter Autumn was admitted from A&E to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Bristol Children’s Hospital. Having not fed for 48 hours she tripped into a pre-existing heart condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT). With a resting heart rate of 260bpm, and a resting blood lactate of over 11mmols she was not responding to treatment. Without intervention she was heading for heart failure. The doctors were forced to insert a cannula into a vein under her scalp to administer a
sedative to put her to sleep so as to be able to gain better access through her femoral vein to administer more drugs. Once admitted to PICU she was given muscle relaxants and ventilated through a tube in her throat to control her breathing and take as much stress off of her little heart as possible. Over the next 18 hours she remained incapacitated under sedation and chilled to 32 degrees as they slowly brought her body back to a balanced resting state. At 2am she was given an intravenous shot of adenosine and I sat with my heart in my mouth as I watched her heart rate plummet from 240 to 100 in a matter of seconds before it stabilised again at 130bpm. She was cold to the touch and absolutely motionless surrounded by a huge computer. Katie and I left the hospital around 5am leaving her in the care of the PICU staff. We were heart broken!
The next afternoon she was weaned off of the sedation and warmed back up again. As she regained function the breathing apparatus was removed. Still heavily medicated she regained consciousness around 5pm. On Friday morning she relapsed again into a tachycardic heart rate but this time her heart responded instantly to the drugs. Later that morning I was able to feed her through a nasal line into her stomach. What’s pictured is the first time I had ever fed her! Later that day Autumn was moved to the High Dependency Unit of the Children’s hospital and on Monday 17 November we were able to take her home.
I’m writing this on 2nd January 2016. She’s sitting next to me on the sofa in a little green cardigan, blue stripy shirt and jeggings as a beautiful healthy 12 week old baby. The only thing to show for her ordeal is a shaved head on her left temple where the cannula was inserted. We’ve had a couple of minor scares since but she’s managed each herself without intervention. She’s on a cocktail of beta-blockers and diuretics but from all appearances she’s a healthy young baby.
I can’t describe the gratitude and admiration that I have for every person that Katie and I came across that night in the Bristol Children’s Hospital. We were both overwhelmed by the care, compassion, generosity and expertise provided to our little daughter by every member of staff whom we came in contact with. I watched in awe as specialists rode an emergency and managed the situation with such a depth of expertise and experience. The nurses and doctors cared for Katie and I with the same compassion as they did Autumn and I was completely humbled by the whole experience. I still am.
I’ve thought about ways in which we can pay back the care that we received from the
Bristol Children’s Hospital. My goal is to fundraise the £8000 that it cost the NHS to provide us all with such amazing care for those 6 days in November. We will be forever grateful.